An official’s decision to eject the Prairie City/Burnt River Panther football coach was overturned after the school appealed to the Oregon School Activities Association.
Six-man football has some different rules than 11-man or even 8-man, and one rule was misinterpreted by the officiating crew during the Sept. 13 game between the Panthers and the visiting Sherman/Condon Huskies. Oregon is in its second year of a two-year six-man football pilot program to allow small schools to continue with the sport.
OSAA Assistant Executive Director Brad Garrett said Panther coach Scott Dean “was ejected and Prairie City appealed, which is allowable, and the commissioner granted that appeal.”
He added, they see 300-plus ejections by the end of the year, in various sports, and not every appeal is granted. In this case, there was a misapplication of the rules, he said.
“No person is perfect,” Garrett said.
He said both teams were incorrectly penalized for a direct hand-to-hand snap.
The misunderstanding stemmed from a bulletin that reminded officials that the quarterback has to be at least a yard from the line of scrimmage, and Garrett said the quarterback is indeed a yard behind when they receive the hand-to-hand.
“We can’t rewind the clock, but all the correct actions have been taken,” Garrett said.
Dean said his team had been practicing their plays under center, where the center hands the ball directly under him to the quarterback, rather than pitching it back in the shotgun formation.
“We were under center for the prior game and scrimmage for the most part,” the coach said. “Not one time were we ever questioned.”
“Direct or indirect, what got me fired up, on film, Sherman went under center five times before called on it,” Dean said. “We had a center and snapping issue that under center we would have not had — 12 times in the game we mishandled the snap, which we would have not done if not for the decision (incorrect or not) of the referee.”
Prairie City Athletic Director Billy Colson said the ejection came when Dean continued to tell them that they were misinterpreting the rule. He said the coach’s frustrations were exacerbated when the other team was allowed to take snaps under center.
“Hopefully, this interpretation is fixed moving forward, so that this type of miscommunication doesn’t happen again,” Colson said. “Everyone makes mistakes, and in working with the referee commissioner and OSAA, we were able to handle this situation professionally and move forward from it.”
“I know that our coach was extremely frustrated, but at no point do I think he was inappropriate in his language and demeanor,” Colson continued. “I also know that our kids showed a lot of perseverance in the game with the difficulties of not being allowed to run a majority of their plays because of the misinterpretation of the rule.”
Prairie City/Burnt River will host the Huntington/Harper Locomotives at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27. If the ruling had not been appealed with that appeal granted, Dean would have been suspended from coaching that game.
Dean said he’s happy the decision was overturned.
“I have not been ejected, ever, over rules,” he said. “I will always stand up for my players and have 40-plus years of coaching. An injustice was corrected, and it’s time to move on.”