All posts by Royal A. Shepherd

Royal is the production director for Franchise Sports and a Houndsports' NBA Analyst for the Miami Heat. He grew up in Pompano Beach, Fla and is a lifelong Miami Heat, Kansas City Royals (for obvious reasons), Miami Marlins, University of Miami football and Green Bay Packers fan. He is a former staff writer for the Augusta Chronicle in Augusta, Ga. and the Tallahasssee Democrat daily newspapers. He was a sports editor for The Famuan, the student publication of his alma mater Florida A&M University. He encourages interaction with his readers via twitter (@RoyalShepherdFS) and Instagram (same handle). Father of one.

Cobras snap 2-game skid with 41-0 blowout win


Royal A. Shepherd, Director (@RoyalShepherdFS on Twitter)

TALLAHASSEE, FLA., ( – After losing their last two games, the Capital City Cobras made a statement to the rest of the APDFL — we’re not dead yet. The Cobras put up 33 points in the first half en route to a 41-0 massacre over the Emerald Coast Scorpions Saturday at Godby High School. 

3/25/17Royal A. Shepherd | Franchise Sports Tallahassee
Cobras quarterback Dion Graham scrambles away from pressure during the Cobras 41-0 win over the Emerald City Scorpions.

After losing quarterback Brandon Parks to injury, the Cobras turned to a familiar face to guide the offense. 36-year old veteran Dion Graham again was called to action and returned to the tune of five touchdown passes. The former Thomasville Bulldog QB, who still holds several records at the school including career passing touchdowns (60) and career completion percentage (58.6%), provided just the spark the team had been looking for. 

“Like I told them, it’s not that I’m back — I was just late,” Graham said. “They’ve been waiting on me and I just came to give my teammates what they have been waiting on.”

The team responded with its most dominant performance of the season. Their 41 points mark the team’s highest scoring total of the year and the defense posted its second home game shutout in as many games. 

Graham said the win came at the right time for the club. For a team that is not accustomed to losing streaks, dropping two games in a row puts a lot of older players in unfamiliar territory.

“This win just taught us that the train is still rolling and that we’re not out of it,” Graham said. “Two losses can take a little bit out of a team, but a win like this can pump the air right back in us.”

Head coach Antonio Ivey was visibly excited to get his team back on the winning track. His enthusiasm throughout the game was echoed by his players, who once again played with the moxie and confidence that has become their identity. 

“It was everything I needed. They did everything I asked them to,” Ivey said. “I asked for them to give me maximum effort, leave it all on on the field, and the scoreboard speaks for itself.”

He said the team has a point to prove and will spend the rest of the season putting the league on notice.

“It lets them know that our missing piece is back,” Ivey said. “A lot of teams have missing links too, but tonight shows that we are back to where we are supposed to be and a force to be reckoned with.”

The have a bye week and will use the time to recover from nagging injuries. They return to action April 8 in Orlando against the UMOJA Dragons. 

VIDEO UPDATE: Capital City Cobras open season with blowout win

Royal A. Shepherd, Director (@RoyalShepherdFS on Twitter)


The Capital City Cobras opened their season with a 34-0 opening day massacre of the Alabama Spartans. Head coach Antonio Ivey, offensive coordinator Brandon Robinson, quarterback Brandon Parks and defensive back Jarrod Marable give their thoughts after the game.


Sports Brief: Capital City Cobras to play first home game of the season

Royal A. Shepherd, Director (@RoyalShepherdFS on Twitter)

TALLAHASSEE, FLA., ( –Tallahassee’s own semi-pro football team is set to take the field for the first time of the 2017 season. Head coach Antonio Ivey and the Capital City Cobras will face the Alabama Spartans at Godby High School on Saturday at 6 p.m.

Their Feb. 18 game against the First Coast Fire of Jacksonville was canceled, making this the first time Ivey will see his new team in action against another squad.

