Football championship observations, suggestions
The CIF football championship quadruple-header at Qualcomm Stadium is a great day for all concerned and especially for high school football in general. However, I have a few observations, suggestions and rhetorical questions.
When the Chargers are out of town, why play the games on a Friday?
High school students who want to attend have to miss class, not just the students of the schools that are involved in the quadruple header, but all high school students. Working adults have to miss work or take a sick or vacation day.
Too many high school football fans can’t go to all of the games. The rent would be the same for the stadium, and more people could and probably would attend the games.
Why not play a doubleheader on Friday and a triple-header on Saturday? The Friday games could be late afternoon and a night game. That way high school football fans could see the games without playing hooky from work or school.
The Saturday triple-header would mean that all four divisions could play their championship game at Qualcomm. It may cost more to rent the stadium, and the Chargers have been so generous that it might be too much to ask.
Saturday games might be a programming problem for Channel 4. Channel 4 no longer broadcasts the high school games live during the regular season. I hope they continue to do the delayed showings.
San Diego is doing a great job of media coverage of high school football. Hopefully, that coverage will continue and maybe even get better. XX Radio, KUSI and Channel 4 all do great jobs. The San Diego County daily papers are also doing a great job of covering all high school sports. Not just in print, but on the Internet.
ESPN.com ran an article titled Miles Apart about two student/athletes from La Costa Canyon High School and Oceanside High School. The article got mixed reviews. Some thought that it portrayed the community of Oceanside in a poor light.
Oceanside High School and La Costa Canyon High School are 15 miles apart. The article pointed out the demographic, socioeconomic and cultural differences between the two schools. There are many and they are real. Let us look at the similarities.
The CIF quadruple-header featured eight schools. In some cases the games could have been billed as games between the haves and the have-nots. That would be an oversimplification, to say the least.
Division IV: Valley Center High School 31, Madison High School 20.
Valley Center is a suburban school. Madison is urban. The demographics of the two schools were not a factor in the game. Both schools were well coached and played hard.
Madison’s Robbie Rouse is the epitome of the term student/athlete. He ran for 251 yards and scored three touchdowns. Football might be the worst thing that he does. He is a great citizen and an A student. He does not come from a wealthy family, but he may be attending Stanford.
Tyler Bernard and James Johnson from Valley Center are also class acts. Bernard will attend Arizona State on a baseball scholarship next fall. Johnson will get to pick his college.
The game was decided in the final period. The game was played on the turf, not the financial section.
Both communities showed up in force for the 10 a.m. game. Both teams and communities showed class on the field and in the stands. They were both haves when it came to class.
Division III: Cathedral Catholic High School 49, Valhalla High School 13.
Cathedral Catholic is a school of haves. It is a private school. The tuition is expensive. Valhalla is a public school in an upper middle class neighborhood. Tuition was not a factor in the outcome of the game.
Cathedral Catholic is the best team in San Diego County. They are big, huge actually, fast, smart and well coached.
Tyler Gaffney had a typical game. He rushed for 155 yards and added another 98 yards in receptions. He scored four touchdowns. He rushed for 2,458 yards and 51 touchdowns on the season.
He will have his pick of colleges. Notre Dame, USC and Stanford are some of the schools courting him. He is also a prospect as a baseball player.
Valhalla’s Pete Thomas completed 23 of 30 passes for 277 yards. He is a junior, but he has verbally committed to Boston College.
Both are good students. Both do community service. Both are class acts. I don’t know how far the two campuses are apart. It didn’t seem to matter during the game.
Division II: Oceanside High School 23, Helix High School 19.
Both schools have a diversified student enrollment. Both have great coaching staffs. Both have winning traditions.
Oceanside has won five straight CIF championships in football. They have been in the semi-finals the last 15 years. The two teams have met in the season and in the stadium. They both play the best competition available.
ESPN featured Justin Vae’ena in its article. He is an all league football player and an All American person. He was injured in the final game, but he still was an emotional leader for his team. He is a good student. He is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He plays baseball.
The game was decided in the final minute of play. Demographics was not an issue.
Division I: La Costa Canyon High School 45, Escondido High School 28
La Costa Canyon’s Connor Garrett was featured in the ESPN article. He is a typical La Costa Canyon kid. Eighty-eight percent of the parents of LCC students’ parents attended college. Connor will go to an Ivy. He is a free spirit. He is a good player, kid and student.
Escondido’s standard-bearer is Rickey Seale. He rushed for more yards during the year than Tyler Gaffney: 2,663. He is a junior. He is a good student, a great kid and only a junior. He will have a choice when it comes to attending college, a very big choice.
There were differences. The commonalities (a George Bush type of word) are many. The games were played on a neutral field. The games were decided on a field. Booster clubs, bank accounts and team meals didn’t decide any championships. There is an old adage: a hungry fighter is a good fighter. Hunger can be a metaphor.
Every team that played in Qualcomm last Friday worked hard and had good coaches. Every team had community support. Community support doesn’t always have to carry dollar and cents signs. A spaghetti dinner or a pancake breakfast prepared by loving parents is just as good as or better than a steak dinner in many cases.
Every student/athlete was properly equipped and when they played between the lines they were giving it their best.
Financial support helps. It is necessary. I hope that it never becomes the most important factor in high school athletics.
A brief aside: The ESPN article mentioned that Oceanside’s coach, John Carrol, lost his sense of humor nineteen years ago. That is not true. John joked with Ramona High Coach Damon Baldwin the day after Ramona upset Oceanside at the CIF seeding meeting. He sarcastically said that Baldwin made a bad call on the 2-point conversion that tied the game. “You should have run a roll out pass. That is what we thought you would do.”
John not only has a sense of humor. He has a lot of class. His teams are a reflection of the man. They always have class and sportsmanship. Money can’t buy that.
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