Our View: NHS Quarterback Sheets’ Suspension Just Isn’t Right

December 2, 2011

Tonight’s the biggest football game ever in Bratt, and certainly the big one for seniors like Brandon Sheets, starting quarterback and free safety.

But Brandon won’t play tonight, his suspension upheld Thursday by the Florida High School Athletic Association for taunting. Really? This is high school football. This is a sport for young men; this is not third grade kickball.

That said, there should have never been a flag on Sheets after his short touchdown late in the third. Video from two different angles clearly shows Sheets steeping across the goal line and stopping near immediately. There’s a Freeport defender wrapped around his legs. The tackle does not bring him down, but he stops until the Freeport player turns loose. Yes, he does look down, waiting to see when Mr. Freeport is going to let go. Then within a second, he turns and walks away with another Chief.

Plenty of “smart” armchair quarterbacks have read the reports on NorthEscambia and chimed in on how immature he was, how he should be taught a lesson, how the suspension was correct and lots of other uneducated comments. Some theorized that it was what he said that irked the referee. Most probably did not even see the game, blowing hot air behind their keyboards.

The videos clearly show he did not do anything wrong. But, most importantly to me, I did not see anything wrong. I’m not playing armchair quarterback or making that call from the perspective of a fan in the stands. I’m saying that as the person standing closer to the play than anyone else in the stadium except for other players. I was just feet away on the edge of end zone, closer than any referee. If he said anything wrong, I certainly did not hear it, and it would have been impossible for any referee to hear.

I never saw a second flag against Sheets. No one caught it on video. In fact, I can’t find anyone that saw the second flag, even among us media types on the field. There was never a clear signal from a ref that Sheets was ejected.

If Brandon Sheets did run back on the field clapping, then sorry Mr. Referee, he wasn’t making fun of you (again, this is not third grade kickball and no one’s out to get you). He was encouraging his team. That’s what Brandon Sheets does play after play, game after game. That’s leadership, not taunting.

After the game, Wheatley told me, and told other reporters in separate interviews, that Sheets was not ejected. Wheatley said he pulled him from the rest of the game, allowing backup quarterback Kevin Vaughan excellent playtime in the QB slot.

But somewhere between Friday night and Monday morning, an official from the Miracle Strip Association, decided and reported to the Florida High School Athletic Association that Sheets was ejected.

That’s another interesting issue. The Miracle Strip Association that provided the officials  is based in Shalimar, about 30 miles from Freeport, with officials from across that area. They are, just to make the note, the likely officials for the Northview vs. Chipley game. Chipley is a short 75 miles from Freeport.

Ejections have their place in high school sports. Throwing punches, spitting, attacking an official physically, throwing a sissy fit — those are valid reasons for ejections. Ejections have been issued overturned on appeal this year in our area for players involved in fights and players that were arrested.

But what’s done is done, as wrong as it may be. Brandon Sheets will sit out Friday night’s game. He will hold his head high knowing his team, his fans and most of Escambia County are behind him.

Junior Kevin Vaughan will step and he will lead the Chiefs on the field tonight. Rest assured, his team is behind him, and they are ready to “Do it with Dewey”, as he is called by those that know him. The fans will pack the stands; those that can’t be there will follow our score updates on their computers and smartphones. We all have your back Kevin, and we are supporting you and each of the players fully.

Win or lose, we won’t be making excuses come Saturday morning, even though we know the suspension was wrong. The entire area will stand tall behind the Boys from Bratt. Most of us are already checking the couch cushions for gas money for Orlando. (Can you say Road Trip?!?)

Go Chiefs!

