Lit up. Blasted. Smoked. Ear holed. All these words and phrases are used to describe those hits on the football field that lead to “oohs” and gasps from the crowd.
Expect to see fewer of those this season and when they do occur, fans and coaches had best brace themselves for personal foul penalties and even possible ejections. Tuesday at the annual Peninsula Athletic League football coaches preseason meeting, representatives of the Northern California Football Officials Association were on hand to inform the coaches that they have been told to crack down, especially, on two types of plays that usually draw the biggest reaction from the sidelines and fans: targeting opposing players and clocking defenseless players.
You’ve seen these types of plays where a defender launches himself at the ball carrier — or any opposing player for that matter — and makes a huge, teeth-rattling tackle. The other instance is a player being blindsided by an opponent after he is already out of the play, or the wide receiver who goes for a pass that sails over his head.
If a player lights him up, there will be a penalty and then it is up to the official’s discretion to determine if the play was premeditated. If that is the case, the offending player faces an ejection.
“You knew it was coming,” said Steve Sell, Aragon head football coach, athletic director and now the longest tenured coach in the Peninsula Athletic League with the retirement of Terra Nova’s Bill Gray. “It was just a matter of time. … The game has to be taught differently. There’s no two ways about it. It’s an alteration of the way the game is played.”
Sell believes it will take some time for everyone involved — players, coaches and officials — to get comfortable with the new rules because let’s face it, it’s another judgement call officials have to make. They will have to determine a player’s intent when making the call.
“This one is going to be hard on the officials. The officials are getting it from both side — they’re getting it from the national federation and the state, and then coaches saying, ‘Let the kids play football,’” Sell said.
The bottom line, as far as Sell is concerned, is that these types of plays simply don’t belong in the game — especially at the high school level.
“We’re coaching high school football players. They should be coached not to target anyway and not take cheap shots anyway. People who have real problem with this are people who are troubled. I’m sorry,” Sell said. “We should be making the game safer anyway.
“You look like a punk, thug team when you hit people unnecessarily. That kind of stuff shouldn’t happen anyway. It just shouldn’t.”
Cal Hi Sports released its preseason state football rankings and a couple of San Mateo County teams were included.
Serra was ranked No. 19 in the top-50 in the state. The Padres are coming off an 11-3 2013 season that saw them win the Central Coast Section Open Division title and a spot in a Northern California regional bowl game, where they fell 28-20 to Del Oro-Loomis — which is ranked No. 35, by the way.
There will be no easing into 2014 for the Padres, as they open against De La Salle, ranked No. 2 behind St. John Bosco, which beat the Spartans for the state Open championship last year.
Serra returns a lot of talent from last season’s squad, although it will be breaking in a new starting quarterback.
The other county team to receive recognition was Sacred Heart Prep, which advanced to the Small School state championship game last season. The Gators were outside Cal Hi’s top 50, receiving “on the bubble” recognition.
Other teams from CCS to receive a nod were, not suprisingly, from the West Catholic Athletic League. Valley Christian was at No. 24, while Mitty and St. Francis were on the bubble selections.
Eric Totman, Accel Gymnastics boys’ team and developmental coach, was voted 2014 Northern California Coach of the Year.
Totman becomes the fourth coach from Accel to earn the honors, joining Bridget Cook (2006), Alex Mahul (2008) and Matt Hodges (2013).
Accel has gyms in both Burlingame and Foster City.
Nathan Mollat can be reached by phone: 344-5200 ext. 117 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You follow him on Twitter@CheckkThissOutt.