It was one of the most anticipated high school football games of the year – a Friday matchup between Lincoln High School and Cathedral Catholic, two of the top teams in the county.
The game won’t be played, though, after Lincoln coach David Dunn decided on Monday to cancel the game.
“It’s making a stand for equality, for all the players, for all of us as a whole," said Dunn during a bi-weekly Coaches for Racial Equality Zoom call. "We’re just tired of being treated unfairly, unjust and thinking that it’s just going to be OK."
In a statement released Monday, Dunn made it clear, the Lincoln High community is still feeling the effects of a racially charged incident last April.
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Two offensive photos were posted on social media, one showing a Cathedral student wearing a shirt that said "Catholics vs Convicts III," with a caption that read "We Run the City."
The controversial slogan originated in the '80’s during a fierce college rivalry between Notre Dame and the University of Miami.
“We were recently targeted again with an open display of racial profiling by Cathedra Catholic’s football team," said Dunn in a written statement released Monday. "Cathedral Catholic demonstrated their inhumane attitudes against us.”
In May, Cathedral Catholic was sanctioned for the incident. Its football coach Sean Doyle was suspended for two games, and two students were suspended. The school also implemented a restorative-education program.
During Wednesday night’s virtual meeting, Dunn said he has a respectful relationship with Doyle, but it was clear Dunn feels the need for more attention to the issue.
“I don’t feel ... we don’t feel the acts that were taken were genuine, even though their attempts to reach out, and I openly say that it wasn’t genuine from the beginning,” Dunn said.
“The bottom line is: The victim needs to be made whole,” said Michael Brunker, who moderated the virtual meeting, which included many other coaches and officials.
Brunker is the retired executive director of the Jackie Robinson YMC, and has a strong connection to the Lincoln High School community.
“This is not just about Lincoln and Cathedral, this is about what can we do here in San Diego County to make sure that something like this never happens again?" Brunker said. "I think Coach Dunn is very courageous in what he’s done."
Brunker also praised efforts by Cathedral Catholic to move forward on the issue.
“It’s bigger than the game," Brunker said. "It’s about being a winner in the biggest game of all, the game of life, and that’s what Coach Dunn has done in terms of pumping the breaks here and stopping the action.”
A representative for the Catholic Diocese of San Diego, which provides statements on behalf of Cathedral Catholic High School, said there has not been an official comment on the game’s cancellation.
Also on Wednesday night, the CIF San Diego Section, which governs high school sports locally, put out the following statement on the game's cancellation:
As an institution founded on the basis of education-based athletics and the principles of pursuing victory with honor, the CIFSDS stands with our education and athletic leaders in supporting learning and athletic environments that are free from racism and discrimination in all forms. We continue to encourage the schools’ administrations to work together to build the trust needed to promote the healing desired by everyone. Finally, we believe that high school athletics can bring diverse communities together, to discover our similarities and celebrate our differences. Anytime a decision is made to not participate in a previously scheduled athletic contest, our student athletes miss out on an opportunity to come together, represent their community and benefit from the lifelong lessons learned from participation in interscholastic athletics.