Category Archives: Football

FC wraps up successful sports year

By J.D. McKay

It is my last column of this school year, so it is time for an end of the year wrap up. All in all, we have had a great year. Unfortunately, we have come up short in a few sectionals, but we have also had success against New Albany.

Girls’ cross country was very good. They won their regional and got second at semi-state by two points. Junior Sydney Liddle followed in her dad’s footsteps and became FC’s first second generation all-state athlete. Next year, the girls have a very real chance of winning team state and Liddle could win individual state. The boys’ cross country also won regionals. They were led by junior Luke Heinemann, who finished sixth there and could win regionals next year if he stays healthy. They only graduated two guys, so they could win semi-state next year.

Football had a pretty good year, too. They beat New Albany, Jeff, and Providence. It was their first year with new head coach James Bragg. The conference was very tough this year and their 5-5 record was pretty good for the level of competition. Next year, the sectional is winnable for all the teams in it, the first time FC has been in a winnable sectional in three years.

Girls’ volleyball had a good year. They beat New Albany and Jeff. They have a tough sectional and came up short against Providence in the sectional championship. The boys’ had a terrific fifth season. They were ranked in the top four for most of the season. They also beat Trinity. They lost in the state semifinals to eventual champion Roncalli.

Girls’ soccer had another good season. They won sectionals against Seymour 2-1. Junior Katie Yankey was all-state. They could be very good next year. They lost a few seniors, but they have a lot of talented returning juniors. Boys’ soccer also won sectionals 1-0 over Jeff. They had a big senior class, so they might have a tough year next year. However, junior Xander Ochsner is very good and could lead them to a successful year and sectional championship.

If you asked one of the players on our boys’ basketball team, they would probably call the season a disappointment. However, they had a very good year. They beat New Albany in the regular season and tied Jeff for first in the conference. Unfortunately, they lost to New Albany, who overcame some adversity and injuries to play a great game. Their head coach, Jim Shannon, also ran a tough triangle and two defense that made senior Cobie Barnes and sophomore Jake Heidbreder less of a threat. Barnes was all-state.

The girls’ season was pretty good. They went in with mixed expectations. They were hit with the injury bug again but still managed to beat New Albany and Providence. They have a lot of underclassmen so if they stay healthy they could be good next year.

Boys’ and girls’ swimming both had a pretty typical year by their standards. Both went undefeated during the regular season. Both won conference and sectionals. Both teams have pretty good senior classes, but they also have lots of underclassmen talent, so they should continue their success.

Wrestling had a decent season. They beat New Albany in sectionals. Unfortunately, they did not win sectionals. However, they had two all-state wrestlers, junior Jonathan Kervin and sophomore Gavinn Alstott. Freshman J Conway also went to state. Those three alone make the future of FC wrestling bright.

Boys’ golf dominated like it always does. They will easily win sectionals next week. They may even have two finishers in the top three. The girls’ also dominated like they usually do. Freshman Sophie Cook won, sophomore Zoe Hoehn got second, and junior Francesca Hartlage got third.

Baseball had a better year than many were expecting. They beat New Albany as well as Castle who was ranked very highly at the time. Ultimately, they lost in their sectional which is very tough, boasting New Albany and Jeff.

Softball had kind of a weird season. They started the year playing below their talent level. But as the season progressed, they improved. That led to beating Seymour in sectionals after losing to them in the regular season. Unfortunately, they lost to Jennings County 2-4 after being up 2-0 going into the last inning. Next year, they will be led by junior Taryn Weddle, who will be going to Louisville after she graduates.

Girls’ track had a successful season. They won sectionals and conference. They have two freshmen, Annalise Zeinemann and Reece Davis, who are going to state as pole vaulters. The 4 by 800 meter relay advanced to state as well as the 4 by 400 meter relay. Junior Sydney Liddle and Chloe Loftus is going to state for the 2 mile. The boys’ season was disappointing. They lost sectionals for the first time in 17 years after going into the season with a chance at winning regionals. However, senior Cam Sturgeon is going to state for discus, senior Devon Montgomery for pole vault, and senior Jon Gunn for the 100-yard dash. The 4 by 800 meter relay also is going to state.

