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Flagrant Hit Underlines Football’s Biggest Problem

Flagrant Hit Underlines Football’s Biggest Problem

Editors Note- Post Release:  11-28-16  It only took 3 minutes from me publishing this story for an assault on me to start.  I figured it would be at least 5.  But I will not alter my reporting because people want me to play nice. Once any of you have attended a funeral or two for a dead football player or visited or helped a permanently disabled player where the game was the cause then come talk to me.  Until then I will not bend to your pressure. To clarify the intent and message of this story – Football as a game is trying to improve.  Officiating has consistently not upheld the rules on crucial plays involving safety and we need systems in place to properly punish flagrant acts that have the potential to harm players.  It is time for Video to be used in determining violations during or after games.   The WIAA and OSAA and the proper officiating bodies can lead in this regard and frankly they should.  In determining a Targeting Foul and the Flagrant Foul we looked at several sources.  See Here And Here  .

11-29-16 –  Today the Columbian newspaper interviewed various sources and Michael Colebrese of the WIAA.  While many agreed with my article below just as many disagreed and openly attacked us for our position.  It is never easy nor fun to write stories where accountability is stressed and demanded.  Read our story and then read the Columbian’s article.  You will see the outcome.  Thank you! Read The Columbian story here

Coumbian Camas High


 November 27th, 2016

The Camas Papermakers and the Sumner High Spartans played this past week in an emotion filled quarter-final  game.  One that was loaded with big plays and star power.  This was the ultimate “winner take all” high school football playoff game.  The victor punched a ticket to the Tacoma Dome and a Championship game.

Drake Owen 550

Camas High school Junior Punt Returner Drake Owen was the victim of a vicious targeting blow


Camas overcame a serious fight by the Spartans but pulled away late to win 45-21.  The Papermakers return to the Dome and get their shot at the Golden Ball trophy again.  Congrats to both teams who we support.  But we must address the 9,000 pound monster in the room.  The same monster that has youth football enrollment down a whopping 28% the past 5 years as nearly 1 Million youth athletes have pulled out of the game.

Football has an image problem at all levels and Traumatic Brain Injury and Concussions are at the center of this.  Despite the NFHS and the NFL addressing safety concerns in all aspect of the game things are not getting better.  Proper tackling techniques, Concussion awareness, and new rules have all failed to halt the injuries and the image problem the game is suffering from.

One can say that the Massive Oak that is the game is dying from the roots up.  So when we have a chance to help save the game we must weigh in.

Let me address the illegal and most violent and intentional hit (he intended to hit him to the upper body) that took place during this game.  It was late in the first half and Sumner was punting the ball back to Camas. Standing back at the 20 yard line was Drake Owen (5’11”-175 lb. Junior) for Camas.    As the punt sailed skyward Sumner’s Tyson Rainwater (6’2″-190 lb. Senior) streaked up the field.  Heading straight for Owen with no idea of where the ball was at he was a man on mission.

Rainwater, who has one of the best Highlight films as a WR we have seen this year, is a big time athlete.  He is as fast and as powerful of an athlete as you will ever see.  What he was thinking as he ran up that field we will never know.  But football is a game of aggression that at the base level requires one to hit the opposing player so hard he will not want to get up.

Before the ball showed up Rainwater delivered one of the most violent blows to the helmet and upper body we have ever seen.  It was as violent and as purposeful of a blast as you may ever see.  Owen crumpled to the ground dazed, his chin cut, and frankly everyone who saw this hit was likely wondering if he would get up.  Thank God he did; Rainwater is lucky he did.  We all are.

The Columbian reported that Owen had called for a fair catch; we are not certain about that but watch in this Video what actually happened.

Now this hit was most certainly “Targeting”.  Here is the problem; the blow was Flagrant as far as we could see and no ejection was issued.  The officials are so very important to our game and to the safety of the boys.  How we could get to this point in the season and have this most egregious hit go unpunished is a sign of the level of issues we are having with officials.

This hit was “targeting” and it was “flagrant*”.  Targeting is 15 yards, the flagrant aspect requires ejection. See below from the NFHS. Open the Rule Here.Targeting Rule

Targeting Picture

rules defensless

Rule 2-20-2 provides a definition for targeting. Targeting is an act of taking aim and initiating contact to an opponent above the shoulders with the helmet, forearm, hand, fist, elbow or shoulders. The penalty for targeting is 15 yards. The offending player may be disqualified if the foul is deemed to be flagrant.

