Ron Gregory

September 10, 2013

“It could have been worse.”

That’s a line repeated in one of my favorite fictional stories and it reveals some sideline truth in Scott’s victory Friday evening over pitiful Lincoln County High.

In fact, things could have been much worse if the Skyhawks fell to such a mediocre team; or it could have been worse for Lincoln County if the Hawks had really poured it on; or, finally, it could have been worse if an LCHS coach or member of the staff had decked me as they apparently wanted to on the sideline.

I’m not sure how much worse it would have been for me but it would have been much worse for any coach who decided to follow his hysterical words with action. It wouldn’t have taken long, after my recovery in Boone Memorial Hospital, for Lincoln County Schools to have faced the biggest lawsuit in the history of the county. So, actually, things would have been BETTER for me if one of the pipsqueaks had hit me.

But none did, of course. No fans raced down from the stands to preside over any butt-kicking, either, although three or four imbeciles invited me into the stands for a stomping. Again, the lawsuit would have been interesting for I would never throw a punch.

I don’t for a minute think any of the coaches, even though it would be hard to underestimate their collective IQs, would hit me. Nor for that matter, would any of the crazed fans. Actually, I quite enjoy their antics and it gives me great pleasure to know my comments in Madison can bother them so much in Hamlin. My ego needs no further stroking, friends.

To a bit of history now. I am the late, great Sports Editor of The Lincoln Journal. While there, I made it clear that I did not have positive thoughts about Hamlin. The rest of Lincoln County is made up of some people who are the salt of the earth — and Hamlin even has a few such weary souls. I did not cover Hamlin High because of my prejudice. That was my decision. I was not ordered to do so. I covered Chapmanville Regional High School instead of Lincoln County High because LCHS is simply the “New Hamlin High School.”

So, I make an effort to avoid conflict with a bunch of self-important hillbillies stuck miles from any four-lane highway. But I do reserve the right, here in this space, to call things exactly as they are. LCHS is simply a consolidation of the late Hamlin and Guyan Valley high schools. As such, it couldn’t compete at the Triple A level if Y.A. Tittle was quarterbacking. To date, to add to the problem, the coaching has been horrid and the student/athletes are convinced by the coaching staff that they cannot compete at the AAA level.

As I pointed out to any coach who wanted to hear Friday evening, I will do my job when I attend football games. I will write MY opinion in this column and there’s not enough a—-whippings to stop me.

* * * * * *

So, with a few minutes gone in the second quarter, I strolled to the LCHS side of the field. There were two reasons for that. One, I ALWAYS visit the opposing team’s sidelines which, to date, has appeared to be okay with them. Once, a few Wahama coaches behaved like two-year-olds but that is ancient history And second, my six-year-old grandson had told me he might be at the game. I couldn’t get his mother on the cell so I went looking for him. He and his mom live in Lincoln.

As noted, I have a RIGHT to do that. I am an accredited sports reporter who always displays his West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission (SSAC) pass. The LCHS coaches, including an immature head coach, have no business saying ANYTHING negative to me. Period. Coaches have no right to order me to the other side of the field. Fans, of course, can behave as childishly as they want.

I would note that having grandpa stand up in the stands and bellow that he wants me to come on up so he can “whip your f—-ing a—” MIGHT not be a good example for youngsters. Coaches screaming like a banshee maybe also should be coaching, rather than worrying about my presence. But, who knows in Lincoln County where losing and losers are a way of life?

* * * * * *

When I arrived on the Panther sideline, Hamlin Mayor Chris Wilkerson was either dressed early for Halloween or continues to believe he is some kind of police officer. The mayor informed me, for the third or fourth time, that he can be the chief of police in a Class IV town. I do not believe that is true and would challenge any police-action take by the mayor. I asked if he felt he had some kind of jurisdiction in Madison and he said he did not. So, why wear a uniform, gun, mace, handcuffs, etc.? Beats me. He said he enjoys the duties. He will enjoy defending a lawsuit, I suppose, if he ever pretends to be a cop to the wrong person.

Then I noted that Hamlin Town Policeman Baker was listening to the LCHS head coach’s inane rants about me. Baker then proceeded to stand within a foot or two of me no matter where I walked on the sideline. Baker, too, was outfitted in his Hamlin police gear. As with Wilkerson, Madison is far outside his jurisdiction.

Baker claimed he was following me “for your protection.” I carefully explained that I needed no protection and sought none. I explained my theory that if one of the Hamlin coaches or crowd touched me, the lawsuit would be on. He was not satisfied and worried about my “safety.” I recalled that former LCHS Head Coach Cory Beck had the same concern years ago when he felt I was standing too close to the field. These Hamlinites really worry about my health, apparently.

For the record, then: I did not ask for nor did I appreciate police “protection” on the LCHS sideline. I have never met a Hamlinite I was afraid of and don’t expect it to ever happen.

So, next time, I’d like the chips (or me) to fall where they may. We’ll settle it all in circuit court.

* * * * * *

Now, to the fictional story I mentioned. It has a Boone County twist, although I will mention again that it is NOT a true story.

At a West Virginia Municipal League meeting some years ago, former Hurricane Mayor Raymond Peak spotted State Treasurer John Perdue of Boone County in the crowd. That sparked one of Peak’s famous “stories.” Peak is, by the way, quite a story-teller and one of the finest men who ever held public office.

He said, growing up, Perdue drove his friends crazy with his optimism. One of his regular comments was “it could have been worse” no matter how dire the situation.

So, one morning his buddies sitting on the store porch where they all caught the bus to school, came up with an idea. They would tell Perdue such a horrible story that he could not possibly say, “It could have been worse.”

Shortly afterward, Perdue bounced up on the porch with a hearty “Morning, boys!” That caused one of the other fellows, we’ll call Jim, to shake his head.

“How can you say ‘morning’ after what happened?” asked Jim.

Perdue was surprised, “Why, what happened?” he asked.

“Well, our buddy Fred died last night,” said Jim.

“What?!” Perdue exclaimed.

“Yeah, he got sick at the mines and came home early from work and found our other buddy, Joe, in bed with his wife. Fred took out his pistol and shot both of them dead and then shot himself. They’re all laying over in Madison at the funeral home.”

Perdue thought a moment and finally said, “Well, it could have been worse.”

Jim was astounded. “How in the name of God could it have been any worse?” he asked.

“Well, he could have got off early the night before and killed me,” said Perdue.

So, it COULD have been worse for all of us, I suppose.

* * * * * *

Although I still have reservations about Marshall Coach Doc Holliday’s coaching skills on game day (he is quite a recruiter, no doubt), it appears he might finally have the Herd headed in the right direction.

West Virginia University, though, is still below the grade in the Big 12. Although they played a relatively close game at Oklahoma (close only counts in … horseshoes, hand grenades and love affairs, by the way), the Mountaineers are headed for another dismal season. Those who thought Dana Holgorsen was an offensive coaching genius should know better by now. Although, Holgorsen is PRETTY offensive.

* * * * * *

Scott got a neat win over Lincoln County and now heads down the road to Chapmanville for this week’s game. I am predicting a Skyhawk victory. Van is off to Fayette County to meet Valley High and I think the Bulldogs will raise their mark to 2-1 on the year. Sherman visits Wyoming East, who I believe will be too tough for the Tide as they fall to 1-2.

All kick-offs are 7:30 p.m., Friday evening. Fans, plan to be there to support your favorite squad.

Happily, all local teams are back on the winning track. Contact with your story ideas, rumors and thoughts at the email address listed or call my cell at 304-533-5185.