Girls’ tennis has had a successful year. They won sectionals over Eastern Pekin in straight sets. Boys’ tennis had probably the best season of any team. They advanced all the way to state before losing to eventual state champion Carmel. They are only losing one senior, all-state Lucas Sakamaki. They should be very good next year.

The last sports are the unified sports, track and football. This was the first year for unified football. It was not a great season competitively, but that is not the main goal of unified sports like it is for some other sports. It is a fun chance for impaired students to compete with their classmates. Some schools should probably put more focus into this aspect than the competitive aspect. Unified track also did not have an outstanding competitive season, but once again, that is not the main goal. The main goal is to try new things and give all types of kids a chance to be on an FC team.

This has been a pretty good year for FC, but the future looks even brighter. This talented senior class will be hard to replace but there is a lot of talent below it. Be sure to stay connected with FC sports by reading my column next school year. My first column will be on July 31.

Athletes power through busy schedules

By J.D. McKay

On each Friday night this upcoming fall, I will be taking the field ready to play against whomever the opponent may be. That will probably be the only time many of my readers will ever see me performing. Some may see me on a Tuesday night or Saturday morning in the spring throwing the 1.6 kilogram discus. But the number who see me do that is far lower. However, these two events and daily practice is probably all that they think goes into my sport. That is not true, and I will try to walk through the schedule many athletes, including myself, have to deal with.

School starts ridiculously early, earlier than the typical 9-5 job, at 7:40 a.m. That means that to be on time we need to wake up by at least 7 a.m., probably earlier. Some athletes, like senior thrower Austin Gootee, live in places like Lanesville. These athletes have to wake up earlier to account for the long drive. Some of us also have to get up before school for workouts. Strength coach Donnie Gumble runs a weight lifting team that practices before school, and the swim team often has practices starting at 6 a.m.

After getting to school, we go through almost a seven-hour school day. That includes activities that can wear us out. Some of these activities including tests, presentations, and weight lifting class. If I just finished a very tough school day, going to practice can be a drag.

After a seven-hour school day, I have practice. That can last until nearly 7 p.m. in the beginning of football season. However, typically practices end around 6 p.m. or a little before. This makes players tired after a long school day.

When we finally get home, typically around 6:15 p.m., some things still need to happen. Dinner needs to be eaten to stay at the top of our game. Showers need to be taken, so our mothers do not kill us. Let us just say after all this it is 7 p.m. on a typical night. Then comes homework. It could take four-plus hours for some of the tougher schedules, but in general it is probably closer to two hours. That means after everything for school is done, it is 9 p.m. If you add some extra studying in, that time becomes 9:30.

After this, if I was very responsible, I would brush my teeth and go to bed. But, I am in high school and social media, Netflix, and Clash of Clans are all appealing after going pretty hard for 14 hours. If I account for a very conservative 30 minutes for other entertainment, I am in bed by 10 p.m. Which is pretty good, giving me eight hours of sleep if I am up by 6 the next day. However, if I am feeling particularly irresponsible, or procrastinate a project, it is closer to 10:30 or 11 p.m. Seven hours of sleep may sound like a decent amount, but sleep is one of the most important parts of athletics. It lets those muscles really rest after a long day of workouts, school, and practice.

This is does not improve much on the weekends. Often, Saturday mornings are meet days or early practice days. Sundays are our only days off, and often I and the other athletes who want to be successful go out and find time to practice or workout. Even out of season this schedule is hectic with workouts getting in the way.

Athletes are not the only people at FC to have crazy schedules. Students who take all AP classes or IB classes have a crazy hard schedule that gives a lot of work. We may not even have the hardest schedule as theater puts in crazy hours, including Sundays, to practice. Next time you see any other athlete or me performing, know that it was not just a two-hour practice and seven hour school day that got us to that point. It took a lot of hard work and mental toughness that allowed FC athletes to perform at a high level.

Flawed officiating must be fixed on the biggest stage

By J.D. McKay

On Saturday night, Virginia and 2016 Indiana Mr. Basketball Kyle Guy beat this year’s Cinderella, Auburn. Guy sank three straight free throws after a foul with 1.5 seconds left. For some weird reason, I was feeling like a particularly passionate Auburn fan, so I was shocked by the outcome.

