Wednesday, November 26, 2014

CC Wrestlers Fall to Bellmont

By Travis Stahl

It's kind of odd that NASCAR opens its season every year with it's biggest race, the Daytona 500.  Such a big event can set the tone for the whole season.  The Columbia City Eagles wrestling team knows that feeling.  Every season the Eagles open up with their biggest open, Bellmont, and it sets the tone for the Columbia City season.  The Eagles hosted the Braves last night and fell 46-28 but the loss showed Columbia City it is in for good things this season.

The Eagles got wins on the night at 120 pounds where Hunter Langeloh got a pin as did Kyle Egolf in the 132-pound class.  Nathan Smith earned a 12-2 win by decision at 138 pounds and Drew Cummings pinned his opponent in the 285-pound class.  Mallory Engle also got a forfeit win for the Eagles at 106 pounds.

Several other Eagles lost hard-fought decisions on the night.  Columbia City's Jacob Elkins lost a close match at 220 pounds with a 7-4 decision.  Matt Wright kept his match close in the 126-pound class before falling in a 5-1 decision.

Columbia City returns to action Saturday when the Eagles travel to the Wawasee Invitational.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Bosworth Was a Special Player

By Travis Stahl

Do you guys know how memory works.  The things we experience are coded by our brain as either being important or unimportant.  We remember what our brain tells us is important.  We all know our phone numbers because those are important to us.  We remember big moments from our favorite teams because those are important to us.  Sometimes though we forget just how good a player was over time.  If you haven't seen the ESPN 30 for 30 about Oklahoma linebacker Brian Bosworth you are missing out.  I think we all forgot how good of a football player Bosworth was.

I remember Bosworth well.  He was the one player who got me hooked on Oklahoma football and turned me into a Sooner fan.  I'm not talking about junior-year Boz.  If you have seen the 30 for 30 or remember Bosworth as a freshman and sophomore you will understand what I'm talking about.  The guy was one of the greatest college football players of all time.  Bosworth was an all-out tackling machine who wrecked havoc on opposing offenses.  He was quiet and humble and a great teammate.  We don't remember that because the other stuff gets in the way.

The other stuff of course is The Boz.  Crazy hair, steroids, posters and trash talk became more important than the game itself.  That is what Bosworth is remembered for which is unfortunate.  History tells us we should remember that Bosworth was suspended for the Orange Bowl his junior year for testing positive for steroids and never played another down for the Sooners.  It overlooks that earlier that season Bosworth recorded 22 tackles against Miami and almost single handily beat the Hurricanes.  That's not glamorous so that's not what we remember.

I've always thought of Bosworth the same way as Chris Webber.  I think both guys are the best I have ever seen play their positions at the college level.  Both Bosworth and Webber and had discipline issues with the NCAA and both players never saw their potential realized in the pro ranks due to injuries.  That's how our brains have processed the information we have been given about these players, they are cheaters.  Maybe that's accurate but it fails to tell the whole story.  Bosworth was possibly the best college linebacker ever and that was before steroids but he doesn't get credit for that.

Bosworth as a freshman and sophomore was just phenomenal and the driving force in why I fell in love with Oklahoma.  Sure, there were other factors too.  I loved the wishbone offense and head coach Barry Switzer.  But the sight of Bosworth in that Oklahoma No. 44 jersey was the epitome of what a football players is supposed to look like.  I don't care about all the other stuff, my brain decided a long time ago that wasn't important.  What was important to me was Brian Bosworth the football player, not the other guy who was designed to sell T-shirts and posters.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Lady Eagles Stay Perfect With Win

By Travis Stahl

When a team doesn't have a loss every opponent wants to be the first to put a blemish on the record.  The Columbia City Lady Eagles entered Saturday's game against Marion without a loss and needed more than four quarters to put away the Lady Giants.  Through three quarters Marion was in control but the Lady Eagles turned it on late and pulled out a 52-48 win in overtime.

Macie Hinen scored eight points in the fourth quarter and Darian Farber added two crucial free throws to send the game in to overtime.   In the extra frame it was again the foul line that made all the difference.  Columbia City got free throws from Farber and Aubrey Wright while Marion missed two critical free throws.

Four Lady Eagles scored in double figures in the win.  Hinen had 14 points and Wright added 13.  Chelsea Pettigrew scored 12 points and Farber chipped in 10.  Pettigrew pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds and Wright dished out six assists.

Columbia City remained perfect on the season with the win at 4-0.  The team travels to Leo Tuesday night.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Wildcat Warning!

