September 15, 2009

Florida HS football team defends 83-0 rout

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Dallas Jackson is the high school sports expert for RivalsHigh.com. Send him a question or comment at DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him at twitter.com/rivalshigh.
He can explain that three of the touchdowns came on returns. And that a blocked punt brought a fourth.

He can offer that his team threw just one pass in the second half. One that was played with backups and with a running clock throughout.

He can even reveal that his team lost to this very opponent just a year ago.

But in a high school landscape increasingly aware of sportsmanship issues - one where quick harsh judgments are made based solely on a score - Chaminade-Madonna football coach Tim Tyrrell knows he has a tough time explaining how his Hollywood, Fla., team rolled to victory over Pompano Beach last week.

83-0.

"We did not go into the game looking to score that many points,'' he said, "and a lot of them came in bunches and off big plays.

"We only had one real drive; the rest came on short fields."

The Lions scored on a blocked punt, and two interceptions directly set up short touchdowns. Then to open the second half, senior Demitri Beal took the kickoff back 99 yards.

The defense also forced four more turnovers on the night.

The question then becomes when is enough enough? Chaminade-Madonna tied the Broward County record for margin of victory, a mark first established in 1951.

Gary Pigott, the senior director of athletics for the Florida High School Athletics Association, said there have been rules changes to help reduce the scoring opportunities - and thus avoid games such as these.

"About four years ago we switched from an optional running clock to a mandatory running clock for the mercy rule," Pigott said.

"It used to be optional, and the team who was behind had to request the clock. Some coaches thought that signified that they had given up on their team. We wanted to take that ethical problem away as best we could."

Pompano Beach coach Greg McGirt, reached by phone this week, did not want to discuss the game.

"I don't really want to talk about it,'' he said. "You might want to talk to my athletic director."

Athletic director Vince Stevenson didn't return phone calls.

A parent of a player, however, was more than willing to share his thoughts.

Ray Foster, whose son plays for Pompano Beach, said it was embarrassing to see his son's team beat by such a wide margin.

"I am sure we take it harder than they do," Foster said. "But it is humiliating to read the box score; it just doesn't seem right."

And that may be for parents on both sides. Foster said parents of the Chaminade-Madonna team - sitting close by at a field that had just one set of stands - did not applaud their team's final scores, the last of which came in the fourth quarter.

"It was weird. We were all sitting on the same side of the field," Foster said. "Their fans were a little embarrassed by it, too. They stopped clapping by the fourth quarter."

Tyrrell, in his second year as coach at Chaminade-Madonna, said he has to do right by his team.

"I can not tell kids who do not get a chance to play to go in and not try,'' he said. "To not get better. To not work hard."

And Tyrell points out all his starters were out of the game at halftime, following a 42-point second quarter.

"If I pull my first team too early they will not be ready for the games that are coming up on our schedule,'' Tyrrell said. "It is my job to get this team ready."

That schedule includes perennial power Miami Monsignor Pace and 2008 Class 2A state runner-up Miami Gulliver Prep.

Last season Monsignor Pace bettered Chaminade-Madonna 41-0, and four other schools also broke the 40-point barrier against the Lions.

It was something Tyrrell said his team had to learn from.

"We had a lot of tough games, but we have to learn to win or lose with class," Tyrrell said.

"Whether we are up 60 or down 60 we have to work hard. We have to coach hard."

That may be easier said on the plus side of the 83-0 score.

And as Pigott points out, "What goes around comes around."

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