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What is proper etiquette?

POSTED October 09, 2011
BY Rick Wilson
Twitter: @scribewilson


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                                                 What is proper etiquette?

                        Like any sport high school football has its rules of etiquette. The issue these days however, is not one of following those rules, it is one of clarification.  You know, what are the rules. Etiquette can by a murky thing.

            Torrington threw an 80-spot on the board Friday night against a clearly outmanned St. Paul team. You knew the number would attract attention and comment and it has. As Tim Gaffney, who covered the game, has said here and in his stories for the Waterbury Republican, there should be  no issue with the Raiders running up the score. Yet, nothing is ever that simple is it? Especially with 80 points penetrating the face mask and staring at you.

            Torrington took knees in the first half and had the JV squad on the field in the second quarter. Where it all seems to get cloudy is with the fact that Falcons coach Jude Kelly chose to leave his starters in and throw the ball for most of the game.

            Against the Torrington JVs, the Falcons were within two yards of cutting the deficit to two touchdowns before fumbling after trailing by a national deficit margin early.  Torrington coach Dan Dunaj throws his regulars back in and the rout is on again.

            Should Kelly have kept his regulars in? I don’t know. Both sides practice all week and their players deserve to play. I’ve always felt for a least a half and maybe a series or two in the third quarter and then it is bench time. Should he have put the reserves in? Should he have thrown the ball a gazillion times?

            Who knows but at the very least it caused some discussion if not controversy. Etiquette also became a minor issue, very minor in the Raiders 66-28 pounding of Wolcott two weeks ago.

            I was asked if I thought the Raiders had run the score up because of their penchant for onside kicks while ahead by 40 points. It has been a long time since Torrington has had a kicker you could call a weapon. While I would have liked to see the ball kicked on the ground for 30 yards at the very least, I did not think Torrington’s intent was to rub it in.

            Brenden Lytton, on his way to a record-setting 427 yards rushing rarely played in the second half and Torrington did not throw the ball. However, I understood where the question was coming from.

            The problem with etiquette is that you can’t legislate it. It is basically a set of gentleman’s rules, that aren’t written down and carry a cloudy nature to them at times. The coaches either follow them or don’t or have a different take. You would hope everybody is on the same page, but that isn’t always the case.

            I remember covering one of a quartet of Bloomfield-Ansonia state championship games in the 1990s and one of the worst breeches of etiquette I can still remember. Bloomfield was laying the major smack down on Ansonia to the extent the Chargers hadn’t seen before or since.

            Bloomfield scored with just a couple of minutes left to go ahead, 52-0, and coach Jack Cochran chose to go for two points. He would later say his kicker or holder was injured. What was most clear to the fans was this was Cochran getting back at the Chargers for getting whipped a couple of years earlier.

            Jack Hunt is a gentleman which is good thing for Cochran. At 6-foot-8, 270 lbs., Hunt was made enough to plant Cochran after the game and made his feelings known. Some of the coaches had to be separated. As Hunt said to me, “I beat him pretty good, but my starters weren’t on the field in the fourth quarter. Of course etiquette and Cochran never have been used in the same sentence often. Hence, your 50-point rule.  

            It’s tough to legislate sportsmanship. It may be tougher at times to decide what is proper etiquette.  Such seems to be the case with Torrington and St. Paul. And, the issues always seem to arise more often in the one-sided games. That is something that often can’t be controlled.

            So, the etiquette issue will continue.

                                                                      *

            It looks to clearly be the season of Annmarie Tuxbury in Berkshire League cross country circles. While always a first-rate performer, like everybody else Northwestern Regional’s Tuxbury had to run against the great Jackie Nicholas of Nonnewaug in recent years. She did beat Tuxbury at the Nonnewaug Invitational last year, but clearly Nicholas, a multi-state champion, dominated and was one of the top runners in the state.

            Tuxbury captured the unseeded girls race at the Wickham Invitational Saturday and has yet to be beaten this season. Look for a more in-depth story on her this week, right here.

            On another cross country note, it appears to be as much a forgone conclusion as possible, that the highly-touted Thomaston High girls cross country team will dominate the BL this season, but hold off on the state coronation.

            The Bears’ head coach Mark Olsen has said all along that his team will be in a real battle with Immaculate-Danbury for the Class S crown and maybe Saturday’s results reinforced that. Despite placing three runners in the top 10 of the championship race at Wickham, the Bears finished in fourth place well behind winner -----you guessed it, Immaculate, 73-124.

            If you are looking ahead to the state open, Cheshire and Hopkins also finished ahead of the Bears.

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