High school football player headbutts ref and gets felony charge, Ohio prosecutor says

A high school football player in Ohio headbutted a referee after getting flagged for a personal foul, media outlets report.

Now he’s charged with a felony.

The 17-year-old student at Dunbar High School in Dayton was upset after the officials penalized him with a personal foul for shoving another player during the season-opening game Aug. 31, Dayton Daily News reported. His team was already losing 23-8 in the second quarter to Roger Bacon High School from Cincinnati, according to the newspaper.

Upset with the flag, video from a broadcast of the game shows the player walk to the referee and headbutt him while still wearing a helmet, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported. The ref stumbles back as other officials throw flags and the player gets escorted off the field, the newspaper reported.

Referees ended the game immediately. A criminal investigation was just beginning.

On Thursday, prosecutors said the teenager was charged this week with felonious assault causing serious injury, a second-degree felony, WHIO reported. He will stay at the county’s juvenile detention center until his first court date, WDTN reported.

Meanwhile, Scott Bistrek, the referee who was headbutted, is lobbying state lawmakers for tougher penalties against players who attack referees. He’s testified in support of legislation in the Ohio state senate that could make it a felony to assault sports officials.

Bistrek told lawmakers that he suffered a concussion and couldn’t officiate for the next week.

“He could have caused so much more damage, even death from this headbutt,” Bistrek wrote in testimony submitted to a state senate committee. “I was lucky to get a concussion, but the next person may not be.”

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Chacour Koop is a Real-Time reporter based in Kansas City. Previously, he reported for the Associated Press, Galveston County Daily News and Daily Herald in Chicago.