Ben's Babbles: Blowouts not always bad

October 22, 2011

Who says blowouts are never fun?

On Tuesday the Hood River Valley girls soccer teams put together one of the more impressive dismantlings I've seen, beating The Dalles-Wahtonka 8-0.

You could simply look at the score and figure one team was really good and the other was not.

In this case, the score doesn't tell the whole story.

After a season's worth of disjointed offense, the Eagles finally got everything going in the past week, knocking off Hermiston 3-0 in Hermiston and then blasting TDW.

On the other side, it was not like TDW gave up. They were pushing for goals and fighting for balls right into the final 10 minutes, when a trio of defensive letdowns let the Eagles turn a big win into a blowout. The TDW keeper also made several spectacular saves to keep things from getting even worse.

Even at that point it wasn't like the Eagles were going out of their way to rub it in on their rivals. Coach Kevin Haspela subbed in numerous players in the second half after taking a 3-0 halftime lead. However, he didn't want to be too cautious. The Eagles had a 3-1 lead over Pendleton earlier this season, and Pendleton nearly wound up salvaging a draw.

There is a fine line to walk when winning big.

Do you pull all of your starters? What happens if the other team starts to come back? Do you put them all back in? When do you let off the gas pedal?

I have no problem with a team getting a blowout win over a team that that can muster relatively the same size roster, if not equal talent. If a big school is stomping all over a little school, and winning a basketball game something like 92-5 or a baseball game 43-0, it may be time to call off the dogs.

Or if it's little kids in any sport and one team is simply demolishing the other, it may be a good idea for the adults to not crush some poor 10-year-old's ego by scoring a runner from first on a bloop single with a 12-run lead just because they can.

But if two fairly equal schools are playing and a soccer team gets up by four goals or a volleyball team is up 2-0, there is no reason to simply coast.

Teams come back and by their teenage years, most athletes have played enough sports to know that bad losses are going to happen sometimes.

The HRV volleyball team got up 2-0 on Pendleton earlier this year, and saw the bucks come storming back before the Eagles barely pulled out a five-game win. On Tuesday, HRV again got up 2-0 before the Bucks won game three. HRV took no chances in the fourth game and put together one of its better single-game performances in dominating Pendleton 25-14 to win the match.

Last Friday HRV football went the Hermiston, and came back on the wrong end of a 55-14 score. By all accounts Hermiston had its starters in late into the game.

But bear in mind this was a Hermiston team with something to prove. The Bulldogs lost huge swaths of their team to injury and illness last year, and have spent the bulk of this season proving they are not that team; hence big wins over TDW and HRV.

However, in proving a point and leaving starters in late in a blowout win, teams take the risk. No coach wants to explain why his star running back will miss the season after he blew out his ACL while taking a carry deep in the fourth quarter with a seven-touchdown lead.

There is nothing wrong with a shellacking every now and then. One advantage of the tiny CRC is that all four schools are successful in different sports, giving some sense of competitive balance.

Fortunes change year to year. Just look at football. Last year's top two teams in the conference were playing Friday to avoid a last-place finish, and the bottom two teams from last season will be played for the league title.

A blowout every now and then never really hurts anybody.

Just don't expect much sympathy from me next year when the scales are reversed and this year's blowout recipient is the one getting the big win.

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