THE BOYS ARE BACK IN THE RUSHMORE STATE!
It’s semi-final football in South Dakota this week and KSCJ is pleased to bring you all the action as the boys travel to McCook Lake where Jeff VanDenHull‘s 10-0 Dakota Valley Panthers welcome the 7-2 Rapid City St. Thomas More Cavaliers, led by head coach Wayne Sullivan. The winner of tonight’s contest will move on to the state championship game at the Dakota Dome next Saturday.
Securing home field advantage in the playoffs is generally a good thing, but in South Dakota the advantage seems to be avoiding a ridiculous amount of travel. Last week, Dakota Valley beat Pine Ridge, which is located 380 miles from McCook Lake. The team and fans from St. Thomas More will travel some 420 miles for this contest. I don’t think I would travel 420 miles for a relative’s wedding or funeral, let alone a high school football game. If I cared, I’d stream it live on KSCJ.com!
Speaking of playoffs, South Dakota seems to have this figured out. Eight teams per class receive tickets to the dance. That amounts to 3 playoff rounds, including the state championship game. In Iowa, 16 teams per class make the playoffs. This results in 4 rounds, including the state championship game. The finals and semi-finals are played at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.
Iowa has five football classes: 8-player, A, 1A, 2A, 3A, and 4A. That means there were 64 opening round playoff games last week. Out of those games, 25 of them were blowouts. (I consider a blowout any game with a 21-point or more differential in the final score.) There were eight shutouts and one game where the losing team only managed to score 2 points.
In Class 4A, the blowouts were Cedar Falls over Cedar Rapids Prairie, 28-7; Dowling over Urbandale, 45-3; and Eldridge North Scott over Davenport Central, 50-0. In 3A, the blowouts were Harlan over Bishop Heelan, 42-7; Sergeant Bluff-Luton over Glenwood, 47-25; Solon over Decorah, 34-2; and Cedar Rapids Xavier over Oskaloosa, 50-0. I won’t list the blowouts in 8-player, A, 1A, and 2A because we do not cover any of those teams on KSCJ.
But with a night full of blowouts, it seems like the opening round playoff games in Iowa are turning into something akin to an NFL preseaon game. They are mostly meaningless. The only surprise state-wide was Council Bluff Lewis Central’s 21-14 OT win over West Des Moines Valley. But 1 game out of 64 is a surprise? This isn’t like Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote where he’d rather see 100 guilty people go free than see 1 innocent person wrongfully convicted. For me, when it comes to high school football playoffs, I’ll trade the one upset for one less week of playoff football and fewer teams reaching the show.
It’s been a weird week in sports.
Tuesday was the NFL trade deadline and a potential trade between the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals became a big steaming pile of poo.
It seems the Browns were attempting to trade their 2nd and 3rd round draft picks to Cincinnati in exchange for Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron. However, the Bengals located an email from the Browns regarding the potential trade that was sent shortly before Tuesday’s trade deadline, a team spokeswoman said, according to the USA Today.
But, the Bengals didn’t see the email until after the deadline because it was sent on an unrecognized email address from the Browns, and because they were in the process of filing their own paperwork on the seemingly finalized trade to the NFL, a major step the Browns failed to complete in time. Cleveland needed to send its own signed documentation to the league and communicate directly with the NFL in order to execute the trade before the deadline.
The Bengals spokeswoman told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin told Browns executive of vice president Sashi Brown that he was going to send the Bengals’ paperwork to the NFL office and encouraged Brown to do the same.
The NFL never received any proper notification from the Browns, though, and the league also denied an appeal by the Browns in their attempt to get the deal done.
I guess the moral of the story is, check your spam filter!
And now to the high school ranks…
Two New Jersey high school football officials walked off the field and did not return last Friday night, after players for one of the teams took a knee during the playing of the national anthem. The two officials, Ernie Lunardelli and his son, Anthony, apparently told their assigner they would take such action if the situation arose.
“I’m not in favor of anyone disrespecting our country, our flag, the armed forces,” the elder Lunardelli told NJ Advance Media on Saturday. “What they’re protesting has nothing to do with the national anthem and I’m against it, so I decided to protest them kneeling and that’s what I did.”
“Whoever is disrespecting that flag and the national anthem, that’s who I have a problem with. That’s my protest. I don’t care if it’s a baby, if it’s an 80-year-old man, anybody, I don’t care. Any race, color, I don’t care who it is. It’s not the way I was brought up and it pisses me off that people are doing that.”
“What hurts the most is these kids don’t even know why they’re kneeling. I just don’t understand why this is happening, especially at the high school level. If you’re not happy with being in America, go somewhere else. It’s that simple.”
Two members of the chain gang had to replace the Lunardelli duo after they left. But the chain gang guys were not certified officials, so it’s not a huge question mark whether the contest will be nullified.
The Lunardellis have been benched for the rest of the season.
But the story did not end there.
The NJ Advanced Media unearthed, shall we say, insensitive comments written on Facebook by both Ernie and Anthony. Ernie claims his account was hacked and he was not the author of the posts.
“Yea! Thanks for f–king up the country!! Back to the zoo!!” the elder Lunardelli’s account commented on a photo of President Obama and wife Michelle uploaded on Jan. 21.
The day before, President Trump’s inauguration day, Lunardelli again wrote, “Back to the zoo!!!” on a post about the Obamas, as captured in screenshots on NJ.com.
Anthony Lunardelli, on the night the Giants beat the Patriots in the 2012 Super Bowl, referred to Eli Manning’s success as “jew luck” for someone he believed “sure as s–t didn’t deserve” the MVP award, he wrote in a Facebook comment.
I don’t know if I buy the “my Facebook was hacked” routine. Every time I’ve heard of someone’s Facebook being hacked, the worse thing that happens is your friends receive a barrage of friend requests.
The boys will be in temporary media housing at Dakota Valley on Thursday night. Justin Barker will handle the play-by-play duties. Dan Vakulskas will be the color commentator, providing gavel-to-gavel opinions. Brian Vakulskas will be there for snark.
It’s been a rough week for JB.
Over the past several months, the FCC has been investigating Rush Limbaugh to see whether he meddled in the 2016 presidential election. As an affiliate of Rush’s radio show, JB has been contacted by the FCC special counsel to discuss Rush’s possible election-tampering.
This week, a high-ranking senator described JB as a “fully-cooperating witness” in the probe.
JB, the longtime program director who’s responsible for Rush’s Sioux City affiliation, knew that a Trump campaign adviser was talking to Rush, according to documents released Monday as part the special counsel’s probe and campaign and administration officials.
NBC News reported Tuesday that JB has been questioned by the special counsel’s team and has testified before officials at the FCC.
Victoria Toensing, a lawyer representing JB, said in an e-mailed statement that after an initial meeting of the FCC advisory panel, Rush’s communications with the campaign were “self-generated,” and that JB did not believe an improved relationship with Rush should be a policy focus of the campaign.
“JB always vigorously opposed any Rush trip for Donald Trump or staff,” Toensing said. “However, if a volunteer made any suggestions on any policy matter, JB, a polite gentleman from Iowa, would have expressed courtesy and appreciation.”
For more on JB’s rough week, click here.
Kickoff is at 6:00, with the Knova’s Carpets Pregame Show starting at 5:30.
Pregame interview with Dakota Valley Panthers head coach Jeff VanDenHull:
Pregame show opening segment:
Davenport Cleaners halftime interview with Sid Rosenberg, sports reporter for the nationally-syndicated “Imus in the Morning” radio program and co-host of “The Bernie & Sid Show” on WABC Radio in NYC: