High school football players accused of targeting ref with hit
Two Texas high school football players have been suspended over what appears to be a coordinated attack on a referee during a game over the weekend.The John Jay High School (San Antonio) defensive backs are also under investigation by the police and could face charges. As the ball was snapped during a game against Marble Falls, one defensive back ran full speed directly into the back of the referee. A second player then led with his helmet and drove directly into the referee as he was on the ground.
The video, above, shows that the ball was nearly 10 yards away when the referee was hit. That would make it almost impossible for players to argue they were pursuing the ball carrier.
The referee, who was apparently uninjured, said he wants to press charges. Both players have been suspended from the team and the school while the investigation continues.
Northside Independent School District athletic director Stan Laing told KENS5-TV that the incident Friday was “disturbing” and “inexcusable.”
District spokesman Pascual Gonzalez told The Associated Press on Sunday that it would hear from game officials, coaches and students during an upcoming due process hearing, which also will involve the University Interscholastic League, the state’s school sports governing body.
“It is not the good sportsmanlike behavior that we teach students,” Gonzalez said.
NFL Referees Association executive director Jim Quirk released a statement Monday condemning the brutal blindside hits.
“These types of actions against any game official at any level are inexcusable,” the statement read in part. “We fully support the suspensions of the players involved, along with a full and complete investigation by the Texas University Interscholastic League (UIL).”
Update 2:35 p.m. (CST): An assistant coach at John Jay High School has been placed on administrative leave, according to KENS5 in San Antonio. The two players, who have since been suspended, told school officials that the assistant coach told players “that guy needs to pay for cheating us,” in reference to the official. Players were reportedly frustrated over “missed or wrong calls” by officials throughout the game.
Update Wednesday, Sept. 9: The University Interscholastic League held an emergency discovery hearing to gather updates on the investigation. Representatives from the state officials association and Northside ISD were in attendance.
All sides continue to investigate the attack on the referee, the comments by the coach and alleged racial slurs that players said were directed at them from someone on the officiating crew. No decision will be handed down from the UIL until Sept. 23 at the earliest.
UIL members urged Northside ISD to strengthen its coaching and player education, emphasizing sportsmanship and leadership within its teams.
“This was a time bomb waiting to happen,” said Dallas ISD Athletic Director Gil Garza, referencing last weekend’s football game that saw multiple ejections and personal fouls. “One thing is they should have had adults mentoring and guiding them to do the right thing in all situations. From what I see here, I don’t see that.”