MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — East Ridge High School will be without one of their senior captains as they play for a section championship Friday night.

Marco Cavallaro and his family are waiting for a judge to rule on a lawsuit they filed to appeal a suspension from the team.

A hit by the East Ridge defensive lineman got him thrown out of the October 17 game. A ref ruled it targeting, hitting someone in the head. But the attorney representing the Cavallaro family says the issue is about what happened next.

“They take a look at the tape and it clearly shows that Marco struck the player with his shoulder in the player’s chest. This is not a case about an official’s call. This is about league action and what we don’t think the league is doing that they should which is provide these players with due process,” attorney James Smith said.

Cavallaro was ejected from the game and suspended for four more. He had already had a previous suspension this season. He wants to play, but Smith said there is also a bigger issue. The family wants players to be able to appeal a decision made on the field if there is proof to show what happened.

“He expects there to be some redress, some ability to say, ‘Look, we don’t want to punish you for something you didn’t do. You can go back and reverse the call, you can’t go back and play in the game you were ejected from, but we’re not going to make the mistake moving forward,’” Smith said.

MSHSL Executive Director Erich Martens gave this statement to WCCO-TV:

Safety in the game of football is a priority at all levels, and our high school games are officiated according to the rules of the National Federation of High Schools with a focus on the safety of all competitors. The Minnesota State High School League’s bylaw language clearly states, “The decisions of contest officials are final,” and therefore there is no option for appeal.

Smith said the Cavallaros were obviously disappointed to learning the judge would not issue a ruling before Friday’s game, but they will be there supporting the team Friday night in the bleachers.

“Marco and his family will be cheering on the Raptors in their game against Eastview tonight and remain optimistic that Marco will have the opportunity to play again with his teammates and finish out his high school football career,” Smith said.

Jennifer Mayerle