GRIFFITH |There was a lot of head scratching going on at halftime at The Boneyard on Friday night.
E.C. Central used to be the program everyone wanted to play in for homecoming, a team to waltz over on the way to the school dance. Not anymore, folks.
The Cardinals were tied with Griffith 20-20 at the break. Sure, the Panthers scored 35 unanswered points in the second half, but the game was much closer than the final score.
That's all thanks to Cards coach Stacy Adams, who is doing a commendable job. He's not to the finish line, but East Chicago football is on its way back. The program is loaded with talent and skill. The little things will improve as Adams continues to teach his team.
"We felt we could play with this team but the scoreboard showed something else," Adams said. "We can not dwell on what happened tonight. (Today) is a new day and we're going to keep working on getting better."
Cardinals play at Highland next Friday the in the Class 4A Sectional opener. The Cardinals have not won a playoff game since 2000, but have a great chance to get a win next week.
"Our kids are excited," Adams said. "They want to see what they can do in the tournament."
If Central beats Highland, that will probably be the end of its postseason run. Not because the Cards aren't talented enough, but because of a well-intended school policy that will likely take many names off the roster.
East Chicago has a policy where if you get a D in any class you are not eligible to play sports. Even five As and one D can land an athlete in the bleachers.
I get the idea, even though it's dead wrong.
"If we win it's going to hurt us," Adams said on Monday.
I know many talented and heart-driven urban educators doing their best to raise the bar in cities around the state. They can help with reading, writing and arithmetic. They can't make education important in the student's home.
Why must East Chicago young men be ruled ineligible while same-grade football players at Crown Point or Lake Central, for example, will keep their eligibility?
Gary started a similar grade system in the mid 1990s, a C average or you could not play. While well-intentioned, it gutted the Steel City's basketball programs, and that downward spiral hasn't stopped.
Former Roosevelt hoops coach Ron Heflin told me then he had many kids from tough backgrounds who survived with Ds, got out of the area to a college where a light went on and these men are now professionals.
Why not give young student-athletes four years before a policy like this is instituted? Then they have a chance to raise their grades at an earlier age. Getting blindsided by this is going to hurt a lot of kids, in every sport, not to mention great people like coach Adams.
Please, give these kids a chance.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.