Trick play is controversial
by David DeBolt
From the Daily Post, Monday, December 7, 2009
With seconds to go in a game that would help take them to this week’s national championship tournament in Florida, the Palo Alto Knights pulled a trick out of their bag of plays.
After hiking the ball, a coach on the sidelines started yelling to one of the players on the squad of 8- and 9-year-olds that he had the wrong ball. The player walked casually toward the sideline and, during the confusion, suddenly took off, running in the decisive touchdown.
The wrong-ball trick gave the Knights the 8-7 victory and after another playoff win the team reached the national championships in Orlando where they played in a game this weekend.
The trick was questioned by an opposing coach yesterday, who called the move unsportsmanlike. But Mike Piha, the Knight’s longtime president, who is with the team in Florida this week, defended the play call yesterday. “That’s football,” he told the Post yesterday.
The call came against San Jose’s Oak Grove Rampage on Nov. 1 in a playoff game. Jess Barreda, who coaches the Rampage, said his players are taught to respect authority and stopped playing once the coach started yelling about the ball.
Players were devastated
“It was just devastating,” Barreda said. “All my kids were crying… because they felt cheated.” After the game, Barreda heard complaints from parents, including one who asked, “How can that coach sleep at night?” Barreda appealed the game, arguing the play was illegal. The league agreed, but Barreda said the game couldn’t be rescheduled.
The loss would have kept the Rampage out of the tournament, but another team dropped out, leaving room for them in Florida and a chance for redemption. The Knights lost their opening game 40-0 and if they lose against a team from Jacksonville, Fla., tomorrow they could wind up playing the Rampage in a rematch. If they meet, they’ll ironically play for the Sportsmanship Award.
Hall of fame induction
The Knights, which offer football for kids ages 6 to 14, beat Oakland to reach the national championships. Two of the teams reached the championships, a first for Piha, who coaches the team for 10- and 11-year-olds and will be inducted into the league’s Hall of Fame this wek.
When asked about the trick play, Piha said his teams use them often. In fact, Piha’s squad used one in their 20-0 loss yesterday to the Tampa Bay Saints.
In this play, the players acted as if they were in a huddle discussing the next play when a center tossed the ball to one of them. The huddle then acted like a massive blocking device for the running, who went all the way to the 10-yard-line before he was tackled, Piha said.
“It was cool,” Piha said.
Pretty hard to believe.
In other news, I finally did it. I finally splurged on a purchase I’ve been waiting a long time for.
That’s right: 24 pairs of socks. 24 identical pairs of socks. No more grabbing up to 7 distinct sock singletons (I’ve done it) with nary a pair in sight. According to my calculations, this purchase alone will reduce my stress level by 23%.
* Don’t worry, I’m donating all the old socks.