Where were the officials?  Truly this young man could have been killed or permanently disabled.  No Flag?  Please.  Also we wonder why a coach would not take action on his own and sideline a player like Rainwater for what he did.  If we are truly going to save the game from itself we can not tolerate even 1 of these sort of incidents where an explanation is not offered.

*Flagrant—a flagrant foul is one so severe or dangerous that player safety is significantly and recklessly compromised. Likewise, an unsportsmanlike violation that is particularly vulgar or persistent may qualify as a flagrant foul as well. [Note: Either a contact foul or a non-contact foul may qualify as “flagrant.”]

So I will ask the WIAA here on this public forum where were the officials?  Where is the accountability?  What more can we do as a football community?   The NFHS with the help of the NFL have done the work and are making thoughtful rule changes.  But the buck has to stop with the officials and it is time for them to step up and release a statement on this play and if they stand behind their decision for a no-call.   We want answers and Drake Owen is sure and the heck owed one.  He risked his health out there like all our boys do.  

The answer must come forth.

Football’s biggest problem is that the game is being lost.  This is  partly a combination of continued illegal hits (intended or not), the injuries that result, and the continued lack of officials understanding or caring enough to enforce the rules.  Coaching falls into this as well.  Not setting proper expectations and levying punishments against athletes ads to the games woes.  All of these elements have played a role in this case that underlines what is happening.

OSAA Executive Director Brad Garrett was on the NFHS Rules Committee last season and Targeting and the Flagrant Call was a Point of Emphasis

“Rules against excessive contact involving the head have been on the books for years in the form of spearing, face-tackling and butt-blocking. In the offseason, though, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) included all of them in defining its new targeting rule.

The NFHS gave the rule a broad definition: “Targeting is an act of taking aim and initiating contact to an opponent above the shoulders with the helmet, forearm, hand, fist, elbow, or shoulders.”

Officials are making a concerted effort to crack down on such contact this season, partially due to a directive from OSAA assistant executive director Brad Garrett, who also serves as chairman of the NFHS football rules committee.

“I told our officials in this state, very simply, when in doubt if it’s targeting, it’s targeting,” Garrett said. “When in doubt that it’s flagrant targeting, it’s flagrant targeting. Period. We are going to err on the side of minimizing risk for kids.

Read the rest of this Story in the Oregonian- 2014


From Drake’s brother Addison Owen played for Camas and the Montana Grizzlies and weighed in on this hit.

“It was awful Dirk, the ball wasn’t even close. I just hope it had nothing to do with their coaching because it can get shady quick…& with the ball being so far away it makes me question things but I’m trying to give the kid the benefit of the doubt and hopefully it was a miss timed accident. But it was the worst I have ever seen & I never had anyone hit me like that during my punt return days!”
When asked how his brother is now Addison offered this.
“I think Drake’s mentality on punt returning is still alright,, he understands it is part of the game and the kid most definitely should have been ejected. His teammates stepped up big time for him!”
We have asked for comments from the Camas Coaches.  We do not want to distract from the Championship week but this issue needs to be discussed by our football Community at large and it has to happen now.
Thank goodness Drake is ok.  This incident shows us how far we have to go.  These hits can not happen.  These calls can not be missed .  There is no margin for error if we want to protect our game from further erosion.

Flagrant Hit Underlines Football’s Biggest Problem


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I am the Founder of the Northwest Prep Report. For 17 years I have led the way to the best of my ability to promote the best talent from the Pacific NW free of charge. It is my pleasure to continue to serve High School athletes from all over the Pacific NW and beyond. Formerly with my sites have now crossed over 8,000 stories, 7 MILLION Video Views, and 15,000 regular followers. Together with the best football people in the USA we pursue excellence for our NW athletes.

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  1. Kris

    November 28, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    We are a Sumner family that was devastated to watch that hit to the Camas player. It came as a shock to all of us and was entirely unexpected. The players are not coached to do that and Sumner prides itself on good sportsmanship. I don\’t know what was in the mindset of the player but I can tell you that is not something that we practice. Hoping that Drake is doing better and wish you Camas a great championship game.

