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Eastern Panhandle Youth Football season ends abruptly after conduct concerns

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — An over 20 year relationship between the Eastern Panhandle Youth Football League and game officials is in jeopardy.

A statement from TCYFL (Tri-County Youth Football League) describes a pattern of “abuse, negativity and utter disrespect shown to our officials from parents, coaches and most recently from our players”.

The TCYFL release confirms the Eastern Panhandle Officials Association (EPOA) has decided to stop providing officials for Eastern Panhandle league games.

“This means effective immediately all remaining games are canceled. This situation is troubling because of our 20 plus year relationship with the association but to be honest, this season has been really bad.” -TCYFL

On Thursday’s Panhandle Live, TCYFL President Doug Arndt said the inappropriate behavior isn’t new but has escalated recently with players as young as 13 years-old getting involved.

“It’s not something that can be pinpointed as far as ‘it just happened this weekend, or last weekend’. I can go back to 20 years ago. I got together with them (EPOA) and a few of our board members. We hashed it out and we came up with some parameters to see what we can do and give us another chance. It worked.”

Arndt said that a meeting has been scheduled for Saturday, September 28 between his board and the EPOA.

“We gotta make a stronger stance,” Arndt said. “We as leagues have got to stand by it. Or do we increase our admission fees and pay for security? These are the things that we need to bring up to create that environment where (you can) just come, watch the games, enjoy the games, watch your player develop and go home.”

According to their Facebook page, the Eastern Panhandle Youth Football League is for student athletes ages 6-13. Arndt said there are currently 500 athletes divided into five leagues across Jefferson, Berkeley and Morgan counties.

“Our job is to protect the league,” Arndt said. “Groups of coaches and groups of parents come and then they go. But the damage is left behind for the league to fix.”

Arndt added he hopes to reach a compromise with officials during Saturday’s meeting.

Andrew Caridi contributed to this story. 

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