Tuesday, July 16, 2019 Medina 71°
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Sports

Rick-o-chet: Tumbling, fumbling, stumbling

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Was just coming to terms with the Massillon football team putting up 101 points when, a few days later, the Highland girls soccer program deemed it necessary to score 18 goals in a game, so let’s sort out some things — or at least attempt to — with a Rick-o-chet around the world of sports:

Right off the bat, let me say I’m old school and despise much of what is involved in the everyone-gets-a-trophy world we now live in. Life isn’t fair, and you’re gonna take some whuppins. If you can’t handle that when it comes to sports, either work harder or do something else. …

That said, scoring 101 points is excessive. Actually, scoring 73 points in the first half, including 56 in the second period, is excessive. So is scoring 94 points through three periods, for that matter. …

I get that the customary

30-point-lead running clock was employed not only for the entire second half, but in the second quarter as well. …

I get that, even in an extreme instance like this, coaches have a certain obligation to let their second-, third- and even fourth-string players try their best in a varsity game. …

I get, too, that starting to take a knee in the second or third period can be interpreted as an even bigger slap in the face to the opponent. …

I get all that, but you can’t convince me there wasn’t more Massillon could have done to keep the score down. …

I mean, the Tigers scored the last of their 73 first-half points — and the last of their 56 second-quarter points — on a 43-yard touchdown pass! …

Then, rather than just falling on the ball or plowing forward, the Tigers handed the second-half kickoff back to their return man, who went 66 yards for a TD. …

You’re telling me those touchdowns couldn’t have been avoided? …

Extreme, uncompromising hardliners — and they are out there — will say that if poor Sun Valley (Pa.) didn’t like it, it should have done something about it. …

Puh-lease! This isn’t professional sports we’re talking about. It’s not college sports with athletes on scholarship. These are teenage kids, many of whom won’t be involved in organized sports beyond high school. …

It’s painfully obvious a bigger, faster, stronger and more talented Massillon team pretty much did whatever it wanted, whenever it wanted — and elected to do that too often.

The sad part isn’t that the Tigers ultimately topped the century mark — on a 77-yard run by a sophomore on a play that was designed to go 5 yards — but that they didn’t take earlier steps to make sure it didn’t come to that. …

(And unlike Cavaliers games at Quicken Loans Arena, everyone in attendance didn’t get free Chicken McNuggets gift cards to McDonald’s. …)

Then there’s the Highland girls soccer team, which eked out an 18-0 nail-biter over Firestone on Monday in an Akron Division I Sectional opener. …

Congrats to the Hornets for setting a school record with their 13th win of the season, but shame on the coaches for pouring it on a totally outclassed opponent. …

I’ve always subscribed to the theory that a goal in soccer is similar to a touchdown and extra point in football. In other words, a 3-0 lead on the pitch is 21-0 on the gridiron, or a 7-0 lead in soccer translates to 49-0 in football. …

Carry out that logic and Highland beat Firestone by the football equivalent of 126-0! …

Much, much worse, up 11-0 at intermission — in true soccer scoring — the Hornets scored seven more goals after halftime! …

The 18 goals broke a program record, surpassing the 17 Highland put up against Kenmore in the mid 1990s. This, though, was a record that shouldn’t have been set to begin with and definitely didn’t need to be broken. …

Again, I’m not saying Highland reserves shouldn’t have tried. And I get that soccer teams don’t have nearly as many players as football teams, so there are only so many kids who can enter a game. But 18 goals? …

Maybe Highland was chasing the school record for goals in a game. Maybe the Hornets were mad because Firestone voted them an eighth seed. I don’t know and I don’t care, because this display was not what high school sports are supposed to be about. …

This is probably a good time to point out this wasn’t the fault of the players. They were playing hard and doing their best, and perhaps a player or two got her only goal or assist of the season. Good for those kids, really, truly and honestly. ….

But when you’re up 3-0 just 2:23 into a game and 11-0 at halftime, there’s no reason to score seven more times in the second half (or even 11 times in the first, for that matter). …

In football, even a fullback dive or — gasp! — simple quarterback sneak can spring for a long TD against a totally outmanned opponent. It doesn’t happen often, but it happens. …

In soccer, on the other hand, it is extremely easy to hold down the score, and it can be done while working on tactical things that allow kids to play hard and might even prove beneficial down the road . …

Require that every other pass be played backward. Emphasize using the weaker foot. Use kids at different positions. Stress maintaining possession for long stretches, and do so in the midfield area. …

All these things can be utilized and, better still, it’s easy to do them in a way where the opponent doesn’t feel even worse. …

Classy, powerhouse programs, I should note, have been doing this successfully for years when they could have beaten lower-rung teams 20-0 or worse. …

Here’s hoping that if the Highland girls soccer and Massillon football programs find themselves in a similar position in the future, they handle things differently. …

Till next time!

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Follow him @RickNoland on Twitter.



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