A Closer Look with Mark Miller: Week 5

We did an instant classic Friday night at Massillon! Defending Division 1 state champs and #1 ranked Lakewood St. Edwards was beaten by the Tigers with the final outcome decided on the last play of the game. This was a score heard around the state – congrats to the Massillon Tigers!

Before we get into this week’s topic I also want to congratulate Canton McKinley grad Harold Fannin for scoring a TD for my BG Falcons in their win over the Marshall Thundering Herd – yes the same Marshall that beat Notre Dame last week. Harold ran a TE reverse, ala Ozzie Newsome for the Browns, into the endzone to give BG the lead at the time. The Falcons would later win in overtime. That after losing in 7 overtimes the week before. Good job Harold!

Every now and then in high school and college we will see a very lopsided score. We saw a bunch of them in the first round of the OHSAA football playoffs last year (too many teams in the playoffs – my opinion). The NFL is too equal in talent to have many blowouts. When we see a score like 65-0 we wonder, did the winning team run the score up or was the losing team really that bad. In the 4 years I have been back in Stark County doing HS games, I have not seen coaches in this area that have purposely run the score up. Actually, I see the opposite more often, coaches trying to keep the score reasonable while still securing the win. Sometimes it is just unavoidable. Vast talent differences,
turnovers, a team that makes a bunch of big plays – these all factor into shellackings. A couple of examples I personally witnessed. In 2002 in a Western Buckeye League game in west central Ohio with the score 45-0 in the 4th quarter, the winning tram onside kicked and recovered the ball. When asked about it after the game, the winning coach said it was not intended to be an onside kick, the kicker just miskicked the ball. The film clearly showed the kicker gathering his steps before the kick and aiming the ball toward the sideline and the kick coverage players getting into position to recover the kick. The coach lied. While being very successful for a short time and even getting to the state championship a couple times, that coach eventually moved out of state to coach. He was not respected nor liked very well by opponents and many in his own school.

Two weeks ago I watched as Mount Union beat Defiance 65-0. These kind of scores are fairly commonplace with the Raiders and a lot of people have asked me, do they run up the score. I tell them quite the opposite is in fact true. From the days watching my son play to now watching all their games as my son coaches, I will tell you they go to great lengths to keep the score down. In that Defiance game, Mount’s starters did not play in the second half and they played a total of 73 players in the game. The
Raiders also opted to kick field goals 3 times when they were inside the opponent’s 5 yard line. They made 1 of 3 so if they would have gone ahead and scored touchdowns all 3 times the score would have actually been 83-0. Now you may say what is the difference? That is debatable but I don’t think Defiance would have enjoyed making national news for giving up 83 points and looking back in 10 years I believe they would rather see 65 than 83. Another score prevention tactic I have seen Mount Union use several times over the years is when a player is in the open and scoring a TD is obvious, the player runs out of bounds before the goal line. Then they kick a FG. Try telling a backup player not to score a TD – that tells you about the discipline and team attitude that pervades that program. There are a lot of ways to control the final score. How a coach does it says a lot about the class of his staff and program.

The regular season is half over – unbelievable! See you Friday!