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Friday, July 25, 2014
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American Press sports reporter Rhett Manuel.<br>

American Press sports reporter Rhett Manuel.

Manuel Column: Game officials keep athletes, fans safe

Last Modified: Thursday, September 19, 2013 12:01 PM

By Rhett Manuel / American Press

Week 2 of the high school football schedule may very well do down as “the week the games stopped.”

Not all together, no.

But to say Southwest Louisiana had its fair share of delays would be an understatement.

Six games … six … were delayed or postponed last week for one reason or another.

Some of those finished in a timely manner. Others, like the 2-hour weather delay in DeQuincy — I’m not sure North Caddo had “hotel money in case of emergency” written into its budget — weren’t finished in such a manner.

Heck, even schools that could’ve very easily waited until the next day to finish up, Oberlin and Kinder, said “We’d rather sit an hour and a half than do this tomorrow.”

We had a game postponed until the next day, which seemed sort of understandable for Vinton and Elton. Though, I’m not so sure coaches on either side were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed about the prospect of picking it up where they left off on what is normally a film-study day.

There was even a game where the lights went out — to the bewilderment of seemingly every one in attendance — in Westlake.

That one got on after about a 40-minute delay. But, the lighting of the second half seemed more fitting for Hollywood rather than a high school football field.

Yes, there was drama under the Friday night lights, and I’m sure it wasn’t an ideal week for administrators of the affected schools.

With that said, all administrators, officials, coaches and players should be given kudos for the way last Friday’s unusual situations were handled.

All parties involved were inconvenienced in some way. Certainly North Caddo, which had to drive 3 hours and 40 minutes back home from DeQuincy after its game. I’m sure the Rebels had a blast getting home near the time they’d hear the rooster crowing.

Certainly the coaches, players and officials. Coaches are creatures of routine and delays always bring in an element of the unknown. You’ll never know how a young man’s body will react after a long delay. The chances of cramps and freak injuries creeping in would be slightly increased, if anything.

Definitely the officials in Westlake, who did an excellent job of keeping the game clock on the field during the second half when the scoreboard was inoperable. It couldn’t be fun keeping the clock in a game that came down to the last second like that one did.

But in the end all parties survived, even thrived.

In the end, you have to tip your cap to the policies the Louisiana High School Athletic Association has in place.

Whether you hate the organization or love it, when push comes to shove, its delay policies seem to be working quite well.

Most importantly, the LHSAA is doing its primary job — keeping our young athletes safe.

Sure, it may be a little inconvenient. But long term, these are preventative measures that can keep us all from the heartache and tragedy of a situation much more grave.

• • •

Rhett Manuel covers high school sports for the American Press. Email him at rmanuel@americanpress.com

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