Holland High School football: About winning and other things

By getting a first down they deserved — though it took about 10 minutes for the officials to decide — the Holland High football team got a win it most definitely earned Saturday afternoon.
With about 10 ½ minutes to play in the game with Spring Lake, after the Lakers had scored to cut Holland’s lead to 22-20, the Dutch let the ensuing kickoff sail into the end zone, giving them the ball at the 20-yard line.
As football rules dictate, the nose of the ball must touch the backside of the 20-yard line, meaning all the team has to do is reach the 30-yard line for a first down.
Well …
On fourth-and-one from the 29, Holland’s Elroy Payne, who had 20 carries for 85 yards and two TDs, reached the 30-yard line and got the first-down signal from the referee.
Um, not so fast, sir.
Spring Lake coach Jerry Rabideau asked for a timeout and a measurement, which, when the down markers were brought out on to the field, indicated the ball was inches short of the first-down marker.
Holland coach Andrew Pratley pleaded his case for nearly 10 minutes, repeatedly pointing to the 30-yard line stripe that the ball was touching, which should have indicated a first down.
The officials finally conceded that the ball touching the stripe did, indeed, indicate a first down and gave the ball back to Holland.
Two plays later, Holland’s Brandon Davis broke off a 51-yard run for a touchdown and Holland won the game 28-20.
What made the first down/no first down/first down call so odd is that Holland Muncipal Stadium has artificial turf, so there’s no way the lines could be crooked. Come to find out, the guys holding the “sticks” marked their spots in the middle of the yard-line stripe, not the edge.
Sheesh.
I saw other odd plays as well in that game.
• On Holland’s first punt the ball traveled about 15 yards, then bounced back Holland’s way when it hit the turf, allowing the punter to down his own kick.
• On another play, Holland was set to receive a punt, but the punt returner let the ball bounce in front of him, just a couple of feet away, before fielding it. He was hit, he fumbled and his team lost the ball. I’m wondering if, perhaps, he lost the ball in the sun.
• Friend and fellow writer John Jarvi, formerly of the Muskegon Chronicle, insisted that one penalty on visiting Spring Lake, an illegal substitution call (aka too many players on the field) was the result of a female trainer not exiting the turf fast enough as the play unfolded. I’m not sure about that, but I’ll take John’s word for this one.

Either way, kudos to the Holland High Dutch. They didn’t win their first game last year until the final week of the regular season. This year, after two games, they’re “batting” .500. And they’re feeling good about themselves.
Now, all they have to do is revamp their away jerseys. White numerals on white cloth with a thin red outline? Sorry, guys, it’s not working, especially for public address announcers in the pressbox. They do look nice up close, though.

WWDD: Traveling like dad might

Dear Dad:
Your daughter-in-law and I took a little trip the other day. We wanted to get away for several hours on Labor Day so we decided to take a little run down to St. Joseph. But we did it dad’s way.
We could have hopped on I-196 — which we actually did for a little bit — and driven all the way to the St. Joe/Benton Harbor exit. But we didn’t, not all the way, at least.
My original plan, after looking closely at a Michigan map, was to go south to Exit 30 and move over the County Road A-2 and take that south until we got to St. Joe. Well, we crossed A-2 at Exit 36 so we picked it up there and drove through little towns like Glenn and Ganges. The sky was overcast and there was a threat of rain, but we stopped at one antique store and even paid a visit to a small county park that I can’t find on the map.
We stayed on A-2 until it merged into State Road 63 past Benton Harbor and into St. Joe. And then it rained. HARD. So hard we didn’t even realize we were crossing the drawbridge that crosses the St. Joe River. Oh, wait, we did stop at the Covert Township Park and walked to the edge of the hill overlooking Lake Michigan, but we did not go down the many steps. We could see the rain coming in off the lake and we did not want to get soaked. Lots of trees also (probably) meant lots of mosquitos and your daughter-in-law doesn’t like those little buzzers.
As we drove through a few backroads of St. Joe — we were looking specifically for the pierhead and the lighthouse — the rain let up and we found a place to eat. Schu’s was a bit overpriced for what they served. They had my fried perch sandwich on one of those over-rated pretzel buns. I ate the fish and the bottom of the bun, but sent the rest back. Daughter-in-law had an S-L-T, salmon, lettuce and tomato. When she ordered that all I could think of was the line from the movie “Princess Bride” when Miracle Max was waxing on about the perkiness of a mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich. Your daughter-in-law thinks I’m nuts; like she hasn’t figured that out yet?
By then the rain had stopped, so we walked around downtown a bit before heading down toward Silver Beach County Park. We stopped at the entrance because Berrien County, apparently, thinks their park is worth $5 admission. We disagreed, parked the car along Water Street and walked along the St. Joseph River. The city has some neat artwork on the walking/bike path and I chatted with a fisherman. He reported catching “one small one,” but I’m sure you already heard our conversation. Up the hill, on Port Street, there’s a band shell where a (mostly) brass band was playing. So, while we sat in the shade on the riverfront, we tapped our feet and clapped along to some Sousa marches — I know how much you loved those — and then a medley of Big Ten fight songs. They save the best for last, MICHIGAN STATE!! Yay.
A neat thing about that area is that the Amtrak rail has to cross the river, but when there is no train present, a bridge that contains train rail is turned sideways so boat traffic can pass by. We saw no train or boat large enough to force the drawbridge to raise, but we enjoyed ourselves immensely.
What a neat, neat waterfront.
On the way home we passed the Harbor Shores Golf Club, a Jack Nicklaus-designed course. I may have to play that someday with brother David. We pulled of I-196 at the South Haven exit for Arby’s then got home around 8.
Side roads, rain, sun, train tracks, a river with fish in it and good food. Dad, you would have loved it!!
Your son
Lee