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Assistant coach loses his cool, then his job, police say

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By David Giuliani

Anthony Labella reportedly admits to losing his cool — and he’s suffering the consequences.

The assistant football coach for Taos High School was arrested in connection with allegedly attacking a student after Taos lost to West Las Vegas 36-12 at Highlands University’s stadium on Friday. He apparently lost his job right away.

While the team and coaches returned home in their bus, Labella, 43, was taken to jail. He faces charges of abuse of a child and aggravated battery.

According to state police, a 14-year-old player still had his pads on but had removed his helmet before Labella got angry with the team. “You (expletive) need to learn how to tackle,” Labella reportedly shouted at the team.

The assistant coach asked the 14-year-old to stand up. Then he ran toward the player from 10 feet away, tackling him to the ground. As the player fell, he struck his back on his helmet on the ground, state police said. He told officers that he suffered lower back pain as a result.

The player said he thought that Labella’s demonstration was about getting into proper position and that he hadn’t been expecting to be tackled.

Labella told officers that he was disappointed in his team’s performance, especially when it came to tackling. He said he had nothing against the 14-year-old but that he was simply trying to demonstrate how to tackle. The alleged victim was the closest player to him, he told officers.

State police said Labella was cooperative and seemed remorseful.

According to a report, Edward Rex Stevenson, the head coach, witnessed the incident and said that his subordinate acted inappropriately.

State police said other witness statements were consistent and players said it was out of the ordinary for Labella and other coaches to demonstrate plays in this manner.

Magistrate Judge Philip Romero set the bond at $6,000 cash-only.