2008.12.17 It's just high school football

Written by David Green.

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.little Ball
    Fayette's Demetrious Whiteside (left)Skylar Lester attempt to keep the ball from going out of bounds during Morenci's recent basketball tournament for fourth and fifth grade teams. Morenci's Andrew Schmidt stands by.
  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.

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