Texas high school player charged with assault after attack on referee

Jeff Eisenberg
·3 min read
Football referee Fred Gracia falls to the turf after being charged by Edinburg's Emmanuel Duron in Edinburg's high school zone play-in game against Pharr-San Juan-Alamo on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020, in Edinburg, Texas. Duron was escorted from the stadium by police officers. (Joel Martinez/The Monitor via AP)
Football referee Fred Gracia falls to the turf after being charged by Edinburg's Emmanuel Duron in Edinburg's high school zone play-in game against Pharr-San Juan-Alamo on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020, in Edinburg, Texas. Duron was escorted from the stadium by police officers. (Joel Martinez/The Monitor via AP)

A Texas high school football player has been charged with assault one day after attacking a referee during a game.

Edinburg High School senior Emmanuel Duron was booked into jail Friday morning and charged with "assault causing bodily injury," according to Hidalgo County jail records. Duron, 18, posted a $10,000 bond on Friday evening and was expected to be released.

The incident happened during the second quarter of Edinburg’s 35-21 victory over Pharr-San Juan-Alamo. Duron received one personal foul penalty for roughing the opposing quarterback and another after an apparent exchange of words with the referee.

After referee Fred Gracia announced Duron had been ejected from the game, Duron charged from the Edinburg sideline and blindsided Gracia, sending him sprawling to the ground. Edinburg players and coaches then restrained Duron before police escorted him from the field.

The Monitor, a newspaper serving the Texas Rio Grande Valley, reported Thursday that Gracia, walked off the field to cheers from the crowd. The 27-year member of the Texas Association of Sports Officials was evaluated for a shoulder injury and concussion-like symptoms in an ambulance outside of the stadium, according to The Monitor.

Gracia did not return messages from Yahoo Sports on Friday seeking an update on his condition and his perspective on what happened.

The morning after the incident, Edinburg High School learned its football season was over. The Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District announced Friday that it had decided to remove Edinburg High School from the playoffs as a result of the incident.

“We extend a sincere apology to the referee and his family,” the school district’s statement said.

The district clarified Friday evening that Texas’ governing body for high school sports “would have removed [Edinburg] from the playoffs if the district did not withdraw the team.”

The Texas Association of Sports Officials released a statement on Friday describing the incident as a “vicious and deliberate assault.” The TASO statement noted that this type of incident is “not new to Texas football,” a reference to a 2015 incident in which San Antonio high school football players attacked a referee during a game.

“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 TASO statement read.

Duron was one of the biggest reasons Edinburg completed the regular season with a 4-2 record and expected to participate in the playoffs. The defensive lineman was his team’s best pass rusher and also handled punting and kicking duties.

He was expected to contend for a wrestling state title this year after finishing fifth at the state meet as a junior in the boys 220-pound bracket.

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