Due to some mix ups, At the Mike never made print last week. So, one week late, here are the Eight-Man predictions for area football teams I promised a couple weeks ago.
Don’t cry too much for Central Plains. The Oilers lost a lot to graduation but showed in the opener they are doing just fine when they handed defending D-II state champ Victoria a 48-22 setback. There are some more bullets on the slate to dodge, mainly this week at Otis-Bison.
But I am not going to overanalyze things too much here. Central Plains has not lost to anyone but Victoria in the regular season since 2012 and are 25-2 in the regular season during that time. Look for a 9-0 regular season and at least a playoff win. Then things get interesting.
Ellinwood had the misfortune of being the same district as two of the top teams in the state last year. At least Solomon is gone this year. But Ellinwood lost a lot from that team. And some of the teams behind them in the district return more. Look for weeks six and eight to be huge for the playoffs. Ellinwood is at Goessel and Little River in those weeks and will need to win both. I predict a 6-3 season and a playoff berth for the Eagles.
St. John and Macksville have struggled the past three seasons. The teams have a combined five wins – three against each other. Both should be better this year. Look for both teams to get at least two wins as the programs look for improvement.
East on Highway 50 is a Stafford team that has been pretty good of late. But it could be tough sledding with a rugged district. Look for a 2-7 Trojan team this season, missing out on the playoffs.
How about former Barton soccer player Jesus Loera and the Great Bend High School soccer team. In his first season at the helm of the GBHS soccer team, he has his club playing some pretty darn good soccer.
The Panthers got off to a bit of a rough start with two losses, the Panthers have now won four straight games. Great Bend won the Wichita South Titan Classic then drilled Hays High by a 6-1 count.
The Panthers will have another game with Hays Tuesday then travel to 6A No. 3 Dodge City on Sept. 22 in a big week on the pitch.
The Referee House
For some fun this fall At the Mike will include a new category in the column – The Referee House. This will give you some of the insights in the officiating season. I will not name teams nor individual players or coaches.
Some background first, my crew is based out of Larned with Jon Shaver as the referee – our faithful white hat, Mike Myrick our line judge and Ty Racette our back judge. Those three are from Larned. Steve Webster, our umpire, and myself are from Great Bend. I work the chains.
The first two weeks our trips have been better than two hours to our games from Larned. We don’t mind the long trips. It is Friday night and it is time we get to spend away from our wives. But don’t tell them that.
Something little always seems to pop up that first game. This time it was with myself. You see I washed my shirt with gum in the pocket. I couldn’t get the stain out. So I had to borrow an old shirt from Steve. Fortunately it had all the proper patches on it. So other than swimming in it a bit, I was good to go. The new shirt is now in and ready to go.
In week two, we had a barn burner of game. Touchdown in the final minute and two-point conversion to win the game by a single point. But the ride back was with a wounded crew member. Steve tweaked his knee a bit and was somewhat gimpy on the ride home but he should be ready to go week three.
I couldn’t tell you exactly when I started watching the NFL but I do remember Super Bowl VII. That was in 1973. I was a week short of six years old. I remember the Miami Dolphins completing that unbeaten season.
So it has been at least 43 years.
This year, I will not do so. I have decided to boycott the NFL. As I told you a month or so ago, I gave up Fantasy Football for the first time in 27 years. Now I am giving up the NFL all together.
I see no need to watch a league where players do not pay the proper respect to the American Flag as Colin Kaepernick started and now others have followed.
I am tired of hearing ‘it’s his right, it’s his right, it’s his right.’ I know it’s his right. The people that fought and gave their lives for that flag gave that right to him.
But it is also the right of the league and their teams to tell them to stand. You see, they work for those teams and the league. When my employer tells me I have to do something then I have to do it – or be fired.
Now I know Kaepernick and others have said they aren’t meaning to disrespect the American Flag. But that is exactly what they are doing, no matter what they say.
But it goes beyond that. This is the same league that told the Dallas Cowboys they could not wear a decal on their helmet to honor the five police officers shot in Dallas this year.
This is the same league that told Tennessee linebacker Avery Williamson he could not wear specially made cleats to honor the 9/11 victims on the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
But when police unions in New York and New Jersey told him they would pay his fines he did so anyway. Good for him.
His plan is to now auction them off with proceeds going to Operation Warrior Wishes. Avery Williamson has quickly become one of my favorite players in the league – even though I won’t see him play this year.
Apparently, I am not alone in my boycott.
The ratings after week one in the NFL show viewership was down – way down in some cases.
The biggest hit to the ratings came when Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers played on Monday night. That game – the second of the Monday night games – was down 25% from one year ago. And it was a game that had a Los Angeles team playing for the first time in 20 years. I do not think it was a coincidence the game Kaepaernick’s team played in had the steepest decline in ratings.
The early Monday night game was down 7%. The Sunday night game was down some 18%. The Sunday afternoon games had an 8% drop from last year. The lower ratings were across the board.
Now don’t get me wrong. The NFL was still the most watched television event in its time slot – by a lot. But declining numbers just may get the attention of the league.
There are many ways to protest for things you believe in. But to disrespect the American Flag is not an acceptable way to do it. At least not in my humble opinion.
I shall now step off my soap box. I hope I don’t tweak my knee as well.