A view from the Greenwich WGCH press box

Editor’s Note: Each week during the high school football season, the radio crew from WGCH 1490 AM in Greenwich will have a column about the high school football scene online at Greenwich-post.com. The views expressed in the column are that of the individual composing the column:

I called a football game last night. No, really, I did. That’s what my calendar said I was supposed to do. Danbury at Greenwich, 7 p.m., Cardinal Stadium. There was even a final score, as Greenwich won, 54-8.

So tell me why I feel like I was at a tea party?

Oh, things were going just fine and dandy. Greenwich sprinted away to a big lead, and was up 41-0 at halftime. Taylor Olmstead returned an interception 97 yards to make it 48-0 with 9:03 to go in the third quarter. That was the score at the end of three.

 

We all knew what was next. The Cardinals wanted to pitch a shutout, but that they could not score again. To win by over 50 points would mean that the Cardinals would have violated the idiotic 50-point rule (which is, in reality, and 51-point rule) and that head coach Rich Albonizio would be suspended for one game. And, oh yeah, that one game would be the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference championship game next Thursday at home against Staples.

Yes, I know that there is a review process, but still. It’s ludicrous.

Moving ahead, the Cardinals had brought in all of the backups. They were mostly running the ball, save for an occasional pass play on a screen. Then, suddenly, Nick Schepis, a junior running back, had 35 yards of daylight ahead of him. He ran, scored, and celebrated with his teammates. His first touchdown. Then he looked at the scoreboard.

54-0.

The Greenwich offense came back out for the conversion, and they took…a…knee.

In the booth, I began a meltdown. And I knew — KNEW — what was coming next. For the deficit to drop under 50, Greenwich would have to let the Hatters score.

They did. On the kickoff the seat parted and Tysheen McCrea ran into the end zone.

Danbury head coach Dan Donovan had seen enough. He yelled across to Albonizio, telling him to play the game. He has incredible respect for the Cardinals’ leader, and said that he would defend him against the rule. Still, who is to say that the CIAC would take his word for it? The two coaches met at midfield in one of the more bizarre things I have ever seen. While the conversation was apparently passionate, it was not heated.

At one point I thought the game would be stopped.

In the end, play resumed, but the spirit of the game (which is why the rule was created) was shot. The CIAC had been embarrassed. I don’t fault anyone at Cardinal Stadium. Not a soul. I don’t blame Schepis (how do you tell a kid to stop running?), Donovan, Albonizio, or anyone else.

Later on, I noticed a Cardinal player had a chance to make an interception and perhaps run it back for a touchdown. For the love of Lombardi, that would be the highlight of any kids’ football career.

The CIAC has taken that away. The player let the ball hit the turf.

How is this good? Google “50 point rule” and you’ll find chapter-and-verse from writers who have long lamented this travesty. So, tell me, who benefits? Suddenly, a night in which Greenwich could trumpet their return to the FCIAC Championship and the state playoffs (first time since 2007) was marred by this. Two coaches stuck in a bad spot. Players being told to let the other team score.

Who wins? How can it be defended?

It can’t. I know a caller reached Sean Kilkelly in the WGCH studio, wanting to debate it with me and I want to hear what the gentleman has to say, but I just don’t get how this foolish rule can be supported. It has made Connecticut a subject of ridicule since it was put into place.

Look at the scenario last night. What if the coach across the way wasn’t someone who respected and liked his opponent? What if it was some hot head? Who is to say what breaks out? Coaches, administrators, parents — you know, the ADULTS — are supposed to be the role models. Yet in this “Everybody Gets a Trophy” era, we continue to fret over large scoring deficits.

Is that an extreme example? Sure. But still, look at what happened. The rule, the score, took away from the confirmation that the Cardinals will play Staples on Thanksgiving for the FCIAC Championship. It further took away that the Cards cemented their place in the Class LL playoffs for the first time since 2007. The 50-point rule was all that people were talking about.

You want score control? Put things back into the hands of the coaches. Save for a couple of bad examples, the system worked fine. Common sense was mostly exercised, and there are always going to be charges of running up the score. I know the defenders will say that the number of blowouts have been whittled down since the rule went into effect, but at what cost? At the charge of kids pulling up before scoring? At playing at a different speed (which is a way for potential harm to the athletes)? At allowing the other team to score and thus dumping on the sport itself?

Running clock needs to be emphasized. Keep working in the junior varsity players. Run plays into the line. Keep it simple. No jet sweeps, trick plays, and so on. Again, use common sense. Get rid of this rule. It only causes more harm than good.

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