If you are an Eastwood or Genoa football fan and have gotten so bored with the runaway lopsided victories each team posted this year that you dropped out, what a mistake.
On October 28, Eastwood and Genoa, both previously unbeaten, played for the Northern Buckeye Conference championship and undoubtedly it was the best game of the season.
It may have been better than any playoff game you will see this year, but there was more going on behind the scenes after the game that made it an ever better game.
|Eastwood coach Jerry Rutherford congratulates Genoa
senior end/defensive back Andrew Nutter (20) for the
Comet’s 9-1 season and qualifying for the playoffs.
(Press photo by Harold Hamilton/HEHphotos.com)
It was nail biting until the end. It is too bad someone must loose when two talented and dedicated teams like this meet, but someone once said a win would not be as sweet if defeat wasn’t so bitter.
This game would make any football fan smile. It had hard hitting, swift running backs making “on a dime” cuts and linemen pushing like a tractor for an additional yard. The quarterbacks were pushed, pulled and probably hit in the face a few times. The linemen grunted as they remembered their coaches words “get low” to gain leverage as they pushed each other around. Truly a football fans football game.
What made this game particularly interesting, however, was the less noticed interaction between teams and coaches after the game. Even before the game, the coaches spoke with respect and admiration about each other.
Some fans would say these teams hate each other, but they would be wrong. Hate implies that you desire injury or bad luck be bestowed on your opponent. These teams have class. The players and coaches do not wish ill on the other. In fact, the players recognize that your win only has value when your opponent has played his best. That is a very mature attitude for young men at this age.
That’s the neat thing about sports. Most young athletes don’t realize it, but when they think they are just running around and having fun they are really learning valuable life lessons. They are lessons that might not be accepted as quickly in any other scenario.
It was fun to watch a big lineman try to knock the snot out of the guy across from him then get up and offer his hand to help his opponent up. To see a running back get slammed to the ground and then pat the tackler on the back congratulating him for the hit. While there were blood brothers on each team, the Nutters and the Conkles, there was also a strong brotherly bond between all of the participants.
After the game, the players shook hands, formed a circle of white and maroon jerseys and got down on one knee. They held hands and said a prayer thanking God for protecting them from injury and helping them play a clean respectful game.
Coaches Mike Vicars and Jerry Rutherford hugged at midfield praising each other’s teams and wishing them well. They then walked among team’s players, complementing them and wishing them well in the playoffs.
I saw coaches hug kids that moments before they were racking their brain to figure out how to counter their attack.
Kyle Nutter, the game’s leading ground gainer, said, “It is so great to play against Eastwood; they are very competitive and great sportsmen. They play hard but they are clean and there’s no trash talk. They are such good people, even their coach came up to me and wished me good luck in the playoffs”.
Parents can be proud, Your sons not only played a fantastic football game but they also displayed an attitude and character that will last a lifetime. It’s too bad some of the college and professional athletes you read about in the newspapers don’t all have mentors like those we have locally, or maybe they, too, would have developed some character if they had.
Good luck to both teams in the playoffs. You do your families proud.