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Attorney: Fired McKinley High School coach Marcus Wattley never forced player to eat pizza—Canton Repository

Wattley, through his attorney Peter Pattakos, said the accusations that the coaches forced a 17-year-old player to eat an entire pepperoni pizza against his Hebrew Israelite religious beliefs for missing a voluntary May 20 strengthening and conditioning workout are false and exaggerated. …

Pattakos, on behalf of Wattley and assistant coach Frank McLeod, on Monday described a situation where the coaches were trying to rescue a troubled player whose off-the-field behavior was negatively influencing his teammates and jeopardizing his future as a Division I college athlete. …

McKinley football player Mani Powell said he wants his coaches back. He was one of several football players who attended the disciplinary hearing Monday to show their support for Wattley and McLeod.

“It won’t be the same without them,” said Powell, a rising senior who is considered McKinley’s top returning player. “We won’t stop fighting until we get them back.”

Powell said Wattley and all of the assistant coaches have become father figures to him and his teammates.

“They are more than coaches,” said Powell, who lost his father when he was young. “They lose sleep over me and the boys.”

Other football players who were at the May 24 workout have said the coaches never forced the player to eat the pizza and they gave the player the choice of eating chicken nuggets instead. They have said the player chose to pick the pepperoni off the pizza and eat it.

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