While our focus is in the zebras on the ice, this noteworthy incident comes from the gridiron.

A Texas high school game between San Antonio John Jay and Marble Falls turned ugly for referee Robert Watts, a 14-year veteran official.  Earlier in the game, two John Jay players had been ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct – one  of them the team’s starting quarterback, Moses Reynolds.  

Late in the fourth quarter, two of the John Jay players decided to take a run at the referee. 

In the clip, the defensive players head right for the official once the ball is snapped.  The first player knocks Watts to the ground; the second drive his helmet into the official. The players have reportedly been identified as sophomore Victor Rojas (#12) and senior Mike Moreno (#81). 

The two players have been suspended by the school.  

“It is what it is when you see it on the video. Obviously, that’s very disturbing and inexcusable. That type of behavior certainly would never be condoned.” 

“We have to be very careful with what we say until we get the entire story. It’s really unfortunate. We’re still getting stories on different things. That’s why we’ve got to make sure to get the entire story before we basically share it with everybody, because we don’t want anything out there to be assumed. We want to be very clear on exactly what happened.

“We’ll just have to go through the whole investigation and let all that come out. We will investigate and take appropriate action on what we need to do, what we need to address.”

– Stan Laing, Northside Independent School District Athletic Director

The Northside Independent School District is investigating, along with the University Interscholastic League which oversees school sports in Texas.  The investigation will look into what MySanAntonio.com reports as “potential derogatory racial comments made toward members of Jay’s football team, according to a district official.

Official’s Comment

Referee Robert Watts has spent 14 years in stripes, all of them out of the press.

“I like to keep my officiating quiet; unfortunately this will be big news.” said Watts. He went on to claim that, “Libel and slander have already been committed against me. I will be contacting the appropriate people soon and any statement from me will come at a later date.”

“The referee was ‘very upset’ and ‘wanting to press charges’,” said Wayne Elliott, Executive Secretary of the Austin Officials Association. “The first thing that we want is that those two kids never play football again.”

NFL Weighs In

While the NFL has no oversight over high school football, the NFL Referees Association felt compelled to comment on the situation. 

“These types of actions against any game official at any level are inexcusable,” said NFLRA Executive Director Jim Quirk. “We fully support the suspensions of the players involved, along with a full and complete investigation by the Texas University Interscholastic League”

“I’ve never seen anything like this in all my years of officiating at the high school, collegiate or professional level,” Quirk added. 

Possible Charges

While the two players have not been charged, they ultimately may be. On Monday, the Marble Falls Police opened an investigation.  Criminal defense attorney and former police officer James Reeves told KENS-5 that the students could be charged with assault, and that those charges could be a misdemeanor or a felony.  “In this case, the helmet could arguably be considered a weapon. Especially [for] the second player who struck the official,”  Reeves said. 

The police are expected to provide an update later this week.