As expected, the FHSAA suspended Nature Coast defensive end/wide receiver Rohan Blackwood on Monday following his ejection in Friday's preseason classic.
Fortunately for the Sharks and the senior who has received 11 Division I offers, he'll only have to sit out the first two games of the regular season.
In the third quarter of Nature Coast's 47-7 loss at Citrus, Blackwood was tossed after a Hurricanes' touchdown run. Referees told Nature Coast head coach Charles Liggett that Blackwood had thrown, though did not land, a punch.
Though he was issued a Level 2 suspension for unsportsmanlike conduct, he was not hit with the maximum six-week penalty as outlined in FHSAA policy.
According the FHSAA's incident report, "based on the information received" Blackwood's suspension was reduced to three weeks, through Sept. 13.
Due the Sharks' Week 2 bye, Blackwood catches another break. He'll miss this Friday's season opener at Crystal River and the Sept. 13 home opener against Springstead.
However, Nature Coast is attempting to appeal the suspension on the basis that, according to Liggett, both he and Citrus head coach Rayburn Greene agree that after viewing game tape, Blackwood did not throw a punch.
"He and the other player were engaged, they were thrashing around," Liggett said. "When Rohan pushed the other guy away, his hand went out and that looked like he threw a punch."
According to Liggett, on Tuesday the district office asked that the school rewrite the formal letter of appeal before it would sign off on it for submission to the FHSAA.
Liggett does believe Blackwood deserves to sit down for a game due to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty he received earlier against the 'Canes.
"I know it doesn't look like it, but he's trying to work on maturing and making better choices, and that first unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was a bad choice," Liggett said. "The second penalty was something that happens all the time in football games.
"He's got to understand he's under the microscope and he can't make stupid decisions."
If the initial penalty remains as is, Blackwood will be eligible to return for Nature Coast's first Class 5A, District 6 contest, Sept. 20 at home versus Central.