NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – A southeast New Mexico high school football team is facing consequences after taking a local rivalry to a new level. A photo that’s been making the rounds online shows that team with a vulgar phrase aimed at their rivals. 

“I think the actions of a few don’t represent the team as a whole or the community as a whole,” says Nathan Richard, Jal Athletic Director.  

A photo posted online showing Eunice High School football players, is drawing reactions in southeast New Mexico. Last Friday the Cardinals faced the Jal Panthers, a game that ended with Eunice winning 42 to 28, but the rivalry didn’t end there. After the game, Eunice football players took this picture showing several athletes wearing shirts featuring a vulgar phrase with the “f-word” aimed at Jal. 

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On Facebook Friday, Eunice schools said the district immediately self-reported the incident to the New Mexico Activities Association. They also say they’ve punished those involved and apologized to Jal. “I have full confidence that the Eunice Administration has handled the situation appropriately and our schools have celebrated and enjoyed a rivalry that has a rich tradition and I expect that to continue,” said Richard.    

Eunice is also facing consequences from the NMAA, which issued a strike against the football program under the new “Two Strikes” sportsmanship policy. The NMAA, in part, said what happened was an “egregious act”. Jal High School said despite the moment they’re not holding resentment over the unsportsmanlike conduct. “I think that that’s one thing that we are working to improve…and that’s something that the NMAA is working to improve across the state,” says Richard. 

This isn’t the first time the NMAA has issued a strike. Last month, both Belen and Valley High were granted strikes after a fight following the game. If teams get two strikes they’ll have to forfeit their future games.