Friday night, 900 miles away, this rule was proved out once again. I arrived at La Canada High School with about 4:30 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Spartans down by three. They soon recovered a fumble in the Glendale Dyanmiters’ territory. They slowly made their way towards the end zone as I made my way towards the press box. When I arrived at the press box, the Spartan offense had arrived at the 4 yard line with a first-and-goal. Obvious strategy here was to run 3 times and score or kick the tying field goal. La Canada was smart enough to run twice before attempting a third down pass play that was fortunately not intercepted. Then, apparently lacking faith in their linebacker/kicker, they went for it on fourth down and scored. I grabbed the mic from Mo$ and announced the score: La Canada 21, Glendale 17.
The time-keeper was impressed with my voice until it became obvious that that voice had clearly jinxed the home squad. With 1:29 left in the game, the Spartans seemed to have a great chance at their first victory of the season. And now, my fundamental rule of high school defensive strategy: Spend 80 percent of your practice time teaching fundamentals. Glendale took the ensuing kickoff to the 50-yard-line on the strength of numerous missed tackles by the Spartans. One play later, with 1:15 left in the game, Glendale called a screen pass. At least five Spartan players stood about five yards downfield from the receiver. All of them touched him, but none of them wrapped up and tackled him. Result: Touchdown Dynamiters. Glendale 24, La Canada 21.
Even though the situation seemed bleak, the Spartans still managed to return the kickoff to the 40-yard line. A couple well executed short slants and/or screens and a few lucky runs and there’s an outside chance to tie the game on a field goal. Instead, coach calls a 20-yard Hail Mary which falls straight into the hands of the Dynamiters middle linebacker for a pick-6. Glendale 29, La Canada 21.
As the players walked off the field, the respective bands of each team provided one additional rule of high school football: Bad fight songs lose games. The Glendale fight song was a peppy, upbeat song that closely resembled the fight song of the Helena High mighty Bengals. The La Canada song was a slow, sleepy excuse for any sort of fight. It more appropriately would have been heard in a funeral procession. Of course, given the result of the game, perhaps that was the idea.
yards per game, clearly understand the
fundamental rule of high school offensive strategy.