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Bob Putnam, Rodney Page, Laura Keeley, Matt Baker, John C. Cotey, Joey Knight

The Atlantic's case against high school sports

I finally read The Atlantic’s recent cover story, “The Case Against High School Sports,” which includes a quick shout-out to Pasco County, and the magazine’s counter-point, “High School Sports Aren’t Killing Academics.”

The anti-sports story repeats the arguments you’ve heard before:

* Schools place too much of an emphasis on athletics

* District waste too much money on sports instead of using that money for academics

* Schools in other countries don’t have high school sports, and their kids do better on tests

* Coaches focus on coaching and not enough on teaching

I think those points are worthy of community discussion, even if I disagree on the last part.

To me, the most interesting argument was this: High school sports are bad for those who don’t play them. It cites a study on the University of Oregon that showed that when the Ducks’ football team did well, the men on campus got poorer grades. …

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Kentucky staying away from postgame handshakes

The Kentucky High School Athletic Association is telling its teams not to participate in postgame handshakes. Here's a story from the Louisville Courier-Journal about that.

Kentucky's governing body isn't making it illegal - just cautioning against it. The state cited more than 20 fights or confrontations in the last three years as justification for the new directive.

To recap: Because too many people were bad sports, the state decided to do away with something that promotes good sportsmanship. Got it? 

Call me new-school. I grew up in a society where handshakes were as much of a part of youth sports as orange slices, so I like the display of sportsmanship. I think it teaches an important lesson about losing with class.

Competition is part of my job, and I hate to lose. Just ask my wife about her Scrabble victories. But sometimes in my business, I strike out. It happens. The next day, I'll see reporters from competing news companies. I can be a jerk and sulk, or I can be cordial with the guys and girls on the other side. …

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Suing because your kid is stuck on JV

I just stumbled on this story from USA Today: A New York hockey family is suing a school district because a player was kept on the JV team for four years... "in spite of his advanced skills."

Sigh.

Check out USA Today's story here.

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Oct. 7 rankings roundup

A couple rankings to update on a yucky Monday morning:

Armwood remains the only local team nationally ranked by Rivals. The idle Hawks jumped five spots, to No. 80, in the RivalsHigh 100. 

I'm a voter in FloridaHSFootball's weekly media polls. Here's my ballot for the week - one for the top 20 big schools, one for the top 20 small schools. How'd I do? 

Large schools (Classes 5A-8A)

1. Miami Central

2. Manatee

3. St. Thomas Aquinas

4. Apopka

5. Armwood

6. Tallahassee Godby

7. Dwyer

8. Miramar

9. Orlando Dr. Phillips

10. Lake City Columbia

11. East Lake

12. Lakeland

13. Sickles

14. Largo

15. Plantation American Heritage

16. Pensacola Catholic

17. Tallahassee Lincoln

18. Niceville

19. Plant

20. Bushnell South Sumter


Small Schools (Classes A-4A)

1. Miami Booker T. Washington

2. University School

3. Jacksonville Trinity Christian

4. Cocoa

5. Jacksonville Raines

6. Tampa Catholic

7. Jacksonville Bolles

8. Clearwater Central Catholic

9. North Florida Christian

10. Jacksonville University Christian

11. Gulliver Prep

12. Warner Christian

13. Ocala Trinity Catholic

14. Glades Central

15. Pahokee

16. Delray Beach American Heritage

17. Glades Day

18. Hialeah Champagnat

19. Blountstown

20. Dixie County 

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I don't know Sharks

It’s never a good sign when your dog does better on football predictions than you do. But alas, ReggieHomeTeam picked Anclote and Nature Coast. I chose Fivay (21-20) and Pasco (35-10). I was wrong, of course. Anclote won 44-21, and NCT squeezed out a 29-28 win.

I wasn’t at the Anclote game, so it’s hard for me to analyze that one. But here’s why I was wrong about Pasco-Nature Coast:

I overestimated the Pirates. The last time I saw Pasco, it lost three fumbles and threw an interception in a 17-6 loss to Sunlake. I chalked that up to the Seahawks being very, very good and Pasco having a rough night against a stellar defense. It happens. After Pasco lost five turnovers against NCT, I’m beginning to think the Sunlake game wasn’t an aberration. Those mistakes are fixable for Pasco, but they’re a major, major concern.

I underestimated NCT. Make no mistake about that. I don’t feel so bad about that, considering the Sharks admit that they didn’t play well at the start of the season. …

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Academy at the Lakes to host recruiting seminar

Academy at the Lakes will host a scholarship and recruiting seminar at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 9 at the Melech Pavilion on its McCormick Campus (2331 Collier Parkway, Land O’Lakes). The event is free and open to the public.

Athletic director Tom Haslam and college counselor Debbie Pitcairn will talk about college recruiting, academic requirements like core classes and standardized test scores and the NCAA Clearinghouse. For more information, call (813) 948-7600.

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Academy at the Lakes holding charity swimming marathon

Academy at the Lakes’ swimming team will hold a swimming marathon Saturday to support the Make a Splash foundation.

Each swimmer will try to swim as many laps as possible in an hour, with sponsors donating a flat rate or a figure per lap.

All of the proceeds go to Make a Splash, an initiative of USA Swimming dedicated to saving lives by helping children learn to swim.

For more information or to sponsor a swimmer or the team, contact Wildcats captain Dillan Villavisanis at dillanv@verizon.net or (813) 600-0434.

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Matt Baker eats crow on Sunlake

When I go to Land O’Lakes later this week, I think I’m going to need a bodyguard. 

Picking River Ridge to upset the Gators (and then losing 32-0) was bad. Thinking Sunlake would get blown out by Pasco (and then winning 17-6) was worse.

