Walk tall and carry a measuring wheel

Cross country coaches mostly unsung and uncomplicated
October 26, 2018

Walking Tall - I was sitting in my 14-year-old 4Runner at Browns Branch County Park off Killens Pond Road on Oct. 24, 90 minutes early for the Central Delaware Middle School Cross Country Invitational. Perhaps my life is lame, but it’s the life I choose. I like to shelter in place, to get where I’m going and just hang out and watch others arrive. Arriving behaviors lend an entirely different perspective to sports. I saw Cape’s coaches Kenny Riedel of Mariner and Paul Ecker of Beacon commence to walk the course with their runners. One coach and 40 athletes, pretty uncomplicated, no one thinks about school board recognition (until now), but I just observed that these two guys, who have been friends of mine for a long time, just go out and do a great job for kids and ask for little in return.

Social media - Mostly I have no idea how the network unravels and entangles into other networks; I just know that free sports photos is a service I provide, and off-road ventures into political punditry, although I’m good at it, disappoint my friends. One West Coast friend said, “Fredman, we don’t need that from you. Just take photos, but you can tell an occasional short funny story to make us laugh. We ain’t all that interested in thinking.” But here’s an amazing reality: every athlete’s photo I post is somebody’s child. The family is their network, and even if the kid is from a middle school I never heard of, it usually takes about 10 minutes for someone to tag the kid’s mother who then thanks them for the heads-up.

Golden Knights - The Golden Knights football team threatens to light it up at Legends Stadium Friday night, and some type of rain event is a 60 percent probability. Sussex Central comes in with 10 straight non-losing seasons and is 8-2 versus Cape over the last decade, with Cape winning 43-28 in 2013 and 16-14 in 2016. Sussex Central reached the state finals in 2008, losing to CR, and has made the state playoffs five of the last 10 years. No one has ever figured out how to stop the Delaware wing-T, so Sussex Central, under coach John Wells, just keeps running it. But now I’m told they throw more often and throw the deep ball. My son Dave is a color analyst along with play-by-play man Benny Mitchell for some 302 Sports livestreamed broadcasts of high school football. The pair did the Smyrna at Central game, but the sound went out and they couldn’t find a hot spot that wasn’t on a labrador retriever. “Central is just nasty,” Dave told me. “I can’t wait to see them in the tournament.” Note: Dave was Cape’s starting quarterback in 1987 when the Vikings lost the final game in a snow squall 6-0 to get bumped from the state tournament. Cape finished 7-3, then the next year they went 0-10, but enough off-road rides down memory lane.

Clueless computer - DIAA uses a points formula to determine postseason seeding in state tournaments. The points index is based on wins and strength of competition. All the humans on the state committee do is make sure the entries are accurate. Take field hockey as an example. The top four in Division I, with one week left in the season are Padua, Cape, Charter and Polytech. The Division II lineup is Caravel, Delmar, Ursuline and Wilmington Friends. The last team not from the Henlopen Conference to win a state title in field hockey was Tower Hill in 2008.

Snippets - There’s a big field hockey game Saturday, Oct. 27, as Cape heads to Padua to play on grass in predicted driving rain. I’m not sure it will happen, but I’m pretty sure I won’t be standing there if it does. Cape has won five state titles in boys’ cross country. I coached the 1977 team, George Pepper was the coach in 1979 and 1982, and Pat Pollock was the coach in 1999 and 2001. Cape also won the girls’ title in 1999 under Pollock, making Pollock the answer to the sports trivia question: “What Cape coach won two state titles on the same day?” All athletes go belly-up on occasion; they just seldom remember unless they’re on medication. Daylight saving time (fall back) is Nov. 4 with Election Day on Nov. 6 and Veterans Day on Nov. 12. Winter sports practices start Nov. 15. Go on now, git!

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