Sports Editor’s Playbook, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011

Patrick Newell

Here we are at the halfway mark of the high school football season, and four out of our six teams are unbeaten in division play and on pace to make the playoffs. For the record, this is my 17th season covering high school football, and no more than two local football teams in any one season have made the playoffs. At this pace, that is apt to change.
The most welcome addition to the playoff mix, for me, is Sherburne-Earlville. The last time the Marauders had a playoff game, it was in nine-man football playing in the Tri-Valley League in the early 1990s. In the years since Section IV realigned to accommodate the state playoffs – and in the last nine years in Section III – S-E has not made the playoffs. Not one time. A win on the road at Sauquoit Valley this weekend would remedy that long Marauders drought. “Basically, we control our own destiny,” said S-E coach, Mike Jasper. Other teams in the driver’s seat in division play are Greene, Bainbridge-Guilford, and Norwich.
Norwich, with a home victory over Oneonta this week, would be 2-0 in division play with one division game to play. At worst, the Tornado would place second in division play, and barring any adverse tiebreakers, have a great chance to make the playoffs a third straight year.
Greene, at 5-0, has already clinched its seventh straight winning season, and with a victory over UV-Edmeston Friday would move to 3-0 in division play with one division game to play. Considering its already impressive record, a return to the playoffs for Greene seems imminent.
Bainbridge-Guilford is 4-0 overall and 3-0 in Section IV’s Division VII. The Bobcats are tied with Walton for first place, and every other team in the division has at least two losses. According to the new playoff format for Class D this year, the top eight records out of 17 teams qualify for the playoffs, so a top-two finish in division play does not guarantee a postseason appearance. B-G lost one game on its schedule due to the massive flooding last month, so it will have just six games played before the three-week playoff format begins. With a win over Delhi – and an at-worst 5-1 record – one cannot see B-G missing the Class D playoffs.
Elsewhere, Oxford, at 2-3, will need to win its final two regular season games, and then hope that is good enough to make the grade. UV-Edmeston has just one division loss with three division games to play – against Greene, Sidney, and Chenango Forks. The Storm are not out of the playoff mix, but they have perhaps three of four best Class C teams in Section IV left on the schedule.

I made a mistake last week in my weekly advance on the upcoming football games. And it was quite the eyesore considering it appeared in the first sentence of my article. It was not a mistake in punctuation or grammar, and it was not a misspelled word. It was the dreaded “typo” in which I transposed two numbers.
I was ribbed Tuesday morning when a friend of mine cut the article out of the paper, and presented me with a copy of this not-Hall-of-Fame-worthy story. On the sidelines last Friday before Norwich’s home game with Windsor, a photographer for Norwich also joked about my error. One reader, though, was not so happy, and was compelled to call me directly. Unfortunately, the call came in mid-afternoon, and I was away from my desk. The person did not leave his name (but I know the number thanks to caller ID), and maybe he was so irritated with my first-paragraph fumble, he forgot. He did offer some harsh criticisms, and suggested that the hard-earned money he paid for our paper was a waste since he believed he could do a better job of writing the article. I doubt this reader will lend a hand in the 60 or so game reports and articles I write every week – and I am willing to pay someone to help out – but I will grant him that he would have not transposed those numbers. I knew what I meant to type, it’s just my fingers had a mind of their own. Sometimes, as a writer, when you look over your material several times, you quickly scan over blocks of sentences believing they are error-free. On occasion, a glaring mistake is missed.
A week earlier, I printed the wrong first name for a young man who made a nice play for Norwich. Did I know this young man’s name? Yes, I had a roster available. It was one of those brain cramps, and I can’t explain why I used a different name. I obviously thought I was using the right name at the time, and it was just another one of those unexplainable gaffes. I was thankful the error was brought to my attention, and I was able to make a correction in the following day’s paper. Still, that potential scrapbook item was lost for this particular person’s family.
Mistakes do happen in the newspaper, and you’re just as likely to see a correction in the New York Times as our own hometown daily. The clear goal in every article for print is perfect punctuation, perfect grammar, perfect spelling, perfect attribution of quotes, and perfect research and facts. Despite the many proofreading filters, an error may still rear its ugly head. Why? No one is perfect.

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