Though the Edinburg High School Bobcats beat Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Bears Thursday to advance to the playoffs, the team was pulled from the postseason after a senior defensive linemen blindsided a referee and knocking him to the ground, according to a statement from the school district obtained by KSAT.
District officials said even if they had decided not to remove the football team from the playoffs, the University Interscholastic League would have still taken the same course of action.
After being ejected from the game Thursday night in the first half, Emmanuel Duron of Edinburg High School came running from the sideline at a full sprint and slammed the referee to the ground.
The Monitor of McAllen reported the referee was evaluated for a concussion by medical personnel at the stadium. Duron was escorted from the stadium by police officers.
The Monitor also reported that Duron was charged with assault in Edinburg Municipal Court, a class A misdemeanor. If convicted, the charge is punishable by up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
Edinburg, located in South Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, ultimately won the game 35-21, though the result won’t advance them to the playoffs since district officials decided to remove the team from the postseason.
District officials issued this statement Friday on the incident:
“The district’s Interim Superintendent, after consulting with senior University Interscholastic League (UIL) officials, and with the district’s legal counsel, has decided to remove the Edinburg High School football team from the playoffs after an unexpected incident involving a student-athlete and a game official that occurred during a football game on December 3, 2020. We extend a sincere apology to the referee and his family. On behalf of the Edinburg CISD Board of Trustees and administration, we apologize to the athletes, staff, and our school community.
We will take the appropriate disciplinary action once we understand the facts and circumstances underlining this incident. The district takes these matters very seriously; however, we cannot comment further on a pending investigation until such investigation is complete.
The UIL has made it clear to Interim Superintendent Gilbert Garza Jr. that UIL would have removed the football team from the playoffs if the district did not withdraw the team. Under Texas law and district policy, the interim superintendent was authorized to move forward with the decision. Mr. Garza has confirmed this after consulting with the district’s legal counsel. In connection with the incident, the UIL released the following statement:
The UIL strongly condemns the unsportsmanlike behavior displayed in the Edinburg vs. PSJA high school football game on December 3, 2020. Physical contact with a sports official is never appropriate. Our thoughts and well wishes are with the official involved. We applaud the Edinburg CISD administration for addressing this situation swiftly and taking appropriate action in removing themselves from the playoffs and for dealing with the student involved in the incident.
The conduct witnessed in the Edinburg, PSJA game in no way represents the values taught through interscholastic activities including high school football,” said Dr. Charles Breithaupt, executive director of the UIL. “Respect, responsibility, fairness and concern for others are vital components of educational competition. Strong and appropriate measures are being taken by the school district and we hope that healing can come from this teachable moment.”Edinburg CISD
Duron, who is also the team’s kicker and punter and a star wrestler, was also suspended for the remainder of the 2019-20 soccer season after a similar incident occurred on the pitch during a match last year against crosstown rival Edinburg Vela, according to The Monitor.
The Texas Association of Sports Officials also issued a statement about the incident.
“On the evening of December 3, 2020 another vicious and deliberate assault was inflicted on a TASO Football Official by a player who had just been ejected from the contest. Unfortunately this type of blind-sided assault on an official while working on the field is not new to Texas Football,” the statement read.
In 2015, two John Jay High School football players hit a referee in the middle of a play. The San Antonio students pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault as did former John Jay Head Coach Mark Breed, who was accused of telling the players to attack the referee.
“Though this latest incident is only hours old, TASO has begun our investigation and started collaboration with the UIL to bring this matter to a suitable disposition,” the association’s statement concluded.
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