The spotlight increasingly thrust on school bullying spilled onto the gridiron, hallowed ground in Texas.
Aledo’s 91-0 victory over Fort Worth Western Hills last Friday prompted one Western Hills parent to file a bullying complaint against the Aledo coaching staff.
State law mandates an investigation whenever a bullying complaint is filed, and on Wednesday, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that school officials cleared Aledo coach Tim Buchanan of the complaint.
“I think coach Buchanan is a classy individual,” Copperas Cove head coach Jack Welch said. “He did a great job. The bullying here is from the parent.”
The blowout drew national attention, but it did not appear that Aledo intentionally ran up the score. Buchanan, a 1979 Killeen High School graduate, benched his first-team offense after 21 plays, a running clock was implemented in the third quarter and Aledo quarterbacks combined to throw only 10 passes.
Welch said if Buchanan’s actions were a detriment to any team, it was Aledo.
He said keeping starters in the game for only 21 plays doesn’t help Aledo, the
No. 1 team in the latest Texas Associated Press Class 4A high school football poll, prepare for an extended playoff run.
“To be quite frank, I don’t think he was preparing his team, because he is going to be in a chase for the state title,” Welch said. “Each week is so crucial to work your skill set and your plays for precision, and 21 plays does not give you an ample amount of time to do that. He could have kept his No. 1 people in there and worked different plays, but because he was concerned about the other team, he pulled his starters out.”
In four District 7-4A games this season, Aledo outscored opponents 336-30 and managed to score at least 77 points per contest.
Fort Worth South Hills put up the biggest fight. Aledo won that game 77-16.
Thirty-five of Aledo’s points against Western Hills came in the second half with non-starting players on the field.
Harker Heights coach Jerry Edwards said touchdowns that come off turnovers skew the score and feels Buchanan did what he could against district opponents that are perceived as weaker.
“Aledo is just in a class above down there,” Edwards said. “They’ve got a well-established program, a one-horse town going into an inner city, big school district such as Fort Worth, it doesn’t surprise me.”
Killeen head coach Sam Jones said Buchanan also feels he did everything he could, but since Aledo’s backups play hard when they get an opportunity, lopsided scores can happen.
Jones said it is important for players to always give it their best.
“I tell our kids all the time, we’re big boys and we’re playing a big game,” Jones said. “We just got to continue to play hard. If we play hard, (a lopsided loss) wouldn’t happen to us.”
Ellison head coach Trent Gregory said all he knew of the situation was what he read, so he couldn’t judge what happened on the field.
Gregory said there are ways to call plays that avoid the impression of one team running the score up on another when backups are in the game.
“You have kids that are on your team that practice hard everyday, do everything you ask them to do and their role may be that of a backup player,” Gregory said. “When they have an opportunity to go out and play, you want those kids to go and contribute. That’s my opinion on it.”
Gatesville coach Kyle Cooper thinks that one of the reasons people get into coaching is to have a lasting effect on the lives of players and teach them life lessons through sports.
Cooper said that blowout losses could help players learn things that will serve them after they play their last game.
“It teaches you in life that you’ve got to get up and you’ve got to keep going,” Cooper said. “You got to learn how to get up off the mat. The old cliché says everybody gets knocked down, it’s how you get back up that matters.”
Florence coach Paul Smith said that although his team has lost games by wide margins this season, he doesn’t believe other teams have intentionally run up the score on the Buffaloes. He thinks Buchanan did everything he could to handle the situation last week.
The fact that the complaint was filed by one parent and members of the Western Hills coaching staff did not object to Buchanan’s game management make it seem like only the vocal minority had an issue with the score.
“There’s idiots all over the place, there’s no shortage of them,” Smith said. “If you tell players to not play hard,” they could get hurt playing football, he added.
Brian Bradley, Jordan Mason and Clay Whittington contributed to this report.