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SAN DIEGO — The Lincoln High School football team announced it will not play Friday night against Cathedral Catholic High School, citing alleged acts of racism from their opponent dating back decades.

In a statement released Tuesday, Lincoln High head coach David Dunn said the program has been “stretched beyond intolerable means” due to the incidents, including being targeted recently by Cathedral Catholic who he claims referred to them as “convicts and thugs.”

“Their actions not only criminalized and hurt our student-athletes, but they also created a false, undignified, undeserved perception of them and our close (knit) community,” Dunn wrote. “A concern shared by many members of our community urged that shielding our student-athletes from further abuse and discrimination is the only course of action.”

In an incident last April, social media posts were circulated by a player from the Dons, showing someone wearing a shirt that read “Catholics vs. Convicts III,” along with other derogatory images from the Cathedral team members. Another post showed Cathedral players making a gang sign.

The Cathedral Catholic shirts reference a controversial slogan and shirt made by fans of Notre Dame before they played their powerhouse rivals from the University of Miami in the late 1980s.

The San Diego City High School Football Conference placed the private Catholic school’s coach on a two-game suspension following the incident and the Dons on a two-year probation.

While at the time, coaches worked together to start the healing process, the administration at Lincoln High said they stand together in their decision not to play. 

“The Lincoln school community has continuously carried the burden of dealing with social injustice and racial inequality,” Dunn wrote in the letter. “Quick apologies and quick gestures have not repaired the harm or stopped the harm from continuing.”

Brian Roberts, a defensive tackle for the Hornets, said for him, “it doesn’t really hurt,” but insisted the incident should have never happened.

“A lot of us aren’t really soft,” he said. “We have a tough shell, so it’s not really bothering us that much.”

A forfeit normally would be given to Lincoln High School for their decision not to play, but the San Diego City High School Football Conference is taking a closer look to determine the outcome of how the incident will impact both teams moving forward.

City News Service contributed to this story.