Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Aledo's 91-point win begs question - how do you defuse a blowout?
Aledo’s 91-0 blowout of Fort Worth Western Hills on Friday night was not out of the ordinary. The undefeated and No. 1-ranked 4A team in Texas is averaging nearly 70 points a game.
But a Western Hills parent filed a bullying complaint against Aledo’s coaching staff, thrusting head coach Tim Buchanan and his program into the national spotlight.
Buchanan appears to have managed the game in good faith: He pulled his starters shortly after halftime, implemented a running clock and stopped passing the football.
That’s exactly how Skyline coach Reginald Samples handles those situations, and his program is no stranger to blowout victories. Skyline ran only 11 offensive plays in a 60-0 rout of winless Sunset on Friday. Officials started a running game clock after Skyline took a 30-0 lead with 50 seconds left in the first quarter.
“I don’t ever purposely run up the score, and I don’t think Aledo did that either,” Samples said. “They had the second and third teams in, but they’re just that much better.”
Being ahead by a sizable margin can create an uncomfortable situation for coaches, who must find an appropriate balance between good sportsmanship and doing what’s best for their program.
Samples said he plays his starters for one series after halftime and then brings in backups. He supports using a running clock, and his quarterbacks threw only two passes Friday.
The losing side will often make up ground once those changes are made to prevent the final score from looking quite so one-sided. But, as was the case with Aledo and Skyline, that doesn’t always happen.
Area coaches overwhelmingly reject the idea of taking a knee, punting before fourth down or not trying as hard. Doing so would go against the work ethic they spend months trying to instill, and they say second- and third-team players deserve to see their work rewarded with playing time.
“I had a senior play his first snap of the season last week,” said Cedar Hill coach Joey McGuire, whose team beat Grand Prairie, 57-6. “He works his tail off, and he deserves to be out there. I wouldn’t tell him not to play at top speed.”
The extra snaps that reserves get during mop-up time are also important for developing younger players — on strong and weak programs alike.
Southlake Carroll quarterback Ryan Agnew played roughly 150 snaps last season during the second half of blowouts. That experience as a sophomore helped him become one of the area’s best quarterbacks this season.
“We’re not going to go out there and throw vertical routes in the second half,” Carroll coach Hal Wasson said, “but we’re not going to tell him, with all the training he’s done, to not go out and compete. We’re not going to rub it in, but he’s going to make plays, run zone reads, throw some intermediate and short passes. You can’t tell a competitor to go in and fall down.”
Seeing both sides
Mansfield Lake Ridge coach Kirk Thor certainly knows how it feels to be on the other end of blowouts. Lake Ridge played its first varsity season last year and went 0-10, losing seven games by 50 points or more.
Thor said opponents never purposely ran up the score and always displayed good sportsmanship. He never discussed the option of ending a game early — which coaches can agree to do.
“Sometimes you win big, sometimes you lose big. That’s life,” Thor said. “You need to learn those lessons.”
Buchanan told ESPN that Western Hills coach John Naylor, whose team fell to 0-7, wasn’t upset about the way the game played out.
“I felt bad about the way the score ended up,” Buchanan said. “I said ‘John, I’m sorry. I didn’t want to see that happen.’ He said ‘It should have been at lot worse. You did a good job not scoring 100.’
Buchanan also told ESPN that the investigation into the allegations is complete, and the school found “no grounds” for bullying.
Six-man football teams abide by a 45-point mercy rule after halftime, which ends the game as soon as the score reaches that 45-point threshold.
The TAPPS mercy rule mandates a running clock during the second half of football games with a 40-point margin.
First Baptist coach Jason Lovvorn is in favor of the mandated running clock. His backup players, he said, get one or two fewer second-half possessions, but the system prevents horribly lopsided outcomes.
“I’ve been on both sides of blowouts,” Lovvorn said. “And outside of having the younger guys getting fewer opportunities, I’ve seen no negative effects of having this mercy rule.”
Lovvorn said he would not be in favor of ending a game prematurely, and his coaching colleagues in the area agree.
“If we start something, let’s finish it,” Wasson said. “We got a memo that said to compete for 48 minutes, through good, bad and ugly. So for 48 minutes, we’re going to go compete.”
Not the first national blowout
Other one-sided results from around the state have resulted in national media attention. Some recent cases:
Class 2A Refugio was featured on ESPN’s Outside the Lines after running up the score in an 82-6 victory over Kaufer and a 91-6 win against Freer. Refugio coach Jason Herring said: “I’ve been labeled a bully, and I’ve had a fellow coach in our district say that we don’t have any honor. … And I’ve had a death threat.”
Lake Highlands beat Samuell by more than 50 in 2011, and the head coaches couldn’t agree on the final. One coach said it was 57-0, the other said 53-0, and the Lake Highlands baseball website said 54-0. The district’s mercy rule was changed the following season to allow games to be called if there’s a 15-run margin after three innings.
The Covenant School of Dallas beat Dallas Academy, 100-0, in 2009, and coach Micah Grimes was fired two weeks later. In 1998 Arlington Oakridge shut out Duncanville ChristWay, 103-0, and set a private school record for margin of victory. Oakridge still had starters in during the fourth quarter. ChristWay guard Anna Saucedo said: “I think it’s so unfair. It’s sad that we were embarrassed in front of all those people.”
Houston Yates downed Houston Lee, 170-35, in a 2010 game, and coach Greg Wise told the Houston Chronicle: “We could’ve scored 250 points that night. We didn’t run up the score.”
By the numbers
Aledo, which is 7-0, has beaten every opponent by a sizable margin.
Monterrey Prepa Tech
FW Arlington Hts
FW South Hills
FW O.D. Wyatt
FW Western Hills
Not quite 91:
Six Dallas-area games have seen a margin of victory of 70 points or more this season.
South Oak Cliff 75, North Dallas 0
Southlake Carroll 77, Keller Timber Creek 6
South Oak Cliff 71, Pinkston 0
First Baptist 70, FW Lake Country Christian 0
Birdville 70, FW North Side 0
Kennedale 70, FW Diamond Hill-Jarvis 0
Follow David Just on Twitter at @DavidJustDMN.