Cottonwood (Utah) High School football player Lo Falemaka was just looking for a bathroom during the halftime break in his team's 24-17 victory at Skyline (Utah) High. Instead, he got a pair of nasty facial bruises and a possible torn ACL after Skyline fans assaulted him in a bathroom.
Here's how the sophomore defensive end, No. 63 in the photo at right, described the attack to the Deseret News.
"They said to me 'So you're from Cottonwood, right?' and I said 'yeah.' Then I turned the corner to see if there was a bathroom and one of them swung at me right in the cheek," said Falemaka. "Right after that, a kid came and kicked me. Then on the way down grabbing my knee he got me with another punch."
"Then they just took off. It all happened really fast. My leg was hurting really bad, and I couldn't get up on it. This guy came around the corner and asked me if I was OK and I asked him to go get help."
Now Falemaka, primarily a junior varsity player, may be facing the end of his season. The defensive lineman will undergo an MRI within the next few days, but his coaches aren't optimistic that he will be able to return this year.
"It really made our kids very upset who were good friends with him," Cottonwood defensive coordinator Ron Halbert told the Deseret News. "We had to calm the players down, because they got really upset seeing his broken face and his knee blown out. We had to tell them to keep it under control."
Falemaka's attack isn't the first tragedy to hit the Cottonwood program this season. As the Salt Lake City Tribune reported, Teko Johnson, who was scheduled to become the team's first-year head coach, died suddenly in an Atlantic City, N.J., hotel room while on vacation with his family before the season even started. Josh Lyman, a former Utah Class 5A Most Valuable Player at Skyline eventually took the helm in Johnson's absence.
For now, there isn't much hope that the Unified Police Department will catch Falemaka's assailants. The lineman's mother told the Deseret News that her son didn't recognize any of his attackers, which will make a legal case for Falemaka equally difficult.
Instead, it's likely that the sophomore will face an arduous offseason of conditioning and rehabilitation to rebound from what can only be described as a senseless act.
"The doctor says I have to work in physical therapy," Falemaka told the Deseret News. "I'm just trying to forget about it all."
His teammates will also have to put the incident behind them as they push on with a promising season. The undefeated Colts are scheduled to host Salt Lake City West High on Friday night.