Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Berlin vs. Meyersdale shows why sports cliches are true, and so frequently used

From high school to the pros, head coaches spout cliches during football seasons more often than autumn leaves fall to the ground.

"We're taking things one game at a time."

"We have the utmost respect for our opponent. They're a well-coached team."

"We can't look past our opponent."

When you've dealt with coaches as long as I have, the tendency is to roll your eyes or laugh on the inside as the drivel flows.

Then, every so often, there's a stark reminder why coaches have their own language and say the same things almost every week.

It's games like Meyersdale at Berlin on Friday night. The game is a perfect example of why coaches say the same things every week.

I once asked a coach with several district and state championship titles to his credit and who has occasionally coached his team to national rankings what could possibly concern him following an easy first-round playoff victory. The answer surprised me, but it also opened my eyes to an aspect of coaching that is rarely thought of.

"I'm worried that his girlfriend broke up with him today. I'm worried that he failed a surprise pop quiz in sixth period and can't stop thinking about. With teenagers, you never know how they'll respond from day to day."

Who knows what undefeated Berlin was thinking during its 28-27 victory over one-win Meyersdale in a game the Mountaineers trailed by 20 points, but it illustrates why the games are played.

On paper, things aren't close. Besides the disparity in records, Berlin owned quality wins of Northern Cambria, Portage and North Star. Northen Cambria is the only team to beat Penns Manor this year. Meyersdale had scored 15 points in its previous two games.

But ... on the field, on any given day, anyone can win.

How's that for cliche?

The Mountaineers (8-0) faced a 27-7 second-half deficit after Chris Schrock of Meyersdale (1-7) returned the opening kickoff of the third quarter 88 yards for a touchdown. With six minutes remaining, Berlin still trailed by two scores.

But ... the Mountaineers never quit. They believed in themselves. They took it one play at a time.

And now they're in position to land the top seed in the District 5-A playoffs.

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