I’m certainly not going to advocate for a 106-6 victory.
The sheer ridiculousness of Midfield’s blowout over Holy Family makes it seem over the top. But it brings about a great debate of when should a team start to take it easy on another and how it goes about doing that.
During Midfield’s win, I read from a coach on Twitter the Patriots played all underclassmen from midway through the third quarter on but I also read from another source Midfield continued to play a high-pressure defense the whole way through.
But I can’t necessarily fault a coach for having his younger players compete in the same style; the reason to put young players into a game is to get them experience and ready to play the game when it’s their turn. A coach isn’t going to tell those young players, who are fighting to prove themselves and get a moment in the spotlight, to play out of the system.
I also can’t really fault a coach for leaving his varsity players in. Varsity players shouldn’t be forced to sit out half a game because they are competing against a team that isn’t as good as them.
Let’s use Reeltown’s Eric Shaw as an example; I fully believe Shaw would’ve been named the Class 2A Lineman of the Year if his stats were just a little bit better. But because Reeltown blew out half its opponents, Shaw didn’t play in at least three entire second halves and at least one game I saw he didn’t play at all after the first quarter.
I also understand why a coach puts in his younger players. There’s no reason to risk injury to a guy like Shaw during a blowout victory, and it’s always good to get second-stringers and JV players a little extra experience. Plus, those guys work just as hard in practice and deserve their moments to shine.
Really, what a 106-6 final score truly does is illustrate the need for the AHSAA to fix the playoffs. The fact every single team gets into the area tournament is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard. It’s the participation trophy debacle at its finest. Not every team deserves a spot in the playoffs, period.
It’s great if a team earns an upset, hits its stride and makes a run, but more often than not, that doesn’t happen. According to Bama Sports on Twitter, between the boys and girls tournaments, there are 208 area championships. Only 19 of those — or 18.8% — were won by someone other than the tournaments’ No. 1 seeds. Just two tournaments were won by the lowest seed.
I don’t have the numbers on how many games were won by 20-plus points but I can virtually guarantee it was more than 18.8% and it was certainly more than two.
And, on top of it all, the AHSAA decides to add to the ludicracy by taking away the running clock in the fourth quarter. During regular-season games, the final quarter has a running clock at all times except during timeouts if a team is winning by 30 points or more. For some unknown reason, that no longer happens during area tournament games and beyond.
I mean, really? What is the AHSAA expecting? If you’ve got a really awful team that happens to be in an area with one that could compete for a state championship, you force them to play each other in the playoffs and you take away any type of mercy rule. While 106-6 seems over the top, it can’t be that much of a surprise to anyone. Is Dadeville’s 90-37 victory just as bad? What about Reeltown’s 66-14 win? Where is the line drawn?
And what is a coach to do, tell his team to stop playing?
Central Coosa coach Richard Bell said it best: “Part of being a good basketball player is always playing hard no matter who your competition is.”
A coach should never tell his team to play down to its opponent.
Whether it was too much or not, what the Midfield score really did was show us yet again the AHSAA needs to rethink its playoff format and soon.
Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor of The Outlook.