WIGGINS, MS (WLOX) - The Stone Tomcats are off to their best start in more than a decade. But first-year Head Coach John Feaster is dealing with more than the success on the field. He says nothing could have prepared him for the situation his team is dealing with now after one of his players had a noose put around his neck by a teammate. As a result, the NAACP is calling for a federal hate crime investigation.
"It's difficult because of what happened and I just feel terrible for him and this staff feels terrible for him and his teammates," Feaster said.
The alleged perpetrator of the incident is no longer on the team. The victim continues practicing daily with the Tomcats, and Feaster said he's been in good spirits.
"He's a good young man and I can just say he's handling it as good as any kid can handle it right now."
With headlines across the nation focusing on Stone High, Feaster said he's looking out for the victim and has his best interest in mind.
"Our major concern is the kid that it happened to and that's been everybody's major concern," Feaster said. "All we're worried about is him right now. We're not worried about the game or the season. It's all about him right now and we just want to make sure he's fine."
The message Feaster has for his team as they get ready for Friday night's game against Long Beach this week centers around lifting up their teammate.
"That's all we can do is put him first and just be praying for him in this time and make sure we're there for him in this time," said Feaster.
According to the Associated Press, a lawyer for the Stone County School District said a student has been disciplined following allegations that one or more white students put a noose around the neck of a black football player.
Sean Courtney, the attorney for the Stone County school district, wrote Tuesday in an email to the Associated Press that administrators determined that the school's conduct code was violated in the Oct. 13 incident. He added that a student was disciplined after due process in accordance with district policies.
Courtney says he can't name the student or the specific punishment, citing privacy rules.