We’ve had our share of sports scandals around here, with a “headphone” incident at Evans High School that we haven’t forgotten nearly two decades later, and the Lakeside “trick play” that essentially cost an otherwise great coach his job.
So it’s nice to hear that we aren’t alone in such shenanigans.
My daughter who attends Valdosta State University is student teaching this semester at Colquitt County High School, about 40 minutes away in Moultrie. Valdosta is in Lowndes County, and this past weekend Colquitt’s unbeaten streak ended with a 17-14 heartbreaker loss to powerhouse Lowndes County High School.
In a county with just one high school, football is a pretty big deal. Locally, Lincoln County, Thomson and Washington are great examples. So in Colquitt County, there were plenty of depressed people at school this week.
And then, just as it was with the discovery of that long-ago “trick play” at Lakeside that got Jody Grooms in a lot of trouble, someone found the video.
It seems an alert spectator at the Colquitt-Lowndes game posted a video to YouTube that shows a man standing in front of the press box with a pair of binoculars. The man intently watches the Colquitt County coaching staff, and every so often, he looks back at the press box to the Lowndes coaches inside. They then appear to get on their radios and relay information to the Lowndes coaches on the field.
Not a big deal, right? Well, it turns out that the man with the binoculars isn’t just a spotter for Lowndes County. Colquitt’s coach says the man is a former assistant who was fired and now coaches at a middle school. He believes the grudge-holding man was getting back at Colquitt by helping their opponents.
As you can imagine, the depression at Colquitt County High School turned to anger and betrayal, while the Lowndes coach is hotly denying any trickery. I’m not sure where it’ll go from here, but in south Georgia, football Friday is as sacred as church on Sunday, and Judas Iscariot is unpopular in either place.
My column on Sunday about Elaine Matthews winning her free speech battle with Columbia County government back in 2003 wasn’t as complete as it should have been.
Matthews had been fired for speaking out against a rotten, $8 million deal to allow a Florida company to take over Columbia County’s landfill. While she did, in fact, win her lawsuit against Columbia County, the verdict later was overturned on appeal.
But even with the verdict (and the nearly $400,000 reward of damages) overturned, Matthews still won a significant moral victory with a jury of her peers.
And considering Columbia County backed out of the deal with a shady Florida company, whose president now sits in federal prison, Columbia County dodged a giant bullet.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email barry.paschal@newstimes online.com, or call 706-863-6165, extension 106. Follow at twitter.com/