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Sanderson Coach Arrested Following Friday Night Football Altercation

A six-man football game in Marfa ended abruptly Friday night when a fight broke out on the field. (Carlos Morales / Marfa Public Radio)

The Sanderson Eagles were leading the Marfa Shorthorns 36-8 on Friday evening when a fight between players from both teams broke out on the football field. The incident resulted in a trip to the hospital for one student athlete from Marfa, and the arrest of Sanderson Coach David Donnell.

Marfa Police Chief Estevan Marquez says, as the fight escalated, Donnell was among a handful of other coaching staff and law enforcement who jumped into the pile to intervene.

According to Marquez, video footage from a local camera operator showed Donnell pulling a Marfa player -- who had already been separated from the scuffle by another coach and was standing off to the side -- onto the ground by his football pads. Officers detained Donnell on site, and upon reviewing the video, arrested him on a Class A misdemeanor assault charge due to his use of "excessive force."

Emergency medical services transported the student athlete to the Big Bend Regional Medical Center, where he was treated for neck pain and a mild concussion. He was discharged from the hospital early Saturday morning.

Since the incident, Marfa ISD Superintendent Oscar Aguero has maintained that "the safety of our students and staff is our highest priority."
The University Interscholastic League, or UIL, is conducting an investigation into the events that occurred Friday night.

Terrell County ISD Superintendent Amanda Magallan released the following statement:

"The incidents that occurred at the Sanderson v. Marfa football game on Friday, September 7th are unfortunate and embarrassing for both communities and school districts. There were actions by both teams that were unacceptable. The appropriate notifications have been made to UIL and TEA. The district will review the incident. Once all the facts are gathered, a decision regarding necessary actions will be taken. Until that time, and based on what is known now, we support our coaching staff."

David Donnell was released on bond Friday night, and could now face a $4,000 fine, one year in jail, or both.

Sally Beauvais is a reporter at Marfa Public Radio.