It’s the final week of high school football and with just six of our overall 22 teams in Lapeer and Genesee County having punched their tickets, it’s interesting to share some of the perspectives that many of our coaches and associated statisticians have on their teams.
Almont, Bendle, Capac, Flint Carman-Ainsworth, Lapeer East and Marlette have reached the magic six-win mark that qualifies teams into the district round of the postseason. Lapeer West, Brown City, and Goodrich need just one more win to join their fellow gridiron squads in the postseason.
The rest of the teams? About a third can still declare a winning season if they win out Friday and reach the 5-4 mark. That merely puts them on what we in the sports world call ‘the bubble’. Teams earn points for each game played and a handful of 5-4 teams are selected by the Michigan High School Athletic Association to join the 6-or-more win teams in the playoffs. For all the others, it’s not such good news. That doesn’t mean those programs don’t consider this a successful season, based on how far their team has come since summer practices.
A handful of others have asked us a similar and surprising question–over the past couple of weeks, as they saw their seasons continue to falter. Just last Friday an assistant coach in Lapeer County asked us ‘why do you even still cover us?’ Wow. That’s harsh! Why wouldn’t we cover the team, the reporter responded, shocked at the question?
How we look at all the teams goes way beyond the wins and losses. No one likes to keep looking at a zero in the win column as the losses continue to pile up. That doesn’t mean the boys and girls who make up those teams should be punished with no coverage in the local paper. Quite the contrary, because there is always a story within the story. Ineligibility because of poor grades or discipline reasons, injuries, and poor onfield performances have depleted once strong rosters.
Simply put, it doesn’t matter so much to us what the score is, but rather why the team is struggling, or just how hard they are trying week in and week out.
Nothing bothers us more than to have a coach say that there just aren’t any significant stats or comments to report. Really? A kid throws four quarters of a football game and he doesn’t deserve coverage? We don’t enjoy listing the 3-of-12 completions in print any more than the kids enjoying seeing that in black and white, but the bigger question is, was it several kids’ poor performances that day or perhaps did teammates not do their part? Is this a freshmen or sophomore playing on varsity for the first season? Is there a new coaching system in place that perhaps has the kids rattled?
There is a multitude of reasons a team may be struggling to come together, or in the kids’ cases, to figure out just how to take what they are learning in practice and apply it under the pressure of the game.
So, instead of shutting us out, the better approach would be to detail what is going wrong, along with the small feats accomplished by the kids. As some of our coaches believe, maybe if the kids see it in black and white, it will do one of two things. It will either help get the point across that coach has been trying to make, or at the very least, let the kids know that even if it was an ugly loss, everyone watching does care how they are doing. We certainly do.