You attend a game and watch in horror as the coach of the home team calls an off-tackle dive play on third-and-light years. You scratch your head and elbow the guy next to you. Your left eyebrow curls into the shape of a question mark.
Any fan who has sat in the stands and questioned the sanity--if not the sobriety--of a football coach after some particularly strange strategy has secretly wondered to himself: "Give me a pencil and a clipboard and I'll out-coach this clown. Twenty years of locker checks has driven this yo-yo over the edge."
Don't be strung along.
Most observers have no idea what a coach invests in preparation for a game. Take an average Saturday, for instance. Most coaches would be happy to let you have one.
Harry Welch, the Canyon High coach, spent the first few hours of his Saturday morning looking at videotape of Friday's 22-18 victory over Chaminade. Welch and the team examined and critiqued the Cowboys' come-from-behind win.
For four hours.
After the Canyon film festival finished, Welch went home for lunch. As he ate and fielded phone calls congratulating him on the victory, he watched a tape of Thousand Oaks' 62-6 win over Inglewood last week.
Canyon plays at Thousand Oaks on Friday.
Welch spent another couple of hours Saturday night on the 101 Freeway, driving to Larrabee Stadium in Ventura to watch Thousand Oaks play Buena. The game ended at 10 p.m. or so, which put Welch back in Canyon Country after midnight.
"What a weekend, huh?" Welch asked sardonically.
Add Canyon: After trailing, 18-7, at the half, Canyon held Chaminade to 42 yards in the second half and stormed back with 15 points and 198 yards of its own.
"I'll tell you, if our statistics are right, that's a heck of a defensive effort," Welch said.
And it was against a decent team. Chaminade, which started the season ranked No. 10 in The Times Valley poll, fell to 0-2. Welch said it took everything his team had to knock off the Eagles.
"They have some great athletes out there," Welch said. "I mean, they have the beef, too, but they are great athletes.
"Lots of times when you have a big offensive line the guys aren't real specimens. But there aren't any slugs in that lineup. It wouldn't surprise me at all if they end up in the CIF final."
Remarks on LaMark: Anyone trying to pinpoint the reason for Saugus' 34-14 win over Crescenta Valley didn't have to waste much time looking through statistical logs.
Senior tailback LaMark Allen scored four touchdowns and had 295 yards in total offense. Allen caught 3 passes for 138 yards and 2 touchdowns, and rushed for 158 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Allen's biggest contribution came in the fourth quarter, however, when Saugus held a slim 21-14 lead. The Centurions had led, 21-0, but Crescenta Valley scored twice in the second half.
"We were reeling," first-year Coach Dick Flaherty of Saugus said. "All the momentum had changed."
Saugus fumbled the kickoff that followed Crescenta Valley's second score, which came midway through the fourth quarter, but Saugus' Chad Keene recovered at the 20. The Centurions lost three yards on first down and were penalized five more on the next play, pushing them back to their own 13-yard line.
"Right about then, I thought we were really in trouble," Flaherty said. "We were crumbling."
With 8:45 left, Saugus quarterback Jared Snyder, who passed for 231 yards and 3 touchdowns, hit Allen on a screen pass. Allen rambled 87 yards for the score.
"When you have a kid like LaMark, you have to get him the ball," Flaherty said. "He really put them away when it looked like they had us."
Saugus is now 2-0. Last year the Centurions were 0-10.
White lie?: Crespi tailback Russell White has posted some great numbers in his varsity career, but the statistics quoted in the Palmdale football program were enough to make a guy's eyes bulge.
Palmdale, which lost, 28-7, to the Celts, said White "rambled for 57 touchdowns on just 189 attempts last year."
White had 31 touchdowns in 1986.
This is how legends are born.
Add Crespi: Palmdale took the opening kickoff and marched 80 yards for a 7-0 lead, a drive that took just five plays and 2 minutes, 7 seconds. Palmdale running back Eric Thomas had 29 yards on his first two carries as the Falcons jammed the ball down Crespi's throat.
It happened so fast, Crespi Coach Bill Redell didn't have time to figure out what went wrong.
"I was standing there thinking 'These guys are great, they're quicker than hell.' " he said. "After last week, I didn't want to go through that again."
Last week, the Celts were tied by Redlands, which cost Crespi a No. 1-ranking in a national prep poll. Friday, however, the Celts' defense put the brakes to any further Palmdale scoring--the Falcons finished with just 10 yards passing.
Last add Crespi: Celts receiver Eric Kieling finally scored his first touchdown of the season--on a 31-yard pass from Rob O'Byrne--in the Palmdale game. Last week, Kieling lost two touchdowns on calls by the officials.