SANDWICH, Mass. (AP) – Sandwich High School has forfeited its Friday night football game and suspended nine of its players from school indefinitely in the wake of a suspected hazing incident that left a 14-year-old player with a ruptured spleen.

Superintendent Peter Cannone said that more players were likely involved in the Tuesday incident.

“We’re talking about a very serious situation with a youngster in the hospital,” Cannone said.

The freshman underwent emergency surgery Tuesday to remove the spleen and stem internal bleeding.

The boy was slammed to the ground Tuesday after a varsity player grabbed his ankles from behind and lifted his legs into the air during an event the boy’s mother said was known as “freshman beat down day.”

Cannone said that two players have been identified who were “heavily involved” in the incident, while seven other team members were more tangentially involved. Several of them came forward to school officials, Cannone said.

All nine could face criminal charges, Cannone said.

Sandwich police did not immediately return calls for comment.

Cannone said there was no change in the coach’s status “at the present time.”

A surgeon told the boy’s mother that his stomach hit the ground with the same velocity as it would have in a car accident. The boy walked off the field on his own, but consulted a team trainer, who contacted the boy’s mother.

The boy, who was not identified, was recovering in the critical care unit at Jordan Hospital in Plymouth.

“He was saying he loved his mom because he thought he was going out,” the boy’s stepfather said.

Sandwich High school principal Ellin Booras said the school was investigating the incident.

“We’re looking into that possibility and once everything is known we will follow the student handbook” to determine any disciplinary action that might be taken, she said.

Hazing is explicitly forbidden in the school’s handbook and is also a crime in Massachusetts.

AP-ES-09-16-04 2135EDT

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