Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Thoughts From The Press Box: A Special Thought about the Whitehall Issue

I sat here this morning, wondering what exactly I would write about here.

Would I talk about the Queensbury/Burnt Hills game, where Queensbury dominated and suffocated Burnt Hills into their first shutout since 2004?

Or would I talk about the other game we covered, where Warrensburg took advantage early and won their first over the Fort Edward Flying Forts. (A recap of that game still to come)

Nah.  Blog entries for both of those games are still to come.

I want to talk briefly about the mess up in Whitehall, where athletes came together and participated in extracurricular activities during their game with the Rensselaer Rams, forcing the officials to call the game short in the third quarter, with Whitehall leading 28-6.

After the game, there are accusations of racial name-calling and choking.  An assistant coach was ejected, and therefore will not be allowed to participate next week for Rensselaer.  And Christian Poczobut was ejected for Whitehall, making him ineligible for this Friday's game against Holy Trinity.

In addition, the Board of Education stripped head coach Justin Culligan of his job.

It should have never come to this.

Through my few times in contact with him for pregame interviews for our high school football broadcasts, Justin Culligan was a helpful man who would bend over backwards to get us the interview.  And the interviews always were very professional.  When he talked about the opposition, he never had a bad thought about them, or their coach.

That's why it's very shocking to me that all this has gone down.  And because of all this activity, Whitehall loses the most out of this.  Not Rensselaer, who is mostly quiet in the aftermath, but Whitehall.  Rensselaer is going to move onto the next opponent without any disruption to their daily routiene.  But Whitehall will have this distraction as they prepare for Holy Trinity.  The kids will have this weighing on their mind.  And their 100th season is now marred because of this fight.  Unless the postseason run turns out with a trophy the last weekend of November, more are going to remember this season for the melee over the 6-1 record that includes their first win over Cambridge since 1989.

And the team loses out on getting to play an old rival.  The C-D crossover week in Week 8 led to some speculation that Whitehall could renew their rivlary with Granville, an opponent whom the Railroaders have a history with, but saw that rivalry extinguish when Section 2 went to classification play in 2004.

I'm not finger pointing here.  I wasn't at Whitehall when this all went down.  I didn't get to see what the onlookers got to see.  But it seems to me like some of the reason why the game went sour was because the referees kept the laundry in their pocket, finally pulling it out when it was too late.  The referees seemed to lose control of the game, with a sign of this coming during the first incident in the second quarter.  The referees only ejected one, the Rensselaer assistant coach, leaving the players unaffected and allowed to still participate.

Then all hell broke loose in the third quarter, leading to the game being called.

You have to wonder if the refs made it known that this activity would not be allowed, and started sending kids to the showers instead of the sidelines, would this have happened?

It could have sent a message.

And maybe people would be talking about the 6-1 Railroaders instead.

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