You are the head coach of a high school football team that is leading 41-7 with 5 1/2 minutes to play. Your opponent has just been stopped inside their 5 yard line and is going to punt from their end zone.
The game is not remotely in doubt as to which team will win. And by the way, you still have most of your starters on the field.
What do you do? Most coaches would call for a punt return, and tell their team not to rush the punter. Coach Jody Grooms at Lakeside High School chose to do the opposite: rush the punter and block the punt (resulting in a safety) in their opponent's end zone in this situation in their game against Harlem High on Friday night.
The Lakeside players were not at fault in this. They were just playing hard and doing their job. Having played football at Harlem High 40 years ago, I participated in and have watched a lot of football games since then. This was just a lack-of-class moment on the part of the Lakeside head coach.
I hope next time Coach Grooms is in this situation, he will think a little about the character message he is sending to the players, opposing coaches, parents and fans of the other team.
John W. Neal
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