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Referee Tackled by Two Texas High School Football Players Was a Fill-In

Attorney for pummeled referee calls attack ‘heinous crime’ 2:55

The umpire who was viciously struck from behind by two San Antonio high school football players during a game last week was not a regular member of that referee crew, an official said Wednesday.

The targeted ref — identified as 14-year veteran Robert Watts — was a fill-in for Friday night's game involving players from John Jay High School, said Michael Fitch, executive director of the Texas Association of Sports Officials.

Fitch, speaking at a hearing held by the state's interscholastic league, added that the crew overseeing the game that night has submitted an incident report, and a video copy of the game was being reviewed Wednesday to get the full scope of what occurred.

Referee Robert Watts
Referee Robert Watts, right, talks with other referees after he was rammed by two players on the field in Marble Falls, Texas. Kelly McDuffie

Related: John Jay Assistant Coach on Leave During Investigation Of Players Pummeling Referee

A lawyer for Watts told NBC News that the players, who have been suspended from the team and the school, need to be adequately punished.

"One thing that's clear for a sports program to survive at any level, it has to be ... crystal clear to everybody concerned that assaulting a game official is a heinous crime," said attorney Alan Goldberger.

The players will remain off the field until at least their disciplinary hearing, school district officials told the league Wednesday. The police chief in Marble Falls, where the game took place, said the pair could also face misdemeanor assault charges.

Video posted to YouTube shows one player blindsiding Watts from behind while he watches a play, and knocking him over before his teammate dives onto him.

Related: Videos of San Antonio Football Players Pummeling Referee Investigated by Police

The John Jay players have claimed that the referee used racial slurs directed at their team during the game, which school district officials are investigating. In addition, John Jay's assistant football coach, Mack Breed, has been placed on paid leave while a separate investigation focuses on whether he may have provoked the two players to go after Watts.

School district officials said during Wednesday's hearing that the players' actions don't reflect the whole school, and they don't anticipate canceling the rest of John Jay's football season.

"This event is shameful to us," said Brian Woods, superintendent of the Northside Independent School District. "We do not believe the actions of these young men reflect the students in our schools and certainly (not) our athletic program."