FNF Coaches Talk — Powerhouse Team Loses Due to Blown Call, Volunteers Shovel Field for Indiana Team, Coach Loses Legs But Provides Inspiration

Welcome back, Coaches. It’s almost Game Day! Here’s another set of stories for you.

1. Mass. high school football power eliminated in sectional semis after foe given ‘fifth down’ (The Boston Globe)

This one had to have been infuriating for the coaches and players involved.

We’ve all been a part of games when the refs blew a call, and some of us have even lost games because of it. But this is a playoff game, and a simple mental error that should have been avoided with five officials on the field.

Two Massachusetts powers — Everett and Central Catholic — faced off in a Northern Sectional semifinal with predictably dramatic results; Central Catholic eventually emerged as 39-37 victors in overtime to reach the sectional finals. There’s just one issue: Everett claims the game only reached overtime because Central Catholic was given a ghost ‘fifth down’ on a critical third quarter drive.

On what was listed as fourth and 8 — but was actually the fifth down — the Raiders executed a fake punt for 9 yards. On the following play, Central scored on a 26-yard pass for a 31-24 lead.

The sequence of plays went like this:

■ First and 10 at Everett 37: 6-yard run
■ Second and 4 at 31: 9-yard run negated by offensive holding penalty (minus-10 yards from spot of foul, which occurred at the 30)
■ Second and 13 at 40: Incomplete pass
■ Third and 13 at 40: 2-yard run
■ Third and 11 at 38: 3-yard pass
■ Fourth and 8 at 35: 9-yard fake-punt pass play
■ First and 10 at 26: 26-yard touchdown pass

The fifth down and subsequent touchdown proved to be a crushing blow to Everett’s season, and continues to haunt Everett coach Theluxon Pierre.

“I’m sick to my stomach,” Pierre told the Globe. “How do you make that mistake? You have five refs out there.
“This is ridiculous. You don’t do that to kids.”

How do you coach your players to handle it when the refs blow a call?

2. An Indiana Football Team Relies on Volunteers to Shovel the Field (ABC 57)

We’ve heard of coaches trying to engage the community, but this might be taking that a bit too far. The Mishawaka (Ind.) football team relies on volunteers to clear snow from the field whenever it needs a clean field for practice or a game.

Braving freezing cold temperatures, volunteers helped clear snow off of Mishawaka’s Steele Stadium football field on Wednesday morning.

Shoveling snow from the football field is a kind of tradition for Mishawaka High School employees and volunteers before home games.

Keith Kinder, the Mishawaka High School Head Football Coach, said, “Last year before we played in the semi-state game, they were out here on either Thursday or Friday morning of the game doing the same exact thing- getting the field ready for the young men that are going to play on it. If we’ve got a game and there’s snow on the ground, these guys’ll [sic] clear it off for us. They’ve been so great, we’re really lucky to have them.”

In what ways do you ask your fans to give back to your football team?

3. Football coach loses legs, a hand and fingers – but not his positivity (My Suncoast)

Here’s a good story for coaches who might be struggling to stay positive late in the season.

A California high school football coach lost his legs, a hand and several fingers when he went in for heart surgery back in May. But he’s not letting his misfortunes dull his positive spirit.

Life is a lot different these days for 49-year-old Casey Cagle, an assistant football coach for Bradshaw Christian High School.

“I’m vulnerable for the first time in my life,” Cagle said. “I walked into that hospital at 6-foot-5-and-a-half, you know, 261 pounds. I came out at 4-foot-6 and 191 pounds. And you realize at that point how fast things can change.”

That was in May, when Cagle went in for a 4-hour procedure on his heart. But he said complications nearly cost him his life.

Cagle ended up spending close to 100 days in the hospital. During that time, doctors were forced to amputate both of his legs, his left hand and several fingers.

But he never lost his sense of humor or his outlook on life.

“You realize, one digit can do a lot for you,” he said. “So, every time we score now, the kids put a pinky up. Whoever scored will run over and I get my hug out of it. That’s exciting to me.”

What do use for inspiration when you’re having trouble staying positive during the tough moments of the season?

What’s driving the conversation in your locker room? Email Managing Editor Dan Guttenplan or Tweet us @fnfcoaches. Don’t forget to use that hashtag #FNFCoachesTalk