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Canisius High football captain tossed out of play

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The captain of Canisius High School's football team won't be able to play in this Sunday's New York State  Catholic Championship game.  WBFO'S Focus on Education reporter Eileen Buckley says a penalty from a game last weekend tossed him out final play.

"I'm really devastated. I'm devastated more so for James," said Tamara Lewis, Thomas's mother. "Watching his face and just watching his spirit be broken, it's just killing me."

The replay from the Canisius-Bishop Timon-St. Jude High School game, that led to removal of Canisius linebacker #58 James Thomas, can be found on YouTube. 

Thomas made a tackle on a  face mask, but initially a referee claimed Thomas threw a punch at the quarterback.

"I'm really devastated. I'm devastated more so for James," said Tamara Lewis, Thomas's mother. "Watching his face and just watching his spirit be broken, it's just killing me."

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Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
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Tamara Lewis is the mother of James Thomas.

Canisius High School did appeal, but it was denied. Lewis said even the opposing coach from Timon was very supportive to her son. "Documentation and supported my son saying that he did not throw a punch," said Lewis. "Canisius has been amazingly supportive." 

Canisius said they do not expect the status to change  for Sunday's game.  Executive director of the Monsignor Martin High School Athletic Association Brian Kiszewski tells WBFO News the penalty stands and there will be 'no appeal'.  The state rule means Thomas can not be reinstated for Sunday's championship game to be played in New York City, but his mom remains hopeful.

"That's my baby," said Lewis.  I will 'til Sunday until game time."

Canisius play in the first-ever New York State Catholic Schools championship.  The Canisius Crusaders are ranked number one with an 11 and 0 season. They travel to Long Island to meet 2nd ranked Archbishop Stepinac Crusaders. Game time Sunday is 2 p.m.

WBFO News also reached out to the Western New York Chapter of New York State Association of Certified Football Officials.  We left a voice mail message for Matt Palma, president of the organization. So far, we have not response a response. 

For now, Lewis said they've retained a lawyer. The parents are fearful it will hurt their son's chances of gaining a college scholarship.

"There were scouts at that game that called for the review and there are going to be scouts at the game this Sunday as well," noted Lewis.