While the high school football season is still a few weeks ago, there is no shortage of news — both good and bad.
Let’s start with the good. Menlo-Atherton was one of 18 teams selected to participate in one of nine games in the 2021 “Honor Bowl” series which is produced by The Honor Group, a nonprofit organization that educates players and coaches about the needs of military veterans.
The series kicks off Sept. 3 and 4 at Cathedral Catholic High School in San Diego and concludes the following the weekend at Liberty High School in Brentwood.
“Honor Bowl” games will take place over two days, Sept. 10-11, with M-A taking on Pleasant Valley-Chico at 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11.
The other games at Liberty include: Sutter vs. Campolindo and Canyon Springs vs. Liberty Friday; Saturday sees Clovis East facing Heritage, and Liberty against Clayton, in addition to the M-A game.
The Bears are the second Peninsula team to participate in the “Honor Bowl” series. Serra took on Serra-Gardena in 2018, which beat the Padres, 41-22.
Now for the bad news. While it does not affect the Peninsula, it does highlight how precarious the looming high school sports season truly is. First, Mater Dei, ranked No. 1 in the country by MaxPreps.com, has already had one game canceled and another postponed. Its Sept. 11 game against Hawaii’s Miliani was canceled when high school football was suspended on the islands as teams and coached were mandated to be vaccinated before continuing the season.
Then last week, Mater Dei announced its season opener against Centennial, ranked No. 29 in the country by MaxPreps, was called off because of a COVID outbreak.
Monday, Servite, ranked No. 20 in the country, announced it was, at least, postponing its game with Bishop Amat for COVID reasons, as well.
All of which serves as a reminder to those coaches, players and staffs who are gearing up for the upcoming season: be smart and responsible.
For the last two weeks, the Olympics were the epicenter of my sports television watching and I must admit, I am suffering a little bit of Olympic withdrawal. But as the games started to wind down last week, I started hunting around the channels a little more.
I eventually settled on ESPN 2 and as luck would have it, ESPN 2 was ESPN 8, “The Ocho.” What started as a joke in the movie “Dodgeball: A true underdog story,” is now a regular feature on the all-sports channel, which broadcasts more obscure, or just plain silly, competitions.
During this particular evening, I found “The Ocho” to be broadcasting a documentary on foosball, also known as table soccer, a game that features plastic “players” mounted on metal rods that are pushed and pulled to pass and shoot the ball.
Apparently, foosball was poised to be a the next “big thing” — until video games came on the scene in the late 1970s and exploded in the 1980s, relegating the foosball table to the storage room.
But there is a still thriving foosball scene that features some of the stars from the 1970s still at the top of their game.
The following morning, I flipped on “The Ocho” again and this time it was a head-to-head pinball competition between guys who looked to be in their mid- to late-20s, playing on Avenger-themed machines.
It’s nice to see these games from my youth getting the ESPN treatment.
John Gradwohl, a longtime coach, as well as the sports and recreation manager for the Peninsula Jewish Community Center, died recently.
Gradwohl served as assistant football coach at Burlingame, Carlmont, Hillsdale, Oceana, South City and Terra Nova. His work with the PJCC and the youth flag football league he developed helped Gradwohl earn a spot in the youth and education wing of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.