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Player with Concussion Plays in State Championship

A district court judge in New Mexico allowed a high school football player to play in the state championship game one week after he suffered a concussion.

The family of a player at Cleveland High School in Rio Rancho, N.M., challenged a 2010 New Mexico state law that says a student-athlete with a concussion may return to action “no sooner than one week after the student-athlete has received a brain injury, and no longer exhibits any sign, symptom or behavior consistent with a brain injury,” Albuquerque, N.M., TV station KRQE reports.

The TV station cited medical privacy in declining to name the player, who reportedly suffered a concussion in Cleveland High’s Class 6A state semifinal game on Nov. 28, one week prior to Saturday’s state championship game. Bruce Carver, athletic director for Rio Rancho Public Schools, told KRQE the team’s trainer identified the player as having a concussion.

“He felt like he was unconscious for up to 20-30 seconds from what I understand,” Carver said.

Related: Judge Dismisses Class-Action Concussion Suit Against IHSA

The player in question is a running back who scored almost 20 touchdowns and rushed for nearly 1,000 yards during the season, court documents showed, according to the TV station. The family of the player challenged the trainer’s assessment in court and said a private doctor could not find signs or symptoms of a brain injury. An Albuquerque District Court judge signed an injunction to allow the running back to play in the state championship game.

“We don’t agree with the decision, but we honored the decision,” Beth Pendergrass, spokeswoman for Rio Rancho Public Schools, told KRQE.

Cleveland High head coach Heath Ridenour allowed the player to get in the state championship game, but KRQE reports it was for only one play. Cleveland defeated Eldorado 48-35 to cap a 13-0 season.

Related: Concussion Lawsuit Examines School Nurse's Duty of Care

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