The Tamaqua Area School District has responded to a statement from Panther Valley head football coach Frank Damian regarding his voluntarily removal from the sidelines for Friday night's Anthracite Football League game at Tamaqua.

Damian told THE TIMES NEWS Tuesday morning in a statement that "I am voluntarily taking myself out of Friday's game against Tamaqua. For the safety of my players, my family, and for the integrity of the game of football, I will not be coaching."

The Panther Valley assistant coaches will be handling the team for the game without Damian.

Tamaqua Area Superintendent of Schools Carol Makuta took exception to the implications in Damian's statement and wants the public to know that Friday's game will be held in a safe environment at Tamaqua Area Sports Stadium.

"The article, in my opinion, is a misrepresentation of the entire situation," said Makuta. "It is pointing a finger at this town and school district, and I believe that our community is getting a black eye over this."

Makuta said she believes Tamaqua's student athletes have behaved in an appropriate manner this season and will continue to conduct themselves that way.

"The article does not represent our student-athletes," said Makuta. "Any issues with our student-athletes are dealt with immediately and appropriately when brought to our attention."

Makuta said she has met with the Panther Valley administration this week, regarding the situation. Damian is employed as a teacher by the Panther Valley School District, and officials there have not commented on his status.

Police and security personnel have been contacted to assure spectators that Friday's game will be held in a secure enviroment, as it has been every week.

Makuta added that a bigger than normal crowd is to be expected, due to the traditional rivalry of the schools.

The two schools met twice last season, with both games in Lansford. Panther Valley won both, including an overtime victory in the quarterfinals of the District 11 Class AA playoffs that ended Tamaqua's season.