Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Blowout=Bullying? Texas HS Football Gives Us Another Interesting Story

All Photos Credit: Jim Black
By Joe Parello  @HerewegoJoe

Most people are aware that high school football can be fairly crazy in the state of Texas.

Whether you've read the book "Friday Night Lights," watched the movie "Friday Night Lights," or followed the TV show "Friday Night Lights," you know how important it is for Texans to watch their boys play under the Friday night lights.

The latest crazy story to come out of the high school football scene in the Lone Star State is a gem that has every Fox News commentator's panties in a bunch. It's the kind of story that will bring the "wussification of America" crowd out in force. It's the kind of story you would expect to take my place in my Blue home state of Massachusetts, not deep in the Heart of Texas. It is the story of a very good football team beating a very bad football team by a ton of points.

How many points?

Well, the Aledo Bearcats, a 7-0 juggernaut ranked No.1 in Texas' 4A media poll, blew out 0-7 Western Hills 91-0.

Yeah, that's a pretty sizable margin.

That number really jumps off the page, and in the wake of the epic beat down, one Western Hills parent filed a bullying report. The parent had no beef with the Aledo players, saying they showed great sportsmanship, but accused coach Tim Buchanan of bullying his players into running up the score.

The first reaction I've heard from most people is, "it's not bullying, but 91 points is a little much."

Very true, 91-0 looks bad, and nobody likes to be embarrassed, but if you take a closer look at the game, you have to wonder what Aledo could have done differently.

Full disclosure, I have a relative on the team and relatives in the Aledo community, but I believe a little context is necessary.

The Bearcats ran only 33 offensive plays. That's right, Aledo scored 91 points on only 33 snaps with the ball. They also only possessed the ball a little more than 7 minutes the entire game. The Bearcats played their starters for less than half their offensive snaps, and led 56-0 at halftime. In fact, coach Buchanan seemed to spend most of halftime trying to figure out ways to stop his team from scoring 100 points.

But, short of taking a knee every snap, a move he insists would have been more insulting to Western Hills, Buchanan didn't see what he could do.

"I can't tell the backups not to play hard," Buchanan said. "They've worked their tails off all week. They've lifted weights in the offseason. I'm not going to tell them not to play."

As a guy that "added depth" for most of his high school career (I was a backup), I can tell you that is absolutely true. Back at American Heritage in South Florida, if my Patriots were blowing out Pine Crest or Archbishop McCarthy, you couldn't tell me not blow somebody up on a block or try to strip the ball on defense. I had been a tackling dummy all week, I wanted to finally hit somebody. Also, have you ever heard of "taking it easy" in football? No, because that's when you get injured.
Aledo's defense has held opponents to 7 points or less in five of its seven games, while the offense has scored at least 77 points in its last four games. They're winning games by an average score of 69-7 this year. Yeah, they're pretty good.

And so we're left with the sad and plain truth: Sometimes teams just aren't very good and don't belong on the same field as some of the better squads.

Please don't make me out to be an old, out of touch conservative (I'm 26 and didn't vote), but when you get beat badly, doesn't part of the blame lie with you? If your opponent didn't play its starters, used a running clock throughout the second half and pretty much ran the ball all game, maybe it's time to just say "we need to get better."

I mean, plenty of this was atrocious tackling against vanilla running plays. The Bearcats ran for nine touchdowns, only throwing for two of their scores... In 33 offensive snaps. That means they scored every three snaps. They also added two kick returns for touchdowns.

A "bullying" complaint on this game is not only the exact opposite of what competition is all about, it also belittles what actual bullying is. Bullying is being tormented in class or online by someone with malicious intent. It is not being grossly inferior to your opponent in a competition.

If Aledo could go back, would they only score 70 and avoid the negative press? I can't answer that question, but it seems like the easy way out.

That's a shame.

If anybody is to blame, it is whoever allowed these two teams to be in the same league in the first place. This wasn't Aledo scheduling a whipping boy for Homecoming, these two teams are in the same class and district. They had to play this game.

Western Hills coach John Naylor, whose team only dresses around 30 players, seemed to have no problem with the way the game shook out. His guys were simply overmatched.

“We just ran into a buzzsaw, you know,” Naylor said. “[Aledo] just plays hard. And they’re good sports, and they don’t talk at all. They get after it, and that’s the way football is supposed to be played in Texas.”

That doesn't sound like a guy that wishes Aledo took a knee the whole second half.

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