A football field is a place of pride.
It is where boys develop into men through hard work, discipline and determination. Considered by many as a right of passage, football instills respect, promotes unity and tests wills.
The fields serve as places where character can be nurtured and tested week by week, and in Texas, they are practically hallowed grounds, where battles are waged and friendships forged over a simple game.
The stands, however, are an entirely different story, especially in Western Hills.
Following last Friday’s 91-0 loss to Aledo, a Western Hills parent filed a formal accusation of bullying against Bearcats head coach Tim Buchanan – a Killeen High graduate. According to state law, the complaint must be investigated and a report filed.
Unfortunately, this is simply another example of parents undoing everything the game attempts to impart.
The real issue of concern is not Buchanan being a bully. Rather, it is this parent being a crybaby.
Buchanan did almost everything in his power to avoid the lopsided outcome, including sitting his starters after only 21 snaps and agreeing to use a running clock after halftime.
Entering the game ranked No. 1 in Class 4A, Aledo quickly took complete control, scoring 28 points in each of the first two quarters before turning to a ground-based attack to slow the pace in the second half.
Despite everything, it wasn’t enough to keep the margin of defeat respectable.
But really, whose fault is that?
If a team does not want to lose 91-0, then the solution is simple: Play some defense and stop them. Western Hills has nobody to blame but itself for getting embarrassed, and its head coach John Naylor admitted he disagreed with the complaint.
Although Buchanan took it upon himself to hold his players back, it is not his responsibility to be concerned with anything other than his team, which is preparing to make a potential run at winning a state championship, and its best interests.
A similar situation occurred in 2011, when Refugio won by an average of 40 points with five games being decided by at least 70 points. Bobcats head coach Jason Herring was vilified, being referred to as everything from classless to the most hated man in Texas.
In the end, Herring’s team won the Class 2A, Division II state championship in a 36-35 thriller against Cisco, and he credits those incredibly one-sided contests as a reason why.
In previous seasons, Herring would typically pull his starters by halftime of their routine blowouts in order to avoid humiliating opponents, but after early postseason exits left his own players disappointed, he decided to change his approach. Crediting a lack of playing time during the regular season as to why his starters were not fully prepared for postseason play, Herring made a controversial move to go all out from opening kickoff to the final whistle.
Obviously, nobody can argue with the results as Refugio won its first state title since 1982.
Aledo is taking a comparable path this year, outscoring opponents 485 to 47 through its first seven games. In district play, the Bearcats are winning by an average of 76.5 points per game, including a pair of 84-7 road victories against Wyatt and Arlington Heights and a 77-16 win over South Hills.
The recent 91-0 pounding, which by all accounts could have been even worse, is just the cherry on top or for one particular parent, the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Annoyance with the situation and believing it was a case of running up the score is one thing, but filing a formal accusation of bullying is just childish and teaches kids it is acceptable to complain when things don’t work out in their favor.
No coach, player, parent or fan ever wants their team to lose that badly, but is it really any more humiliating than basically expecting an opponent to quit?Should Aledo’s second- and third-string players be expected to not try when they get an opportunity to play?
If Aledo’s offense took three consecutive knees and punted the ball away on every possession after halftime, would it have allowed Western Hills to walk away with its head held high?
Defensively, should the Bearcats’ linemen have parted and allowed the Cougars to walk into the end zone untouched? Would a few uncontested touchdowns have left players with a sense of pride because they lost by 50 or 60 points instead of 91?
I would actually be more offended if an opponent threw in the towel, insinuating they can’t be stopped so why even try. That is called arrogance and is the antithesis of good sportsmanship.
Being blown out can’t be a good feeling, but it has to feel better than simply receiving pity or charity, which is basically what the disgruntled Western Hills parent was expecting.
One thing football and sports in general teaches young athletes is there is no shame in losing with honor. Now, if only the message could be instilled into misguided, whiny fans, who just can’t handle being outclassed.
Contact Clay Whittington at email@example.com