The Watering Hole: There's a right way and a wrong way to earn a shutout

By Michael Waterloo
Of The Spirit

The Punxsy Chucks' football team found itself in a down swing late in the season, as it was shut out in back-to-back games against the Clarion Bobcats and the Moniteau Warriors.

Head Coach Alan Nichol didn't make excuses.

He didn't say that the other teams were playing unfairly.

The fact of the matter is that the Chucks faced some very superior teams, and did what they could to hang on.

However, both teams earned their respective shutouts in classy fashion.

What happened in Ford City on Monday night was anything but classy.

When the Ford City Lady Sabers played host to the Leechburg Lady Blue
Devils, the outcome was known before the game started.

You never want to count out a team, but let's face it, Leechburg isn't very good, and that's putting it mildly.

Ford City put up an early 32-0 lead at the half, and then tacked on 14 more in the third quarter.

Entering the fourth quarter, it led 46-0, and ultimately ended the game with a 56-0 victory over Leechburg.

Normally, I'd say good for them and congrats.

I don't feel bad for teams that get shut out.

Maybe that's cold, but that's just my feeling on the issue.

If I'm a head coach, I want my team to shut out the
other team every night on the court.

If you don't like it, stop it.

The thing I do take issue with is the fact that the Ford City coach, Al Davis, kept playing his starters in the fourth quarter, and
continued to play aggressive man-to-man defense.

Now, the story goes beyond one team getting shut out by another.

It happens all of the time.

Kiski Area High School shut out Penn Hills in wrestling 80-0.

You didn't hear an uproar then.

Originally, I was prepared to keep my "if you don't like it, stop them" attitude, but then I dug deeper.

Leechburg played up in this game against the bigger Ford City team (13 players to 17, according to Max Preps), and Ford City is moving up to Triple-A
next year.

Not a big deal, but it should be noted.

What is a big deal, however, is the lack of talent on Leechburg's team.

From talking to numerous people who are famliar with the situation at Leechburg, they say that the girls that are playing basketball there aren't "basketball" players.

They are girls who are trying to learn the game and trying to keep the program alive.

The 2-12 Leechburg team has scored a combined 20 points over its past four games.

Yes, 20.

And that's not taking any shots at the girls at all, because I have no doubt that they are trying their hardest, but the talent level just isn't there.

In the game against Ford City, they were without their top player, which made it obvious that Ford City would win the game.

From the beginning, it had to be obvious to Davis and his team that they would roll easily over the Lady Blue Devils.

Heck, he could've played his third team from the get-go, and they
would've won by 25 points or so.

But he didn't.

No, he had to play his starters, but why?

It's what everyone wants to know, but coach Davis ducked the question, and made his player, junior guard

Christina Davis, answer instead.

“In a way, it's kind of like making history,” Davis said to Bill Beckner of the Valley News Dispatch. “I don't know why all this negativity is aimed at us. We didn't want to sit our starters when we have
a big game (against Burrell) on Thursday."

A big game against Burrell, huh?

Yes, the Lady Bucs are No. 3 in the state, but is playing your first team in the fourth quarter of a blowout really going to do anything for you that a few days of hard-nosed practice wouldn't?

Is it worth risking an injury to a player that will hurt them in the long-haul just for some meaningless minutes?

I'll answer it for you, coach, since you won't — no, it's not at all.
Leechburg just started a travel youth program a few years back, and is struggling to keep the varsity program alive.

Anyone around the area knows that.

Having the reserves in the game and having them continue to play hard is one thing, and that's a valid shutout.

To keep the starters in and keep the foot on the pedal is gutless and classless.

First-year Leechburg coach Joel Ceraso took the high road, telling Beckner that "I told the girls that sometimes life is tough, and no one
will just give you something you don't earn just because it is so tough."

No one expected Ford City to let them score or hand them anything.

That'd be rubbing salt in the wound.

I'd like to think I'd take the high road like Ceraso, but frankly, I'm not quite sure.

It's OK, though, as karma has a funny way of rearing its ugly head and making every thing even again.

The point of youth and high school sports isn't to see who wins and who loses.

Sure, you'll keep track and check the box scores, but it's to teach young men and young women how to win, lose, work as a team and develop
as individuals.

Before each local game in the D-IX, the public address announcer goes over the rules and regulations, and then says, "Sportsmanship, the only piece missing is you."

In this case, Al, the only piece missing is you.