William Reynolds, Publisher


33 Responses to “Our View: NHS Quarterback Sheets’ Suspension Just Isn’t Right”

  1. amused cashier on December 4th, 2011 9:06 am

    i think that our writer, mr. william, is amazing and does an excellant job every day covering our local news. he is always right on and to the point reguardless of any hurt feelings. perfect example is that all who spoke against him, were on northescambia to do it. something had to draw them in as well. maybe it is his outstanding articles, his personal connection, or it could be his captivating points. irreguardless the most amusing point to me is how they were obviously avid readers until the truth was put to paper against them. then instead of denying the facts they found themselves at a loss. the only comeback they could offer was to slander mr. williams grammar skills, and to try and push doubts forward of how he recieved his point of view. well, i tell you how. it was done with all possibility. nothing is better then back up proof. good job mr. william, for showing everyone your point of view as if we were right there ourselves, the official certainly wasnt.

  2. 429SCJ on December 3rd, 2011 6:07 am

    Amen Bama Fan. The agenda of the FHSAA has revealed itself. Jeremiah 23:1 is a verse that I find inspiration in, when confronted with adversity and travesty,

  3. Wondering on December 2nd, 2011 10:53 pm

    Congrats to Miracle Strip officials ,you made it to the state finals.

  4. Bama Fan on December 2nd, 2011 3:52 pm

    All my life I have lived believing in the saying, “what goes around comes around”. I just want Brandon and his fellow players and all of Northview fans to know that every person involved with the decision to keep Brandon from playing in the game tonight will get their comeuppance one day, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not next month, but I assure you that it will come eventually. I am sorry that this young man will not be able to take the field with his teammates tonight but I wish Northview every bit of good luck it takes to win and keep your head up Brandon because, Good Lord Willing, you will be able to play that final game with your fellow players next week. I hope you will be going to Orlando next week. Also, a word of caution to tonights officials, be careful of your actions because when you do wrong to others it will come back to you.


    Please do not misconstrue this as any type of threat whatsoever. Most people would just call it KARMA.

  5. former official on December 2nd, 2011 2:41 pm


    Do you call with Miracle Strip? Is that why you are defending the action of the officials?


    If you can, why don’t you look at the screen grab in the previous post and tell us why that official was so far out of position. You can also go to the youtube video of the play and watch the closest official who walks down the sideline, never makes it to the endzone. Preventative officiating would have prevented this.

    The official didn’t hustle, never made it to the goal line.

    It’s a tough call to eject a qb from the winning team for something so trivial when so much is on the line. It’s the officials job to keep the guys in the game…

  6. Uncle Jimbo on December 2nd, 2011 2:01 pm

    I read a few comments and I bet they have some self serving reason for them, the publisher proved he was close enough to the play to comment I ask were you close enough to the play to comment on it. I hope that the people making these comments are not grow ups. A big thank you to the Publisher of North Escambia this will help a young man restore his respect for his elders. I’m his uncle and I know how hard he has work on the field and in the class room and for this I’m proud of him, I could not care a bit about a game but I do care that the boy, and he was robbed, any one that comments against him has robbed him as well.

  7. Wondering on December 2nd, 2011 12:50 pm

    To expound on my comment: Brandon had scored. The Freeport player had him around the legs in the endzone and did not turn him loose but held on for several seconds. That is when Brandon looked down at him and dropped the ball. Why was the Freeport player holding on in the endzone after a touchdown and the whistle had blown. He could have released him and that would have been it. If the official saw one thing he had to see the other. A warning to both would have been the best choice but that didn’t happen because Mr. Overzealous had to flag someone. I hope I expounded enough,evidently some of this is over your head, like the LSU call.

  8. Happy to Help on December 2nd, 2011 11:44 am

    >>>J Bray wrote In college, Sheets’ TD would have been nullified as was the fake punt by LSU that resulted in a TD. The punter taunted a defensive player and the TD was taken away.

    J Bray is incorrect. The LSU penalty occurred prior to the TD so the penalty yards were assessed where the foul occurred. If the LSU player had waited until after he scored to be unsportsmanlike, the penalty would have been assessed on the kick-off. I hope you know the high school rules better.

    Happy to Help.

  9. cheer mom on December 2nd, 2011 11:35 am

    Well said William!

