R-C Sports Notebook: Experiencing both sides of the coin | RecordCourier.com

R-C Sports Notebook: Experiencing both sides of the coin

by Joey Crandall

It’s amazing the contrast you find on opposite sides of a close game.

It was 9:40 p.m. Friday night when McQueen’s Lucas Fejer bounced outside on fourth-and-goal only inches away from the goal line before plunging in on a desperation dive to defeat the Douglas football 23-20.

From everyone clad in orange and black, there was only silence.

Eighteen hours and 22 minutes later, Douglas’ Katie Dry blistered a shot past the outstretched arms of South Tahoe keeper Mickey Segers to give the Lady Tigers their first regional title since 2002.

From everyone clad in orange and black, there was only jubilation.

Both games were amazingly close, to the point to where any number of plays going just a couple inches the other way would have changed the final outcome completely.

The silence after the football game was literally eerie. It was the second time this year that McQueen had stolen a victory away from the Tigers at the last possible second. It was also the second time in the past four years that the Lancers had beaten Douglas in overtime.

The soccer game, on the other hand, was exactly what South Tahoe was playing for – trying to push the game to penalty kicks or a lucky breakaway goal. That’s how the Vikings advanced through the entire regional tournament. And indeed, it was a breakaway that decided the game, although not in their favor.

The speedy Dry had, for the second time of the overtime period, gotten loose in front with just her and starting keeper Alexis Nunes-Fenley to decide the game. This time, Dry made a nice move, and likely would have scored, but Nunes-Fenley hauled her down by the ankles to prevent the shot.

Still, the ball nearly rolled in on its own.

On the resulting penalty kick (after Nunes-Fenley exited with a red card and Segers replaced her in net) Dry put the ball exactly where she said she’d been practicing all week to put it.

What was apparent, though, for anyone who happened to be at both games, was that both outcomes were examples of high school sports at its best.

You really can’t ask for more than both teams giving it their best and having it come down to the last play to decide it. A couple bounces here and there and the game goes completely differently.

As anyone will tell you, that’s football.

It’s also soccer.

Congratulations to both Tiger squads (and the boys’ soccer and girls’ volleyball teams as well for that matter) on great seasons.

Here’s the top positive to take out of a tough situation last week:

Which would you rather have happen? Lose a game on fourth-and-inches in overtime or get blown out 50-0? In the short term, the blowout is probably easier to take – or at least you have more time to get acclimated to the idea.

Long term, though, you’d much rather know you left everything you had on the field and in the end it was just a couple inches this way or that way (in multiple cases) that seperated you from the win. The initial shock is devastating – Just ask any member of the Douglas Tiger football team Friday night – but with time, you can come to see the game for what it was: A classic back-and-forth matchup that you just happened to end up on the wrong side of.

I’m just going to say this. We have a section at the bottom of all our stories for reader comments. This is not your forum to blast high school coaches for play-calling.

In the last calendar year, we’ve had comments posted accusing coaches of everything from nepotism to socialism. There’s been some about play-calling and about the abilities (or lack thereof) of players on the court or field. There’s been accusations of wasting talent away on the bench, handling practice time unwisely and pretty much anything else you can think of.

It’s been my practice (and will continue to be) to just go ahead and wipe those off the board.

High school coaches at best are getting paid about a seven-week salary at minimum wage to dedicate their entire year to an endeavor that 99 percent of the time will end with a loss.

Outside of wins and losses, though, these people have to balance the many pressures of fielding a competitive team while trying to satisfy the wants and needs of their players (and, of course, the players’ parents).

They also have to maintain some semblance of team chemistry and in the major sports have to establish and maintain some sort of offseason program.

On top of all that, they have to keep a kid eligibile, going to class and turning in work.

Because, the end goal of any high school sport, lest we forget, is to enhance the student’s high school academic experience. It’s not to win state titles or haul in college athletic scholarships. It’s to push a kid further along toward graduation.

That’s a fact that isn’t lost at Douglas, where most of the coaches happen to double as teachers during the day.

The whole point of high school sports is to keep kids involved in their school and give them extra reason to keep those grades up. This isn’t college, where winning a conference title means extra money and prestige for the school.

All high school titles really do is attract more student-athletes to the program, which is a good thing. The more students you get involved, the better you’re going to be.

So, with all that in mind, save your criticisms for college or professional coaches – at least people who make an actual living coaching sports. There’s a line you cross between the pro/college and high school/youth ranks.

With the latter, all you’ve really got is the kids. There’s no real glory (try telling someone in Texas you won a Sierra League title … then watch as they lose interest as you spend the next 5 minutes explaining league and classification alignments), there’s no money, there’s really nothing outside of your players to drive you.

If you’ve got an honest beef, like physical abuse or, God forbid, something worse, then that is another issue. But if you’re going to niggle over play-calling and playing time, do it somewhere else.

If you want to criticize me, go for it. That’s part of what I signed up for.

But this isn’t the venue for criticizing high school and youth sports coaches. It’s hard enough to find quality coaches as it is. Every year, with every new crazy situation, it gets harder.

The last thing we, as a media organization, want to do is make it harder for schools to get people to coach for them.

