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.
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.


9 thoughts on “Holland High School football: About winning and other things

  1. This was a miserable excuse for sportsmanship. Hollands coach should have been ejected immediately. I’ve never seen anything like it, even after the head ref made the call. Not a great example for the kids…throw a tantrum and stomp your feet and get your own way. Pathetic.

    • Holly: Thanks for responding. First of all, it’s nice to know one’s stuff is being read when it’s written. Secondly, the coach’s actions could have been interpreted either way. As a reporter, I try not to be biased, but I felt an injustice had been done when the referee signaled a first down, then changed his mind. Even the EMT on duty, who was a football referee for 35 years, agreed the overturned call was the correct one. Simply stated, after a touchback the nose of the ball is touching the 20 meaning all the team with the ball has to do is get the ball to touch the 30 for a first down. The referee made the first mistake by letting the Spring Lake coach talk him into a measurement AFTER he had given Holland the first down. The guys holding the sticks messed up by marking their spot in the middle of the line, then the official who puts the marker on the chain for reference, messed up when he kind of did the same thing. Either way, the correct call was finally made at a terribly crucial point in the game. You can view it as bad sportsmanship or simply a coach standing up for his team. Holland fought hard to be in the lead and, eventually, win the game. Their coach was just going to bat for them when there about to get jobbed out of a first down. Not saying Spring Lake would have scored if they had been given the ball, but Holland’s punter was not having a real good day.

    • You are correct, he could have easily been tossed. Another crew and time, could be different result. Just for not leaving the field and continuing to argue a call. However, he was right. He was persistent. The Refs KNEW they botched it already, to toss him them could have resulted in a protested game with the MHSAA. The crew didn’t want that either. If that was not the result you wanted, I can understand your perception. Didn’t see him ‘Stomp his feet’, but I did see him point to the very line the ball had crossed. That was the whole point.

  2. Maybe before you start bashing the yard marker crew you should maybe interview them and ask them about the situation!!!! The officiating crew from the game told the yard marker crew at the beginning of the game where they would like them to put the clip…this yard marker crew (my husband included) have been doing this for 15+ yrs for HHS and this is the first game ever that this officiating crew wanted the clip placed in a entirely different position (spot) unlike every other officiating crew! Our yard marker crew takes this job very serious….stop bashing this great bunch of guys! Before doing a story, maybe you should first interview all people involved with the situation!!!
    You owe our guys (yard marker crew) an apology!! Your making them look bad when it’s the officiating crew that screwed up!
    Maybe doing a article on sportsmanship….Spring Lakes language on the field, coaches and players was absolutely ridiculous and the officiating crew could of stopped this! Great example that these coaches set for their players!!!

    • OK, consider this an apology. I wrote what I saw and I agree, the refs lost total control, probably about the middle of the second quarter when the head ref started arguing with Andrew. I also saw the chain gang come out and spot the marker on the center of the 20-yard line instead of the tip. If that’s the refs fault, so be it. Sorry. I do not agree, though, that all of the pissing and moaning gave HHS the advantage, though the “targeting” penalty that wiped out a Spring Lake INT was crucial. Didn’t realize a harmless blog could generate so much anger.

      • It’s not anger, it’s getting your story right when you should be interviewing all people involved! It’s not me you need to apology to…just saying!
        And by the way…this WAS a harmless blog the second you starting bashing a certain group of guys who were doing their job the way this officiating crew told them to do it!!!

    • I don’t know that he ‘bashed’ them. His comment was fact. Adding a ‘Sheesh’ is how we all felt. Let me ask this. I’ve NEVER heard of marking the chain in the center of the line in 40 years of playing and watching. With 15 years experience, nobody could speak up and confirm that incorrect instruction? What value is 15 year of experience if not? Just my $.02.

      • Thank you for that inflation-free 2 cents. If I bashed anyone, please let me know how I offended them. I try to speak the truth and report what I saw … which is what I did.

      • Like I have said before….maybe you should of asked the chain gang where they were told what to do! I did….!!! Read what you wrote from the very beginning and then you will have read that you blame the chain gang in some sense….

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