Monday, October 13, 2008


Avella football is going through one of the rougher seasons any WPIAL team has faced in some time. Here's a story from the Associated Press that shows it could be worse:

ESTERO, Fla. (AP) — The Estero High football staff gathered in head coach Rich Dombroski’s office late Friday, almost in stunned silence.
Earlier that night, Estero lost to Naples High by 13.
Not by 13 points. By 13 touchdowns. That’s right: Naples 91, Estero 0.
The rout fallout has been growing since the game ended.
“Hey,” offered Estero defensive line coach Pat Hayes after the one-sided affair, “I didn’t even know 91 was a multiple of seven.”
With that, the coaches all got a much-needed laugh.
A half-hour away in Naples, Eagles coach Bill Kramer — the man on the winning end — could use one of those.
He looked at the scoreboard late in the game, saw 91-0, and said he felt sick to his stomach. Kramer’s team ran only 31 plays and he kept most of his best players on the sideline — for the entire game in some cases. But still Kramer knew what was coming.
Soon after the game ended, his inbox began filling with angry e-mails, some from Estero parents wondering why so many points were necessary, some from Naples parents wondering why their kids didn’t play more in an effort to pad their stats.
“There’s only one way to describe it,” Kramer said. “Just bizarre.”
The schools aren’t far off in size: Estero has about 1,400 high schoolers, Naples roughly 1,700.
But the pedigree of the football programs couldn’t be more different.
Estero is rebuilding from the lowest level, with Dombroski in his first year at the school and having inherited a program that had simply crumbled. Naples is the reigning state Class 3A champion, and a contender to win the title again. Naples has players committed to Division I schools like Ohio State already and a roster filled with talent at every position. Estero has no college prospects and only about 25 healthy or so players remaining on its roster.
“Some of us, most of us, well, all of us were intimidated,” said Tyler Eastridge, a free safety who may be exaggerating when he says he weighs a 150 pounds.
Naples led 70-0 at the half; only four of the 1,420 games reported by member schools to the Florida High School Athletic Association this season have seen teams score more than 70 points.
“It was David versus Goliath,” Dombroski said, “and David didn’t have a stone to throw.”
The national record books are incomplete, but a score like 91-0 won’t register a blip on the list of all-time defeats. It wasn’t even the most lopsided score in the country this weekend — in Ohio, Beechcroft beat Centennial 96-0, taking knees on plays in the fourth quarter to avoid triple figures.
According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, five teams have scored more than 200 points in a game, with the record believed to be 256 by Haven (Ky.) High in 1927.
Dombroski isn’t blaming Naples.
“Naples did absolutely nothing wrong,” Dombroski said. “We just didn’t do anything right.”
Kramer has been in this spot before.
In 2001, the Golden Eagles scored 63 first-quarter points and beat Lely High — ironically, where Dombroski’s girlfriend teaches today — 85-0, and Kramer suddenly became the target of perceptions that he intentionally ran up the score.
But in that game, just as on Friday, Naples had some of its starters not play at all, and others just for one or two series.
“We’ve been through it before and you never want to go through it again,” Kramer said. “There were people ready to burn my house.”
It’s an unsettling time again.
The Naples Daily News ran a poll asking if Kramer and his team “should be ashamed” over the result, and by Monday afternoon, the vote was nearly dead-even: 239 no, 225 yes.
Hearing that, even Dombroski shook his head. He e-mailed Kramer on Monday to reiterate that Naples did nothing wrong, but that’s hardly the only opinion swirling around Naples these days.
“My daughter plays basketball and there’s a local team that’s really good and when they’re about to score 100, there’s no polls about that,” Kramer said. “When the local lacrosse team wins 24-0, where’s the outrage? Or when kids win 6-0, 6-0 in tennis? We score 10 touchdowns and everybody loses their minds.
“The real irony is we’ve got some of our parents upset that their kids didn’t play or didn’t play enough. And you just say, ’Wow.”’
Dombroski knew when he took the Estero job that there would be days like Friday, but he said the 91-0 thumping might help him turn the program around.
“We won’t forget this. I won’t forget this,” said Dombroski, whose freshman program is off to a 4-1-1 start this year, a sign that better days could be ahead for Estero. “We’re not going to lay down. We’re going to fight for 48 minutes, every time we’re out there.”
So on Monday afternoon, when school got out at 1:45, the Estero High football team headed to its locker room and prepared for practice. New scouting reports were waiting for them, and soon the team headed onto the field for practice, their blue jerseys whipping in the wind as they stretched.
“Our team might not be winning or might not be on top right now,” said right guard Mike Perez. “But we all have to do the best we can do. We can’t forget that.”
And so, they were back to work, which they’ll need. This week, Estero plays Cape Coral — a team that nearly beat Naples.


Anonymous said...

