I may be old fashioned, but it’s reassuring to know that most of us can still find the time to put aside our busy schedules and come together in thanks for one of the great American traditions---Black Friday. Since so many stores are opening early tonight have we rendered Thanksgiving as Grey Thursday? I know the whole Pilgrim-Indian thing probably didn’t go off like they taught us in elementary school—but I’ve always enjoyed the sentiment of the holiday and hope that you and yours are able to enjoy that today.
There are ten high school football teams around the state still getting their work done as they prepare for Championship Saturday. One of the nice things about being a freelance journalist is not having to feign a ton of objectivity---so, I have no hesitation to cheer for Derby against whatever Kansas City area team they’re facing in Topeka. I remember covering head coach Brandon Clark when he was a rising star at Valley Center high school; I then followed him through five years at Kansas State. I admire his passion for the game and the ability to transfer that passion to his football team which is tremendous—Go Panthers.
In 5A, sign me up for Salina South. The Cougars are the only team to have beaten Derby and after consecutive wins over Carroll and Kapaun one would think that they would have earned the begrudged blessing of the Pope. Justin Stonebraker is the quarterback at South, aside from having one of the great names ever for a football player---he’s the son of Ken Stonebraker, whose, not only the former Salina South coach, but also a former Shocker linebacker. Former Shocker football players are becoming shorter in supply—Go Cougars.
Buhler’s my team in 4A. Head coach Steve Warner is a guy I’ve criticized in past big games of which Buhler has played their share. Their win over Holton last weekend was an incredible effort, spurred by a great game plan. Coach was emotional afterwards, unafraid to shed a tear as Buhler reached the state final for the first time since 1990. I ‘m sure the guys from Coffeyville, Buhler’s opponent, are no lees committed, but Warner drinks Coffee for breakfast, I hope he’ll need buckets to contain the tears this weekend.
X marks the spot---
I didn’t get to see Cleo Littleton, Dave Stallworth or Warren Jabali so, for me, Xavier McDaniel is the all-time greatest Shocker. The intensity with which he played and even practiced was legendary. X took on all comers, even if they were his own teammates—a fight he got into as a freshman with Antione Carr is still marveled at by old timers. It was great to see him go into the College Basketball Hall of Fame last weekend—there wasn’t a game I ever saw him play that he didn’t do something memorable.
Speaking of the Shocks---
The grind it out effort against BYU in the finals of the CBE was exactly what this team needed. Not shooting it well, they had to fall back on defense and they were brilliant. If they win at St. Louis on Sunday, they’ll likely be a top 10 team and they’ll have earned it.