Orange County's Mater Dei High School football team will play for a state championship on Saturday. But overshadowing the game is the controversy surrounding the Monarch's program. 

LA Times columnist Bill Plaschke has viewed videos showing a Mater Dei hazing ritual called "bodies" that left a former player with a brain injury and a broken nose that required surgery. In an interview for "LA Times Today," Plaschke joined host Lisa McRee with more. 

What You Need To Know

  • In a February brawl that was captured on two videos spanning 55 seconds, the smaller player, known in the lawsuit as Player One, was severely beaten with three powerful jabs to the head. The final one was a sucker punch

  • Player One suffered a traumatic brain injury and a broken nose that later required surgery, and deep gashes around both eyes

  • The parents said they weren't informed that their son had been injured until nearly 90 minutes after the incident

  • They were told to come to the school and pick him up because he had hit his head on a sink

The videos led to a lawsuit that has raised awareness of the concealed practices of one of the nation's most celebrated high school football programs. 

"We had a 170-pound young man fighting a 240-pound young man. And three sucker punches at the end knocked him silly. The allegations are that the school tried to cover up the incident because it resulted from hazing the child. As the child's parents told me, he was afraid if he didn't fight the bigger kid, he would get name-called, teased and they would throw urine in his locker. That's what they do; they put urine in your locker if you don't follow these rituals. So that's what the lawsuit is about," Plaschke said.

Plaschke mentions that the videotape he saw was very chilling. 

"It's in the middle of the locker room, in the middle of the day. There are several other players around, but they're not intervening. Most of them aren't even watching," he said. "They're on their phones like this is a routine thing in the middle of the Mater Dei locker room — with the best high school football program in the country unsupervised. So finally, the fight ends when the bigger kid lands three punches, two punches to the head while they're still swinging. And then the smaller kid just stops and holds his eyes because his eyes are bleeding. And the bigger kid levels one more sucker punch to his head, which gave him the concussion and broke his nose."

After the fight, the injured student was told not to say anything about what had happened. Then he tells a trainer that he fell on the sink.

"The allegations are that the school waited 45 minutes to call the parents. That's not an allegation; the parents say that. They let the kid sit on a training table while taping other kids for practice. And the charge was that the school trainer told the parents that he was told to let it be and ignore it. The parents, of course, furious, came to see their child rushed him to the hospital. They did it all on their own, without any support from the school," Plaschke added.

The hospital confirmed that the student had significant injuries. 

"He had a broken nose, severe brain trauma and had to have surgery. The parents got stonewalled by everybody. They're still waiting for a call from the principal. Their son was beaten up in the middle of a locker room in the middle of the day in a sanctioned, unsupervised fight, and they've yet to hear from the principal," Plaschke said.

Since the incident was brought to light, Plaschke said there had not been a response from the archdiocese or the coach. 

"The coach said they are going to the state championship and that he's feeling pretty good about himself right now. The rest of the school said that these children are minors. It is a legal issue, and they can't comment other than to say the charges in the allegation in the lawsuit were false. But we've done additional reporting, Lisa, and they're not. Our sources say they're not false. Our sources say everything happened as it did. The parents are completely believable in this, and it's a travesty. I mean, it's like it's a culture of fear. It's a culture of violence, and somebody has got to stop it."

Since then, the injured student has transferred schools, and Plaschke said he is doing better. 

"He left the school two weeks later and enrolled in another school. He wanted to keep playing sports, and doctors medically cleared him, but initially, he couldn't play because Mater Dei put a disciplinary tag on his transfer. It's a tag that says you can't play if you transfer to another school. The parents went crazy. So, the mom said this was when she knew Mater Dei was trying to mess with their lives. They weren't going to let him get out of there unscathed. So, they had to fight, and they finally got the disciplinary tag removed. He was able to play sports and is going to college next year." 

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