After several requests, we decided to start making our old sports pages available for print on the commemorative items on our photo sale page at http://www.recordcourier.com/photos.

If there is a page you’d like to have made into to larger print, a poster, a mouse pad or any number of things available at the photo site, just let us know what day it printed (and hopefully what page number) and we’ll post it for you to purchase.

We’ve started small (just last year’s regional baseball championship, the regional tennis tournament this year and by the end of Wednesday the girls’ soccer regional championship), but we’ll add any and all of the pages requested. With Christmas coming up, these could make great gifts for parents, kids or coaches.

One condition, our archives available for reprint apparently only go back to Jan. 1, 2006. So if the page you are looking for is within that time frame, we can help you out. Any further back, though, and I’m afraid there is not much we can do.

Again, just go to recordcourier.com/photos to see what we’ve got. I believe it is posted under the “Sports” category and the “R-C Sports Pages” link.

I’m planning to be at these games this week, so check online for updates (Cover It Live is the tool we use to post automatic updates during games and also allows for comments and questions from fans during the game, so be sure to check out our Web site if you can’t make it to the games I will be posting from.):

State Soccer Championships

Friday

Girls Soccer vs. Faith Lutheran, 2 p.m. at Damonte Ranch (Cover It Live)

Boys’ Soccer vs. Las Vegas, 4 p.m. at Damonte Ranch (Cover It Live)

Saturday

TBA: Girls’ title game at 10 a.m.

TBA: Boys’ title game at noon

– With the win over Galena in the regional semifinals Thursday night, the Tiger girls’ soccer team became the winningest team in the program’s history with 20 wins. They topped a group they were plenty familiar with – the 2008 squad that went 19-2-2 and included 11 players on the current roster.

– If you would’ve told me the Douglas boys’ soccer team would score four goals in the semifinal matchup against Galena, I probably would have laughed. No disrespect to the Tigers, but anyone who has watched the team this year will agree they have been a defense-first squad (and quite a good one at that). If you would’ve followed that up by saying leading scorer Edgar Arceo wouldn’t have any hand in any of the four goals, I might have thought you were crazy. But, that indeed turned out to be the case. Douglas played its finest all-around game of the year hands down and completely blindsided the Grizzlies.

– The Tiger boys’ soccer team took a page out of history during last week’s regional tournament, wearing the same uniforms from they wore during their regional title and state finalist season in 2007. Oddly enough, though, the Tigers wore black in all three games last week, while they wore white through the entirety of the 2007 tournament (save for the state finals, when they wore black). Douglas had been wearing new orange and white jerseys for most of this season.

– This one just snuck up on me, but with his career-high 244-yard performance against McQueen Friday night, Johnny Pollack rose to No. 3 on the career rushing list for Douglas High School. It boosted his career total to 2,108 yards, trailing only Spike Agosta (2,169 yards) and Lamont McCann (2,577).

His season total of 1,277 yards was good enough for seventh on the school list behind Agosta (1,945), Junior Kizer (1,693), Dusty Cooper (1,633), Brock Peterson (1,620), Kevin Lehr (1,597) and Russ Burnum (1,407). Not bad for a guy who was also the team’s starting middle linebacker.

– “Cauliflower is just scared broccoli,” Harlan Williams on Conan O’Brien last Friday

– Seems the more kids learn the English language, the more they pretend to have no clue what you are saying.

Sign-up is free and you will be competing for local and national prizes.

Visit recordcourier.com/profootball to sign up and make your picks.

I finally managed to save my picks last week and ended up doing only as good as the computer had done for me the previous two weeks.

Congratulations to Glenn Gerhardt, who picked 10 out of 13 games correctly last week.

Here are my picks for week 10:

49ers over Bears

Falcons over Panthers

Bucs over Dolphins

Vikings over Lions

Jets over Jags

Bengals over Steelers

Saints over Rams

Titans over Bills

Broncos over Redskins

Chiefs over Raiders

Seahawks over Cardinals

Cowboys over Packers

Chargers over Eagles

Tiebreaker: Patriots 21, Colts 14

Last week: 8-5. Season: 87-42. Season Survivor: Out.

Time for this week’s installment of Edd Roush’s All-Stars (Formerly “This Wacky World of Sports”) – Celebrating Edd Roush, the only player ever ejected from a Major League Baseball game for sleeping in the outfield.

– We’re all familiar with Notre Dame’s famous “Play Like Champions Today” sign.

The Kansas City Chiefs are trying a little different approach in light of the recent Larry Johnson debacle.

After returning to the team complex from a bye week, the team was greeted by a sign that trumpeted this catchy little battle cry:

“Losers assemble in small groups and complain about the coaches and other players. Winners assemble as a team and find ways to win.”

I want to hear them chant that in unison five times fast.

In case you’re curious, here’s a picture of the sign: http://twitpic.com/o9qk4

– I totally get it, Michael Vick. I wouldn’t want to come back to the Philadelphia Eagles either. Sure, they were one of the few teams willing to give me a chance to redeem myself. But let’s be honest. I won’t be a Wildcat columnist. I can’t. It’s a different style of writing. It’s almost like a hit-or-miss type of thing. My position is sitting back in the pocket and taking cheap shots at national sports figures. That was I was born to do.