I've got a feeling North Fort Myers head football coach James Iandoli could continue to have this problem.
His star running back, Noel Devine, had just capped a two-game stretch, eight days apart, where he ran for 460 yards on 13 carries and scored nine touchdowns.
Stop doing the math. That's 35 yards a carry.
I really considered leading my game story with the first time Devine was tackled — after an 84-yard kickoff return and nearly 100 yards rushing against Estero — with just under five minutes left in the first half. The sophomore was dropped by Gabe Moushref for a one-yard loss and ran on the next play for a six-yard gain before he was done for the night.
Four carries; a kickoff return; maybe a dozen plays from scrimmage; take a seat, kid, you're done — with 21/2 quarters to play.
After the 63-7 win, Iandoli faced the questions.
Why'd you take him out?
How's he feel about practically not playing for two weeks?
How do you know this kid is a pound-it, workhorse-type if he only gets seven touches a game?
Estero coach Bill Swats said he was impressed, but he's also not calling Canton to hold a spot for the kid just yet, either.
"I'm not just a Noel coach, I'm the North Fort Myers coach," Iandoli said. "I have 50 kids. There are going to be games where we need him to stay in, but for now, Noel's healthy, we won, I'm going to leave it at that."
From the faces in the stands, forced to watch James Felix and Bobby Desmornes carry the Knights' running game, to the television camera guys who showed up in the second quarter having already missed the money shot for the 11 o'clock package — why'd you take him out?
No offense to Felix and Desmornes, they both looked solid, but think about it — you show up in the stadium talking about a kid who ran for 358 yards last week, and then he takes his first three touches 84, 54 and 43 yards past the defense? That's "you gotta be kiddin' me," urban legend-type stuff.
People wanted to see more. They wanted to see 358 and beyond. Heck, from his body language as he sat on the bench by himself, the kid himself wanted to know why he wasn't still playing football.
You know what, though? His coach made the right choice.
"It's bewildering," Iandoli said of the past two weeks. "I'm just going to say, Noel's Noel. There are going to be teams that will challenge us, and we've got to be able to sub people. It's not just Noel out there."
The Knights are 3-1, tied with Fort Myers for first place in 4A-12, and you don't think Iandoli is thinking about that rival game in two weeks? His team won by 56 points, and how do you think other coaches — Swats included — would look at Iandoli's program if he left Devine in there to chew up the record books?
What if the kid got hurt? Seriously or otherwise? How do you explain your star tailback missing the rest of the season because you had him go off-tackle with a 49-point lead? You can't, but what you can do, at 3-1 with one of the area's premier running backs healthy and at practice every day, is gear up for your run at the state playoffs.
It may not have been popular, but his program still made headlines. Iandoli made the right decision, whether his fans, Devine himself, or the journalists waiting to see history liked it or not.
Last edited by Plindsey88 on Fri Apr 01, 2005 5:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.