The athletes haven’t given up, neither should we

Josh Weaver

The easiest approach to a losing situation is to criticize
everyone and everything involved.
The easiest approach to a losing situation is to criticize everyone and everything involved.

I will not waste ink on this page belittling two high school football programs. It isn’t in my nature.

I can, however, spend all day dissecting the disgusting display of professional football the San Francisco 49ers run out onto the field every Sunday. The Niners are blessed from above and should thank their lucky stars that the Giants are in the World Series. Otherwise, sports in the city by the Bay would be in disarray.

When it comes to prep sports – especially in such a tight-knit community – adding unnecessary fuel to a fire that needs no accelerant by casting judgment upon coaches and teenagers seems ruthless and futile.

Yes, both the Gilroy High and Christopher High football teams are struggling. Each has its fair share of excuses that are used on a regular basis. GHS lost a bulk of its enrollment coinciding with the ribbon cutting of CHS 14 months ago. CHS varsity teams are young – no seniors and a considerable amount of freshmen and sophomores. Reasonable and allowable excuses, sure, but also inevitable consequences stemming from a two-high school town with roughly 50,000 residents.

The frustration is growing, but it’s time to grin and bear it. The situation is here to stay. The Mustangs, a combined 19-5 between the 2007 and 2008 seasons, are 5-12 over the last year and a half. The Cougars, in their first year as a varsity program, are 2-5 and entered the season with 24 varsity players before merging the junior varsity with varsity.

Each team is taking its bumps and bruises in its respective leagues. Opponents are bigger, stronger and faster than the Mustangs and Cougars, but that is not any reason to abandon these kids.

There is a transition occurring, a rebuilding of sorts, and patience among the football faithful has already worn thin. The chirping from the stands, the lack of attendance and the sense of hopelessness that has begun to filter down to the athletes is a disappointing reaction during a time where these players need as much support as they can get.

What irks me is the inconsiderate behavior expressed toward the kids, who, albeit some more than others are providing their best week in and week out to sub-par squads. They are sacrificing their bodies for the sake of playing a sport they love.

Big deal, though. The W is all that matters, right?

I’d have to agree if we are talking Niners, or my beloved Notre Dame Fighting Irish. There are no morale victories. If they lose, it’s because of inferior play. I never see the bright side of a ND loss to USC – at least it wasn’t 55-3 – not a reasoning I’d conclude.

But prep football, where there is continuing maximum effort despite the score, deserves more recognition than pointing out the deficiencies each week.

The kids ache for the taste of victory. It’s evident in their eyes and demeanor on the sidelines. They want to be the team everyone talks about. The team that makes the big play that’s written about and gains the respect of their peers.

Head coaches Greg Garcia (GHS) and Tim Pierleoni (CHS) have been around Gilroy football a long time. They give 100 percent to their teams and remain steadfast in getting the most out of their athletes.

As this paper’s sports editor, I take some flack for reporting the positives out of each game more than the negatives.

But when I see Gilroy High’s Eric Vegas lower his shoulder and send a Salinas defender parallel to the ground with his team down four scores, and the reaction a play like that rouses up among his teammates, that is what should be spotlighted. Or, CHS’s Bryant Cid calling his shot and de-helmeting a would-be tackler. That’s football. Dishing out the hits as well as absorbing them. These kids aren’t folding and neither should the community.

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