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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Strange endings to high school games

For 10 years from 1987-1997 I coverered dozens of high school football games for the Times, most of them as the prep editor. This year I've covered a half-dozen and two of them have had endings I've never seen before.

A few weeks ago, the Loyola-North Caddo game was called with 7 minutes left after a near brawl was averted by the two teams' coaching staffs.

Friday night's Haynesville-Evangel playoff game went the distance. But after Evangel's 50-0 win, Haynesville coach David Franklin took his team straight to the locker room instead of across the field for the traditional postgame handshakes among players and coaches.

Although Franklin declined to comment about that after the game (he did graciously talk about the game itself), it was obvious by his actions he was disgusted.

Near the end of the game, a Haynesville fan came into the press box and yelled at the Evangel radio crew to say how classless the Eagles were. As I was walking off the field the same fan yelled at me to put that in the game story.

Evangel coach Ronnie Alexander said he wasn't trying to run up the score and was disappointed the victory margin was so large. He said for most of the season Evangel has played "partial games," meaning the Eagles' first-team players were usually out of the game at some point in the second half. He pointed out that in the playoffs the Eagles are going to have to play a full game and they need to be prepared for it. In essence, they needed the work.

I think what really upset Haynesville fans was Evangel threw the ball on their last drive, including a 50-yard touchdown pass.

Alexander makes a very good point, but the Haynesville fans also have a right to be upset.

At any rate, Evangel shouldn't be playing Haynesville anyway. The Tors, who had seven or eight players playing both ways, were way overmatched. The Eagles were much bigger, faster and stronger.

Over the years The Times' Brian McCallum has done an outstanding job covering the public vs. private issue in high school football. To be honest, I really don't know if there is a good answer to the issue.

The way things are now, somebody is always going to be upset. And it really doesn't matter what class the elite private schools are in, somebody won't like it. That's why LHSAA members voted to make teams play in the class where their enrollment lies instead of in a higher class.

Unless the LHSAA bans private schools, the issue will always simmer.

Public schools who lose to private schools in state title games could always just declare themselves the public school state champs and celebrate that.

Next week Claiborne Parish football fans will have a chance to see south Louisiana's version of Evangel -- the John Curtis Patriots. John Curtis will be much bigger, faster and stronger and Homer will be overmatched. Maybe the talented Homer QB Richie Casey can help Homer make a game of it. But the odds are against it.

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