A Minneapolis North High School football player gouged an eye of a rival player Saturday late in his team’s loss in the Class 1A Prep Bowl title game in Minneapolis, sending the injured athlete off the field in obvious distress.
Defender Antwan Cobble, a senior, was on the ground next to Minneota running back Isaac Hennen after a tackle at TCF Bank Stadium. With another North player on top of the ball carrier, Cobble jabbed at least two fingers through Hennen’s facemask and into one of his eyes.
The Minneota sophomore, who scored three touchdowns in the game, was slow to get up and needed help from a sideline team staff member to find his way off the field. He did return to the action.
There was no penalty called on the play, which was recorded on the live telecast on Channel 45 and replayed in slow motion.
The Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) was receiving “videos before the game was even over,” said league spokesman Kevin Merkle. “The officials said they didn’t see it. They’re not going to see everything.”
Merkle said the MSHSL “will be in touch with North and decide on the best course of action.” He said that even though Cobble is a senior and the season is obviously over, any potential discipline could be applied during the next sport he chooses to play this school year. If Cobble is not playing another sport before graduating, the league would consult with school on options for discipline, Merkle added.
North head coach Charles Adams said Sunday morning that he did not see the play, but his school’s administrators have been in touch with Minneota officials about the incident.
“I don’t teach kids to do that, to poke people in the eye,” Adams said. “I don’t accept it or tolerate it.”
Adams, however, did say there was plenty of questionable behavior going on by players on both sides.
“My players usually respond to things that are happening,” he said. “It was chippy on both sides. … There were a million things that could’ve been caught on the field by either team.”
Adams said that what Cobble did to Hennen “definitely is” out of character for him.
North was whistled twice in the game for unsportsmanlike conduct, both after Minneota opened up its lead in the fourth quarter on the way to a 35-18 victory. North also was called twice for personal fouls. Minneota has no such penalties.
Minneota athletic director Jason Myhre said Sunday that Hennen told him the poke “really hurt. You could see that when he came off the field. But he’s fine, other than maybe his eyes being sore.”
Myhre said he was proud of the Minneota players for not retaliating when things got out of hand, particularly late in the game.
Minneota head coach Chad Johnston said his postgame handshake with North’s coach was polite. “He complimented our team and said we had a good squad,” Johnston said.
Johnston said he’s not giving much thought to what consequences there should be, if any, for Cobble or the North coaching staff.
“It’s about their school district and their coach holding him accountable,” Johnston said. “It’s up to them or the State High School League.”
Johnston said “both teams were definitely fired up. … I’m sure our kids were probably vocal, but I don’t think there was anything that was done” by the Minneota athletes that was out of the ordinary.
Hennen, taking on a greater role in the game for his senior brother, Garrett, who was injured early on, rushed for 108 yards in the game to go with his three scores. Cobble was one of North’s leading tacklers. He finished the game with eight.