DeSoto High School football players went looking for answers Tuesday as the status of their coach remains in doubt months after he led the team to its first ever state title.
Coach Todd Peterman was out on the field Tuesday afternoon leading his team in spring football practice, but he opted to not speak with reporters about the discussions the school board is having over his future as head coach.
Peterman did, however, speak about football.
"Next year will be our new largest class ever so it's easier to rebuild when you have 75 seniors coming back," Peterman said. "It takes discipline special teams and kids that are committed to the same goal."
DeSoto High School football players called their own play Tuesday and walked out of class to meet with district superintendent David Harris and ask the board to keep Coach Peterman.
"Only the people that are with the football program on a day to day basis would know the truth, how he is as a man and as a coach,” said senior Xavier Newman.
Coach Peterman took the DeSoto Eagles to their first state championship in 2016. No one outside of the school board seems to understand why Peterman's future with the district is suddenly at stake.
“I was just stunned and shocked,” Newman said.
The DeSoto school board deliberated in closed session for three hours Monday until midnight without making a decision on the coach’s status.
Several of the football players were there Monday night and they returned Tuesday afternoon for a 20 minute meeting with Superintendent Harris to stand up for their coach. Some posted video of the gathering on Twitter, but none would talk afterward because of the sensitivity of the situation.
Former NFL player and DeSoto graduate Zachary Orr is among those who wonder if the school would fire Coach Peterman over race.
"It's really a race issue.... they don't want to see a white head coach,” Orr said.
But school board president Carl Sherman Jr. refuted that idea in a prepared statement released to reporters.
"Let me be clear - no decisions that we make are ever motivated by race. That is not the way we do business in DeSoto,” Sherman said. "We've received information that warrants further consideration, and we've directed the Superintendent to conduct additional due diligence right away."
The school board hasn't given any indication of long it will be before they have a final decision about Peterson and what they'll decide.