Nature Coast star defensive end Rohan Blackwood has been suspended for three weeks by the Florida High School Athletic Association after being ejected in Friday night’s preseason loss to Citrus.
The FHSAA officials’ report said the 6-foot-5, 215-pound senior “swung and attempted to strike an opposing player” away from the action at the end of a scoring play midway through the third quarter of a 47-7 loss.
Sharks coach Charles Liggett disputed that claim Sunday afternoon after watching film of the incident. Liggett said Blackwood and an opponent were engaged with each other. When Blackwood separated himself from the player, he extended his arm, which looked like a punch.
Blackwood could have faced a six-week suspension, but the FHSAA downgraded it to three weeks after reviewing the level-two unsportsmanlike conduct incident.
Liggett said the school is appealing to get the three-week suspension reduced to one game because Blackwood did not throw a punch.
If the suspension stands, Blackwood will miss two games: Friday’s regular-season opener at Crystal River and a rivalry match against Springstead. He would be eligible to return for the Sept. 20 Class 5A, District 6 opener against Central.
The officials’ report, provided to the Times through an open-records request, said Blackwood had been cautioned repeatedly. He was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty late in the first half after throwing an opponent’s legs in the air in the pile.
Blackwood holds 20 scholarship offers, including USF, Louisville, Nebraska and Wisconsin. He was No. 9 on the Times’ HomeTeam 100 list of the area’s top players after recording 15 sacks as a junior.
Rivals and 247Sports both rank Blackwood as a three-star recruit and among the country’s No. 30 weakside defensive end prospects.
He’s also one of the North Suncoast’s top basketball players, who averaged 15.4 points and 11.0 rebounds per game last winter and helped the Sharks make the final four in 2012.