Smyrna wrestling showed sportsmanship in sudden loss at Cape

January 15, 2019

Part of the game - The Cape wrestling team beat Smyrna in the Big House 34-33 Jan. 9 for the first time in forever. And after Jackson Handlin secured the victory with a 5-2 win at 160 to add three team points to the Cape score, he ran and jumped into the arms of his teammates. The Smyrna wrestlers lined up for the post-match handshake. The Eagles handled being on the downside of a happy Cape story with their heads held high. First-year head coach Aaron Harris is well respected among his peers and his athletes. The Eagles had studs missing from the starting lineup, leaving the window open, and Cape crawled through it. Behind the scenes, good coaching happens to all teams all year long. Showtime or game night, whatever you want to call it, is the easy part. Injuries are part of any sports journey. But the everyday education and socialization of the teenage student-athlete is always going to present some challenges. Coaches are often overextending themselves to help their athletes, and sometimes they get beaten up by whack job parents and unsympathetic administrators. It is truly tough out there.

Shutdown corner - (Not a border wall joke.) We all know not to throw deep into the area code of an NFL shutdown corner. If sports teaches us anything of value to the natural world we live in, it’s to always pick on the weakest link for the greatest chance of success. If I’m a Lion I’m Dyin’. Conversely, if you want to win, better have some plan for shutting down the best player on the other team. I’m amazed how many high school coaches say, “We’ll let them get their points. We just have to stop the other people.” Rams journeyman running back C.J. Anderson (released by three teams this season) rushed for 123 yards and two touchdowns in the 30-22 win over Dallas. After the game he said, “Your dreams don’t die unless you give up on them.” A moment in the fourth quarter when C.J. was forced out of bounds toward the Dallas bench, he took a seat on the Boyz bench in a bit of frivolous fun, and at that point, you just knew it was over.

Ditka don’t play - I was a credentialed sideline sports reporter in Baltimore, Dec. 19, 1999, as the Ravens were hosting the Saints coached by Mike Ditka. I was wearing a leather jacket and skull cap on the field pregame when some Baltimore fans thought I was Ditka. A guy screamed at me, “You suck, Ditka!” And I answered, “So does your mom!” The Baltimore fans held my comeback in high regard. Dan Cook was there taking photos and my daughter Carrie was in the press box. After the game, which the Ravens won 31-8 (Lovett Purnell of Seaford was on that Ravens team), we were rolling with the wave of fans away from the stadium when someone smacked me across the back with what felt like a large plank. “Slowly I turned, step by step,” to see a large chrome mirror hanging by its wires from the passenger side of a three-quarter-ton truck. Cook immediately got the attention of a cop handling traffic at the intersection. “He just got hit by a truck and didn’t even move,” Cook said. Carrie looked on, “Are you OK, Dad?” figuring I was indestructible. The truck was stopped; the two guys on the bench seat were totally blitzed. The overwhelmed-by-too-much-stuff-going-on traffic cop said to me, “Unless you want me to call an ambulance, just keep moving, Ditka.” Two drunks in a big truck continued down the road. Ditka had a bad day on the field which got worse when afterward he was hit by a truck and no one cared.

Wrong-way whammy - The Cape student section threw the whammy on their own free-throw shooter as a confused zebra tried to blend with the white-shirted crowd. A whammy is a symbol of strong supernatural bad luck. An analysis of behaviors from the student section ranged from “The kids are having fun” to “They are close to over the edge.” I just don’t want them putting the whammy on the hometown sports reporter. As an aside, Paul Caras of Milton won the 50/50 drawing and donated the money back, putting the whammy on the next winner to do the same thing. 

Snippets - The home teams are early three-point favorites in the NFL conference championship games – Kansas City over New England and New Orleans over Los Angeles – but is smart money betting against Brady and Brees? Down six with under two minutes to play and the ball in Saints’ territory, Nick Foles put the ball on the money, but it sailed through the hands of Alshon Jeffery and it was intercepted. And the saga of St. Nick came to rest like a trolley car at the depot. He’s forever a part of Philly lore and legend. Go on now, git!