Back in the saddle
But from here on out, updates should be regular and reliable. If I attend a Saline or Milan sporting event, you're going to hear about it here, usually not too long after said event. For now, the fall season has finally gotten revved up and in full swing. Here's a few observations and impressions from the opening weeks:
1. As a first-rate sucker for being as close to the action as possible when I cover football, I spend my time on the sidelines rather than in the press box or the stands. At Saline's Friday night football in Flint, vs. Carman-Ainsworth, I maybe should have ignored this policy for once. The storm front that wreaked havoc with kickoff times across the state drenched the Cavalier field and turned it into a glorified mud hole. The players' cleats turned most of the sideline to goo, and what wasn't goo was two-inch deep puddles. By the end of the game, you could easily spot how much playing time a particular Saline player had gotten--the filthier his white jersey had gotten, the more he'd spent on the field.
Of course, I'm doing all this complaining and all I had to do was watch what was goign on, much less try to play a hard-nosed game of football in it. Kudos to the Hornets for slugging out the win in conditions that I would favored Carman-Ainsworth's more straight-ahead running attack--their far-and-away leading rusher was quarterback Will Cummings, who seemed to take a shotgun snap, fake a handoff, then plunge off-tackle for abotu 27 consecutive plays in the second half--than Saline's precision misdirection running and greater reliance on the pass.
2. Kudos are also in order for the Milan football team, who took a first giant step towards a return to the playoffs with their 41-6 blizting of Ionia.There must have been some worry when the Big Reds put the Bulldogs on the schedule; after all, Milan didn't make the playoffs in 2006 even after opening with their traditional Week 1 pounding of Lincoln. Instead they were opening the year with a team that hasn't had a losing record in seven years and hasn't failed to miss the playoffs since 2001.
Well, so much for all that. No time for the Big Reds to rest on their laurels, though, with a trip to Carleton to take on the Airport Jets this week. Airport took third in last year's Huron League race and if Milan wants to make a charge at the Huron title--not out of the question based on last week's result--this is one they've got to have.
3. Took in two Saline sporting events Tuesday evening, the first being the Hornets' 2-2 draw in boys' soccer against ann Arbor Huron.To be frank, it was a game Saline should have won. The Hornets had the lion's share of possession and probably three times the number of good looks at goal Huron did, but wayward finishing and some officiating calls I'm going to be generous and call "questionable"--including the penalty kick that got Huron back into the match after trailing 2-0, for a foul that from where I sat appeared to be so far outside the box that Saline started setting up a wall before realizing it had bee nruled a PK--came back to haunt them.
The silver lining is that, in my experience,
3. The Saline volleyball team lost to Pioneer in four that same night. You wouldn't think playing conditions inside a gym would be an issue, but I honestly wonder if the surprisingly intense heat inside the Pioneer gym was factor. The Pioneers' gym is connected to their pool, and between the heat and humidity the word "stifling" doesn't even begin to describe the atmosphere inside the gym. I felt like I should have been sitting around in a towel and wondering how warm the coals had gotten.
The heat was the same for both teams, but, of course, it was Pioneer's gym and they've been practicing in it for a while. I know no one on the Saline volleyball team is going to use that as an excuse and it's not, of course, the reason Saline struggled through the first couple of games. But athletes in any somewhat extreme and unusual playing conditions are going to at least start the game thinking "Oh my gosh it's so hot/cold/snowy/infested with moths in/out here" and not about, say, volleyball. Saline should have a better time of it at home.