Boone-Lincoln Midget Football League championships

Last updated: October 29. 2013 11:26AM - 863 Views
Ron Gregory ronjgregory@gmail.com

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News flash! I, ye olde sports columnist, actually attended the Boone-Lincoln Midget Football League championships at Seth’s Zotini Field the past weekend. Me. At midget football league games. Wow.

Anyway, despite any previous comments I have made, I DO understand why some folks get so involved and enthused at amateur sports. For one thing, it is often the first experience at organized (and I use that term loosely) athletics most youngsters have. For some, it may also be the LAST experience at organized sports they ever have. Some decide they simply don’t like the games; others become more involved in other extracurricular activities; and others simply just don’t play after they reach the third or fourth grade.

Seeing children and grandchildren perform in front of the family is, at least, interesting. I still believe much too much emphasis is placed on winning and losing at this level, but I will save most of those comments for another time and another place.

I have mentioned hearing otherwise “normal” grandmothers scream across the fence to their grandchildren, “Kill number 18, Johnny! Kill him! Choke him!”

I don’t actually think the petite grandmaw wants her grandson to choke an opposing player, but I am not totally convinced. In any circumstance, it is not the right thing to say to a child.

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Folks also often ask if my two sons did not play midget football. The answer to that is, “yes, they did.” On the other hand, I think they learned very little during those years that contributed to any later success at the sport. Both of them made the Single A playoffs twice in four years but I doubt it was because of their previous midget experience.

That is not to say, however, that there are not some wonderfully well-intentioned folks associated with amateur sports. It is also not to say that I cannot see their arguments in favor of such activities. I suppose if Little Sally can be somehow taught some basics about softball at the tee-ball level, there’s nothing wrong with that. I just doubt that she will be.

Thus and so, I don’t want my comments to sound as though I do not wish the local youngsters and their coaches well. I do. I just doubt the value of athletic training at this level. I think there are too many chances at career-ending injuries when the little fellows and gals should not even be playing in organized sports.

But my hat is off to all the folks who work hard at these activities. I do know most of your hearts are in the right place. They just aren’t where mine is — or has ever been.

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Seeing the enthusiasm of the crowds when their teams won the BLMFL championship is enough to convince about anyone that amateur sports cannot be all bad.

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Although the Van Bulldogs were no match for ninth-ranked Clay Battelle in Monongalia County Friday evening, it has been a melancholy season for the CeeBees. Riding high with football success, the smallish school suffered a tragic loss a month ago that has cast a dark shadow over the entire school year.

The tragic death of 16-year-old Sydney Rush in a single-vehicle accident was difficult for the Clay Battelle student body to deal with, according to all reports.

The beautiful young lady, who was described with that adjective both inside and outside, was a state track champion. The forever-young Ms. Rush was secretary of the CBHS Class of 2015. She was a member of the National Honor Society, Young Life and 4-H. She was a 2011 state cheerleading champion, a 2013 state track champion in the 4x100 and 4x200, and was awarded “Gloria’s Race” in the 4x100 in 2012 and 13.

“She was a star in everything she did,” said CeeBee supporter Joe Statler.

In honor of her, Clay Battelle postponed homecoming events, with a game scheduled with Valley (Wetzel) delayed. The game was moved from Friday to Monday so, as Head Football Coach Ryan Wilson said, students “could handle this in their own way.”

It was against the background of a season dedicated to their honored fellow student that CeeBee welcomed Van last Friday. Needless to say, everyone from Boone County to Monongalia offered continued sympathy for the tragic loss.

Anyone interested may want to know that memorial contributions can be made to: Sydney Rush Memorial Fund, c/o Huntington National Bank, PO Box 65, Blacksville, WV 26521.

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Sometimes, we need to be reminded that sports and games are not the most important things going on in this world. Folks will one day forget winning or losing a game but we cannot ever lose the memories of outstanding young people such as Rush. Everything else is pretty meaningless.

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Had I mentioned that the jury is no longer on Marshall’s Doc Holliday as a head coach? I think I did.

There is simply no excuse for a team as talented as the Thundering Herd to lose to Middle Tennessee State. None.

I will grant you that most of the talent Marshall has was recruited by super-recruiter Holliday. And Holliday is that: a fantastic recruiter. I have no idea how he got some of the talent he got to come to Morgantown to play for West Virginia University when he was there. Ditto, Huntington and Marshall. But what good does it do to recruit tremendous talent that you can’t coach and lose on game day?

Holliday’s legendary western namesake (or vice versa, I suppose) may have been known as a whale of a gambler; this one is not. If it is fourth and half-an-inch at the opponent’s 20-yard-line, you may assume the odds are that Holliday will try to kick a field goal.

If the strategy of any reasonable coach would be to blitz, Holliday’s team will be dropping back in pass coverage. My guess is that if he went out for the pre-game coin flip, he’d call for the quarter to land on its side rather that heads or tails. He’s just too cautious.

How many times have Marshall teams under Holliday lined up for punts in the other team’s territory only to gain ten yards or less with the kick? It’s lunacy. Most middle school coaches would know better. If I have the ball on the 25 and bring in my kicker, the best I can hope for is that he will pin the opponent at the one. Chances of that happening are minimal, however. And the 24-yard gain probably is not worth the shot of confidence I could give the offense by telling them to go for it on fourth down.

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My old (and I stress the word “OLD”) friend, David Sadd, often asks me, “are you a coach?” When I respond that I am not, he wonders how I can question anyone who IS a coach.

Of course, as most readers have detected by now, I do not have to know anything about a subject to give an opinion about it. Then, there is the fact that I have been watching sports with a keen eye for 40-plus years and I may have figured a few things out.

My gauge of whether a coach can coach or not is simple: if his or her team gets better as the season progresses, he or she can coach. I never see Holliday’s teams getting any better. In fact, they dry up as the year rolls along. Things they did well in week one are not so good in week 12. That is backward, if you ask me.

And no, David, I don’t take any snaps; drop any passes; make any tackles; etc. etc. etc.

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I also do not buy the theory that Dana Holgorsen “will get it going” at West Virginia University. He had a chance to “keep it going” and failed. I have heard all the stories about the late Bill Stewart’s terrible recruiting efforts and how that handicapped this team.

But a Bobby Pruett or a Jim Donnan would have filled the cupboard themselves with junior college transfers, etc. in the intervening years.

As long as Holgorsen screams and raves on the sidelines and gets in the faces of talented ball players, there will be less and less quality players coming to Morgantown. Holgorsen is NOT currently recruiting talent; forget what Stewart did or did not do.

And Holgorsen and WVU have never been ready for primetime in the Big 12. They’re simply in over their heads. Period.

Unless they can figure out how to beat Texas Christian, WVU will not even be bowl-eligible in 2013.

Which doesn’t bother me a bit, as a Marshall man, but it should bother the multitudes.

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Stories that a Holgorsen offense could score 60 points “against any team in the country” have been shot to pieces the past couple of years. It took opposing defenses only so long to figure out that “innovative, new” offense and they simply shut it down.

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Congratulations to the Midget Football champions from Lincoln and Boone. May your futures be bright.

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Contact me with your rumors, story ideas, scores and comments. Use the email listed or call my cell, 304-533-5185.

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