The Gridiron Geek's High School Football Report, Vol. 3: Apathootball Nation!

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The Gridiron Geek's High School Football Report, Vol. 3: Apathootball Nation!
Photo: The Denver Post

Nothing highlights the flaws in our public education system like the Internet.

A Google search for "Kim Kardashian" currently generates 238 million results, while "Stephen Hawking" only gets 25 million, most of the links outdated. I recognize that high school teachers face a difficult proposition, but even Walter White understands that students must be exposed to the fun and enjoyable aspects of technical subjects before we can expect the new generation to apply themselves intelligently.

In full disclosure, the Geek must admit that these cynical remarks come in a foul mood. There is a dearth of national coverage of premier high school teams, and it makes preparing a weekly column less fun than it should be.

Yesterday, noticing that nationally ranked St. Thomas Aquinas was playing a neato Friday night contest against another Florida school, Cypress Bay, in a game advertised to be broadcast on ihigh.com, I sat down happily at my computer, nachos in hand.

Nothing. A color code. No explanation of technical difficulties until hours later. I tried to watch a second game, nothing again. Searches for scores went fruitless into the night. 

There are understandable issues for small-budget, local broadcasters in streaming low-rent football games online. But one wonders, where are all the high school journalism students? Couldn't they help pick up the slack, at least in hotbeds like Florida where millions of people go to prep games?

Schools appear to be spending countless thousands on artificial turf, jerseys and equipment, but very little on publicizing the actual product.

But anyhow. In a world of prep football apathy, the Geek has found refuge in his recent hometown of Denver, CO, and the website Coloradoprepreport.com, where not only do they publish game reports and video in a timely, organized and coherent manner, but the rank-and-file fans who comprise the site's membership are a scream.

Nick Ossello of Wheat Ridge carries in 2011. Photo: The Denver Post

In a few weeks of chatting on the CPR message board, I have learned about dozens of premier teams, coaches, and colorful/panoramic prep venues in the Mile High City. I even learned which concession stand sells "slap your grandma chili," in an uproarious exchange with everyone's favorite CPR member, WUsnapper.

One of the programs of interest in Denver is Wheat Ridge, an oft-undermanned but tenacious group of kids who hail from the crisp, mountain region west of downtown. This Friday, the accurately nicknamed Farmers took on the Monarch Coyotes, the No. 1 ranked 4A team in the state, and won 12-7 in a tense struggle.

Wheat Ridge used a tried-and-true underdog formula to take down the vaunted foe, controlling the ball with long drives, playing contain defense and forcing turnovers. Wheat Ridge even elicited a frustrated "we put the ball on the ground" (see: The Geek's Prep Football Glossary) from Monarch head coach Phil (No relation to Dino) Bravo.

The Farmers' successful strategy highlights a unique facet of the prep game, where overall time of possession is not as important as in-general shortening the game against a bigger and faster squad.

High school games run only 48 minutes, so a team with talent can, in effect, play ball control against themselves if they're not scoring points. Perhaps that's why so many prep coaches with superior athletes choose the spread offense—it maximizes the number of possessions in the game.

Congrats to Wheat Ridge for a sparkling upset win, and to Coloradoprepreport.com (where you can view highlights—imagine!) for actually covering it.

Hamilton Township inflicted several foot injuries this week. Photo: shawningramphoto.com

Coaching cliche counter

We shot ourselves in the foot—38 game articles on Google in last 24 hours. Top story -- Columbus, Ohio: Hamilton Township 45, Bexley 21.

The kids played hard -- 26 articles. Top story -- Augusta, Georgia: North Augusta 35, Greenbriar 7.

We put the ball on the ground -- 24 articles. Top story -- Clinton County, Ohio: Clinton-Massie 49, Jonathan Alder 7. (Wow. One guy by himself out there and he held a team to just 49 points! Wait. That joke is even more moth-eaten than "we put the ball on the ground.")

Pulaski Academy update, or: How a 4-down team is faring vs. the 3-down pigskin universe

Pulaski went for it on 4th down every time this week. Of course. And beat Warren High School, 49-18, improving their season record to 1-1.

Near upset of No. 1 in Texamericana

The No. 1 ranked high school team in Texas, Skyline High School, barely got past the Martin Warriors by an early-70's Dallas Cowboys score of 7-0. Skyline fans are surely breathing a sigh of relief at the result, but then again, you would expect the top team from the highest pressure-cooker environment in the United States to avoid winning in such squeaker fashion.

Shoot, we play Skyline next week? Better learn howta tackle. Photo: redeyespy.blogspot.com

Skyline will play poor-tackling, hard-partying Anarene (Tx) High School next weekend, in what will surely be a much more lopsided game. Just kidding.

For dear old...

The Geek's alma mater, Festus (Mizz.) High School, beat the Windsor Owls 49-6 this week, improving their season record to 2-1. The game showcased what I love about high school ball, not just because my Tigers won, but because at this level, dedication and good coaching always seem to win out in the long term.

Festus and Windsor are schools with similar enrollments and like demographics. Festus is the far superior program, however, due to a wide difference in work ethic, training and enthusiasm between the two sets of youngsters.

Please visit Bleacher Report every Saturday for the Geek's weekly prep gridiron report. And be sure to follow on twitter, at @brgridirongeek.

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