By Tim Chambers
Johnson County football fans need to look no further than the bottom of Cross Mountain and down Stoney Creek to find a football program that has more problems than their own. Unaka High School made the news and sports headlines on Monday despite its 1-9 record this season.
The Rangers football team just slapped the TSSAA with a humongous hit that might get them spanked after their November 16 meeting. They decided to forgo their playoff game with Greenback after losing to Midway 71-0 on Friday. Instead they forfeited to the state’s No. 3 ranked Cherokees in Class A, leaving the door open for many more schools to do the same.
School officials sent a letter to the TSSAA assistant executive director Matthew Gillespie trying to explain their case. It was not the decision of the administration or coaches that led to their forfeit.
The letter stated the following: “We regret to inform you that Unaka High School will not be participating in the playoff game against Greenback High School scheduled for November 4, 2016. Despite all actions from our coaches and administration, the team members will not play. The coaches are very upset concerning this action by our football team. After the game against Midway on October 28th, most of our players turned in their uniforms. The coaches tried to talk to them but they were not successful. We held a meeting today and the football players signed a statement indicating their intention not to show up for this game.”
What is wrong with this picture? You can find several things starting with the main source.
Teenagers sometimes make bad decisions, but so does the TSSAA.
Why would a 1-9 football team make the playoffs? Their only win came against winless Concord Christian and they were outscored by a total of nearly 400 points in their nine losses.
I don’t agree with the way this was handled but it’s time the TSSAA got a wakeup call. Your hunger to produce more gate revenue has watered down first round playoff games like month old Kool-Aid.
But first you must look at the teaching aspect.
Quitting is unacceptable, or is it in this case?
It took a last-ditch effort by the coaching staff just to get enough players to field a team a week before their first game. Some of those playing have never participated in football before.
Their pride has been crushed in addition to the bumps and bruises suffered. But the Nashville based organization will not consider this on November 16, but they should. This playoff system has been flawed since day one and needs to be overhauled.
No team should make the playoff without winning half their regular season games. Why would you force a 1-9 team to drive a 300-mile round trip to become a sacrificial lamb for a superior opponent at 10-0?
This decision could have a big impact on Unaka’s athletics.
Football and basketball are considered revenue games. They could hit the Rangers with one of the following;
Ban the football team from the playoff for one or two seasons.
Ban the football and basketball teams from the playoffs for one or two seasons.
Ban all sports from the playoffs for one or two seasons.
These would begin in 2017.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk.