Coaches seem to be burying the idea of taking a knee
It’s a lost art in high school football.
What, punting to the so called coffin corner? The good ol’ hook-and-ladder? The fake field goal?
Nope. It’s a real simple play, doesn’t require any complicated offensive design – just a show of sportsmanship.
It’s called taking a knee.
Really, high school football coaches, enough is enough. Yours truly has heard every excuse in the book for why it isn’t done, from the offensive coordinator being done talking with the sideline after a game gets out of hand, to trying to hype up the second unit and let it have its day or night in the spotlight at the end of blowout games.
None of them wash.
It’s really getting ridiculous. Coaches should be setting an example for their student athletes. Instead, for some reason, they have this feeling that a sense of bravado has to be perpetuated and anything less would be detrimental to their program’s future.
Let’s give you a clear example. Friday night Bedford was in the red zone against Nashua South, leading 35-0, with 1:38 to play in running time. Take a knee four times, everyone could have walked off the field. With class.
Instead, Bedford junior Michael Akstin runs into the end zone from 11 yards out to help make the final score 42-0.
Sorry, Bedford coach Derek Stank. That stunk.
Panthers coach Scott Knight was none too pleased. Now, Knight didn’t offer any comment on it until he was specifically asked about it.
“They popped one in at the end on our two’s (second team),” Knight said. “What goes around comes around, that’s all I can say.”
Conversely, you never know what may be going on with a team or in a game in the trenches, etc., so in all fairness we gave Stank his forum to explain.
“For that play, we had our entire JV offensive line, the JV quarterback for that whole series, the JV running back,” Stank said. “When you have a JV team, and I think if we knew, did I do the math at one minute, 45 seconds?…We might have got it, they (South) probably would have milked it out (if the ball was turned over.”
OK, let’s stop right here. The clock would have run out. It was running time by rule with the 35-point differential, no stoppage on possession change, etc. And with just seconds to go if there was changeover, everyone would’ve just walked off. You see it all the time at every level.
“It’s football,” Stank said. “We’re playing our JV, they’re playing their JV. So, we’re going to keep playing, not with the intenion of running the score up.”
We understand that. Stank is a good young coach, seems like a good guy, a coach you can feel comfortable having him mentor your student athletes. It didn’t seem like he was out to embarrass anyone.
But the mentality here has to change. And Stank’s further explanation shows you why:
“I’ll tell you this right now,” Stank said. “The only way your team is a good year next year is if your JV players play varsity this year. Even if it is against JV teams, it’s different on a Friday night. So for them to get in there and get those reps, and those reps that result in quality plays and quality results, it’s important for the future of your program.
“If we had our entire offensive line in there – and I know I was subbing them out that whole series – by that play, I made sure I got everyone out by that last play. So that was that.”
Once it was 35-0, with 8:15 to go, why was any starter in there anyway? But that’s a team’s business. Yet you see the deal. Get the JV kids the feeling of a Friday night. Fine. The Bulldogs had eight minutes to do that.
The competitive JV games are on Mondays. Save it for then.
Somehow, we feel the future of the Bedford football program wouldn’t have been impacted by a simple act of sportsmanship at the end of a 35-0 game.
In fact, it might have been helped. Remember, the Bulldogs athletically are no stranger to this. Many will remember that 2016 June Monday night at Manchester’s Northeast Delta Dental Stadium when the Bulldogs bulldozed Bishop Guertin 22-4 in the Division I title game, running up the score with their starters still taking swings in the sixth inning despite a dugout filled with plenty of subs. It forced a change in the mercy 10-run rule to have it include tournament games as well as regular season.
Meanwhile, with all the safety worries and rules in place for football, what’s safer, taking a knee or running a play?
Coaches, pay attention to the moment. Stop the bravado and the excuses.
Take a knee. It’s a simple act, and a simple gesture that, as far as we can see, has no downside.
Tom King can be reached at 594-1251, or@Telegraph_TomK.firstname.lastname@example.org