Friday, September 30, 2011

Panther Football has that "look"!

        Don’t look now, but there’s something special brewing on the grid iron in Paola, as the Panthers have rolled to four impressive victories to open the season. Unlike the last two seasons, which incidentally saw the Panthers advance to the sub-state championship game, only to lose to eventual state champions, Bishop Miege in 2009 and Louisburg in 2010, the Panthers have not been tripped up in an early season contest, and have come through the first four games not only unscathed, but basically unchallenged.
        Two years ago it was the Eudora Cardinals who came to Paola and stole a victory over a Panther team that was though to be superior. Last year there was a pair of baffling losses to open the season, at home, to Baldwin and DeSoto. Granted, each of those early season losses were erased by play-off wins, and we’ll be the first to admit that, given the Kansas State High School football playoff system, a regular season loss really doesn’t matter.
        No, losing one of those first five games doesn’t hurt you. Unless you hold league championships near and dear to your heart, because, after all, losing a game to a team like Baldwin in the first game of the year, like the Panthers did last year, didn’t stop them from playing a “winner takes all” game against Louisburg in November with a shot at the state championship game on the line.
        Nope, losing a regular season game to Eudora, no matter how disappointing it was two years ago, did not slow the Panthers march to the sub-state championship game against Miege at Panther Stadium.
        Think about it, while undefeated records are nice, losing one of your first six games really doesn’t hurt. Shoot, the Louisburg Wildcats have lost two of their first four, they’re sitting exactly where Paola was last year after four games, and the Panthers rolled all the way to the sub-state championship game against those very Wildcats. Losses early in the year don’t hurt.
        Now, if the Panthers can roll through the next two games unscathed, defeat a Eudora Cardinal team that also owns shut-out victories over Louisburg and DeSoto to match up with Paola’s shut-outs of DeSoto and Ottawa, and then survive the “run and shoot” offense of St. James the next week, then they will be in a good position to have a chance to run the table.
        Getting through those two road games with wins will set Paola up for the Tom-Tom game against Osawatomie in the first game of the district playoffs and they will follow that up with another home game against Spring Hill.
        Then, you know what, that sets up the exact scenario as last year, with the tables turned when Paola travels to Louisburg for the final game of the regular season. If the Wildcats can win out, they will host the Panthers with the district championship on the line with two losses and will be trying to spoil Paola’s unbeaten season at that point.
        But, just like last year, that game won’t knock anyone out of the playoffs, it will just determine who might have the more difficult opponent in the bi-district game three days later.
        For now though, it looks like it could be a special season for the Panthers, I saw a short quote in one of the rankings describing the Panthers as “this years Louisburg”. I would venture to say that the Panthers are on the same track as the Wildcats were last year, but they are not just “this years Louisburg,” they’ve been at this too long, have too good a track record, and have advanced too deep in the playoffs over the past five years or so to be “this year’s anything”.
        The Panthers are on a journey they are accustomed to, they’ve been here before and they know how to handle the situation. But, it’s fun to go along for the ride, there’s something special brewing in P-Town, and we all need to come along for the ride.

Friday, September 23, 2011

It's 4:00 a.m. do you know where you blogger is?

        It’s 4:00 a.m. do you know where your blog writer is?
        If you answered at home, in bed, dreaming of state championship game coverage, you’d be very, very, wrong!
        I know that I’ve promised to do a better job of posting to “The Cheap Seats”, but I’ve failed miserably . . . well I think I’ll do better, and here’s why.
        A couple of years ago, my wonderful wife, Lisa decided to take a part time job at Price Chopper stocking shelves on Saturday night -- I’m talking Saturday NIGHT -- like 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. It really didn’t get in the way, and it was a few extra bucks coming into the family coffers, and as time went on, that really started to come in handy.
        Well, as time went on, she started working a few other nights, filling in when there was a lot of merchandise, or when one of the regular crew was sick or on vacation. Again, it was a few more bucks and it didn’t interfere with anything, after all it was over night.
        I continued to do all the things I do, work Hauldren Productions, and cover games for the website, life went on. About a year or so ago, the guy that Lisa was working with on Saturday nights (he has a real “job” too) had a shift change and could not work every other Saturday night.
        So, Lisa was there, locked in Price Chopper, by herself, all night long. Now, when you work the night shift, you’re never REALLY there by yourself, there’s people coming and going all night long, cleaning people, other workers, you’re constantly going back and opening the door for at times, Lord knows who.
        Now it wasn’t an ideal situation, but we made it work, and even with my misgivings about Lisa on the shift by herself, we went six months or so under those conditions. Finally, my logical mind got the better of me, and I thought “what the heck, I can do that every other Saturday, how hard can that be?”
        So I mentioned something in passing one day to Barry Queen, and he agreed that Lisa probably shouldn’t be there overnight, and a couple of weeks later, I was hired! That was right before Christmas last year.
        We went through the Christmas rush, then the New Year’s rush, and then those God awful snow storms of last January, when a couple of the crew members, who lived out of town couldn’t make it out of their driveways for several days at a time. It was CRAZY!
        So, my every other Saturday, turned into one to two nights a week, sometimes as many as 30 hours! Then in the middle of the summer, what should happen? One of the guys on the crew up and quit one night . . . it was a Tuesday night, Lisa and I had filled in for him for about a week, because he had pulled a muscle or something like that.
        Well, to make a long story short, by Thursday, I was working FULL TIME! I though, heck, I can do this, I’ll be working Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights. I’ll be starting at 10:00 p.m. -- all the games will be over by then, I can make it work, make some money that I don’t have to try and drum up in business, and still do everything that I have been doing.
        I can tell you this, it is working, but it’s been hard -- you just HAVE to SLEEP sometime!!! And now, the last piece of the puzzle has fallen into place. The other day I was complaining AGAIN that I was having a hard time getting the website caught up, when Lisa -- ever brilliant as she is said “why don’t you take your laptop in and do some of your writing over break?”
        Well duh! Why didn’t I think of that!
        So I did, and I have for the last couple of nights, and I’ve been able to bang out a story or two over each break, and tonight, well, I wrote this little dissertation on what my life’s been like for the last nine months.
        So, it’s now 4:30 a.m., and do you know where your blog writer is? That’s right, he’s sitting in the break room at Price Chopper, pounding at the keyboard, giving you some insight into the life of a guy who at times seems crazy, event to himself.
        Well fans, break time is over, I have to finish up and get home to fix Lisa’s food for the day, then it’s off to sleep for 4-5 hours and up to post my writings from tonight, and since it’s Thursday there’s soccer, volleyball and cross country to cover.
        Then, if I’m lucky, an hour nap, and back to “work” at 9:30 -- it’s a truck night, and Progresso Soup is on sale -- fun, fun, fun!!
        It’s just another day in the life -- but my busy schedule is a good thing for you, check back, my next installment will be something sports related. There’s a lot of good things going on in Paola, Louisburg and Osawatomie, and I’ve got some good things to say about them.
        Until tomorrow -- or the next day -- get some sleep for me, and if you see me at a game, mention you read this, it will make me feel good to know that somebody out there is listening!!!