Constable confronts referees, stops high school football game


LIBERTY COUNTY, Texas – It's not unusual for someone to disagree with the referees about a call at a football game, but what one constable did is raising some eyebrows. He confronted those officials with an entire stadium watching the whole thing.

Tarkington and Splendora high schools are longtime rivals, so everyone was excited when they squared off to play last Friday. And a lot of folks are still pretty worked up, because a Liberty County constable walked onto the field and stopped the game for a while. He said he was breaking up a fight that other fans say never happened.

Tarkington had just scored a touchdown when Liberty County Constable L.W. DeSpain walked out on the field and stopped the game.

A Splendora player had taken a Tarkington player to the ground during the play. DeSpain said it looked to him like the Splendora player, Matteo Sloan, was choking the other boy. The constable would not talk on camera, but told Local 2 on the phone, "Appeared to me they were fighting."

Sloan's father was watching from the stands.

"Before he could kick the field goal the constable walked on the field. Walked out there very calmly, and from what I was told, wanted my son ejected and arrested for assault," said Sloan's father, Alex Jones.

He says his son wasn't choking the other boy, who posted a message on Facebook confirming that.

"By no means was he choking him. He had his hands up underneath the breast plate hands up, arms extended," said Jones.

A game official, who asked not to be named, said the referees couldn't tell exactly where the player's hands were, but still threw a red flag, penalizing Splendora for unsportsmanlike conduct. 

No players were ejected. The constable left the field.

Jones says he doesn't think DeSpain should have been on the field in the first place.

"It's been the social media. People are slandering my son, saying he's got anger issues and all that," said Jones. "He's a great kid. He's never been in any conduct trouble. No trouble whatsoever."

DeSpain is unrepentant, telling Local 2, "I did exactly what I thought was right and I'm going to continue to do it."

One of the game's referees told Local 2 that he hasn't seen anything like it in more than 20 years of officiating high school football.

Game officials filed a routine incident report with the University Interscholastic League. Tarkington ISD confirms the UIL has contacted the district, but isn't giving any details.

Tarkington won the game, 34-20.