Mark Clark: Just some recent observations

Mark Clark: Just some recent observations

Central was really offensive

Unfortunately, I was unable to be at the Central High spring game in person, but I was able to watch the game on my computer on the National High School Federation television network. I did not get to see the whole game, because it cut off as the final quarter was about to begin. Then the game’s final quarter was canceled due to lightning.

What I got from watching the game was that Central’s first team offense appeared to be in midseason form, while its first team defense has work to do. That is unusual. Usually, defenses are ahead of the offenses at this time of the year. In fact, defenses are usually ahead of offenses during the early part of each season.

My early thoughts are that Tucker Melton will step right into the shoes filled last season by Peter Parrish as the starting quarterback and lead the Red Devils back to the playoffs. Will he be able to lead them to another state title? That is something we will all have to wait to see. Winning one state title is hard. Winning two in a row is harder.

Last season’s Red Devils were a special bunch of players. The offense was the most productive, point-wise, of any Central team ever. The defense was one of the best ever, allowing barely over a touchdown per game. In the Class 7A championship game, both showed why the Red Devils were there with a 52-7 victory over Thompson High of Pelham. 

Teams should have a problem stopping Central’s offense next season. With so many receivers for Melton to choose on any given play, and with Joseph McKay in the backfield, the play options will be endless. The offensive line is huge and experienced.

Next week, the Red Devils will begin their summer conditioning program. In a couple of weeks, the team will begin playing in the first of four 7-on-7 competitions. Then the 2019 season will not be far behind. It starts August 23 in Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl against Hoover.

Rubbing ain’t racing in Kentucky

I will just say it at the start. Horse racing is crooked. I waited a few weeks to say that. I wanted to get over any anger I might have had after the controversial end to the 2019 Kentucky Derby. 

If you are one of the few people in the world who has not heard about the finish and the reversal by stewards that took away a victory from the horse that crossed the finish line first to another horse in the race. Why? Because the horse changed lanes and impeded the progress of several of his rivals. 

And on too of that, the jockey on the horse that was disqualified was suspended for 15 days for “failure to control his mount and make the proper effort to maintain a straight course thereby causing interference with several rivals.”

What a crock . . .so instead of Maximum Security winning the Kentucky Derby, the win was awarded to Country House, So, Maximum Security won $0 for crossing the finish line first. Country House, a 30-1 underdog, got $1,860,000. 

You may have watched the race and agreed with the stewards that Maximum Security swerved from his lane and impeded the other horses. Stories about the race say Maximum Security’s leg bumped War of Will twice. In slow motion, you can see the contact. However, it does not appear to me that Maximum Security caused the problem between the two horses. It was the horse on the outside that closed in and forced War of Will to pull up close to Maximum Security which caused the contact.

In either case, I would not have overturned the results of the race for a little contact. Heck, they bump each other’s sides as they run around the track and no one complains. But on this day, two jockeys complained and one of them was not even affected by the contact. Another horse that was impeded did not join in the complaint against Maximum Security.

If horse racing were handled like NASCAR, this protest would have been laughed out of the racing venue. As Dale Earnhardt always said, “Rubbing is racing.” If a car tried to pass another car and the car in the lead did not try to block the trailing car, the lead car would never win a race.

One other thing I want to address, why not disqualify every horse in the race that was out of its lane. Maximum Security may have veered over into the fourth or fifth lane as the stewards said, but there were other horses – especially those in the higher lane positions – that veered toward the rail. Heck, is it not a shorter route around the track from the inside lanes than it is from the outside lanes? 

Well, the stewards’ decision to strip Maximum Security robbed all the thoroughbred racing fans of a chance to see another Triple Crown winner. Of course, there is no guarantee Maximum Security could have won the Triple Crown if it had been declared the winner of the Kentucky Derby. Country House – if it had won the final two races of the Triple Crown – would have always had an asterisk next to its name reminding people it had not really won the actual Kentucky Derby race. 

I guess the best way to avoid any more controversial endings to horse races is for the winning horse to be like Secretariat and win its races by 31 lengths like he did in the 1973 Belmont Stakes to win the Triple Crown.

 If you lead by 31 lengths, you will not be bumping into anything at all.

Mark Clark is a local sports writer for 

The Citizen of East Alabama.


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