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Pass or fail: Week 2 high school football notebook

Kids coming of age
If you believe that the final score is all that matters come Saturday morning then you are either reading the wrong column or you need a reality check about the whole purpose of high school sports (other than to help parents pay exorbitant college costs if they can be so lucky).
Hillsdale got smoked and Jonesville took a technical fall in the 10th round, but I didn’t see division creeping onto the sidelines and I didn’t hear blame being tossed around like a hot-cake.
Sure emotions were raw, tears of everything from frustration to anger to dismay were being shed, but all of it was taking place in the framework of teams that practice together, laugh together, win together, and yes, even lose together.
I talked with Hillsdale QB Mike Curby Saturday morning, as he and teammate Kirk Putnam did some community service with National Honor Society.
Curby was forced to watch his team take it on the chin in a 55-13 loss to Hastings Friday, while strapped with a soft cast on his right arm, helpless to do anything but spur on his teammates.
I asked him if he was angry at not being able to play and what he though about the QB play of Dan Vear and Travis Hodos.
Instead of criticizing his fellow men or emphasizing the many negatives from the brutal loss, he simply said he had faith that his friends and coaches would get this turned around — and it was going to start this week.
Putnam had a smile on his face, talking about former Hornets who he would be watching in action at Frank “Muddy” Waters Stadium Saturday, and although he was bruised and a bit down about the loss, he seemed to be able to put the defeat in its proper place.
Any young men who can go out and help their community and talk about how being part of the county has shaped their lives for the better, hardly 12 hours after a disappointing result, are the kinds of kids I want as role models for the younger generation.
At Jonesville, it wasn’t a “day after” story, it is about the seconds and minutes after a gut-wrenching defeat that almost wasn’t so.
Even after Union City was bad-mannered in trying to return an interception for a touchdown with no time remaining the Comet players kept their composure, shook hands and then took responsibility for the loss.
There was no descension, just a sense that part of growing as a team is taking your lumps together.
This group of young men came back strong after a devastating loss in week one, so there’s no reason to believe they won’t be able to recoup for Friday’s contest.

11-man teams playing 8-man football
Ok, so it was just Waldron who had an open mind on playing on a very wide-open field, but I applaud them for doing that, instead of just taking a forfeit against a Burr Oak team that is scraping the barrel to find athletes.
Instead of complaining about having to adjust to a different set of rules and having to create some new formations over the course of a week, Waldron head coach Jimmy Biggs saw the value in getting some of his youngsters playing time they may not see most of the year.
The Spartans are without a JV squad and I can’t imagine it’s too easy to build a program whenever players are often forced to wait a year or two before playing in meaningful situations.
Biggs admitted 8-man football was “weird and unusual” to him, but he didn’t complain or call it a joke.
In week one Battle Creek St. Phil rejected the opportunity to play Burr Oak in an 8-man game, something I don’t quite get.
Experience is experience and you can never get enough of it, even if it’s not the kind of experience you’re used to. Hopefully Litchfield and Camden-Frontier follow Waldron’s lead.

Parents (at least several contingents of them)
If sports can teach us all lessons, then that includes the people in the stands who just don’t seem to get it.
I’m all for voicing my opinion (isn’t that what I’m doing right here?) and for calling a spade a spade, but within reason and at the appropriate time.
Some Jonesville fans seemed to want to chastise head coach Joshua Lindeman for choosing to call the offense on to the field on the game’s final play, instead of kicking a 24-yard field goal, and I completely disagree with them standing in the bleachers and letting him know about it with some ugly jeers.
Schools the size of Jonesville are often without reliable kickers and even if Jay Bearden is continuing to improve in that department, as Lindeman says he is, I trust a coach knows his players better than the guy who is dragging his cooler and butt cushion to the game.
Putting the pressure of an entire contest on one kid’s shoulders without considering the fact that he has hardly been given the chance to line up for field goals, let alone sink game-winning kicks, is more
questionable than trusting in a QB that has made plays all night long if you ask me.
The people who just had to let Lindeman hear it are forgetting that life is full of losses and we have to learn from them or continue to fail.
I’m sure some of the same people who wanted to criticize a measly one play out of a very well-coached, well-played football game are the same people who have nothing better to do than form opinions on local politics without showing up at meetings or voting on important issues.
By questioning the players’ central authority figure so openly and blatantly it also makes me wonder what type of respect these people think kids should have for adults.
Lindeman expects hard work, accountability and unity and he’s the captain of the ship on all three accounts, so I don’t see the purpose in publicly displaying discord for a first-year coach who has his head on straight.
And while we’re at it, I think the Hillsdale fans could’ve done a little better than walking out on their team in the waning minutes of the third quarter. I know that plenty of people stayed, but just as many gave up on the kids and they know who they are.
If high school sports are really about more than winning and losing then why are we so quick to judge a group of young men committed to trying their hardest just because the scoreboard shows something we don’t want to see?
I don’t expect things to change, I just wish people would look in a mirror once in a while.

Playoff hopes
With the season a mere 22.2 percent finished, a much larger percentage of local teams have an entirely uphill battle to make the playoffs.
Jonesville, Hillsdale, Pittsford and Litchfield are all 0-2, meaning two more losses and they’ll be making plans for a possible run at the 2010 playoffs.
For Jonesville games with Reading and Blissfield still remain and the Big Eight is no cake walk on a weekly basis. Hillsdale has a reputation for completely dominating the SMAA, but dates with Blissfield and Manchester and a plethora of injuries stack the odds against them.
Pittsford has to prove they can make key defensive stands and it doesn’t help that they have a good Jackson Vandercook Lake team on their schedule in week nine.
Litchfield was hoping to be 4-1 after five weeks, so an 0-2 hole is a cause for calling out Mayday over the local airwaves.
Right now Reading is the only sure bet to make the playoffs in my mind, but I’ll let the next few weeks sort the rest of this mess out.


About rjwalters

I am what you think I am — a journalist. Actually when I was hired at my current job, which by the way is Sports Editor of the Hillsdale Daily News in Hillsdale, Mich., I applied for a position titled "Wordsmith", so at my best I'll call myself a writer attempting to be a wordsmith extraordinaire.


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