Locker Room: Eye opening start to the season

     The season is only two weeks old, and it’s too early to assume anything. Things will unfold in time, but there have been a few eye openers the first two weeks. Are they really indicative of what’s to come?

      Pulaski County was extremely disappointed following a one-point season opening loss to Northside. I’m not about to say that Northside was not a deserving winner because the Vikings were, however, the Cougars could have won that game. Things did not go well down the stretch for Pulaski Co. in that game, and there were crucial kicking game errors. But last Friday Northside put 61 points on the board against Heritage of Lynchburg, a team that has played in Class 3 state title game the past two seasons, and that was supposed to be a telling game for Class 3 in the region this year. The end result is Northside has arguably the best 2-0 record in these parts. Just maybe the Vikings are better than many thought, and just maybe so are the Cougars.

      Then you have the come from behind win by Blacksburg at Lord Botetourt. Boty is supposed to be the strongest team at the line of scrimmage in this sector of the state. Blacksburg lost virtually everything it had from last years team on the front lines. The Bruins won anyway. Maybe things haven’t changed. Maybe Boty isn’t the biggest, meanest, most physical team around. Salem was ho hum against Franklin Co. The Spartans play at Dinwiddie and at home against Northside and Blacksburg the next three Fridays. Be patient. We will all know a great deal more at that time.

      And what must Pulaski Co. do to meet the obvious coming challenges? Get better. The Cougars need to win, create some momentum, confidence, but not only win, but get better at the same time. There are major battles down the road. Between now and then, the Cougars must sharpen their claws.

Streaks Need to Stop:

      There are four teams working a three-year state championship winning streaks in Virginia. Class 6-Westfield, Class 5- Highland Springs, Class 4- Salem, and Class 2- Appomattox. Riverheads has won two of three in Class 1. The streaks need to stop. In short, it’s not a positive statement for public school football in Virginia. Some other people need to get in the mix. They need to do it now.

G-Men Have a Home:

     It appeared for the longest time that Graham High was going to have to play its home football games at Tazewell High this season. The problem was the City of Bluefield went up on its rent for Mitchell Stadium. This was not anything sudden. It had been talked about for some time. Graham could not meet the demands of the higher rent, and the City of Bluefield was not backing off, and was prepared to not have Graham football. Bluefield is in West Virginia. So all Graham home game for over 60 years have been played out of state. Finally at the last minute things were worked out. He did not want public recognition or even that he be known, but an anonymous donor stepped up for the G-Men and paid the rent. Great gesture.

In a Move to Make the Game Better:

      The NBA has lifted its restrictions on the color of sneakers that can be worn by players in a game. No question, this will improve the game, or at least the shoe companies and players think basketball fans are gullible enough to make this into another money making venture. I have some ideas for new colors after checking out the Crayola Crayon Company. My suggestions for new color sneakers for players would be lemon, vivid tangerine, peach, lavender, apricot, carnation pink, indigo, violet, and dandelion. Try those and see what they look like.

Common Sense Actually Wins Out:

      Due to a politically correct decision made by the VHSL two years ago the Class 4 and Class 3 state championship football games were moved from Liberty Univeristy in Lynchburg. When considering the location across the state of the majority of Class 4 and 3 schools, it was a bad decision, but then a small group of people protested, and the VHSL ran. It was a regrettable show of cowardice. 

      To make matters worse the games were moved to Williamsburg at William & Mary College. The result, a financial disaster. There is one consistency. When you’re counting dollars, it seems the decisions makes more “sense.”

Do High School Games Start Too Early?:

      Absolutely. Games used to start at 8 pm but they were moved up to 7:30, and now to 7 pm. Why? Because of concerns of lawless behavior in some areas. So places like Pulaski County have to suffer because of problems at other places. PCHS fought the decision as long as it could, and was the last school in the state to move to 7:30. But did not to my knowledge object to the move up to 7 pm. Do you suppose you could sell more tickets if you gave people more time to get home from work and get their families together for the game? Schools always gripe about money. How about trying to help yourself.

     And everybody likes to talk about safety. Think about how hot it has been at kickoff for the early season games. It sure would be nice if the games were not played in the dead heat of the day. Remember safety?

     And the seasons now starts much earlier than they used to. This season their were two regular season games played in August. Sure is hot in August. What about those safety concerns? Or is that just self-serving racket? Football season starts too early, and the games start too early, and in August it matters. Is the object to just get them over, or to compete, and again, what about the safety?

Big Win for Hokies:

      Back in the day we called it “showboating.” Florida State took the field Monday evening and you would have thought it was a dance contest. Lots of really feel good stuff. Hey everybody, look at me stuff. You’ve seen it before. None of that stuff matters once they snap the football, and then as soon as it become real the Seminoles got whacked by Virginia Tech.

      Tech was very much the better coached and more prepared football team. There were off-season problems in Blacksburg and questions about the Hokie defense, but Bud Foster doesn’t play bad defense. FSU’s talent rates a lot higher on the chart than does Tech’s, but in reality, the Hokies are very much the better team.

     FSU is all about individuals trying to make individual plays. Justin Fuente and and his guys are about fundamental team football and execution. Unless something changes quickly, Willie Swaggert will be on the hot seat soon in Tallahassee. FSU’s defense played well enough to win I suppose, but there was nothing else even close to being satisfactory.  Tech was solid in all aspects. It’s a team thing. The Hokies had the better team.

By DAN CALLAHAN, The Patriot