There is really nothing an opposing coach can do. football is not like baseball where you can play base to base or bbasketball where you can pass the ball and run a prolonged offense. Kids in football are taught from the earliest age to go full tilt. If the kids play half speed they risk getting injured from somebody on the other side who is goin 100%. If the coach has his reserves in and running straight dives, there is pretty much nothing you could do. As a coach, i would rather see the opposing team running plays rather than taking a knee not to score unless taking a knee for those downs will end the game. You hate to see young people's spirit broke but unfortunately it happens. For those parents who wanted there kids to play more are out of touch with sportmanship. Tell them to pad them stats with a team who provides some resistance or even competition.

Anonymous said...

im sure im going to get some angry posts after this comment but this was probably the appropriate week to post this story. I love Avella, I love the story, it makes you feel good. But lets be honest here, the only way Clairton isnt going to score 91 on Avella is if they are taking knees the entire 4th quarter. Avella's coach called Clairton's coach Tom Nola this past week and asked him if he wouldnt mind running the clock the entire game. I understand the thought, but you cant do that. That takes away from the integrity of the game. If Avella is going to step on the field with Clairton they have to be prepared for what they are going to face. Clairton can play their second team the entire game and its not going to matter. I honestly dont know how a.) avella is going to gain a yard and b.) how they are going to stop clairton on any special teams or offensive play. This might be the biggest mis-match in the WPIAL this season. And i agree with the previous cant ask your kids to go out there and "take it easy" during a football game. If you play at half speed you run the risk of getting hurt. I really hope this game doesnt get out of hand, but i have a feeling its going to, early and in a big way. Clairton can basically call their score in this game and, unfortunately, there is nothing Avella can do about it. Even running dives, i dont see how Avella is going to stop them from scoring on every play.

Sorry, but this is the hard truth, feel good story or not.

J.D. Billy said...

I just read this on ESPN right before i got on here.. weird, but anyway I don't blame the coach at all. He didn't even play some of his starters at all. I feel bad for him because he is taking heat from the opposing team and his own.

R. Keith Taylor said...

You have to feel sorry for the players to some extent. However, it was their choice to play so you cannot feel too bad. I hope Clairton shows some class and does not try to destroy Avella 91-0. I commend all of the players for their integrity and fortitude. I hope that the other kids at Avella get inspired by the team and want to play next year.

Anonymous said...

i am going to play devil's advocate on this one. Yeah its a feel good story, yeah they are proving they are strong and determined. However, isnt it Avella's responsibility to put a competitive team on the field? Isn't it Avella's responsibility to stop whatever team they are playing? I realize this is high school and it is more than just about football, but if you are going to step on the field with an opponent you had better be prepared to play that opponent. Is it really worth playing the game if you walk into said game already begging the other team for mercy (asking the coach to run the clock the entire game)? If you cant field a competitive team then you have to do what Turkeyfoot and Rockwood did in Somerset County which is merge the football programs of the two schools because Turkeyfoot couldnt field a competitive team.

Lets be honest, what is the coach at Avella really trying to prove? That his kids can take a beating? That they can go out there and get pummeled week in and week out, get injured, put his kids safety on the line? Thats what it comes down to. I wonder what will be said if Avella goes out this week and has 3 players injured on the opening kickoff or in the first quarter against an obviously superior Clairton team and has to forfeit the game part way through. Will we look back on this game/this team and say "wow, that was really gutsy for these kids and this coach to play Clairton given the circumstances" or will we say "what was this guy thinking risking his kids health by playing 11 players both ways the entire game against that team". I guess we'll find out.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is the responsibility to put a competitive team on the field. And that is what the coach at Avella is probably trying to do.
Yes, it is the responsibility to stop whatever team one is playing. And I believe that is what the coach is trying to do. But it makes it very difficult to do this when you are trying to basically start a program from scratch, not even try to rebuild one. Things take time; they just don't happen overnight. Come on, give the guy a break! He has a bunch of young players that want to play and play hard! That says much for their character. Something that is being built in these young men so they can be productive and admirable people in their adult lives.
And if as one anonymous writer says thta Clairton is a superior team, then maybe something should be done to place these much smaller teams in a league of their own instead of them playing out of their class. I am sure that if Clairton played a big Quad A team, they too might be in the same boat as Avella. Think about it!

Anonymous said...

If Clairton played a Quad A team (depending on which one it was) you are probably right, they would be in the same boat as Avella. However, if you made that statement to reference the fact that Clairton is playing out of their class i got a surprising stat for you. Clairton is the 8th smallest school in the the funny part is even if you lumped the 10 or 12 smallest schools into a separate league to compete with one another you'd still have to deal with Clairton. Its amazing Clairton is that small and has that much talent.

Listen, I'm not disagreeing with you, as i said im just playing devils advocate. Maybe next year though if Avella is having the same issues they should consider merging programs with a nearby school...thats all Im saying.

mike_kovak said...

As a Somerset County native, it's about time someone other than myself referenced "America's County" on this blog.