Less than a month before football practice begins, St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute is wondering what might become of its season after the arrest of its standout running back.
Jaden J. Lofton, who was St. Joe's leading rusher last year, faces four felony charges stemming from a robbery in the Town of Tonawanda last month, according to a police report. Lofton has been accused of stealing marijuana, a cellphone and cash behind Ben Franklin Elementary School on Parkhurst Boulevard on the evening of June 6, according to the report.
Lofton, 18, and co-defendant Dwight D. Davis, 20, each were charged with three counts of second-degree robbery, one count of second-degree assault and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. One of the robbery counts alleges the suspects displayed what appeared to be a firearm.
"We're aware of the situation,” St. Joe’s athletic director Brian Anken said. “We're gathering information, but as far as his status, we can't comment on his status at this time.”
The school later released a statement from president Christopher Fulco: "St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute holds all of its students to high standards of conduct both at school and in our community. We are aware of this situation, and at this time, we have no additional information to share. It is St. Joe's policy to not comment on student disciplinary matters."
The victim told police he was on a basketball court behind the school at about 8 p.m. when he was approached by two people. One of the men asked the victim by name if he was a particular person and then asked, "You got weed?" according to the report.
The victim told police he told the two men that he had no marijuana, at which point they began to punch him in the face. The attack then "turned into a wrestling match," and after defending himself he decided to "give up," the report said. The attackers took his phone, identification and cash, he told police.
The victim suffered a 3-inch cut to his face and bloody and bruised knees, according to the police report.
He did not tell police anything about marijuana being stolen. That part came when police interviewed the person who said he drove the victim to the park to sell marijuana.
Lofton ran for 1,310 yards on 140 carries in 10 games for St. Joe's. His 1,424 all-purpose yards also led the team. His best performance was 230 yards rushing and four touchdowns on seven carries in a 55-0 victory against Bishop Timon-St. Jude. He was named to the Monsignor Martin first team and was recognized as sixth team all-state in Class AA.
As a sophomore, he was named to the Monsignor Martin second team and scored seven touchdowns.
Lofton is due in Tonawanda Town Court on Aug. 2, while Davis' next court date is July 26, according to court officials.
The first day of football practice is scheduled for Aug. 13.
News Sports Reporter Miguel Rodriguez contributed to this report.