Texas high-school football is serious business and, if you’re a referee trying to officiate a game and keep order on the field, you had better ‘watch your six,’ as the old expression goes. 

Thursday night a referee was attacked during a playoff game, clobbered from behind and slammed to the ground, by a player he had just ejected from the contest. Emmanuel Duron, a senior defensive lineman playing for Edinburg High School, had been tossed after back-to-back unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.

Duron was reportedly named district defensive player of the year the previous season and both kicks and punts for the Bobcat’s football team. He is also a star member of the school’s wresting team. On Thursday night he was taken from the field by law enforcement officers for potential future criminal proceedings. 

According to the game report, Duron was knocking offensive lineman to the ground after multiple plays had ended, had hit the opposing team’s quarterback after at least one whistle, and was exchanging words with the referees following the penalties. 

The blindside mauling of referee Fred Garcia is being described in legal terms by those who witnessed it, and the Texas Association of Sports Officials [TASO] is investigating the incident as if an assault and battery had taken place. 

Fortunately for everyone involved, there is clear video of the attack to aid the investigation. In it, Duron is shown sprinting out onto the field from his team’s sideline and mauling the referee, who did not see him coming. The rising noise of the crowd can be heard in the background as it becomes clear Duron has set a high speed collision course with the official in the middle of the field. 

According to a statement released by the TASO, blind-side assaults on referees during games are one of the dangers of the job in the United State’s most football mad territory. 

“Unfortunately, this type of blind-sided assault on an official while working on the field is not new to Texas Football. Though this latest incident is only hours old, TASO has begun our investigation and started collaboration with the [University Interscholastic League] to bring this matter to a suitable disposition.”

One day later, the Edinburg School District announced it had pulled the team from the playoffs despite a 35-21 victory by the Bobcats. The game had continued after a short delay, though the referee was evaluated for shoulder injuries and a potential concussion at the stadium. 

“The district has decided to remove the Edinburg High School football team from the playoffs after an unexpected incident involving a student that occurred during a football game on December 3, 2020,” the district announced Friday. “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.”

 Edinburg High coach JJ Lejia did not comment on the incident after the game and attempted to shift the spotlight to the other players who were not escorted from the stadium by law enforcement.