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Written by: Dave Fegley on Saturday, September 29th, 2018
In Friday night’s game at South Williamsport, fans learned how violent of a game football can be first hand. South Williamsport punter, Zach Miller was hit on a play trying to pick up a first down after a bad snap. The sophomore took a shot from Southern Columbia linebacker Cal Haladay. The Mounties fans were upset at the time, which is understandable considering the circumstances, but the hit was perfectly legal.
Fans were screaming in the home bleachers for Haladay to get thrown out, and calling it a “dirty play” at halftime when in reality it could not be further from the truth. Haladay didn’t hit him with his helmet. He hit him with his shoulder pads in a form tackle just like kids are taught to do at the youth level. This particular play happened to take place with Miller in a position that was unfortunate.
Outside of his family, everyone was praying for the best. The play replayed in my mind countless times on the drive home and I was hoping for the absolute best. Thankfully, Saturday morning I received word that the player was okay and didn’t suffer any long term injuries. I’m sure Haladay was just as happy to know the kid was doing well, because for as good of a player he is, he is just as good of a person.
Haladay plays the game at 100% at all times. Just like mostly all the other Tigers which plays a large part into their heart success. Miller, who will bounce back and hopefully have a successful two more years in high school, was just in the wrong position at the wrong time trying to make a play. Nothing could have prevented it. Both head coaches, Jim Roth and Chris Eiswerth, were happy to hear Miller was doing well after the game. As veteran coaches, they also both know that injuries, of varying degree, are a part of the game and can’t be avoided.
For as much as everyone would love for the gridiron game to be played injury free, it is just impossible. Any contact sport leaves open the opportunity for injuries which is why there are rules changing all the time to make it safer. The bottom line however is that it never will be a fully safe sport. That is impossible. The game, that has become an American favorite, thrives with the hard hits and violent contact.
At the highest level, in the NFL, they are making rule changes seemingly by the hour. In 2018, it is virtually impossible to even sack the quarterback without getting a roughing the passer penalty. Ask any defender in the league. Even with all the changes, there have already been over 100 injuries to take place this season requiring players to miss time.
Most importantly, best wishes go out to Mr. Miller. When you return to the football field, play just as hard as you did before the hit. Any fans offeneded by the the Green Day Line in my game story, there was literally no ill-intentions regardless of how you may have felt. I love the game as much as anyone and love promoting the success of high school athletes both from Southern and around the state.
Finally, for those that were heard leaving the stadium saying that the hit was a “typical Southern Columbia cheap play” I’m guessing it was just in the heat of the moment. Now that everyone has cooled down, please look back at the history of Tiger football and find any case of a Jim Roth squad acting in a classless manner. I will save you time by saying you won’t find any.
People can be jealous over SCA’s success, and that is something that is common and unsterstandable with how often they win. However, rarely will you see an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Tigers nor will you see the eight time state champions try and embarrass an opponent by running up the score.
It’s hard to believe that the high school football regular season is now officially more than halfway over. In the remaining games I send out prayers for safety. Most importantly to the players, go out and have fun doing what you love to do and don’t worry about getting injured. Know there is a chance, but also know that in most cases they can’t be prevented.
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