Unfortunately for Western Hills High School, not all of Texas high school football plays out like an episode of Friday Night Lights. Let's just say the drama and the romance of the Permian Panthers were nowhere to be found at the site of a 91-0 blowout victory by host team Aledo High, which is over 300 miles to the east of Odessa, in case you're wondering.
On Saturday morning, 21-year-veteran head coach Tim Buchanan opened his email to discover what at first appeared to be a practical joke. But the subject line, "Bullying Report," referred to a complaint a parent of the losing team formally filed against the school district.
"This was not directed at our team," explained Buchanan to ESPN. Rather, it was directed at "the coaching staff for not instructing our players to ease up and quit playing hard once the game was in hand." What was "in hand," you might ask? The Bearcats, who by the way are ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press Class 4A statewide poll, had built up a 56-0 lead by halftime.
But Bucahanam claims he did everything in his power not to embarrass the visitors. While Western Hills coaches were likely consoling the players at the break, the Aledo staff was devising methods to stop scoring. Buchanan told the local Star-Telegram, "I don't like it. I sit there the whole third and fourth quarter and try to think how I can keep us from scoring."
One running back, Jess Anders, touched the ball four times and scored four touchdowns; returner Ryan Newsome took consecutive punts all the way back. And Buchanan was handcuffed by the time his backups and the backups to his backups blew through Western Hills: "I can't tell the backups not to play hard ... They've worked their tails off all week. They've lifted weights in the off-season. I'm not going to tell them not to play."
Western Hills Coach John Naylor took no issue with the drubbing. He said there was no ill will or trash-talking to speak of on the part of the Aledo players, and that Aledo is "No. 1 for a reason."
Buchanan admits this is the first time he has been accused of "bullying," and after meetings with the superintendent and the board, is still in the middle of his own school's "investigation," which is a necessary result of the parent's report.
For now, the coach appears to be focused on winning the state title and putting the matter behind them. The victory wasn't out of the ordinary anyway for Aledo. In four district games this season, the team has outscored opponents by a margin of 77 points, including two 84-7 wins.
Maybe it's just me, but I thought losing builds character (I'm looking at you, Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Giants). And not to make light of teenage bullying, but one has to wonder if the child of this parent may take any heat at school.
At least be more mentally prepared for horrendous defeat next time you roll a squad of only 30 players into the house of the No. 1-ranked team in the hotbed of high school football. Or bring more than one bus.