Saturday, November 28, 2009

High School Football - 11/28/09

Last night I challenged my demophobia and joined 6,500 people at the Myrtle Beach Seahawks football game. Demophobia sounds like fear of democrats (which I also have) but it means fear of crowds. This was a playoff game to determine who would represent the lower end of South Carolina in the state championship. Myrtle Beach is defending champion, so it was a game of interest and really the only thing happening in Myrtle Beach on Black Friday night. Last year, these same teams battled to a 51-50 Myrtle Beach victory in triple overtime. It promised to be a great game.

I arrived an hour early, hoping to get seated before the stadium filled. Unfortunately, 6,000 other people had the same idea. My greatest fear was realized, climbing bleacher stairs scanning the throngs for an open seat. I was lucky enough to find one on the 20-yard line. Many were not so fortunate and had to stand behind the end zones. Thankfully, my bladder held out for the entire game as there was no hope of leaving for any reason and getting my seat back. This was particularly disturbing since I saw people carrying funnel cakes.

I love the atmosphere of college football, but high school football has its own unique ambiance, particularly in the south. To illustrate how huge high school football is here; during the football season, Costco schedules fewer employees on Friday evenings than any other night of the week. It was interesting to see that the Myrtle Beach Seahawks have a pirate as a mascot. Though there was a fictional pirate called the Sea Hawk, however a Seahawk is a bird. After living here for nearly 10 years, that mistake in the educational system does not surprise me. Seattle and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington figured that out, evidently the Myrtle Beach folks had no access to a library. Even a Seahawk helicopter would have been a possible mascot, though not practical.

The opposition was the Marlboro County Bulldogs. A bulldog is an appropriate mascot. Well done, Marlboro County. Although a smoking man on a horse would have been more interesting, though not politically correct. I particularly enjoy a game where I have no emotional investment and can just watch it objectively, acknowledging good plays by either team. Though I live in Myrtle Beach, I know as many players on the Marlboro roster as I do the Seahawks. Zero.

Unfortunately, this game was virtually over early in the third quarter, as Myrtle Beach, though outweighed by at least 50 pounds per man on the line, dominated. The superior athleticism of their skill players soon wore down the Bulldog defense. Many of which played both offense and defense. They played hard but were outperformed at every facet of the game. They got a cosmetic touchdown towards the end of the game to make the final score 40-13. The game was not that close.

I only have two criticisms of the game and neither involves the players of either team. The first is the officiating, but not for the reason officials are normally censured. I think they called a pretty fair game. The problem for me was that they took so long to make decisions between plays that it killed the flow of the game and made it practically unwatchable. There were often ten minute interludes between snaps while the officials huddled and discussed who knows what?

The second fault I found was with the Myrtle Beach coach. Late in the game with a 30 point lead, he tried an onside kick. Thankfully, it was unsuccessful. Even the Seahawk faithful in the stands were questioning the intelligence of that bush-league move. He also kept his starting offense in, and throwing deep, right up until the final gun. As a result, the humiliated Bulldog team began to lose their composure and it got a little chippy toward the end. The team being shown-up, as can be expected, began to take cheap shots and that is a exactly how players get unnecessarily injured. The star quarterback should have been watching the game with a Gatorade in his hand, not throwing down-field. Anyone who does not agree that these actions were unnecessary in a high school competition has never actually played team sports. It is my hope that Myrtle Beach High School officials reprimand this coach for his unsportsmanlike behavior and lack of leadership. He is blessed with great players, which might not always be the case. This arrogance may come back to bite him in the ass. Bulldogs have a long memory.

That being said, congratulations to the Seahawks, and best of luck in the finals. That game will be played at the University of South Carolina’s Williams-Brice Stadium. I may travel to that contest as it seats about 80,000, and I am certain to get a seat.

1 comment:

Roger said...

Nice piece, Rick. This from a totally biased Seahawk supporter and father of a next-gen Varsity player.