  10. William on December 2nd, 2011 11:30 am

    >>>Rickey wrote “There is NO WAY you could have been closer than an official on the field at the end of a play!!! There is no audio with this video, so noone BUT the official and the players know what may have been said..

    I disagree. Here’s a grab from the video with my shoes (light white dots in the picture) labeled “NorthEscambia” and the nearest official labeled as such.


    Note that closest official is still moving toward the play (#8 but looks like a blurred “0″ in the grab), while I’m standing still. #8 is facing me. *If* something was said loud enough to be heard, who would hear it? Me, directly in front of #8, or the ref running up behind him?

    The video was shot from the press box area, so audio on it certainly would not include what’s said on the field.

  11. J Bray on December 2nd, 2011 11:19 am

    Wondering, you need to expound a bit. If Freeport was on defense and the Freeport player was holding onto Brandon’s leg while he was carrying the ball, that is not a penalty. So please expound on your theory just a bit.

    And yes the officials cannot see every player on the field at all times. I would venture to say that there could be some sort of penalty called on every play, especially holding, if the officials could see all, but unfortunately we cannot.

  12. Rickey on December 2nd, 2011 11:11 am

    Mr. Reynolds,

    There is NO WAY you could have been closer than an official on the field at the end of a play!!! There is no audio with this video, so noone BUT the official and the players know what may have been said. Also, your spell check allowed you to place the word loose in your article where I THINK you intended to place LOSE. And one FINAL point, Bratt is closer to Shalimar than Chipley!!!!!!

    This most likely won’t make your comment section as it is in TOTAL disagreement with your article.

  13. Wondering on December 2nd, 2011 11:10 am

    Mr. Official, what would have called when the Freeport player would not turn loose of his legs? I was there and saw him holding on, about 40 ft. away. The official was there and saw that too, so why did he not call that? Oh , I know your answer, he probably did not see that.

  14. mike on December 2nd, 2011 11:07 am

    To j bray….i couldnt agree more But time and place was last week to correct officials mistake and Now for this kid that might never play highschool ball again you robbed him of what could be last game…….instead of admitting ref was wrong and everyone keeps saying “learn his lesson” i would say your showing him a lesson doesnt matter whats right or wrong

  15. J Bray on December 2nd, 2011 11:02 am

    Taunting is a very subjective call. From the video evidence that I saw on the TD, yes that could be taunting and I would have called it also. However I did not see what happened later that caused the second penalty. As I said I am an FHSAA official but was not calling that game, so all I really have to go by is the video that has been shown time and time again.

    Had Brandon scored the TD, turned around and pitched the ball to the approaching official and left the field, we also would not be having this conversation. I understand that in the heat of the moment we all let our emotions get the best of us, but again rules are rules however subjective they may be.

    As an FYI, I too hope that the Chiefs win tonight so they can advance and allow Brandon to exit HS football on a good note.

  16. The Truth is in the Wind! on December 2nd, 2011 10:52 am

    @J Bray. I’m with you. I’m unable to make it beyond the Editor’s delete key with most of my comments. I agree that the specific play in question is not clear cut and is open to many interpretations. Nobody knows what might have been said on the field before the last straw that broke the camels back! It appeared to me that 84 knew to get 8’s butt off the field but just got there too late. Karma has a way of catching up with you!

  17. Wondering on December 2nd, 2011 10:49 am

    Mr. Bray, If it wasn’t for the official that messed this up from the start, the editorial would not be needed.

  18. Bama Girl on December 2nd, 2011 10:45 am

    I am not able to attend tonighs game but am rooting for the CHIEF’s………. Want to say more but it might be considered taunting!!!

  19. J Bray on December 2nd, 2011 10:40 am

    Last time I checked this editorial was not about the officials but was about Brandon Sheets and the fact that he was taunting an opposing player.

    As an FHSAA official, I know what can happen if we make blatant mistakes, but that is for another time and another place.

  20. Chief Fan on December 2nd, 2011 10:34 am

    Great artical!!!! It is not fair but we as fans are ALL behind the team and will be following them all the way to Orlando!!! Let’s go Chiefs!!!! One more win until State! I’ll be there will bells on!!!

