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Texas H.S. Football Players May Face Charges After Tackling Referee

Two football players from John Jay High School in San Antonio, Texas, could be facing criminal charges after appearing to intentionally tackle a referee during a game on Friday night.

The play occurred with time winding down in the fourth quarter and Marble Falls High School attempting to run out the clock. As Marble Falls snapped the ball and handed it off to a running back, the two John Jay players converged on the referee, with one delivering a blindside hit to his back and the other lunging in to tackle him after he was already on the ground.

The video of the play doesn't seem to leave the players with much benefit of the doubt:

The Northside Independent school district promptly suspended the two players from the school and the team, and the Marble Falls police department is investigating the incident, according to the Associated Press. Stan Laing, the district's athletic director, told the AP that the students were "suspended indefinitely pending the outcome of an investigation and due process hearing."

Just what caused the two players to launch themselves into the official isn't yet clear. Citing a district official, the San Antonio Express-News reported that "potential derogatory racial comments" about members of John Jay's football team may have played a role. In addition, two John Jay players had already been ejected from the game on separate plays, sparking concern about the players seeking retaliation.

Austin Football Officials Association secretary Wayne Elliott told the AP the referee was "very upset" and "wanting to press charges."

"The first thing we want is that those two kids never play football again," he added.

The University Interscholastic League released a statement Sunday, saying it was working with "the school districts and officials involved to conduct a thorough investigation." The organization described itself as "extremely concerned" about the incident.

In a statement, Northside spokesman Pascual Gonzalez echoed those concerns.

"This is disturbing," he said. "It is not the sportsmanlike behavior that we teach our students. We are cooperating fully with the University Interscholastic League with this investigation."

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