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
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.
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.
Unprotected Camas punt returner goers hit hard before catching the ball. Boos roaring from Camas crowd. pic.twitter.com/2hlfnYrLTi
— TJ Cotterill (@TJCotterill) November 26, 2016
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
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.”
From Drake’s brother Addison Owen played for Camas and the Montana Grizzlies and weighed in on this hit.
Flagrant Hit Underlines Football’s Biggest Problem