First things first — let’s address the second-guessing Fort Scott coach Jeff Sims on his decision to punt with just under 40 seconds to play, which Blinn’s Chad Froechtenicht took 84 yards to the house (you can watch it, above). Like everybody else, right after the game, I thought it was the wrong call. He should’ve had them pooch it — he should’ve kicked it out of bounds … you get the picture. But I had a drive home and last night to think about it, and I don’t know that the call Sims made was wrong.
Consider this: You’re up by two — 26-24 — and you’ve watched Blinn QB Cam Newton dice up your defense the last quarter-and-a-half. You can …
A) Pooch it or punt it and give Newton and the Bucs two plays to go 35-40 yards to get in field goal range
B) Punt it and see if they can take it plus-80 to the house against your punt unit, which has won games for you this year.
I think it’s pick your poison at that point. Impossible to say what you would have done in his spot, but that’s why we Monday Morning Quarterback.
So there’s all that. I spent the night in Pittsburg on Saturday before the game at the Blinn hotel — after my experience at the hotel sports bar I now believe there is a law that requires all citizens of the state of Texas to either wear or carry some sort of apparel with the Lone Star insignia on it when leaving the state’s borders. I’m just saying. They’re very proud. And I got to catch up with Blinn O-line coach Chris Jirgens, who coached at Garden City CC when I covered the Broncbusters for a couple of seasons. I got to watch how he runs practice for a couple of years … I like his style, actually, and we’ve always got along. He’s brutal, old school — but if you can make it under him you’re ready to play anywhere, I believe.
After the game, there were a couple of interesting things that happened. Had to go into the Fort Scott locker room and try to coax some words out of a devastated Jasmin Hopkins (happy he said anything), then had a couple of encounters with Blinn coach Brad Franchione. First, as I was leaving the locker room after talking with Hopkins, I had to cross back through the media room where they had the press conference and walked in as Franchione was coming back in to look for something he lost. We had a stare-down for a second and I blurted out “What’s the next school you’re going to coach at?”
His answer, with a wry smile … “Wherever the good Lord takes me.” We both laughed. Then, when I was walking out of the stadium to get up to the press box to write my story I did a double-take … it was raining pretty good and Franchione was walking around, alone, looking up and down the street behind the stadium. So I walked up to him.
ME: “Coach, you okay?”
BF: “Yeah, just looking for my dad. Somebody said he was out here.”
I’m not sure if he ever found him.
Last thing — Froechntenicht. To be a good kick or punt returner, if you’re worth your salt at all, you’ve got to be a little crazy. You run full speed, directly at a wall of people coming to kill you with zero opening, and hope (PRAY) that at the last possible moment your blocking will come through for you and it’ll open up to daylight, and glory. CF took that punt and headed right down the middle seam on a wing and a prayer and it opened up. That’s my type of player.
As far as Fort Scott … losing like that is the ultimate heartbreaker. Felt for Sims, who had to put on a brave face for his players and all the fans. He was what a coach needed to be after a big loss — he put everything on his shoulders. I asked him if that was just what he needed to do right then, to be strong for everybody, and if after he’d maybe be by himself and, you know, let his emotions come out.
“Doesn’t work like that,” he told me. “I go home and I’m a husband and a father. I saw something on the news this morning about kids this age being shipped off to Afghanistan. This is a football game.”
And so ended The Longest Post in Sunflower Slate History.