By Travis Stahl

I have something to say and you aren't going to like it.  The University of Kentucky men's basketball team is very good this year.  I will pause for affect.  I know, the Wildcats are good every year.  Head coach/used car salesman John Calipari brings in the best talent every season so it shouldn't come as a surprise that Kentucky is good.  But this is different and believe it or not this might be the best team the Wildcats have put on the court this Calipari came to town.

It's hard to judge a college basketball team in November.  Usually the team hasn't been together that long and when they do take the court the good teams rarely play an opponent that can come close to matching its talents.  But the other night in a rare early-season match-up of good teams Kentucky took on Kansas and just absolutely smothered the Jayhawks.  Let me put it this way, Kentucky had 11 blocks shots in the win.  Kansas made 11 field goals.  That's it!  The entire Kansas team made 11 shots against the Kentucky defense.  Kentucky is tall and lanky at every position and they can defend every inch of the floor.

Remember back in the late 80's and early 90's when Loyola Marymount was putting fast-breaking offensive machines on the court and they would sub in five players at a time.  That is what Kentucky is doing for defensive purposes.  The five starters come out of the game and five more McDonald All Americans come in to the game to continue to suffocate the opposing offense.  The Wildcats have  seven guys who are 6'8 or taller that play significant minutes and that is not including the Harrison twins at guard who are both 6'6.  The height is hard enough for teams to deal with but the length of the Kentucky players is an even bigger problem because they cover so much area.  Just based on measurements Kentucky has more length than every NBA team except two.

It's November, I get it.  Nobody is handing Kentucky the title right now.  This team is going to lose games throughout the season because nearly every player is a freshman or sophomore.  When this team gets it all put together though they are going to be tough to handle.  Nobody is predicting them to be the NCAA champion right now but once they get rolling in February and March it will be hard to bet against them.  Especially in an SEC that isn't exactly a basketball power and has only been sending two or three teams to the tournament.  Everyone can see the writing on the wall though right now, this Kentucky team is special.  They were talking on ESPN radio today that Kentucky would only be a 10-point underdog against the Philadelphia 76ers right now and that number would go down as the season goes on.

Everyone knows Calipari's reputation and his one-and-done factory at Kentucky isn't exactly embraced by basketball purists.  But if you like to watch good, sound defensive basketball you have to respect what the Wildcats are capable of.  No team in the country is going to be able to do what this team will defensively and it is going to come at opponents in waves.  Loyola Marymount used to want to run so much they sapped the other team's will to continue.  It would be easy to see Kentucky doing the same to teams this year with its defense.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Peterson Got What He Deserved

By Travis Stahl
OK, completely hypothetical scenario.  Let's say I'm driving my car erratically and I crash into a business.  It's determined that I have broken the law because I was negligent and driving too fast and I was in a school zone.  I'm arrested and taken to jail on several charges.  Eventually as I work my way through the court system I am able to plea down to just the speeding ticket and the other charges are dropped.  Still in this make believe situation, I had to miss several days of work due to incarceration, court dates, mandatory services and the loss of my license.  Can my employer terminate my employment in this situation?  I broke the law and cost the company a countless amount of money in lost earnings due to absences.  What if I am a police office or a school teacher, does it matter than?  How about if I am a football player in the NFL?

You see where I'm headed with this?  The NFL announced yesterday that Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is suspended at least through the remainder of this season due to the physical abuse Peterson inflicted on his son.  Some people will say Peterson is just a guy disciplining his son the only way he knows how.  Others will say it isn't the place of the employer (NFL) to inflict a punishment on Peterson for something the league system should take care of.  Those are both valid arguments but they also both miss the point.  Peterson broke the law in a violent manner and regardless of what job he has his employer has every right to distance themselves from him up to and including termination.

With violence at the forefront of every NFL discussion these days Roger Goodell and the league had to come down hard on Peterson.  The man beat his child with a stick until he left bloody welts.  And while those who support Peterson like his dirt-bag attorney will say that Peterson was convicted of a lesser charge that doesn't change what happened.  Plus, Peterson would still have a substantiated charge against him through child protective services which is a different entity than the prosecuting attorney.  Regardless of his intent, Peterson did wrong and there were unintended consequences from his actions.  Now he has to accept them.  We are talking about a guy after all that has continued to be paid through this entire season until he was officially suspended by the league.  I'm not sure anybody can cry "financial hardship" for a guy that was paid $8 million of his $10 million salary this season.

We want athletes to be role models and we want to hold them to a different standard when it is convenient for us.  When athletes do things that are ugly like punch a woman in the face in an elevator they risk losing their jobs the same way you or I do.  The Vikings are going to claim that they fought tooth and nail to get Peterson back on the field this season.  They can say that now because it is out of their control.  We all know they didn't want him anywhere near the team.  Don't believe me?  Wait and see where Peterson is playing football next year, I'm betting right now it's not in Minnesota.  Teams don't want to associate themselves with toxic players.

