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January 19, 2020

Live Oak football alive, well

The Live Oak High football program is alive and well and looking
forward to a successful fall campaign. Again, Live Oak will field
three teams: freshman, Junior Varsity and Varsity.
The Live Oak High football program is alive and well and looking forward to a successful fall campaign. Again, Live Oak will field three teams: freshman, Junior Varsity and Varsity. Live Oak bound freshman and junior varsity players (currently eighth and ninth graders) can get their first taste of football the third week of May when they are invited to attend spring football call me at 201-6100, ext. 2164 for information).

As parents and students look forward to fall and their football choices, the Morgan Hill Raiders and the Live Oak program are often seen as competing for the same players – but this is not so. As the head football coach at Live Oak, my first preference is to see all prospective players have a place to participate. Likewise, Sobrato’s recent actions have caused concerns around player safety to surface as parents exercise their educational and athletic choices for next year.

Some factors to consider when making your choices might include the following: Live Oak’s freshman team is for ninth graders only and does not have a weight limit. The high school also strictly enforces a minimum 2.0 grade point average for player eligibility.

Pop Warner plays an eight game weekend schedule with the possibility of playoffs, whereas the high school plays a 10-game schedule with playoffs only at the varsity level. Player fees at Live Oak are $150 for the freshman and JV and include T-shirts, shorts, a game jersey, mouthpieces and transportation to and from games. Games are also mostly played on Thursday evenings or Friday afternoons leaving weekends free.

Live Oak will scrimmage Santa Cruz, then begin a five game non-league schedule that will culminate in a program wide three-day trip to Truckee for Oct. 1 games against the defending Nevada State 3A champion Wolverines. Silver Creek, Alvarez, Alisal and Seaside will round out the non-league schedule. TCAL games will be Hollister, North Salinas, Salinas, Palma and Gilroy.

Despite the recent turmoil brought on by Sobrato’s 11th hour withdrawal from the Tri-County Athletic League, Live Oak has managed to restore its football schedule to the 10-game maximum. Sobrato’s action was admittedly irresponsible (according to Sobrato Principal Rich Knapp). However, using the spin that playing in the TCAL is more dangerous than other leagues to justify their pull out has left Live Oak in an even more damaged situation – not only will we have to fundraise an additional $8,000 to get our teams to Truckee, but we have also been left having to answer the question as to why Live Oak is playing a more dangerous schedule that Sobrato?

Well the answer is that we are not. There is no data whatsoever to support any assertion that a game in the TCAL is any more dangerous than any other. In fact in my experience, the TCAL is generally safer due to a much higher than average level of coaching competence and stability. Moreover, in regards to Sobrato (that would have likely taken some lumps in terms of competitiveness without seniors) the majority of their games would have been played against other team’s reserves and would not have faced the size and strength mismatch that they feared.

But Sobrato’s choice to shirk their responsibility to their league and piece together a schedule from Fortuna to Visalia was their decision (although I’m a little at a loss to understand how such games are easier to get to after work than TCAL destinations – the other reason given for Sobrato’s pull out). It was unfortunate that they decided to hide the reason for their choice behind an unjustifiable excuse of safety, leaving their league mates not only in the lurch for games, but also leaving uninformed parents with the absolutely faulty perception that Live Oak faces a “more dangerous” schedule.

Sobrato did not withdraw for safety reasons – they pulled out to protect their enrollment when a group of Sobrato parents threatened their site administration with choice placement requests to leave Sobrato if they stayed in the TCAL. (Oddly enough, the students would have then attended Live Oak where they would still be in the TCAL.) These parents just wanted what they perceived as a better chance to win and the Sobrato administration gave into their threats.

I wish Sobrato and their players good luck, but even at 10-0, I’m not sure what they will win. Teaching sportsmanship and stacking the deck seem a bit at odds here and I wouldn’t want my own ids leaning such lessons – cheating the game isn’t something most people admire.

But regardless of such annoyances, rest assured that at Live Oak, we will be teaching our athletes to meet the challenge with hard work and determination. If you are a Live Oak-bound student considering where or if you are going to play football, roll up your sleeves, clinch your jaw, rise to your potential, and come along for the ride – nothing is sweeter than a hard earned victory.

Glen Webb is the head football coach at Live Oak High School. Readers interested in writing a guest column should contact editor Walt Glines at [email protected] or 408-779-4106.

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