No matter how its dissected, when a team loses by 80 points or more, it has been blown out. That result gets more troubling when the team on the short end of the scoreboard is shut out entirely.
And when two teams beat foes by at least 80-0 on the same night, in the same region? That's the kind of event that usually sparks a full-on moral crisis.
That's precisely the fascinating scenario unfolding in the Pittsburgh area, where three powerful football programs routed their foes by a combined score of 229-0 on Friday night. Clairton (Pa.) High rolled past Avella (Pa.) High by a score of 84-0. Fellow WPIAL powerhouse Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway High rocked Pittsburgh (Pa.) Norwin High 85-0 and Chartiers-Houston (Pa.) High rolled past Bentworth (Pa.) High by more muted final score of 60-0.
In most areas, such scores would lead to an immediate outcry, emanating first from the victims of those scorelines. Yet the most fascinating factor of these Pittsburgh blowouts has been that, to this point, none of the teams on the short end of the stick have complained about anything that their opponents did on Friday night.
The first article published questioning whether any of the three blowouts should have occurred was penned (OK, typed) on Tuesday night, when CBS Pittsburgh writer Matt Popchock called out Gateway coach Terry Smith for allowing regular running backs Patrick Livsey and Darin Franklin to remain in the game with the Gators already leading 49-0 after the first quarter. He also questioned why Gateway would have attempted two different two-point conversions after the team's final two touchdowns.
Still, as PaPreps.com publisher Andrew Chiappazzi pointed out in this excellent analysis of the blowouts, each of Friday night's high-scoring WPIAL winners actually attempted to put their foot on the brake in the second half, to various extents. Of the three, Chartiers-Houston was by far the most successful in limiting a gaudy final score, turning a 46-0 halftime lead into a 60-0 final score, notching just one touchdown in both the third and fourth quarter.
Incredibly, Clairton was possibly even more stingy on offense in the second half. The problem was simply that the school was already leading by 76 points at halftime. That was more points than any Clairton team had ever scored in an entire game already, and the Bears reached that point with roughly three minutes remaining in the second period.
In fact, of the three schools, only Gateway scored 20 or more points in the second half. Rebounding from the team's first loss of the season, the Gators reportedly used only bench players in the second half, yet still scored 23 points to turn a 62-0 halftime edge to the highest final score of the night.
Despite all the tough time waiting out the final stages of brutal losses, two of the coaches whose teams were defeated have somehow stood up to say they're OK with the tactics used by the counterparts when interviewed by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Rather, the coaches insisted on taking positives away from the dramatic losses, hoping to help teach their players to look forward through trying times.
"It's really a great challenge this week as coaches to get these kids to bounce back," Norwin coach Art Tragesser told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I told them after the game, 'I still love coaching you.'
"Maybe the kids can learn something from this for later on in life. They're going to maybe face a situation like this where everything isn't going to work for you. It might look hopeless. But if you can keep battling and fighting, that's what it's about. If we can win a game this year, it would be my best coaching job ever."
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