High School Player Penalized for Praying After Touchdown

High School Player Penalized for Praying After Touchdown

A high school senior in Florida who offered a prayer after he scored the first touchdown of his career, drawing a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, has been showered with praise from fans. 

Senior Sam Turner, from Fort Myers High School, caught a 27-yard touchdown pass, then knelt and pointed his finger toward heaven before thanking God. Turner asserted, “I said ‘thank you, God, for this talent you’ve blessed me with.” After thanking God, Turner gave honor to JoJo Brunson, a teammate who was murdered in April 2013. 

Turner, from Fort Myers, added: 

There’s been tons of support from my family and friends. They are proud of me that I stood firm in my faith. It’s very cool to see how everyone is taking it. I use my faith as a platform for my talents. My teammates are giving my tons of support. They all know I’m strong believer, even though it cost us 15 yards.

Turner’s coach, Sam Sirianni Jr., didn’t see any blame to be placed on anyone, claiming, “It comes down to a ref’s discretion. To them, they try to follow the letter of the rules. You accept both sides. I have seen it happen at all levels. The officials have to toe the line.” He added, “I bet the official doesn’t feel good about throwing it, but I don’t begrudge the official. You just move on.” 

Sirianni noted that the night had been devoted to Brunson, so emotions were running high. He said, “We talked to Sam. What he did wasn’t selfish. He didn’t understand it at first. He said it shouldn’t have been a penalty. He would never do anything disrespectful or do anything that would hurt the team. You don’t punish or get mad at a kid for his intent.” 

Turner, who attends Next Level Church, said he hopes to play football in college, asserting,  “I need to grow my body a bit. I skipped a grade. That’s good for academics, but rough for sports…. I’ve been playing since 8 or 9. It has been fun ever since then.” 

Asked if he would repeat his action should he score another touchdown, he responded, “I may have to do it on the sidelines.”