BROOKSVILLE — One Nature Coast football player has been suspended indefinitely for his role in a bench-clearing brawl during the Sharks' 40-24 win Friday at Groveland South Lake.
In addition, Nature Coast coach Jamie Joyner has been suspended six weeks for gross unsportsmanlike conduct and the school was fined $100. Joyner also must take a fundamentals of coaching class before he is reinstated and is prohibited from being onsite at any of the Sharks' remaining games.
The St. Petersburg Times obtained a copy of the Florida High School Athletic Association's preliminary report Monday afternoon, which cited Joyner and one unidentified Nature Coast student-athlete for "throwing punches."
If the punishment is served, Joyner's suspension would end Dec. 19, the day of the Class 3A state title game.
Joyner declined comment Monday afternoon, but previously said he was struck in the head with a helmet and suffered a black eye. When reached before Joyner's announced suspension, athletic director Travis Lamle said, "I would guess if a decision came down that was devastating, we would appeal."
Lamle would not identify the Nature Coast player suspended, but said administrators asked those at the game to write down their account of the incident to present to the FHSAA.
Four South Lake players were suspended. No players were named because they are minors, FHSAA spokeswoman Cristina Alvarez said.
According to the report there were three minutes, 45 seconds remaining in Friday's game when the power went out on the field. Visibility was limited to "5-10 feet maximum."
Head official Michael Koller from the Central Florida Officials Association said in his report, "We could then hear players beginning to hit each other. Both benches cleared and numerous players for each side began fighting. Visibility was still limited until a vehicle turned their headlights on about a minute later."
Officials held a meeting at midfield and decided to call the game. They also identified the five players and coach they "are confident threw punches during the brawl."
Joyner denied throwing punches, the report said, "… however, the official that observed the coach's actions was less than 5 feet from the coach and confident of what he saw."
Nature Coast visits Central in this week's regular-season finale with a chance to complete the program's first 10-0 season. This marks the first meeting since last year's fight between the teams after Central's 17-13 upset.
The Sharks are the Class 3A, District 6 champions and will host Williston in a region quarterfinal Nov. 21.