'Short week' problem erupts in Howard Religious holiday forces some schools to play hurt

October 12, 1997|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Vinnie Rubbo of Oakland Mills is a rugged 6-foot, 185-pound football player. He carried the ball 31 times in Thursday's 7-6 loss to Long Reach.

Five days earlier he carried 29 times in a victory against Atholton. He also plays linebacker and is one of Oakland Mills' leading tacklers.

Normally Rubbo has seven days between games for his sore muscles to recover and some of his bruises to heal, but Howard County pushed last week's games ahead two days to honor the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur.

Is five days between football games too few? That depends upon whom you ask.

Rubbo, whose team was down to 22 able bodies as opposed to Long Reach, which had more than 30, blamed his team's loss partly on the change in scheduling.

"We didn't have enough recovery time," said Rubbo, who is one of the strongest players in the county.

Indeed, in each of the five games played Thursday, the team that had a 30-man-plus roster defeated the team that had a 20-man-plus roster. Depth appeared to be a decisive factor in at least some of those games.

Two teams particularly affected by the short recovery time were Oakland Mills and Atholton, both of whom have only 22 or 23 players. Both entered Thursday's games with winning records and lost to teams they may have defeated.

"I believe in honoring religious holidays but I don't think it is in the best interests of the kids to play on Thursday," Atholton coach Kevin Kelly said. "This is a collision sport and physically we're all banged up. A lot of people don't think so, but an extra day does make a difference."

Kelly said his team is so short-handed that he is one injury away from taking someone who is not a lineman and putting him on the line.

"A couple of kids were hobbled but played [Thursday], which was critical for us because we don't have replacements."

L He is giving his team off until Monday for rest and healing.

Kelly suggested that maybe this week should be a bye week. "They do that on a college level," he said.

The problem of low numbers on the football teams has been aggravated by the strictist academic eligibility rule in the state. "We had eight to 10 kids who weren't eligible for us," Kelly said.

Several coaches are concerned about their players' safety with such short recovery time.

"I don't think it is safe," Oakland Mills coach Ken Hovet said.

But Kim Bosley, one of the Kernan trainers assigned to the county schools said: "Medically I don't see any reason why they can't play Thursday. There's no real advantage to some teams over others."

Athletic directors Mark Cates of Mount Hebron, Mike Williams of Glenelg and Don Van Deusen of River Hill all said they think it is safe. So did coaches Doug DuVall of Wilde Lake, Joe Russo of Hammond and Vince Parnell of Howard.

But Centennial coach Ed Holshue disagreed vehemently. "It's absolutely ridiculous. It's jeopardizing kids safety on teams with small numbers. You get out of your routine and you have to ask for more during the middle of the week because you have fewer days to prepare. Some kids will feel the pain. I'd just as soon play the following Monday."

Don Disney, coordinator of athletics, said the teams must play Thursday even though Yom Kippur officially doesn't begin until sundown Friday, because some players need time to get to services as far away as Fairfax, Va. Playing at 3 p.m. Friday would not give them enough time.

Disney said about playing on Thursday: 'It's not the best situation but we have no choice."

Pub Date: 10/12/97

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