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Common sense tells you some obvious things

October 12, 2009
By MIKE MATHISON, Sports editor

It sure doesn't take much for people to say things which really do not make sense.

In fact, there is no common sense in what has been said.

I have already heard that the Big Red football team spent so much energy against Massillon that they will be in trouble to get up for Poland on Friday night.

That's an utterly stupid statement.

Here's why ...

In the last four years Big Red is 56-2 with two Division III state crowns and a Division IV state runner-up.

That means Steubenville has spent 18 of the possible 20 weeks in the playoffs.

That means it has had to get up week after week for the next playoff opponent.

Friday night's 13-3 beatdown of Massillon was not just another regular-season game and we all know it.

It was a statement game of how the Big Red program has unfolded since coach Reno Saccoccia stepped on the sidelines.

That was a game for all former Big Red players and their blood, sweat and tears.

It was also a game that allowed the current team to put their unique stamp on the program.

But it doesn't stop there.

Undefeated Poland Seminary invades Harding Stadium with the same purpose of Massillon - to go home winners. The Bulldogs have shut out their last three opponents.

Inkster and Cardinal O'Hara will step onto the turf in the following weeks with the same theme.

Do not think that is lost on Saccoccia and the Big Red coaching staff.

All I've heard from a lot of people is that Steubenville Catholic Central will have its way with Madonna on Saturday night at Jimmy Carey Stadium.

I am not really sure why that is being said but I guarantee you that is not what is coming out of the mouths of Crusaders coach Gregg Bahen and blue-and-gold coaching staff.

The Blue Dons are ranked No. 1 in West Virginia Class A for a reason.

They are good.


Madonna is down two very good athletes in A.J. Klein and Chris Eloi and you can better well believe not one team is feeling sorry for the Blue Dons.

It is terrible that two very good players will not put on the pads again this season, but that does not mean the ultimate goal for coach Bob Kramer's crew has changed.

They still want to go undefeated and they still want to win a West Virginia Class A state championship.

Other players have to step up into slightly different roles and pick up the slack. That's why football is the ultimate team sport.

Catholic Central is without Zak Cernansky and it is not sure if the senior will be back in uniform as his calf is still giving him problems.

The Central-Madonna showdown is not getting the hype that the Big Red-Massillon game got and for obvious reasons.

But, that does not mean the game is any less important for the teenagers who will leave it all on the grass at Jimmy Carey.

Emotions will run high.

I fully expect a packed Jimmy Carey Stadium.

Anything less would be a major disappointment.

When I started covering high school football games in 1978 I was taught to do so from the sidelines. The high school football fields in San Diego County do not have the big press boxes like back here and weather is the big reason.

I am not a big fan of sitting in a press box to cover a game.

I really like being on the sidelines because you get to hear a lot of things which can add to a story or this column.

Two weeks ago at Edison coach Mike McKenzie wanted the ball changed after every snap when his team was on offense because the field was wet.

After one play the ball was not changed and McKenzie yelled out to the head official that he wanted it changed.

The answer back to the coach was, "the ball never touched the ground" after a running play.

Last time I checked, though, is that the ball started on the ground.

Another time during the game the Wildcats were in their spread offense and an adult from behind the fence yelled "throw it to the tight end."

There wasn't one on the play.

Saturday night at Kettlewell Stadium, Martins Ferry had something like a third-and-17 and I heard coming from the stands, "watch for the pass."


One thing I am hearing far too often from football officials on the sidelines is "get back."

It's a theme that I am told has come down from the officials powers-to-be.

A couple of weeks ago at Jimmy Carey I was taking photos for the paper and was told, not asked, by the sideline guy to move back. Not knowing he was talking to me because the ball was on the hash mark on the other side of the field, I did not move.

"I'm not going to tell you again, move back," was his warning, a little more stern than the time before.

At most, I moved back six inches and nothing was said again. Didn't know moving back half-a-foot meant so much.

I am not a kid, ask me, don't tell me.

I understand you are doing your job and this is a liability issue because people have been run over on the sidelines.

If you ask the visiting team at Harding Stadium to move back, all the players will be under the stands.

Not a knock on Harding Stadium because I love being there covering a game, but it's not like there is a lot of room on most high school sidelines.

But, in all honesty, if I get run over then I am a complete idiot for putting myself in that position.

If my son gets run over when he is with me learning a craft and what dad does, then, again, I am a complete idiot for putting my son in that position.

Second of all, the powers that be in the black-and-white stripes need to find something else to worry about.

I am not in your way. I will never be in your way.

And, if you get mad enough to flag me, who are you going to call it against - the team whose sideline I am on?

If that is the case, I will go to the visitors sideline and make you mad.

Hello, sarcasm.

You never hear me complain when I have a really good picture only to see the back of the sideline official's head right in the middle of it.

You do not hear me complain to you that you got in my way.

Just me, but I would like see a way to speed up the games.

High school games are approaching three hours on a regular basis.

That's too long to play a 48-minute game.

Speaking of the powers that be.

If there is supposed to be a zero-tolerance rule at the West Virginia state high school golf championships then make it a zero-tolerance rule. These kids will be allowed to get away with whatever you allow them to get away with.

There are no second chances after all the 144 players hear of the zero-tolerance rule.

Hats on the right way. Nothing gets slammed - club or hat or putter cover.

If a kid is being an idiot, state championship or not, and a disqualification is in order, then DQ the person.

It's OK.

When I hear a member of the WVSSAC staff say "it's the quickest we can get 144 players around the course" and he is talking about something along the lines of a seven-hour round, it's time to cut the field.

Here is how you cut the field.

Have two regionals instead of four. The top three teams and top six individuals not on those teams in each regional qualify for the state tournament. That gives you 36 participants from each classification in the state tournament.

That cuts your field down to 36 participants per classification to equal 108 players and makes for a much stronger field.

That means you can play 27 foursomes and only double up half of the tees with two groups.

Your seven-hour round now becomes much closer to a five-hour round.

That would allow places like Oglebay Park to open the course up to other players 90 minutes sooner.

That would make them a little more money and they would be more inclined to have you back.

In addition, the second-round pairings were solely based on individual scores and nothing was thought of when it comes to a team competition.

Players from the same team should rarely play together in the second round - unless they have a chance to be medalist.

But, when it comes to guys who shot in the 80s and higher, figure out a way to keep players from the same team out of the same group.

Go with quality over quantity.

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at

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