Ron Gregory email@example.com
September 24, 2013
Things are looking pretty desperate for the Scott Skyhawk football team. Starting the season with high expectations as usual, the Hawks have suffered at least one defeat that should not have happened with another in serious question.
Those problems have added to the team’s 1-3 record and a negative perception that this team is going once again to the Class AA playoffs. Except for a win over one of the weakest teams in any division, Lincoln County, the Hawks have yet to break the victory column.
The win over LCHS was a big deal, coming a week after a humiliating loss at Herbert Hoover in a game where the Skyhawks looked like world-beaters in the first half and played like they didn’t understand the object of the game in the second half.
The past week, a botched extra-points try cost the Hawks a potential tie against Class AA number two-ranked Sissonville. Head Coach Shane Griffith, who never hesitates to take the blame for losses, said he felt miscommunication led his players to not be sure what they were doing on the extra-points try.
In what initially looked like a run that turned into an apparent pass that quickly degenerated into a missed throw, the Hawks did not look like a team headed for Wheeling in late November or early December.
There is still, as they say, time to turn this ship around but the need for victories is now at hand. Any more losses and the Hawks can pack it in for 2013, as far as the playoffs are concerned. That would not set well in Madison and vicinity, where better things are expected.
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One of the problems for a coach running a perennially-strong program is that expectations soar and fans refuse to settle for mediocrity. There is no question Griffith is one of the hardest-working, most knowledgeable coaches around. I suspect nobody could do a better job coaching the Skyhawk footballers. But he has set the bar extremely high in a town that loves its Friday evening football.
Each and every season, Skyhawk fans expect the team to be playoff-bound. Nothing less is acceptable.
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Still, a 1-3 mark leaves both coaches and players with very little room for remaining errors. Poca is anything but a gimme game this Friday evening although one would expect the Hawks to win both that one and the game against Westside.
Then, it is off to Wayne, where some expected the Pioneers to be a bit down this season. Being down in Wayne country is a relative term. Perhaps this Wayne team will not bloody the nose of every opponent, but it is still formidable enough to cause anyone trouble with a capital “T.” With the game played at Wayne, there is no way the Skyhawks are going to be the favorite. A loss at Wayne, then, would nail the fourth loss on the team and present a world of trouble.
I do think the Hawks can win out, though. It will not be an easy task, with Tolsia, Robert C. Byrd and Logan providing the opposition. The RCB game is in faraway Clarksburg, where the team will surely be worn out by the time they approach Bridgeport.
The best, in my opinion, that the Skyhawks can now hope for is a 6-4 finish which might get them into the playoffs. The win over Lincoln County is big because the Panthers, for all their faults, are at least a Triple A team. That gets Scott extra points in the playoff rankings kept by the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission (SSAC).
It is time, NOW, for Coach Griffith and the Skyhawks to kick it into that extra gear many have trouble finding. Let’s hope Scott can turn it on – starting this week or a long season will just get a bit longer.
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Sherman, meanwhile, stands at 2-2 after a win over hapless Hannan. If LCHS is not the worst team in high school ball, Hannan surely is. The tiny Mason County squad is fortunate to even field a full-sized team and their record shows it. That is not an excuse for Lincoln County, of course, since there are plenty of athletes in Hamlin, Duval and Guyan Valley; just no coaches apparently.
Wins over Calhoun County and Hannan gave the Tide their two victories with losses coming at the hands of Wyoming East and Liberty (Raleigh).
A tough schedule also lies ahead for Sherman. They host Liberty of Raleigh this week before traveling to Independence and Van on consecutive weekends. Then, on October 18, Man provides the competition with the Hillbillies looking like some Harvey Manns teams of old.
We all know how tough Sissonville is after their win over Scott. A trip to Meadow Bridge closes out the year.
It is possible for the Tide to have a winning campaign although there are some really good opponents left on the menu. We’ll see how they carve it all up.
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One continues to wonder about those who “report” on athletic events. I was taught both in the Glenville State College and Marshall University journalism departments that a good reporter should not make it obvious if he or she is a “homer.” As I have mentioned many times in past incarnations of this column, I am always appalled when I see sports reporters sitting at the feet of coaches, making adoring comments and lapping up whatever the coach wants to sell that week.
Many of the state’s newspapers wouldn’t recognize an unbiased, legitimate story about West Virginia University if it bit them on the rear. They simple praise the Mountaineers and their coaches, no matter what.
Still, I find it amusing when a reporter and/or columnist just simply misrepresents something. A case in point is a sports column recently in The Lincoln Journal, my old digs. There, the “reporter” who is also listed as the “statistician” for the football team reported that the Lincoln County High stands were “full” in the game at Madison.
Perhaps “full” is a more relative term than I have heretofore believed. But when four sections of bleachers are occupied by five or six folks, I don’t really think that constitutes a “full house.”
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One Facebooker moaned that she hoped to see vast improvement in the West Virginia football team this week, by the way.
When I pointed out to her that I figured the ‘Eers have played about up to their true abilities against Maryland, she quickly pointed out that I should be “more optimistic.”
As a Marshall man, I AM optimistic. WVU has sunk about as low as it may be possible for them to go and I am quite pleased with that result. If they never won another game, I would be the happiest camper in town.
I have explained it before but I will digress a moment. WVU does not care about the state of West Virginia. It proves it by its mission statement, which subscribes to out-of-state students. It proves it by hiding from a football game with Marshall, which will always fill the stadium and keep all money in-state instead of out-of-state.
Again, as a Herd fan, I don’t frankly care if we ever play the Mountaineers again in football. But nobody can argue this land-grand institution has the best results for its home state at heart.
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Speaking of Marshall, I am more convinced than ever that Doc Holliday is a tremendous recruiter and a lousy in-game coach. Aside from the fact that I don’t think Holliday had any real game plan for taking on Ohio University, the loss to Virginia Tech could have been avoided.
Holliday’s asinine belief that a field goal from 40 yards was a near-certainty in overtime was ridiculous to be kind. It was a terrible night; field conditions were horrific; and Holliday just ordered his quarterback to hand the ball off three times from the 25-yard-line.
Holliday will never be known as the gambler his namesake was in the Old West, that’s for sure. He has squandered away for game-winning opportunities in three seasons than most coaches do in a career. Well, perhaps this is a career for him, come to think of it.
The Herd needs a coach.
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