Writer owes Bison fans an apology

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The McCook High School Bison team, coaches and fans have a lot of respect for the Holdrege Dusters' football program. During the past two years, the Dusters have played the Bison as tough as any Class B team in the state.

That includes Monday night's thrilling quarterfinal playoff game at Weiland Field, when the Bison scored in the last minute for a hard-fought 10-6 victory.

The record needs to be set straight, however, to refute a biased sports editorial which appeared in the Tuesday, Nov. 8, edition of the Holdrege Citizen.

In the column, titled, "Better team clearly did not win," the Holdrege writer started with these words: "The Holdrege Dusters are Class B's best football team. Oh yeah, McCook's rated No. 1 -- but the Dusters outplayed these mighty Bison in every way possible Monday night."

Then, the writer really gets carried away, saying "One silly, referee's cop-out decision to keep home fans happy does not change this fact."

Now, if a fan had blurted these words out in the heat of battle, we would have chalked it up to over-excitement and frustration. But it is quite another thing when a writer puts the words into print in a community newspaper.

What the writer was referring to was a play in the final minute of the game. There was a fumble, and -- after the play was over -- a Holdrege player came up holding the ball.

If the Holdrege writer had bothered to investigate, however, he would have discovered that the Duster player grabbed the ball after the referee had called the play dead.

According to members of the Gazette staff and the Bison football team, here's what happened: Sam Frazier, the Bison ball carrier, fumbled the ball at the one-year-line, but quickly grabbed it back. Seeing this, the ref shouted, "McCook ball! McCook ball!," and started helping unstack the pile of players. It was at this point -- after the play was dead -- that the Holdrege player jumped up with it. He had been grabbing at the ball, and even if there was dual possession, the ball would have stayed with the team on offense -- which in this case was McCook.

Also, in response to the Holdrege's writer's claim that the Dusters outplayed the Bison "in every way possible," it should be noted that McCook had more yards rushing and made more first downs than Holdrege. The Bison also kicked a field goal, which the Dusters did not, and made an extra point after their touchdown, which Holdrege did not.

It's all right to pull for the home team. That's what makes high school football so fun. We understand the frustration Holdrege supporters must be feeling because of the Dusters' narrow defeat, but that does not justify biased, unsubstantiated claims in the community's newspaper.

The writer owes McCook, and the referees, an apology.

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