An Arizona high school football player who says he was ejected from a football game last Friday for praising God has won his appeal and is now eligible to play in his team’s first playoff game in 21 years this Saturday.
Dysart High School Senior Pedro Banda, a college football prospect, “says he was ejected for pointing to the sky as a way of thanking God after a touchdown,” according to a Fox10Phoenix report.
“I was just trying to thank my God for everything that he has given to me and for all of the power that he’s given to me to play this sport because not everyone can do it,” he said. “I started to walk over to my sideline, and I kissed my hand and I pointed up to the sky and I didn’t know I was penalized for it because I didn’t see the flag.”
Banda said the referee probably thought that he was “thinking of myself that I’m the best or I’m number one and I think that’s what they interpreted it as.”
Dysart High School Athletic Director Tyrus Timbrooks “told ABC News that Banda was ejected from the game because the motion was his second offense that night. Timbrooks said the referee flagged Banda earlier for an aggressive argument with a player on the opposing team.” But Timbrooks said that after reviewing the game tape, it was clear Banda should not have been ejected and Dysart filed an appeal.
And on Tuesday evening, the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Appeals Committee overruled the second penalty that got Banda ejected, according to the Arizona Republic.
Gary Whelchel, head of officials with the AIA, reportedly said, “the second penalty call was overruled, which negated the ejection.” The AIA gave Banda the “benefit of doubt” and determined that his “celebration” was “not excessive and not prolonged.”