So now’s the time where I eat crow. I was wrong about Sunlake. Land O’Lakes, too, but because I wasn’t there to see what happened, I’ll focus on the Seahawks here.

I thought Sunlake graduated too much – two dozen seniors is a lot to lose. The lines weren’t as big and powerful as they’ve been in the past, from what I saw in spring practice and a so-so showing in the spring jamboree against Wesley Chapel and Wiregrass Ranch. I had questions at quarterback, too, and I thought Pasco’s line was strong enough to give its skill players room to work.

The Seahawks aren’t massive, but they are physical. Their linebackers – especially Jacob Guzman, Ben Wood and Austin Yeloushan – were smart and penetrated Pasco’s offensive line regularly (four sacks and a handful of tackles for a loss). I didn’t expect that. …

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Is it OK for a coach to slap a player's helmet?

A coach slapping a player’s helmet has sparked an investigation in Broward County, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports here.

During ESPN’s broadcast of the Cypress Bay-American Heritage game, a camera caught Cypress Bay coach Mark Guandolo slapping a player’s helmet on the sidelines. You can see the video below:

School officials met with the player, his family and Guandolo on Monday morning, according to the Sun Sentinel.

Let’s use this incident as a place to start discussion. Is this much ado about nothing? Was the coach out of line? Where’s the line between getting a player’s attention and abuse? 

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Where are the local teams in state preseason polls?

Plant is the area’s top large school, according to rankings released earlier this week by floridahsfootball.com.

The Panthers were No. 6 in the preseason poll for teams in Class 5A-8A, behind Miami Central, St. Thomas Aquinas, Apopka, Manatee and Tallahassee Godby – Plant’s preseason opponent this weekend.

Armwood was No. 12, just ahead of East Lake in the top 20. Other big schools from the area that received votes were Largo, Pasco, Lakewood, Robinson, Jefferson, Hillsborough and Countryside.

In the small schools division, Clearwater Central Catholic was Tampa Bay’s top team, at No. 8. Tampa Catholic was 18th, and Miami Washington held the top spot.

Full disclosure: I’m one of the voters in the poll. But no need to harass me, because I ranked every team perfectly, especially yours, and I totally put your team’s rival way low. 

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North Suncoast alumni updates

A quick look at how some notable North Suncoast alumni are faring:

Ex-Mitchell RB Ricky Trinidad has transferred from Nebraska-Kearney to Colorado Mesa, his family said in a recent email. He earned honorable mention all-conference honors at UNK last fall and will be a junior at the NCAA Division II school in Grand Junction. 

Former Pasco star Janarion Grant is still impressing coaches as a true freshman receiver at Rutgers. He could see time on special teams, according to NJ.com, and coach Kyle Flood said Grant “continues to make plays” for the Scarlet Knights during practice.

  His former Pirates teammate, DL Joey Ivie is among Florida’s most improved players since the spring. Here’s what our Antonya English wrote about Ivie late last week.

At Georgia Southern, Nature Coast alum Matt Breida has made it onto the depth chart at running back, according to the Statesboro Herald. The newspaper has also noted that Breida’s county rival and roommate, Hernando product Tyrail Hawkins, is lining up at cornerback. He played everything from quarterback to cornerback to running back for the Leopards in high school.  …

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FACA District 10 meeting coming later this month

The Florida Athletic Coaches Association District 10 meeting will be at 7 p.m. Aug. 28 at Coney Island in Brooksville. The district includes all of Pasco and Hernando.

The agenda includes selecting sports chairmen, making suggestions to the FACA and FHSAA and going over the 2013-14 calendar. For more information, contact Tim Sims at (352) 279-4030 or tsims@simsgalleries.com.

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HomeTeam 100: How'd we do?

Our HomeTeam 100 countdown is over, at long last. You can see the top 10 here and (spoiler alert) East Lake’s Artavis Scott is No. 1.

To me, one of the toughest calls was where to put Pasco sophomore WR Nate Craig. He caught only 18 passes last year, but his potential, size, talent playoff performance against Robinson are too hard to overlook. We put him at No. 3, which seems about right to me.

Consider this a discussion board. How’d we do? Who was ranked too low? Should we have put someone else at No. 1?

Two quick requests: Be civil in your comments, and don’t bash other players. That’s not cool. You can make an argument why someone should have been ranked higher without knocking a kid.

So, discuss. 

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Nature Coast to hold golf fundraiser

Nature Coast will hold a golf fundraiser for its basketball and cheerleading teams on Sept. 29 at Southern Hills Plantation Golf Club in Brooksville. Cost is $90.

Each golfer receives a $200 gift card to Warrior Golf, a $50 Callaway gift card plus discounts and gift cards for Southern Hills, Golfsmith and Edwin Watts Golf.

For more information, contact Nature Coast boys basketball coach David Pisarcik at (727) 385-2194.

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Cobi Johnson, NFL rookies and a domed stadium

 

A few links and notes from across the North Suncoast and beyond:

* Mitchell ace Cobi Johnson threw a perfect inning with three strikeouts in last night’s Perfect Game All-American Classic at PETCO Park. The senior right-hander has orally committed to Florida State.

* Former Pasco star Josh Johnson made his NFL debut last week in a preseason game for the Chargers. He recorded a tackle and had an eight-yard punt return.

* Former Wesley Chapel QB Greg Jenkins made his NFL debut, too, for the Raiders. He returned a punt for 11 yards and a kickoff for 51 yards.

* A suburban district outside Dallas is in talks with the Cowboys to build a domed stadium, according to The Dallas Morning News. It’d serve as an indoor practice facility for the Cowboys and would seat 12,000 fans for high school football games. Did I mention it was a dome?!?!

 

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