As Popeye the Sailor once said, that’s all I can stands, I can’t stands no more.
Season after season, I see high school football teams constantly butcher punts and kickoffs. For the record, here’s what players need to know: If your team is receiving a punt, you do not have to touch it. Conversely, if your team is receiving a kickoff, you must catch/recover the ball because, if not, the kicking team can gain possession.
In the San Mateo-Capuchino game last Friday night, I saw the Mustangs botch both special teams plays. When San Mateo punted to Capuchino and the ball hit the ground and started bouncing around, the Cap coaching staff was yelling "Poison!” Universal coach-speak to get away from the ball. One Cap player, however, decided to follow the bouncing ball and, while surrounded by three San Mateo players, decided to jump on after it stopped. He lost possession and San Mateo recovered. Luckily for the Mustangs, the defense bailed them out.
Later, following a San Mateo touchdown, the Bearcats kicked off. When the Capuchino deep man slipped while going after the ball, he backed away from the ball as if it really was poisonous. The Bearcats jumped on the loose ball and, on the next play, scored a touchdown.
I don’t know who to blame. I’m not trying to purposely pick on Cap. The Mustangs were just the most recent team I’ve seen confuse the two, distinct parts of the kicking game. They weren’t the first and I can guarantee you, they won’t be the last.
I can’t imagine coaches aren’t teaching their players the differences between punts and kickoffs. I’m going to put the onus on the players. Hey guys, if you’re going to play the game of football, learn the game of football. Don’t just tune out the game once practice is over. Check out a college game on television Saturday afternoons or watch NFL games Sunday.
And don’t just "see” these games, "watch” them. Maybe you can pick up something from your older, more experienced counterparts that you can include in your game. At the very least, you’ll learn something about the game you’re playing.
I’m a big proponent of rewarding the players who do the work with scoring the points. There has been no bigger tragedy in sports than former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka letting William "The Refrigerator” Perry score a touchdown at the expense of the late Walter Payton during the Bears’ 46-10 win over New England in Super Bowl XX (that‘s 20 for you who are Roman numeral deficient). Perry was a rookie defensive end who became a novelty fullback, while Payton was the face of the NFL at the time.
So I was surprised when El Camino’s Anthony Hines wasn’t in the backfield when the Colts scored on the first play of the fourth quarter. He had just ripped off an 84-yard run down to the Mills 1-yard line on the final play of the third quarter. But when the teams switched ends of the field, it was Josh Paed who ended up going the final yard for the touchdown.
After the game, I jokingly chastised El Camino coach Mark Turner for not giving the ball to Hines after he brought the ball to the 1. Turner took the ribbing in stride, saying, "Hey, he should have finished the job. He’s a track guy, a jumper. I told him he needs to be a sprinter.”
Turner went on to say he didn’t sub Hines out of the game. He said as he was preparing to call the next play, he saw Hines had walked to the sideline on his own.
"He took himself out of the game,” Turner said with a laugh.
I guess I can’t blame Hines. On two carries in the second half, he gained 149 yards on runs of 65 and 84 yards. He must have been tired.
The Cañada women’s golf team wrapped up the Central Valley Conference championship by winning yet another conference tournament. This time, the Colts dominated Riverside Golf Course in Fresno, with three players shooting rounds in the 70s. They outdistanced runner-up Fresno, shooting a 306 to the Rams’ 327.
"We’ve had three or four (golfers) in the 70s the last four matches,” said Cañada coach Rick Velasquez.
Sarah Rotter fired a 1-under 72 on the par-73 course to earn low medalist honors. She was followed by Shannon Wong’s 76 and Annika Nousiainen’s 76. Mehreen Raheel shot an 83 while Hannah Murray finished with a 91.
By winning the conference title, the Colts qualified as a team for the Northern California championship Monday and Tuesday in Sacramento. A top-two finish among the five team that qualified for Nor Cals will move on to the state tournament.
"They’re peaking at the right time,” Velasquez said of his team.
Even if Cañada fails to qualify for the state tournament as a team, the Colts have a good shot of qualifying individuals for the final tournament of the season.
"We’ve always taken a few (individuals to the state tournament),” Velasquez said. "We have a good chance of getting a few to state (this year).”
Nathan Mollat can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: 344-5200 ext. 117. He can also be followed on Twitter @CheckkThissOutt.