Two John Jay High School football players, who targeted a referee during a game against Marble Falls on Sept. 4, said in an interview on ABC's Good Morning America on Friday that their coach told them to knock the official down.
Michael Moreno and Victor Rojas, the players who knocked referee Robert Watts to the ground in the waning minutes of John Jay's 15–9 loss to Marble Falls, expressed regret for their actions and blamed the egregious act on an unnamed coach.
“I was doing what I was told,” Rojas said.
Moreno claimed that before he was put in the game, a coach pulled him aside and said to hit the referee because he needed to “pay the price” for unjustified calls and the alleged use of racial slurs. (Watts's attorney denied the referee used a racial slur.)
“His emotions got mixed into it and he told us to do what we did,” Moreno said of his coach.
When asked why they followed through with the act despite knowing it was wrong, Moreno added, “You put your trust in this grown up who has been there since my freshman year, and I trust him that he wants the best for me and I just did what I was told.”
Both players were ejected from the game after the hit and have also been suspended indefinitely from school and football by the Northside Independent School District, which is conducting its own investigation.
John Jay assistant coach Mack Breed was also recently suspended from the team for the duration of the investigation.
- Kayla Lombardo