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A high school football coach in Washington state has stepped away from his role following a controversial tackling drill at practice.

Mark Smith has resigned from being head coach at Shelton (Shelton, Washington), a position he has held for 25 years. At issue is that Smith allegedly allowed a tackling drill this spring that was conducted without helmets or pads.

According to reporting from King 5 television station in Washington about the “unsanctioned” tackling drill, the football players were taken into the wrestling room where they participated in the drill. Several players were allegedly injured according to King 5, including injuries to the head and a dislocated finger.

The practice took place on Jan. 31. Once news of the practice became known, an investigation was undertaken by the school district.

“Coach told the other players no one was tackling me and they needed to do better. I was running to the other wall and got off a tackle from another kid and another kid grabbed from the back and picked me over his head and slammed me on my head,” one player said according to King 5.

Shelton is looking to bounce back following a 3-6 season in 2023.

Smith’s resignation was accepted by the school board on Tuesday. The search for a new head coach is currently underway.

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