Royal A. Shepherd | Franchise Sports Tallahassee
Capital City Cobras quarterback Dion Graham looks over the defense in the first half. The Cobras defeated the Pensacola Bay Spartans 22-8 in the first round of the Amateur to Professional Developmental Football League playoffs in 2015.

The Cobras are in their fourth year as members of the  Amateur to Professional Developmental League. The league is for players ranging in age from 18 to 30 looking for a second chance at either the collegiate or professional level, according to the APDFL website. The inaugural season was in 2013 and started with 18 teams. Today, it has 27 teams across five states, including Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana and Florida. 

In 2016, the team went 11-2, advancing all the way to second round of the playoffs before being defeated by the Opelika Chiefs 48-20. They will start the season ranked fourth in the league’s power rankings.

The Cobras roster features several notable names from the area. Former Louisville and Lincoln standout Travis Norton plays cornerback for the team. Godby’s own Jarvis “Boogaloo” Davis, Lavon Downs and Keith McCaskill all dawn Cobra jerseys. Tay Bennet from Monticello and William Sweets of East Gadsden round out the area players on this roster. 

Both Tallahassee universities are also represented on the team. Freddie Pompey and JuaQuinn Timmons are former Florida A&M players. Leon High School and Florida State quarterback Brandon Parks is also on the team along with former FSU linebacker Dorian Earley.

South Georgia names like Fred Holton and Jarrod Marble can also be found on a stacked Cobras team. More information can be found on the Capital City Cobras Facebook page.

Tickets are $3 for children ages 3-11 and $7 for patrons 12 and older.  They may also be purchased at the gate.

Seven lincoln players sign on national signing day

Dimetry Dixon, Correspondent (@DimetryDixonFS on Twitter)

Lincoln ended the 2016 season 5-4, but had six signees commit to collegiate programs on National Signing Day. One player even chose to stay really close to home.

Long snapper Grant Glennon signed to play with Florida State, choosing to stay near home. He is 6-foot-3-inches 220 pounds and ended the 2016 season as one of the top players in the city at his position. He held offers from the University of South Florida and University of Central Florida before committing to the Noles.

Chris Brimm, the Trojans’ 6-foot 200-pound quarterback, signed to Norte Dame, where they could use his throwing & running skills. He is a diverse quarterback that can sit in the pocket and use his feet to scramble. He ended the 2016 season with 1486 passing yards, 16 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, 71 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns. The next signee Is Malik

Malik Garye, a 6-foot-5-inch wide receiver ended the 2016 season with 27 receptions, 392 yards and 4 touchdowns. He held offers from Akron, Missouri, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and a few other programs before choosing to sign with Albany State.

Tom Moss, the offensive lineman that stands 6-foot-1-inch 300 pound signed to Jacksonville University. Wide Receiver Shakel Brown, who stands 6-foot-inches, will play his collegiate ball at Highlands Junior College.

Stephan Pierre plays both linebacker positions, middle and outside. He is 6-foot-2-inches and 190 pounds. He ended the 2016 season with 84 total tackles (55 solo), 29 assisted tackles, 1.5 sacks and two interceptions. He is now signed to Albany State University.

Outside linebacer Jakobe Roberts (6-foot-3-inches 180 pounds) ended the 2016 season with nine total tackles (5 solo), 4 assisted tackles and 1.5 sacks. He is now signed with Southeastern University.

Sports Brief: Antwan Owens only cougar to sign on National Signing day

Dimetry Dixon, Correspondent (@DimetryDixonFS on Twitter)

Antwan Owens was Godby Senior High School’s only signee to commit to a school on National Signing Day.  Owens, a 6-foot 3 286-pound defensive tackle, signed with Georgia Tech University last week.

Owens is a 3-star prospect who ended the 2016 season with 37 tackles (21 solo) and 2 sacks. He is a very physical defensive lineman who uses his hands a lot and has great technique. Owens was previously committed to the University of Central Florida, however, he went on a visit to Georgia tech and loved it. After the visit he decommitted from UCF and committed to the Yellow Jackets on signing day. 

