View From the Press Box: Dion Clisso 10/7

Dion Clisso

By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Posted: October 7, 2010 - 2:47 PM

There were a few scores that jumped out at me this past week. Of course one was Lawrence’s 27-21 win over previously unbeaten Olathe East. That game was shocker that threw the Sunflower league race wide open.

The other score that stood out to me was also in the Sunflower League. Olathe North traveled to Leavenworth and earned a 76-0 win over the Pioneers. Let that score sink in for a minute. In a game that lasts 48 minutes, the Eagles scored 1.5 points a minute.

To say that the game got a little out of hand is an understatement. Olathe North is the defending Class 6A state champion and this year they are again one of the best teams in the Kansas City Metro. Leavenworth is on the other end of the spectrum. The Pioneers are winless this season and now have a losing streak that has hit 20 dating back to the fourth week of the 2008 season.

An Olathe North victory is not shocking. A big Eagles’ victory doesn’t really surprise anyone either. The fact that Olathe North almost hung 80 points in a high school game might make some take notice, but what makes me take notice is it didn’t have to be that bad. There was no reason why that game needed to be played with the full time rules in effect.

You see that game probably would have been in the 40s or 50s if it would have been played in Missouri under Missouri rules. The difference is the running clock rule that the Missouri State High School Activities Association uses when teams have a 35 point lead in the second half. The rule allows for the game to be played with a running clock except on change of possession between teams.

Ask any reporter and they will tell you they are a big fan of the rule. It’s easy to see when a game gets out of hand it speeds up the process and keeps a game that could go almost three hours and gets everyone home a little earlier.

Yes, reporters on deadlines like quick games. I’m not arguing that fact. The question is who is helped by making teams that are obviously in a game that has gotten out of hand stay out on the field any longer than they need to.

Most of the time in a game that one team leads by 35 points or more the junior varsity or sophomore team is seeing a majority of the time anyway. That may seem like a time for them to experience varsity football but when they are most likely playing other JV or sophomore players at the same time. That’s when a varsity game just turns into a JV game being played under the lights on a Friday night.

The other factor is injuries. There is nothing worse than seeing a player get hurt at the end of a game that should have been over 15 plays ago. I think most coaches would agree that any extra time played is an injury risk in a game that is already decided.

The main problem I see on the Kansas side isn’t that the rule isn’t in place. The Kansas State High School Activities Association has the same rule on its books that MSHSAA does. The difference is it is up to the respective conferences to adopt that rule. The Sunflower League and Eastern Kansas League do not have the rule and therefore you see games like Olathe North and Leavenworth last Friday night.

So the ball is in the conferences court. They can make a simple change that will improve the game. It will have an impact on injuries and maybe, just maybe keep teams from taking a beating like the one the Pioneers took. For a program that needs good things to happen if it is going to turn things around, a 76-0 loss at the hands of a conference opponent is not helping anyone.