It’s been a strange football season. 43-16, 44-0. 48-6, 50-0. Those are the scores of some of the football games I’ve seen this season.
It has not been a very good year. Our three local teams have been moderately successful. Both St. Vincent (5-3) and Petaluma (4-3) have winning records, and Casa Grande (2-5) has a legitimate chance of a break-even mark. All three might well end up in the North Coast Section playoffs. When I say it has not been a good year, I’m talking in terms of competitive, exciting games.
For me, a 30-point differential game, no matter who wins, is not a fun game. An occasional blowout is alright. It gives both teams a chance to clear their benches and gives everyone playing time. Mostly, it is not good for anyone, including the players.
I asked St. Vincent coach Trent Herzog if anyone benefited after the Mustangs had blown away an obviously inferior team early in the season, and he pointed out that it was helpful for his players, many of them freshmen and sophomores, to get game experience despite the circumstances.
And, it is always nice for families, as well as the players, to get a chance to play in a game.
But, I don’t think there is much to gain for most players. They can work on plays and defensive schemes, but when you’re scoring on every possession and physically overpowering the opposition, there is a tendency to get sloppy and certainly the intensity level drops dramatically. The game becomes almost unreal.
The debate is ongoing as to whether it is better to schedule tough opponents for pre-league games or lesser-quality opponents in hopes of improving records and building player confidence.
There are pros and cons on both sides.
For a rebuilding team, confidence and a change of attitude are of paramount importance. The prestige of just making the playoffs is also important, and once there, as Casa proved last year with an NCS win over Montgomery, anything can happen.
To make the playoffs, teams must have a break-even record or better overall, in league or within their division. A team that plays a schedule loaded with larger schools can make the playoffs with losing overall and league records if it can play .500 against teams in its own division.
Playing larger and stronger teams has the advantage of preparing them to meet the better teams in their own division once playoffs begin.
Of course, that philosophy is only valid if the bigger schools aren’t so much better that they steamroll the smaller schools.
Whatever the reason, there seems to be an inordinate number of one-sided games this year, and, even when the good guys win, all could be described in one word — boring.
It’s good when one of the good guys breaks a 65-yard run for a touchdown or two connect on a 75-yard scoring pass. It is great when they do it with the game on the line.
I don’t know the reason for so many lopsided contests. I suspect it is just that kind of year. Sometimes it feels a lot like life — the rich get richer and the poor just try to survive.
But, like in life, tomorrow (or with football, next Friday night) is another night and another chance for a good night.