It’s an experiment that has true benefit and merit, but also one with a big hill to climb before permanent implementation throughout...
In sports, an old standard that most hold true is the notion that numbers don't lie.
In last Friday's Black and Blue Game between South Medford and North Medford, that certainly was the case.
Every statistic, save one, proved to be in the Panthers' favor, and often by a large margin as South Medford rolled up a 56-0 victory and the first shutout in the cross-town series since 2006.
The Panthers averaged 6.5 yards per carry compared to 1.8 by the Black Tornado, forging 246 yards rushing against only 53. South also averaged 17.5 yards per reception compared to 10.9 by North, completing 81 percent of its passes compared to 40 percent by the Tornado.
Forcing six turnovers (four interceptions, two lost fumbles) was also helpful for South, as was a punting game by North that averaged 17.5 yards per effort and included kicks of 6, 12, 21 and 31 yards.
The only exception was that South was flagged for nine penalties for 75 yards and North was penalized five times for 55 yards. Those were the accepted penalties, mind you, and don't include the three different offsetting personal fouls that marred the early going at Spiegelberg Stadium.
Beyond that, however, the divide between the teams was thoroughly evident in the post-game numbers crunch. South Medford's record individual performances in the Black and Blue Game have already been documented, but the total figures deserve some mentioning as well.
When the game opens with a 15-play, 80-yard drive for a touchdown, you know it might be your night. That's exactly what South Medford was able to conjure up amid a lot of hysteria on a night when the grandstands from both sides were full and boisterous.
Somewhat lost in all the fuss is the fact that the Panthers actually played with fire in that opening drive, going for it on fourth-and-one from their own 29 and succeeding on the fourth play of the game when tailback Denzel Mobley got a great push from his linemen and burst his way to a 4-yard gain.
The biggest turning point, however, likely came on the most emotion-filled play of the night when South senior Matt Retzlaff broke loose on a third-and-10 play for a 19-yard gain that turned into much more when North's Charlie Walker — in his first game of the year — tackled Retzlaff well outside the playing field and threw him into the Panther bench near the track surface.
That third-down play kept the drive alive, for sure, but also seemed to incite South to a level of focus offensively unlike any it had had.
The Panthers were so efficient after that, they only lined up for five third-down plays the rest of the game — and three of those came with JV players on the field during the final 10 minutes. The other two occasions involved first-down connections on the same drive from Jack Singler to Retzlaff, the latter going for a TD to put South up 28-0 with 4:55 to go in the first half.
All told, the Panthers managed 19 plays that gained double-digit yardage and the Black Tornado had five — two coming on the same third-quarter drive that was turned back by a Jimmy Ditty sack and an Adrian Garcia interception.
"We work real hard and scouted them out and figured out what we thought they'd do on offense and defense and we just went out and played our best and it worked out great," said Ditty, a senior center and defensive tackle.
THE BEST CATCH of last Friday's Black and Blue Game didn't come on the field, it actually happened on the sidelines by someone not in uniform. That someone was South Medford head coach Bill Singler, who has moved back down to the sidelines this year after typically coaching from the Skybox level during his run with the Panthers.
As the first half wound down, North Medford quarterback Zach Tanner rolled right but couldn't find an open target in the final 25 seconds and simply unloaded a throw out of bounds while under duress by a South defender.
That's where coach Singler came into play. The former Medford High great and Stanford University receiver pulled down the ball and turned upfield as if it was all meant to be as Tanner's target on the play.
"I gave them a little bit of Stanford there," Singler said with a laugh, although clearly embarrassed to be talking about his catch. "These guys think I'm an old man, I had to show them I've still got it."
THOSE FOLLOWING the Alvarez family and the bone marrow transplant I wrote about in last week's Prep Notebook will be pleased to know that Tuesday's procedure involving South Medford junior soccer star Humberto Alvarez and his 5-year-old brother Marco went smoothly.
Both boys remain at Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland and are recuperating from the surgery. It's obviously too early to tell the affect the transplant will have on young Marco, but Panthers soccer coach Dave Kaufman said Humberto is in good spirits and optimistic about the impact the surgery will have on his little brother's lymphoma.
AS SOME ARE AWARE, in an effort to create more access — and possibly easier access — to the Mail Tribune and me specifically, I have created a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/krishenryMT) that folks can 'Like' and be able to follow and discuss all that's going on in the Rogue Valley sports scene.
On that page, I have posted links to stories that I've done or others have done that may be of interest to the local sports fan, as well as updates from games and even photos of the events I've attended. My Twitter site (www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry) also has much of the same information available for followers.
The Facebook page, however, also provides a source for others to comment on the stories of the day or update others on sporting events we may not be aware are happening either locally or that have featured some of this area's best and brightest.
Clicking 'Like' for this page doesn't equate to access to ones personal Facebook account.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry