Great Performances But When Is Enough, Enough?
I witnessed a spectacular individual performance by a high school athlete on Wednesday — and, yes, in the many years of being in this wonderful job it is tough to recall something to compare. I am sure there are other marvellous moments.
Ryan Dixon. He's the Grade 10 running back at Whitby's Donald Wilson high school. On Wednesday, he capped a superb year helping his team go undefeated in 12 games and win the Ontario Regional Junior high school football title, a first for the school.
So, what did he do?
Well, start with all six touchdowns for his team. Yes, in one game. Then add up the yardage he gained. By the time the game clocked showed zeros, he had more than four lengths of the football field. The 15-year old carried the ball 44 times for 471 yards in a 40-28 win over St. Michael's — and played on the artificial turf at the Toronto all-boys' private school.
Some people will look at this as a major accomplishment and also throw in kudos to the offensive linemen. And, there are some other people who will scratch their heads and wonder why the coaching staff kept the kid in the entire game — except for one play when he was either injured or tired and left? He was back in the next play to score a touchdown. And for those who like specifics, he was only dropped for a loss once.
Not for me to debate here, one way or another. Many people know I can go either way — with limits. I will say the game was a thriller, back and forth scoring, a championship on the line and St. Mike's won the title last year.
Even watching was Akeel Lynch, the Grade 10 running back from St. Mike's who piled up some similar numbers last year. He would have been eligible for this game but St. Mike's, for whatever reason, promoted him to the senior squad this past year.
Thinking about performances like Dixon and Lynch also has my brain cells recalling some other individual highlights, like Adriana Leon scoring five goals for Country Day school in a soccer game earlier this year. She's a Team Ontario player too.
Going back, there was Joey Votto, the major league baseball player now with Cincinnati, who was powerful at the plate for Toronto's Richview Collegiate. Cheri Piper, who went on to join the National women's hockey team and has some Olympic medals, she scored 11 goals in a game for Toronto's Albert Campbell Collegiate. Lindsay Wilson won four individual league championship races in one season while at Mary Ward High in Toronto. Former West Hill basketball star Denham Brown, who didn't quite make it to the NBA, some claim scored 111 points in a 32-minute senior game. Keeping score were students and I never did see that official scoresheet. And the list goes on and on.
Couple of things surface. We have some great athletes who, in many cases, started in the high school system (maybe club at the same time too) and received excellent coaching to go along with their individual talents.
Also, since this is the amateur level and sportsmanship is always mentioned, should coaches be pulling their best athletes from a game when they have reached a certain level of scoring?