  21. Wondering on December 2nd, 2011 10:20 am

    O.K. If ,and thats a big IF, Sheets broke a rule, and he is punished. What happen to the official, who according to all reports and statements did not follow the rules set by FHSAA for ejecting a player or for ejecting the Freeport coach. What will his punishment be? If like all other by FHSAA, nothing, he will probably be promoted for being incompetent and hold an administrative job with them.

  22. Tammy on December 2nd, 2011 10:09 am

    O.K. face it Brandon is not going to play , So Chiefs lets win this one for Brandon and all of ya’ll so he can play ONE more High School Game,, let’s do this,, will be there
    with bells on,,,,,,

  23. J Bray on December 2nd, 2011 10:05 am

    I guess I will be the lone dissenter. Rules are rules and as such must be followed. If we do not like the rules then petition for change, but good luck with that. I believe that taunting should be removed from all football games from Pop Warner all the way to the NFL. There is no place for it in a football game. In college, Sheets’ TD would have been nullified as was the fake punt by LSU that resulted in a TD. The punter taunted a defensive player and the TD was taken away.

    As I said, rules are rules, abide by them or suffer the consequences.

  24. DISGUSTED on December 2nd, 2011 9:41 am

    I don’t even live in Florida, I live in Flomaton Al and as a citizen who enjoys watching high school football I am completely disgusted. What are wrong with these people. If this was tried in a court of law, the video tape would be allowed into evidence and would surely set him free of the allegations. So this tells me that fhsaa and the miracle strip associations are either downright stupid, blind, discrimative, or into really shady politics.

  25. Wondering on December 2nd, 2011 9:28 am

    Mr. Reynolds, I have always marveled at your reporting, but now I marvel at your words and how eloquent you use them. Great article, GO CHIEFS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  26. wfhs mom in walnut hill on December 2nd, 2011 9:25 am

    Thank you for the first hand account of what you saw. I was at this game, but of course, like most fans was too far from the action to say with any certainty what had occurred.
    Hopefully this unjustified suspension will spur the Northview fans to offer even greater support to this group of young men. This is an occasion for them to rise above adversity and to represent our community and their families proudly. I’ll be there cheering them on.

  27. c.w. on December 2nd, 2011 8:54 am

    What a great article. Its a fact that the miracle strip group has the worse “officals” in florida. They made another bad call and just flat lied about it. What a bunch of “men”.
    Then there is the fhsaa. Thats a useless bunch of overpaid whatever they are. I don,t know the kid, but I can and did study the films and could not see or hear anything to warrent an ejection. When will the NFL,NCAA, and fhsaa stop backing inept “officals”?
    Anyway, the chiefs got screwed but will prevail, I hope.
    Good luck!

  28. Cheif on December 2nd, 2011 8:48 am

    I don’t think he should of been flagged either, but if he was he didn’t have to be ejected. If you get 2 unsportsmanlike fouls in a high school game, I think you are automatically removed. At least that’s how it used to be. The refs didn’t have to eject him.

  29. Brian Belle on December 2nd, 2011 8:43 am

    anyone who watches that video and thinks this kid was in the wrong has to have there own agenda. its very sad but this is the world we live in. great article!

  30. Stacey on December 2nd, 2011 8:37 am

    VERY well said, William!! Agree completely!!

  31. NHS Band Mom on December 2nd, 2011 8:31 am

    Very well said William! We >—->
    Thank you William for all you do for our community!

  32. Meridith on December 2nd, 2011 8:24 am

    Very well said William!!! Thank you for ALWAYS setting the record straight. These boys deserve a good game tonight as well as the rest of NHS. We are all pulling for our Chiefs, all the way to STATE!!! :)

  33. Football Fan on December 2nd, 2011 8:23 am

    Amen, well said! I follow baldwin county football but this was not a fair decision! This kid is a senior and he deserves to play ball tonight!

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