23 Recruits are bringing their talent to FAMU

Stanley Brooks, Correspondent (@StanleyBrooksFS on Twitter)

Florida A&M University’s football team acquired 22 new players on national signing day. 13 of the new signees were defensive players and six will be lining up on offense.

A local signee for FAMU was Rickards High School quarterback D.J. Phillips. Phillips finished his high school career by throwing 5,557 yards with a 69% completion percentage and 45 touchdowns. He also rushed for 10 TD’s with 296 carries for 866 yards.

“I plan on trying to win a MEAC championship and build a winning culture here at Florida A&M and restore everything this program used to be about,” Phillips said.

Another local recruit was North Florida Christian High School cornerback Christopher Jerry. Jerry stands at 5’10” and weighs 170 pounds. He was named Honorable Mention All-Big Bend with 56 tackles, nine pass breakups and one interception.

Chaddrick “Dekovin” Cann Jr. from Dixie Hollins High School in St. Petersburg is listed as an athlete by FAMU. He was known for being a dual-threat signal caller and safety on defense. He played in a pro-style offense in high school. FAMU’s head coach Alex Wood liked the way he plays quarterback, but wants to have him at the safety position for the upcoming season.

Jibreel Hazly, a 6’1” 230-pound linebacker from Akron, Ohio, is a transfer student from Feather River Junior College. Hazly was excited to be at FAMU and is already enrolled in classes this semester and is now a proud Rattler.

Coach Wood and the recruiting staff were proud of the new recruits they acquired. Wood emphasized the importance of finding future leaders for the team and he and his staff believe that they found them with this recruiting class.

The rest of FAMU’s new recruits include:

Kyle Johnson, 6’1” 230 FB Venice high school, Venice, FL

Levon Barnett, 6’0” 180 S William T. Dwyer high school, West Palm Beach, FL

Antwan Lewis 6’4” 290 OT/DT William T. Dwyer high school, Riviera Beach, FL

Louis Neal III 6’2” 255 DE Dixie Hollins high school, St Petersburg, FL

De’Montre Moore 6’3” 275 DT Hutchinson Community College, From Tampa, FL

Christian Roa 6’2” 250 TE Lake Brantley high school, Altamonte Springs, FL

Anthony Jones 6’6” 265 TE Pearl River junior College, New Orleans, LA

Derrick Mayweather 6’2” 227 LB Jireh Prep NC, from Lafayette, La

Jalen Douse 6’2” 180 DB ASA Miami Junior College, Jackson SC

Jacques Penney 6’1” NT Northeast Oklahoma Junior College, Tulsa OK

Steven Jean Baptiste 6’2” 290 OL Chaminade-Madonna, Ft Lauderdale, FL

Ellrie Allen 5’11” 200 S Wesley Chapel high school, Wesley Chapel, FL

Martravious Hardrick 6’2” 2866 DT Mosley high school, Panama City, FL

Chris Faddoul 6’1” 182 P/K Wiregrass Ranch high school, Wesley Chapel, FL

Donovan Hovey-Franklin 6’5” 310 OT Warner Christian Academy, Daytona Beach, FL

Dominique Walker 5’11” 183 CB Central high school, Brookville, FL

Bryan Crawford 6’2” 280 DT Pahokee high school, Pahokee, FL

Emmanuel Yisrael 5’10” 205 LB William T. Dwyer high school, Riviera Beach, FL

Jalen Brayboy 6’4” 283 OL Raines high school, Jacksonville, FL


FAMU will start their season with their first opening home game in 10 years at Bragg Memorial Stadium. On Aug. 26, the Rattlers will take on the Texas Southern University Tigers in the inaugural Jake Gaither Classic. The time is still to be determined.


Sports Brief: FSU signing day recap

Alex Krutchik, Correspondent (@AlexKrutchikFS on Twitter)

The Florida State Seminoles capped another successful National Signing day on Feb. 1. Head coach Jimbo Fisher and the Seminoles had the No. 5 recruiting class, according to This is the fourth straight year the Seminoles achieved a top-five recruiting class. In total, they signed four five-star recruits, nine four-stars, and ten three-stars.

