Wise decision leads to classic football game

A decision made by game officials, coaches, and Minneapolis Public Schools athletic directors Reggie Perkins (Minneapolis Washburn) and Leo Lewis (Minneapolis North) not only ignited an outstanding football game — which North won by defeating Washburn 22-15 — but also provided a lifelong lesson to fans and players last Friday evening.

More on that lesson later.

The first period — which proved to be turnover-filled and scoreless — set the tone for what was to come.

With 26 seconds remaining, a North punt landed in the hands of a coach on the Washburn sideline. Away from the play, a Washburn player delivered a hit. In the blink of an eye, a North player was in the midst of Washburn’s bench.

Minneapolis North running back Ty’ree Cox
Minneapolis North running back Ty’ree Cox (Mitchell Palmer McDonald/MSR News)

North players ran across the field. Players from both teams traded shoves and punches. After a brief struggle, game officials and coaches gained control of the situation. North players returned to their sideline and Washburn players left the field, giving time for both teams to regroup.

After 25 minutes — which included a midfield meeting with the coaches, athletic directors, game officials and team captains — it was decided that the game would continue. Officials ejected two players from each team.

In the second quarter, DeAngelo Moore, pressed into quarterback duty when starter Rory Purnell III was injured, scored on a seven-yard run, and place kicker Andrew Lee provided the extra-point conversion to put Washburn ahead 7-0.

Isaac Johnson, one of the state’s top basketball players, caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Armon Dalton, and halfback Ty’ree Cox provided the two-point conversion as North grabbed an 8-7 halftime lead.

In the third quarter, defensive end Phaizon Scott hit pay-dirt returning an interception 12 yards, extending the Polar lead to 14-7.

Washburn led 15-14 after defensive lineman Sedrique Ametor recovered a North fumble in the endzone and Peyton Krause completed the two-point conversion.

In the final period, Nasir El-Amin caught a pass from Dalton and ran for an 84-yard touchdown. Dalton’s completion to Johnson for the two-point conversion sealed the victory for North.

El-Amin’s last name may sound familiar.

His father, Makrum El-Amin, starred for the great Polar basketball teams of the 1980s, graduating in 1988. Uncles Ishmael El-Amin, who graduated in 1994, and Khalid El-Amin, a 1997 alum, revived North’s storied basketball program the following decade.

What an exciting game!

There was great concern after the fight that the game would be cancelled. Cancelling it would have sent the wrong message.

We always talk about teaching young people to work out their problems. Discontinuing the game would have given the impression that the players, particularly in the inner city, don’t have self-control. Instead, both teams regrouped, the game continued, and a powerful message was sent to our youth that we as educators, coaches and adults have faith in them.

The game officials, coaches and athletic directors did the right thing. Instead of being reactive they were proactive!

They got it right!


Mitchell Palmer McDonald welcomes reader responses to mmcdonald@spokesman-recorder.com.