Think about how backwards this is for people out their supporting Peterson.  Right now all the anger is directed at Goodell and the league and there are those people making Peterson out to be the victim.  He is the perpetrator.  He is the person who beat a child with a stick.  Whatever actions come out of his decisions fall on him, not on his employer.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Welcoming the San Antonio Raiders

By Travis Stahl

What do you call an Oakland Raiders fan?  Inmate #4786390.  Haha, get it, because Raider fans are typically criminals who behave horribly at games.  I know it's a bad generalization and there are good Raider fans out there.  But the culture of the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders has been allowed to develop this way for decades under former owner Al Davis and as a result the team is a laughing stock in the world of professional sports.  Poor ownership, poor coaching, poor facilities, poor fans, poor players.  Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming your San Antonio Raiders.

Last week and again this week Raiders owner Mark Davis, Al's son, was in San Antonio meeting with city officials about the possibility of moving the team to Texas.  Now it all could be posturing by Davis to try to secure a better deal in Oakland.  That's how the team moved to Los Angeles in the 1980's.  But this feels different and more importantly this feels right.  I think this move is going to happen and I think the Raiders in San Antonio is a match made in NFL heaven.

First there is the obvious.  The Raiders black, silver and white color scheme fits right in with the NBA's San Antonio Spurs.  If the Raiders are lucky some of the Spurs winning pedigree might rub off.  Plus, the city of San Antonio has a ready-made home for the Raiders in the Alamo Dome.  The Alamo Dome doesn't have the number of luxury boxes most NFL stadiums these days posses but those could be added and the Raiders would never find another city with a stadium just sitting there waiting for them.

More than in any other city the Raiders could consider San Antonio would welcome the team with open arms.  This is Texas.  They could have 10 NFL teams in the state and they would all draw huge crowds.  This is a community just waiting for an NFL team to support.  And, here is where current Raider fans will feel the sting, San Antonio fans are classy.  Spurs fans are considered the best in the business.  Have you ever heard of a drunken brawl erupting at a Spurs game with people being stabbed?  Exactly.

We've all thought for a long time somebody in the Raiders organization needed to hit the reset button.  Maybe Al's goofy red-headed kid is just the nerd to do it.  This team needs more than changes on the field they need a complete overall in the team's culture.  A move to San Antonio would accomplish that and give the NFL it's historic franchise back.  It can't possibly get any worse than it is now in Oakland where the Raiders are about to go 0-16.  Start packing the moving trucks.

The Packers are Really Good

By Travis Stahl

Good teams in the National Football League make adjustments.  Teams that continue to use the same scheme, run the same plays and fail to add wrinkles to the offense or defense eventually become obsolete.  Look at the New Orleans Saints.  Everyone knows what the Saints are going to do right now on every play because they have failed to change what they do even the slightest bit.  For two years, that was the Green Bay Packers.  Stuck in their ways and refusing to make adjustments.  It's clear now the Packers have made the adjustments necessary to be a Super Bowl contender again.

Based on the last two blowouts over Chicago and Philadelphia the football world has taken notice again of the Packers.  The truth is, since quarterback Aaron Rodgers implored fans to relax, Green Bay has been the best team in the NFL.  Since starting out 1-2 the Packers have regained their footing and run off six wins in seven games with the only loss coming to the a fore mentioned Saints.  Rodgers has quietly been the MVP of the league so far with 28 touchdowns and only three interceptions.

Having Rodgers at the helm obviously makes all the difference but it is so much more than that.  Receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are both healthy and rookie Davante Adams is making contributions.  Running back Eddie Lacy is starting to play like he did last year and the offensive line isn't letting anybody touch Rodgers.  How do you stop that?  The answer so far has been you can't.  As many adjustments as the team has made on offense to get things rolling again the most successful changes have come on the Packers defense.

For whatever reason Green Bay decided to start playing linebacker Clay Matthews Jr. at one of the inside positions on some plays.  The results have been devastating.  Matthews almost single handily destroyed play after play in the teams last win against Chicago and was just as disruptive last week against the Eagles.  Scoring even 20 points against the Packers has been a challenge for most teams this year, it's only happened five times and Philadelphia's last score came in garbage time.

Do you think a lot of teams in the NFC are starting to feel a little worried about having to play the Packers in Green Bay in the playoffs?  I'm guessing they are.  November 30 will be an interesting test for Green Bay.  That is when the Packers play the hottest team in the AFC right now in the Patriots.  That game might just be serving as a Super Bowl preview.