MARION, Iowa (CBS2/FOX28) — More than a dozen families are banding together to bring attention to alleged abuse in a Corridor football program.
As first made public by Metro Sports Report, the assistant football coach at Linn-Mar High School is the one being accused of physically, verbally and mentally abusing players.
According to parents with children who play on the team, Coach Matt Casebolt has consistently yelled at and physically harmed teens, with some incidents dating back to 2011.
Mark Henrichs is the spokesperson for the 20 families he said have come forward with allegations of mistreatment.
He says complaints ranged from the coach hitting a child in the mouth with a weight to making players pick up broken glass with their bare hands.
"They're there to help them with teamwork and become better men, better for society and going forward, instead they're being verbally abused," Henrichs said. "There's an issue with the Linn-Mar football program."
Some parents said they believe it's just sensitivity to the sport.
"It's a mental and physical tough sport that requires just that, mental and physical toughness," Greg Monroe, whose son played football for Linn-Mar, said. "I think that there are a lot of parents that aren't ready for their children to get yelled at by somebody or for somebody to be tough on them."
Some parents, like Henrichs, said being tough isn't the problem, Casebolt simply crossed the line.
"People have ignored it, they've seen it, they've witnessed it and they've just enabled it to continue on," Henrichs said.
He said after he reported the incident to the district, no action was taken, so they've planned to take their case to the state level.
Linn-Mar High School Principal Jeff Gustason said the district did its due diligence, but couldn't find enough to back up the claims.
"When you find a wide discrepancy, it's a little easier to say 'at this particular time it's not founded for us to do anything', that doesn't mean there are still not things that have to be addressed in the program," Gustason said.
"The administration needs to go out and figure out who else is out there and how many other instances to figure out how deep a problem is and they're not willing to do that," Henrichs said.
Some players said the coach's tough love is expected in a sport like this.
"I think he's hard on me, but in the long run I think that's really bettered me and I feel like he wouldn't be hard on me if he didn't care about me getting better," Trevor Steel, current football player, said.
"People, when they don't know a person, they tend to draw conclusions when they see something like this but the people who do know him, know that those aren't true."