Bad decision at football game threatens senior year for Kearney student

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KEARNEY, Mo. — Friday night lights have dimmed for one Kearney High School student after a spur of the moment lapse of judgement threatens his senior year.

Third quarter of the Kearney vs. Smithville football game. The Bulldogs losing badly, so Kearney senior Ethan Byrne decided to get the crowd going by running onto the field.

“It was crazy,” he said. “I understand why people are adrenaline junkies.”

For that, Byrne said he has been suspended for 10 days, banned from extracurricular actives for the remainder of the semester and walking at graduation could be in jeopardy.

“I understand what I did was wrong and that I deserve some sort of punishment but everything that they slapped on me, it was a little bit too much,” Byrne said.

Especially since Byrne said he has never been in trouble before. In the district’s handbook, Byrne’s punishment is listed as that for a second offense for streaking or other means of disturbance.

While the district would not say on record why they consider Byrne’s action Friday as a second offense.

In a statement, the district said in part: “The contents of many online posts and other communications are inconsistent with the facts of this matter. We expect appropriate decorum by students and adults in every circumstance. Even a second offense in a situation like this would not include losing the right to participate in commencement ceremonies”

“If you look at the handbook, he could have cheated and gotten three days,” his mom Jill Webb said. “He could have threatened somebody and gotten three days or so many other activities that I think would are so much worse and so much more damaging to the student population that aren’t being punished like this.”

The issue exploding after Webb posted this message on social media supporting her son. The response has been overwhelming.

“I expected there to be just a couple angry Facebook moms and it turned into this,” Byrne said. “I’m glad Kearney’s got my back.”

T-shirts that read “Free Ethan” are being made and a rally is planned for Thursday night.

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