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Commentary: On the Raiders, 49ers and tourneys

Posted: Saturday, Jan 5th, 2013

There’s been a lot of, almost too many, sports stories going on that need some analysis.

Let’s start with the Raiders. I still don’t understand how I convinced myself that this team was an 8-8 team and possibly a playoff contender.

Maybe it was because once you go against the Raiders, life just seems to snowball negatively from there. So, 8-8 seemed like a safe bet.

But no, the Raiders go 4-12 and lock up the No. 3 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. They really could have gone 2-14, considering that they had to rally against Jacksonville (forced overtime and won) and Pittsburgh (barely 1-1 at the time).

A lot of followers made note of the team’s zone-blocking offensive scheme, which was implemented by returning offensive coordinator Greg Knapp. When I talked to some of the players at camp, they said it was going to be tough to implement, but they had faith it would eventually work.

The Raiders’ offense went from ninth in the league to 18th. At least the defense moved from the cellar to 15th overall.

The Raiders once had that identity on offense, a run-first squad that set things up for the passing game. That needs to come back.

Hopefully the Raiders find an offensive coordinator who doesn’t say “zone blocking scheme.”


San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers are proof that if you even think about guessing who’s going to win the Super Bowl, you should buy a bridge from the first person who offers one.

You probably remember the awesome first half against the New England Patriots up in Foxborough, Mass. The way the 49ers were playing, Commissioner Roger Goodell should have gone into their locker room and handed them the Vince Lombari Trophy.

Then again, remember what happened in that second half, as well as the next week against Seattle.

Oh, and don’t forget the awesome play in the two games against the St. Louis Rams, where they easily could have won both but ended up going 0-1-1.

The 49ers could be eliminated in the NFC Divisional Round next week in a rout. Then again, they could roll over everyone and make it to the Super Bowl. They’re such a volatile team.

Let’s keep this in mind: since 2008, the 49ers are 3-2-1 after a week off. They haven’t lost to an NFC team after a week off since 2008, when it lost to Arizona. Only one of those six games was decided by 10 points. So no matter the team the 49ers draw next week, be prepared for a close battle.

I still stick by my prediction that they get to the Super Bowl and eventually lose to Denver. Then again, you all probably know how bad of a predictor I am.


Holiday tournaments

Last week, I asked myself how I was going to be able to get to all of the local basketball tournaments that were taking place in the area. There were way too many tournaments to count, and a lot of them involved a county basketball team.

Are there too many basketball tournaments during the holiday?

Tournaments are a good way to get out and see some other talent that local teams might encounter during the Central Coast Section playoffs (and maybe beyond that). And those teams provide a great challenge. I’m sure that Soquel’s boys and girls teams got a huge boost playing in the Bellarmine and Sweet 16 tournaments, respectively, over the holiday. Neither team won in the finals of those tourneys, but they faced some hefty competition along the way.

Other than that, I’m not sure.

I also understand that, for many schools, a tournament is likely their biggest fundraiser for the year. So just telling schools “No more tournaments” isn’t as easy as I would hope.

Perhaps telling the leagues to go to a triple or even a quadruple round robin format would help. But then again, that would dilute the value of every league game played, and that would create some matchups that would result in repeated blowouts.

If there was only an easy answer.


Ladouceur’s impact

De La Salle High football coach Bob Ladouceur, one of the most-known high school football coaches in the nation, announced Friday he is stepping down as coach of the legendary program in Concord.

One day earlier, when word spread that his stepping down was imminent, CalHiSports dug up a Contra Costa Times article that announced his hiring more than three decades ago; he came into the school as a 25 year old with no head coach experience; there’s no way a similar thing would happen today.

Since then, Ladouceur has led the Spartans to 20 unbeaten seasons, 24 North Coast Section championships (21 in a row), 399 wins and five state championships. They went through the Clinton Administration without losing.

De La Salle won its fourth state title in a row last month, and Ladouceur hinted at the time that he might be done.

I’ve watched just one De La Salle contest in person, when the team came to the Salinas Sports Complex to face Palma High in 2004. The atmosphere in the place was awesome.

Even though De La Salle was coming off a loss, it felt like the two teams were playing for a state championship. Palma hung tough and nearly pulled it off; a deep pass late in the fourth quarter fell incomplete, just out of the reach of a Palma receiver that would have put the Chieftains deep in De La Salle territory. The teams ended the game tied 7-7.

Palma held De La Salle to under 200 offensive yards in that game. That’s like a victory in itself.

He’s probably most known for leading De La Salle to a national record 151-game winning streak that ended at the start of the 2004 season. In that winning streak, his teams averaged 47 points a game.

But by all accounts, he’s not about the wins or the losses (just 25 in those 34 years). He’s all about making sure the student-athletes prepare for the future. The words echoed by him Friday were nearly the same from that article back in the 1970s.

“I leave with absolutely no regret,” Ladouceur told fans and spectators during the Friday news conference. “I’m forever grateful. It’s better than I could ever wish for.”


Glenn Cravens is the sports editor of the Register-Pajaronian. His commentary runs the first Saturday of every month. You can reach him at sports@register-pajaronian.com or twitter.com/GlennAtTheRP.

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