One of those five-star recruits was running back Cam Akers. Akers was the No.1 running back out of Mississippi, and many Seminole fans are confident that he can carry the torch of good running backs at FSU. He has athleticism, size, and power. He has already enrolled at FSU, is going through spring practices, and will compete with junior Jacquez Patrick for the starting job.

The Seminoles had to wait until late in the afternoon for the decision of five-star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson. Coming out of Houston, TX, he will be a great addition to a defensive line. He was ranked No. 6 overall according to 247Sports.

Here is the rest of the 2017 signing class:

B DeCalon Brooks – Tampa, FL

WR D.J. Matthews – Jacksonville, FL (Trinity Christian)

QB Bailey Hockman – Powder Springs, GA

DE Joshua Kaindoh – Baltimore, MD

TE Tre’ McKitty – Bradenton, FL

LB Adonis Thomas – Lawrenceville, GA

CB Stanford Samuels III – Pembroke Pines, FL

RB Khalan Labron – Virginia Beach, VA

DE Tre Lawson – North Augusta, SC

QB James Blackman – South Bay, FL

OL Brady Scott – Powder Springs, GA

TE Alex Marshall – Andover, Ma/ Bridgton, ME

LB Leonard Warner – Convyers, GA

DB Hamsah Nasirildeen – Concord, NC

DT Cory Durden – Newberry, FL

DL Ja’len Parks – Newberry, FL

DB Ontaria Wilson – Ashburn, GA

WR Tamorrion Terry – Ashburn, GA

RB Zaquandre White – N. Fort Myers, FL

DT Marvin Wilson – Houston, TX

The Seminoles spring game is on April 8. It will be the first live scrimmage in which we will see the new recruits in action. They open the regular season on Sept. 2 against Alabama.

Lady Rattlers “steal” game from Hawks

Amari Godwin, Correspondent (@AmariGodwinFS on Twitter)

The Florida A&M women basketball team (4-15, 2-4 MEAC) overcame a slow start against Maryland Eastern Shore (8-8, 2-3) on Monday in the Al Lawson Multipurpose Center. The Lady Rattlers forced 17 turnovers to defeat the Lady Hawks 59-49. 

Shakerrya Morrison led the team with 9 rebounds on a night where FAMU grabbed 45 boards as a team. Shalaunda Burney-Robinson, a 6’4 Sophomore for FAMU, used her height to her team’s advantage in the second half as she came in with energy and good defense to make sure her team did not fall behind. Burney-Robinson’s aggressiveness in the third and fourth quarters helped the Rattlers stay in the lead throughout the rest of the game as she put up 21 points and seven rebounds. 

“Out there I feel eager to compete because I know how much time we have on this team and as soon as everybody reverses that, everybody can see exactly what we have. Tonight, we showed a little bit of it, but we got have more. I just feel like we have a great talented team and we can continue to be as great,” Burney-Robinson said. 

The Lady Rattlers struggled on the offensive end, only shooting 27.5%. 

“It’s something we’re going to have to keep working on. I think they rushed a lot of lay-ups but we’re going to keep taking our time and keep going over it in practice,” FAMU head coach LeDawn Gibson said. 

Their strength on the defensive end made up for the lack of offense, with the team forcing 17 turnovers against the Hawks, whereas Maryland only forced 5.

“I loved it. I loved the effort. I loved the team effort,” Gibson said. “They talked more defense, I think that made a made a difference too. Games before this I felt like we were very mute on defense and we’ve been working on talking, talking, talking.” 

The Lady Rattlers will next play on Saturday at 2 p.m. in the Al Lawson Center when they take on conference foe Delaware State.

Lady Rattlers overcome slow start to beat Morgan State

Stanley Brooks, Correspondent (@StanleyBrooksFS on Twitter)

Tallahassee, FLA. ( – With the Florida A&M University women’s basketball team starting a series of conference games in the Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference (MEAC), the Lady Rattlers were able to get their first conference win with a 51-48 victory over the Morgan State Bears.

