By Ray Hamill — For all the excitement surrounding the upcoming playoff games for Eureka and Fortuna high schools, it doesn’t erase the fact this past weekend was a complete farce.
A coin toss?
Four of the six North Coast Section divisions now are not sending a team on to the state playoffs, and the North Coast Section decision makers should be embarrassed by the mess they have created.
That it came to this is scandalous. That the Cardinal Newman seniors should have their seasons end like this, and that the Eureka players and fans should have had to go through a coin flip is a disgrace.
Not to mention the fact Fortuna will not get the chance to defend its state title.
It all goes against everything the NCS is supposed to stand for. And what the fans pay them to do.
They had alternatives, a chance to play the games, and a chance to get them in on time, like all the other sections managed to do despite also being affected by the wild fires.
Most importantly, they had a chance to avoid a coin toss to decide the fate of two quality teams that have each worked extremely hard to get this far, and two groups of players that should have been treated better.
Newman was not afraid to play Eureka
To suggest Cardinal Newman was afraid to play Eureka is also ridiculous.
The Cardinals have 12 NCS titles, which I believe is second only to De La Salle, so this group wanted to play for a first-ever state title for the school, and they believed they had the players this year to achieve it.
They gambled, they lost, and the seniors will now live with that decision the rest of their lives.
But the NCS should never have forced them to have to make that decision, and don’t believe for a second they were afraid to play Eureka.
It’s also a matchup that would have been simply brilliant to see, and that’s something the NCS robbed us all of.
A fanbase like no other?
Moving on, we’ve seen recently once again just how much local sports mean to the North Coast, and how the local community continually responds to show its support, emotionally and financially.
I hope the NCS was paying attention, although I doubt it.
I’ve seen it often by now, but it still never ceases to impress me, and it’s something fans here should be grateful for.
When the NCS suggested moving some of the playoff games here because of scheduling problems, there were some schools in the Bay Area that legitimately could not finance the trip. (The NCS should have provided some financial help, but that’s another story.)
That scenario would never happen to a team up here, because the teams here enjoy better community support and would always, always find a way to travel to play a game of that magnitude.
The relative isolation of the North Coast fuels the passion for “our” teams, and we support them in greater numbers and with greater enthusiasm because of it.
Just ask the Humboldt Crabs. Or Ferndale or Fortuna football. Or racing fans at the Redwood Acres.
It’s something that HSU president Lisa Rossbacher and interim AD Duncan Robbins never truly understood or they would never have pulled the plug on the school’s football team, which means so much to fans here.
It’s also something the NCS apparently fails to appreciate.
Not only would any of the local teams up here have gladly traveled to play their playoff games in the Bay Area if the situation had been reversed, but one of them (Eureka) actually raised enough money to transport six of the NCS teams up here to play their quarterfinals (including Cardinal Newman, by the way), while others were looking into doing the same, or at least offering some type of assistance.
It would have worked too, had the NCS acted more assertively that week, and it would have avoided this past weekend’s coin toss.
The local sports community has stepped up this way in the past. They’ve done it for HSU football and for the Redwood Acres, each within the past year alone, and for just about every local prep, college and community team or program at some point.
This community’s passion for local sports was evident again in abundance these past few weeks.
That’s something fans here should be grateful for. And proud of.
When it comes to supporting local sports, few areas do it better.