Victor Rojas, 15, and Michael Moreno, 17, have, in the interim, been assigned to an alternative school and are barred from even attending their high school (John Jay) football games. Their suspension at the school is 75 days; with credit for the time they’ve already served, they’ll be eligible to return on Jan. 15.
“Obviously the boys wanted to return to John Jay High School immediately, but we think this punishment is within the bounds of fairness, and the boys have accepted responsibility for their actions,” the boys’ lawyer, Jesse Hernandez, told ESPN.
For Moreno, a senior, his football career at John Jay is over. Hernandez said nothing in Wednesday’s ruling by the school district would preclude Rojas’s return to the team next year, but the University Interscholastic League (Texas high school football’s governing body) could sanction Rojas and suspend him from playing.
Also up for punishment by the UIL: Mack Breed, John Jay’s assistant coach, on whose orders the boys say they hit the referee. According to a document obtained by Outside the Lines, John Jay Principal Robert Harris said Breed admitted he “directed the students to make the referee pay for his racial comments and calls.”
Rojas and Moreno intentionally hit referee Robert Watts during a Sept. 4 game; once as he stood on the field and again after he’d been laid out on the ground. The incident was caught on video.
“I’ve coached 14 years, and I’ve never seen anything like it,” the opposing team’s coach, Matt Green, told ESPN at the time.