By Senior Writer, Adam Ogburn / Twitter: @aogburn00
There is one thing that everyone can agree on. What happened on the field on Thursday night in Edinburg when Edinburg defensive lineman Emmanuel Duron tackled referee Fred Garcia after being ejected from the showdown between Edinburg and PSJA was appalling and reprehensible.
Garcia has been a referee for the Texas Association of Sports Officials for 27 years. He should be hailed as a hero as should every other referee who willingly subjects themselves to the ire of fans, coaches, and players on Friday nights so that Texas high school football can be played.
Referees are even more important this year considering the health risks that they are potentially exposing themselves to due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
With this being said, everyone’s thoughts and prayers should be with Garcia as he recovers from a potential concussion and shoulder injury.
The latest twist in this tale following last night’s contest came this morning when Edinburg CISD announced in a statement that it was disqualifying Edinburg’s football team from the playoffs.
The statement read in part:
“The district has decided to remove the Edinburg High School football team from the playoffs after an unexpected incident involving a student that occurred during a football game on December 3, 2020. We extend a sincere apology to the referee and his family. On behalf of the Edinburg CISD Board of Trustees and administration, we apologize to the athletes, staff, and our school community.”
This decision is one that Edinburg CISD leaders certainly did not take lightly.
However, it seems like the decision is one that gives Duron’s teammates the short end of the stick.
A lot of questions still need to be asked regarding this incident, especially considering that Duron also had an incident with a referee while playing soccer last year for Edinburg. Those questions, though, should not involve his teammates.
Edinburg missed out on the playoffs last season and has not won a playoff game since all the way back in 2010.
For the seniors who are not three-year lettermen, this would have been their first and only taste of playoff action. It seems very harsh for those players who have worked for years for this moment, putting in thousands of hours of work, to not even have the chance to participate in the big dance after earning a spot in it.
The old adage “win as a team and lose as a team” comes to the minds of many with this decision. That adage tends to apply more though to plays that happen on the field, supporting teammates who make a mistake, such as a turnover or a dropped pass, that ends up costing their team a game.
What happened on Thursday night was something that did not occur while the ball was in play and was completely out of the control of Duron’s teammates. They were just as horrified as everyone else, evidenced as #72 for Edinburg sprinted frantically after Duron to try and prevent what was about to occur.
That shocking moment overshadowed the accomplishments of Duron’s teammates on the night as they secured Edinburg its first playoff berth since 2018 in a play-in game against PSJA thanks to four total touchdowns by quarterback Rolando Abrego and two scores from running back Shandon Woodard, including a six-yard pass from Abrego.
To see that accomplishment stripped from these innocent high school student-athletes is a hard thing to watch.
Now this is not to criticize the school board as there still is a lot more to this story that will come out over the coming days, and it is safe to say that this decision made by Edinburg CISD was made with more information than the general public currently has at its disposal.
Any discipline towards Duron by the school board certainly would have been justified, but the fact that the decision implicates his innocent teammates seems unfair at best. They earned their playoff spot, and it’s a shame that they won’t have the chance to play on the biggest stage of Texas high school football this season, especially after battling through a pandemic just to get to this point.
For most of these seniors, it would have been the last chance for them to play under the lights on a football field before moving on to college, the military, or the workforce. It would have been a chance to make memories and potentially earn their school’s first playoff victory in over 10 years.
But now because of the actions of one of their teammates, that chance is gone.