2008.12.17 It's just high school football

Written by David Green.


Joe Farquhar walked into the Observer a few days ago, came over to my desk and showed me a card in his wallet. There was a name and phone number.

He asked me if that name meant anything to me and it really didn’t mean much at all.

Tom Saylor.

“A Hudson coach?” I asked.

That was it. He was at Hudson during the big winning streak that the school claimed for a couple of decades, and Joe was trying to get him to come to Morenci.

This was early in the negotiations when Joe came in and he wouldn’t even speak the name. Hush hush.

I know I wasn’t appropriately excited or even sufficiently interested. Joe asked what I thought about it and I said something rude like, “Sounds like a novelty coach.”

Joe didn’t ask what I meant by that, but I was thinking that it would be a popular name who would stay a couple of years and then it would be over.

I Googled his name and found a website with some team photos of Hudson’s glory days and a not-so-glowing review of a book about the winning streak. There was a reference to a Sports Illustrated story about the national record and an interview in the San Francisco Chronicle when a California team bettered the record. OK, so the name Tom Saylor means a lot more to many people than it does to me.

Sure, I was on the losing side of a 47-0 drubbing by Hudson in my senior year, but that was nothing to boast about for Hudson. I was a member of what still remains one of the worst teams in Morenci history. Not the worst, but bottom 10.

I don’t remember if it was that day or later that Joe told me how the Saylor thing came about. It was a matter of people talking with their mouths full.

Joe was having dinner with relatives when he got a phone call. It was Mike Garwood, who was having dinner with someone else. The other guy knew that Tom Saylor wanted to get back into coaching for one last stretch before he called it quits for good.

So Joe gave him a call and the courting began. How ridiculous, I thought. This guy is going to drive 45 minutes every day to coach football? To coach Morenci’s 19 or 20 players? Does he know how far it is to Whitmore Lake?

Saylor was looking at some other schools, but in the end, he liked Morenci.  He now refers to Joe as his new best friend. They’ve spent a lot of time talking recently.

So now there’s this front-page story about a football coach. I told school superintendent Kyle Griffith I wasn’t all that comfortable making such a big deal out of a football coach. It’s just high school football in a small town.

Of course, and that’s exactly where I’m too dumb to see the obvious: It’s high school football in a small town. That’s a big deal to a lot of people.

Kyle said it’s more than a story about a coach. He said something like, “Trust me, the other media will be all over this.”

On the day Tom stopped into the Observer office for a photo, an Adrian radio station had already called. Later that night—around midnight, actually—he got a call from the Adrian paper. Wow, I’ve never called for an interview that late.

The new coaching job was mentioned in the Monroe paper and there will likely be more before the Observer goes to print. Maybe I’ll beat the Detroit Free Press to the story. Their high school sports page comes out on Thursday or Friday.

I mentioned that San Francisco Chronicle story earlier. Saylor was asked what he thought about having Hudson’s win streak snapped and he answered, “I think I’ll commit suicide.”

Of course he was joking, but it seems to give a good indication of who the guy is. He’s well aware of the magnitude of the feat. Setting a national record that stood for 22 years is certainly a big deal. On the other hand, it’s just high school football.

Saylor probably wouldn’t say it that way, but he seems to know there are other things in life besides the Friday night stuff in the fall.

So, should you expect to see a front page feature on the new mathematics teacher after Dennis Quist finally retires? Probably not, and that’s why I still feel a little funny about making such a big deal out of a football coach.

  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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