After I pulled myself together, CBS officiating analyst Gene Steratore said that the officials missed a double dribble on Virginia that would have given Auburn the ball with about 2.5 seconds left, up two. It is worth mentioning that both my dad and I noticed this missed call live. Had the double dribble been called, the Tigers would have inbounded a pass and been fouled, forcing a one-and-one. Now, Auburn may have missed the first, and Virginia may have hit the half-court buzzer beater to go to the National Championship, but they also might not have. Auburn also may have hit both going up four with about 1.5 seconds left, sending them to the National Championship.

So minutes after the Final Four game I wrote down my thoughts, and I realized, this is not the first of the Major Six (NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, NCAA Football, NCAA Basketball) championships to have a tainted pair of teams.

The Super Bowl featured the Rams, who probably should not have been in. After the two-minute warning, the Saints had a chance to score a touchdown that probably would have sent them to the Super Bowl. But after a missed pass interference call, the Saints kicked a field goal with enough time left for the Rams to kick a field goal of their own and send the game to OT, eventually winning. Once again, the outcome could have been the same had the Saints missed the field goal, still forcing overtime and eventually a loss, but we will never know because the call was missed.

There are missed calls in every game, so any call could have been missed and the outcome of the game been changed, but these are memorable because they are on the biggest stages at the biggest moments. It does not help the officials, either, that these missed calls can be replayed in super slow-mo.

There is not one easy fix to this problem. Humans will always make errors, but we have developed better technology, so why not use that to fix our errors? As I said above, these games are played in super slow-mo for fans, so why not have a group of officials either at the game or in a neutral place like New York? They could call in any missed call that is objectively wrong, like for instance, a double dribble. However, if that was instituted for the whole game, they might never end. To resolve this, the “New York Official” would only make calls within the last two minutes.

The NCAA could also resolve it the way the NFL did: challenges. However, this slows the game down significantly and would be weird for basketball. They would have to wait until after the play ended then asked the officials to look at the play. They could either have two for the whole game or just one at the end of each half.

Officiating may not be getting worse. It may be the same quality as always; however, with high def replays, we can always see when they are wrong. This technology cannot just be ignored for the improvement of the game. Several years ago, the MLB allowed for coaches’ challenges. This league that seemed like it would forever be stuck in the past came forward and made use of technology. That made some baseball fans mad, but all together was better for the game. Basketball and football have developed some strategies to make use of the technology and improve the game.

However, it seems to me that some small things can be done to get the correct calls, not lengthen the games, and, in the playoffs, give fans and players the champions as they probably should be.

 

Louisville should be AAF expansion city

By J.D. McKay

On Feb. 9, the Alliance of American Football (AAF) played its first game. I, being a typical sports-loving American, tuned in; I was not disappointed. I watched the San Diego Fleet, whose logo is dope, play the San Antonio Commanders in a game that had just one touchdown but some good football violence. The Commanders eventually won the game, but the real winners were football fans everywhere.

The AAF is a minor league football league with no current connection to the NFL. The league has some failed NFL players like Trent Richardson who are still trying to get back the league. Some players are not NFL talent out of college but are looking for a chance to show their talent and get a shot in the NFL. The last type of player is guys who were practice squad players for the NFL, trying to show that they are legit NFL talents who should be on main rosters.

The league has some different rules from the NFL. For example, you can make clean, violent, hits on a quarterback. There are no kickoffs, and instead of an onside kick, you must run one offensive play and get 12 yards. They took away the extra point and made teams always go for two. This adds some pressure to the game to show how players play under pressure. My favorite thing, though, is the lack of commercial breaks. The league’s creator, Charlie Eberson said that to shorten the game, commercial will only be in natural points in the game. That is expected to cut down the actual game time by 30 minutes.

The league foresaw having money issues as many minor leagues do, and also planned some creative solutions to this problem. For example, the league does a regional draft. That means that teams get the chance to take players that play their college ball near the team. That means the Birmingham Iron will get the opportunity to draft players from Auburn or Alabama. With the players that Bama or Tiger fans got to watch and love in college, the fans will be more likely to go out and watch these guys. One example of this is Richardson. He won the Heisman Trophy at Bama before becoming a major NFL bust. Now he is playing for the Iron.

