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His thoughts on the Columbiana-EP game

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

To the editor:

First, Columbiana’s football season has some things to regret, but the game against East Palestine is not one of them. Losing a game where you were clearly the better team that night is regrettable. Losing a game to your league rival by giving up two TDs at the goal line on 4th and 10 or more is regrettable. Losing to a team 35-0 is regrettable. Scoring TDs on a team that offered little to no resistance is not regrettable. It may be regrettable to the team that offered such paltry competition, but not to the Clippers or their coaching staff. Running only 19 plays from scrimmage and scoring 12 times may be unworthy of much celebration, but not regrettable.

Second, if you were at the game or know anything about Columbiana’s or East Palestine’s football teams this year, you would know that “running up” the score would have meant at the very least 140-0. The contest, or lack thereof, was the most pathetic display of high school athletics I have ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot. The Clippers, if they had any interest in “running up” or “showing up” the Bulldogs, could have thrown the ball to certain players who could have scored on every play. No, you don’t understand. They could have not only scored on every play, but the TD would have been untouched. 140-0 sounds outlandish. It easily could have been worse than that. Mercy left it at 83!

Third, Coach Spaite is on record before the week nine game at Lisbon lamenting the dilemma he was facing the final two weeks. Playoff considerations, seniors playing their final football games of their lives, and public perception were already part of his planning. D.J. Yokley and I previewed the game on YSNLive.com where I again stated the dilemma and probable result, including the legions of upset people. In the end, Coach decided to act according to what was right for his team. Clearly, he is not responsible for the opponent other than to engage in fair competition according to the rules.

By halftime it was conceded that the playoffs were no longer a possibility. So he allowed his seniors to play three quarters on their final night of football ever. Keep in mind, many of those seniors have had to sit out the entire second half of most of their games down the stretch. Those players didn’t get to play the game they’ve invested so many years of blood, sweat, and tears into because the opposing programs failed to field competitive teams. That’s fair? Fact is, if this was not the final game, Coach Spaite would have done what he’s done the four years I have witnessed Clipper football. He would have pulled starters after two quarters instead of three. By the way, the public didn’t know starters were done because the Bulldogs quit with possession early in the fourth quarter.

Finally, my take on these situations as a coach, fan, or otherwise innocent bystander on either side of the score has always been do something about it. When my team is getting waxed and others around me whine, I consistently retort, “How about we get better and stop them!?” And frankly, nothing is more upsetting than when I know the opponent is letting up on me because of how awful I am performing. When my team is on the winning end, I hate it. I lament it like Coach Spaite did. It’s an awful position to be in. It’s not fair. Competition among peers should not be this lopsided. It’s pathetic. But those that are playing must continue to respect the game and play it with maximum effort. That’s the right thing to do.

MARK FRANKEN,

Salem

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