    • Dirk Knudsen

      November 28, 2016 at 7:29 pm

      I\’m not associated with Camas. I know the kid was not trying to do anything rather then play aggressively. When these things happen it never helps not to discuss them. It was a flagrant penalty. no one debates that. The game is bigger then all of us and we have to see rules be enforced. I have many of the Sumner boys on our recruiting lists. This was not aimed at him personally or the team. Thank you for your comments.

  2. Mark Jerrers

    November 28, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    I was there at the game. It actually looked worse live. He should have been ejected. I would say the same thing if it were a Camas player.

    I also notice that when the Sumner pass coverage got beat, they would just grab whatever they could to stop the receiver from getting free saving at least 3 Tds. Assuming the receiver actually caught the ball. It\’s pretty hard to deny when the defender is running after the receiver with his jersey stretched out over a foot behind him.

    I will give #76? from Sumner credit, he had horse collar on a breakaway and let it go, which resulted in a Camas TD.

  3. Stacy

    November 28, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    I think this is such a powerful article and it\’s something that needs to be addressed. Today in football media, college or professional these large hits like these get posted and retweeted gaining popularity. A lot of kids see these videos and idolize wanting to be the biggest and toughest with the most powerful hit going for the hit and not the tackle. In your article you talk of how a coach allows that and I agree. There needs to be a line in what\’s right and what\’s wrong. But officials should be notified when they miss such a huge call during the game. Most these games are captured on video, it shouldn\’t be after the fact when action is taken.

  4. Chip Engelman

    November 28, 2016 at 10:43 pm

    I also was at the game and saw that hit. It was a devistating hit, that deserved a flag and ejection. The 1st thing I noticed after the hit was a Summer coach grabbing the attention of the side judge and signaling with his arms the the kid the laid the hit was pushed into the Camas player and the side judge nodding his head in agreement.
    After that the referees all got in a huddle. I do not know what was said but the side judge made the same pushing motions. I would hope an explanation was given to the Camas coaches.

  5. Mike Trumble

    November 29, 2016 at 2:23 am

    I was at the game and witnessed the hit. It was as violent a hit as I have ever seen go unpunished. I certainly don\’t know what the Sumner kid was thinking but I agree that the hit should not have been left to only a penalty.
    The time has come and technology exists to get this call right on the field. This game was being televised. The officials could have reviewed tape to determine if an ejection was in order if such a rule existed to make sure that happened.
    The real disappointment was the Sumner coaches had a chance to do right by Drake and bench their player despite any shortcomings in the rule book. While we all must admit the drive to win is at an all time high but these are still young boys/men and a lesson could still have been taught. Shame on the coaching staff of Sumner. There is no way they missed the violent hit that stunned everyone who witnessed it.
    You are right about this game being at risk if we as fans and supporters don\’t speak up and do what\’s necessary to protect those involved, especially young players.

  6. Sara

    November 29, 2016 at 4:10 pm

    Thank you for this article! I am a first year youth football coach and being a mom that has never played (or watched) much football I filled my time with training to prep myself for the season. Training was so focused on teaching the kids safety, proper techniques to minimize injury, so this is what I taught my kiddos. I was pretty shocked and upset when gametime came and officials were not calling violations and coaches were high-fiving after an \”unsafe- upper body hit\”.
    I am competitive and I want to win as much as the next coach, but I wish the importance of kids health was more front and center.

  7. Brandy Reed

    November 29, 2016 at 8:14 pm

    Thank you for taking the time to publish the TRUTH about what happened at the game! Equally as disgraceful was the terrible sportsmanship by Sumner players on the field while Drake layed injured. That IS something that they had full control over. #8 Ben Wilson\’s behavior on the field was down right disgusting!

  8. Hansen Paul

    November 30, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    I too was at the game. It is disgraceful that the Sumner coaching staff let Rainwater continue to play. Ironically, Camas subsequently had to punt on the next series and who fair-caught the ball? That\’s right. Rainwater. What did the Camas players do? That\’s correct. They respected the game and the player and stopped short of touching him. I played through College and I can guarantee you I would not have not shown the same level of restraint. Bravo to the Camas players and coaches for rising above the fray.

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