They also thought that cheap tickets would be a good way to bring in revenue. All tickets are 20 bucks. So if a fan bought a $20 ticket and goes to the game early enough than they could sit at the 50-yard line in the first row. That is cheaper than a bowl ticket for a terrible Louisville Cardinal team. This season I went to a Colts game and got tickets for just over $60. The tickets were just 20 rows from the top of Lucas Oil Stadium, so 20 bucks makes going to a game affordable.

Now, onto the future and local aspects of the AAF. Expansion football leagues typically do not last long. Just ask the P.O.T.U.S. and his USFL. But if the AAF could last long enough, it could become a true NFL minor league and stay in business for years to come like minor league baseball. For that to happen, the AAF will need to expand teams ever year until they have at least 16 teams. If the league adds two team for the next four years they would have the number they need. Then, NFL franchises would share an AAF team. The rules for this addition of a shared minor league team would probably be that both teams had to agree on all coaches. They would also have to be teams that are close to each other but not in the same divisions. For example, the Colts could share with the Bengals and the Steelers could share with the Eagles. This, however, would not last forever. Eventually the young league will add 16 more teams so it has 32 just like the NFL, with each team having one AAF team.

As the AAF expands, they should look to moving in Louisville at either Cardinal Stadium, the better of the two options, or Louisville Slugger Field, like Louisville FC has been doing. Louisville is a perfect expansion city because it has already shown that it can support minor league teams. Louisville City FC had the third highest attendance average in 2017. If Louisville fans will support a soccer team so enthusiastically, a football team should fit right in.

I also already have team name ideas, including the Louisville Thoroughbreds (Churchill Downs), Louisville Scandalmakers (U of L currently), and the Louisville Greatest (Muhammad Ali).

Plus, there are already five Power-Five conference teams (Notre Dame, Purdue, Louisville, Kentucky, and Indiana) in Indiana and Kentucky. Those schools are going to produce some AAF players over the next 10 years so fans will go to watch the players they liked watching in college because of the Regional Draft.

Non-NFL football leagues have not been very successful. The AAF is the most recent attempt and hopefully it will be the first true football league to stick it out and merge with the NFL into a minor league for the NFL. If it does merge like the American Football League did 1969, it will be around for the long hall and a major part of America’s athletic future.

 

Previewing a tainted Super Bowl LIII

By J.D. McKay

As Saints quarterback Drew Brees dropped back to pass with just under two minutes left in the NFC Championship game, his chances to advance to his second Super Bowl seemed pretty high. According to the ESPN win probability, they had an 82 percent chance to win. The result of the play will be remembered in New Orleans for years to come. He threw a pass to wide receiver Tommylee Lewis that would have ended in a touchdown had it been completed, but Rams corner Nickell Robey-Coleman blew up Lewis. The ball was still five yards away from Lewis when he was hit. The refs missed the call and the Saints kicked a field goal to go up by three. Two kicks by Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein later, and the Rams were leaving the Mercedes-Benz Superdome with a trip to the Super Bowl while Saints fans were leaving with a bad taste in their mouths.

So the stage is set for the second Patriots vs Rams Super Bowl. Unfortunately, I expect the Patriots to win their sixth Super Bowl. Patriots QB Tom Brady is too good and too experienced to lose. But, I will give what both teams need to do to win the game.

Patriots- The Patriots have the ultimate cheat code on their team in Brady and Bill Belichick, but what really makes them the best team in the NFL is their running game. Running back Sony Michel has had at least 75 rushing yards in all but one of their wins. In both Playoff wins, he had combined, 242 rushing yards. In games they lost, he averaged 46.2 rushing yards per game. So getting Michel going will get the Patriots their sixth Lombardi Trophy.

Rams- The Rams have a high powered offense, but the Patriots showed that a high powered offense does not faze them when they beat the Patriots. The Rams really need to have their star-studded defense play better than they have all season and get after Brady. Their defensive tackles are Ndamukong Suh and Aaron Donald, who are probably the best defensive tackles in football. Donald had 20.5 sacks which is a little over one sack per game. If he could get two sacks and hit Brady as he is throwing two more times, he could throw-off Brady’s rhythm and allow his offense to out-score the Patriots and win their second Super Bowl.

Bottom line: This Patriots team is the possibly the best football team of all time. Brady is also the best postseason quarterback ever. There is no way that he will lose two Super Bowls in a row. The Rams are on their way up, but this is not their year to be Super Bowl Champions. Final score: Patriots 24- Rams 16