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Sports Reporter

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There have been a lot of lopsided high school football games on the Central Coast this year, and yours truly has had the displeasure of covering three of the biggest blowouts.

72-14. 70-7. 77-10. Those have all been final counts at Central Coast football games this year.

Whenever a team wins by an eye-popping count in any sport, particularly at the high school level, there seems to be a propensity among some to automatically blame the winner.

And, sometimes the winner is culpable. Several years ago, the final margin in a Texas high school girls basketball game drew national attention.

The winning team kept pressing on defense most of the way and much of the game turned into a layup drill for the winning team's star guard.

Nothing approaching that sort of thing has happened at any of the football blowouts I've seen this year. For that matter, nothing approaching that sort of thing has happened in any sports wipeout I've seen on the Central Coast. And I've seen a lot of them.

The formula for the three football blowouts I've seen this year has followed pretty much the same that I've seen in football blowouts of past years. The winning team kept its foot on the gas throughout the first half and took its foot off the gas in the second.

I personally feel the people who established the mercy rule in high school sports deserve a big round of thanks. No real fan wants to see a game prolonged in which one team isn't able to put up much resistance.

And in the three biggest high school football blowouts I've seen this year, the losing teams weren't able to put up much resistance. The winning team ran basic plays that went for huge gainers or even touchdowns.

During one of these games, the winning team's star running back ran the ball three times, all for touchdowns, in the first half. I don't think he was touched on any of those runs. After touchdown number three, his night was done.

I was on the winning team's sideline during two of those games, so I can't speak to the organization level the losing team had in those games.

During the one game I was on the losing team's sideline, the squad's enthusiasm and coaching organization seemed fine. The team was just physically overmatched.

I saw the same winning team in two of the three blowouts. That team followed the second-half modus operandi of another winning team in years past when the score was out of hand. The backup quarterback would stand and look over at the sideline for a signal then, when he got it, the ball was snapped at the last possible second to burn as much time off the clock as possible.

The football mercy rule in our area states that, if the coaches agree, a running clock will be used at the start of the second half if one team is ahead by 35 points or more. If a team is ahead by 35 points or more at the start of the fourth quarter, use of a running clock is automatic.

I think use of a running clock should be automatic if the margin is 35 or more at the start of the second half. Other than that, as long as the winning team is using primarily back-ups, I can think of no reasonable way to keep the score down.

I have seen games in which the score is out of hand and first-stringers are still being used — by the LOSING team. From what I've seen, the winning team invariably puts in its back-ups when it's clear what the outcome will be.

As long as its back-ups are playing, I see nothing wrong with a winning team's quarterback throwing deep balls or a winning team's players shooting three-pointers in a game that has long since been decided.

Reserves work hard in practice and deserve to show what they can do in a game, regardless of the circumstances.

Forcing the winning team to figuratively play with one hand behind its back when the score is lopsided is no way to promote sportsmanship in sports.

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Kenny Cress is a sports reporter for Lee Central Coast Newspapers.