The Lady Rattlers (3-13, 1- 2 MEAC) struggled in the in the beginning of the first quarter both offensively and defensively. They weren’t able to get their first point of the game until almost four minutes into the game after the Lady Bears (2-14, 0- 3 MEAC) had already built a seven-point lead. The Lady Rattlers came within one point before the end of the first quarter and continued to trail for most of the game.

In the second half, the Lady Rattlers stepped up their play by playing press defense and causing turnovers. The offensive game for the Lady Rattlers started to heat up when senior guard Cedrika Sweeting made consecutive threes to give FAMU their first tie of the game in the third quarter. Head coach LeDawn Gibson commented on her shot after the game.

“Just for her to have that confidence to let it fly, boy I feel like flying with it,” Gibson said.

The team continued to make things difficult for the Lady Bears especially with junior center Shalaunda Burney-Robinson in the post outrebounding her opponents. Burney-Robinson finished with 12 total rebounds, eight of those being defensive, and made both of her free throws to give the Lady Rattlers their first lead in the fourth quarter.

The Lady Rattlers went on a 6-0 after taking the lead in the fourth quarter that lasted up until the last 25 seconds of the game. It helped seal the victory and prevented the Lady Bears from making a comeback.

Coach Gibson said she was proud of how the team stepped upped their play to get the win.

“I think we are a great defensive team when we communicate,” Gibson said. “This is a very talented team and at any given night anybody can step up.”

Sweeting, with her two momentum changing threes, was one of those players. Sweeting said Gibson’s halftime message ignited her.

“What coach said at halftime really got me going,” Sweeting said. “By them giving me the ball, I knew they had confidence in me so I had to make something happen for the win.”

With a win to start conference play, the Lady Rattlers are ready to take on Savannah State University and Bethune-Cookman University in their upcoming games. Gibson was happy to talk about these series of conference games.

“We go to Savannah on Saturday then we come back to play that other school in Florida so we’re going to be ready.”

The Lady Rattlers will take on the Lady Tigers at 4 p.m. before facing off against rival Bethune-Cookman on Monday at home.

Breaking News: FSU QB Malik Henry To Transfer

Royal A. Shepherd, Production Director (RoyalShepherdFS on Twitter)

TALLAHASSEE, FLA. ( — Florida State freshman quarterback Malik Henry will transfer to an unspecified school. 

The Henry family released the following statement to Noles247:

“I have decided to transfer from Florida State University. I want to thank Coach Fisher and his staff for giving me the opportunity to be a student-athlete at FSU. I wish him and the team nothing but success. At this time I don’t know what University I will be attending in the future.”

Henry was suspended at the beginning of the season for violating team rules and hasn’t played at all this season. 

Follow Franchise Sports for updates on this story.

Photo Courtesy of: FanSided
Freshman QB Malik Henry will transfer from FSU.

Breaking News Update: Leon football coach accused of having sexual relations with a student

Royal A. Shepherd, Production Director (RoyalShepherdFS on Twitter)

Tallahassee, Fla. –  Leon high school football coach Brad Casalvieri has been arrested on accusations of having inappropriate relations with a student during his tenure at Lincoln High School.

Photo Courtesy of


Casalvieri, 30, was said to have been having a sexual relationship with a student from June 2015 through February 2016. It is believed that there were more than 26 sexual encounters, at least one believed to be held on school grounds.

Casalvieri, a biology teacher, has been taken into custody and suspended with pay from the school board. 

Continue following Franchise Sports for more updates

Florida A&M’s struggles in the paint lead to sixth straight loss

Stanley Brooks, Correspondent (@StanleyBrooksFS)

In an exhibition game of teams from the Southwestern Athletic Conference vs. the Mid-Atlantic Conference, the Southern University Jaguars (3-3) defeated the Rattlers of Florida A&M University (2-7) 83-71.


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