Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Porter Ridge football, Union soccer

Sunday's Neighbors of Union County section featured an analysis of the struggles of the Indian Trail Porter Ridge football program. A longer version of that story ran online(www.charlotte.com/264/story/290812.html).

The piece generated some questions from readers. Let me first explain the origins of what was an unusual story for the section:

My original intent was to write an item for this blog, after I covered the Pirates' game against Charlotte Ardrey Kell Sept. 14. That was the first time I saw Porter Ridge play this season. I was surprised at what I saw. The defense played fine; the offense did not.

Some readers had previously complained to me and a colleague about the Pirates' offense. After I watched the unit against Ardrey Kell, I was curious what was going on. That prompted me to pitch a brief analysis to my editor.

Then the story began to grow. Through several interviews with sources and conversations I have had (on and off the record) with a few students who live in the Porter Ridge school district, it became clear that the causes of the Pirates' struggles stretched back further than this season.

Once I wrote a draft of the piece, a decision was made to run it in the paper instead of the blog.

Let me make a few points about our coverage:

--We are not cheerleaders or promoters. We cannot focus only on the positives of Union prep sports. We strive to avoid criticizing a kid in print for what he/she does on the field of play. But that does not absolve the adults who are responsible for coaching and/or supervising these kids.

--Prep football is a different animal. Hundreds of people attend games, making it a community event in many areas -- not just a game. It's also usually a revenue-generating sport; ticket and concession sales from home games drive funding for other school sports. That means the success and popularity of a high school's football team could impact more people than you may think.

So football gets higher scrutiny from the media than other prep sports. In other words, if the successful Porter Ridge softball team suddenly struggles, we are unlikely to do a report on that.

--Porter Ridge stands out. This is a large Class 3A school in a fast-growing part of the fastest-growing county in the state. So it may receive more media scrutiny than an average high school, much as Marvin Ridge did when we examined the construction of the Mavericks' athletics program.

I am convinced there is more to the Porter Ridge football story than what we have reported so far. Let's hear from you. What did we miss?...

One item to close:

--The Porter Ridge boys' soccer team hosts Weddington Monday at 6:30 p.m., in a matchup not only of top Union teams but also two of the best teams in the state. The Warriors (7-0-1 before Wednesday's match against Butler) are ranked the No. 9 Class 4A team in North Carolina. The Pirates (10-2-2) before Wednesday's game against Hickory Ridge) are No. 7 in 3A. Monday is the only time this season the teams meet.

Marvin Ridge (8-3) is among teams receiving votes in the 3A state poll. Monroe (7-3-1) and Central Academy (6-2-3) are among teams receiving votes in the 2A poll. Neither Marvin Ridge nor Central Academy has any seniors. --Ryan Basen


Anonymous said...

Porter Ridge would have a better football program if the coach didn't run off all his coaches and players. It is too big a school to constantly run off the upper classmen.

Anonymous said...

Coach Van Arsdale is a good man with outstanding coaching exp. I interviewed with him for an assistants job. I would have loved to coach with him, the school is just too far. He is teaching the players to be men of character. He is not as concerned with the score board. He is trying to change lives of young men for the better. That's what real coaches attempt to do.

Anonymous said...

Not questioning his character, as most adults I have talked to that know his say the same thing, he is a good man.
He is the only coach I have ever seen who when on the sidelines, stands as far away as possible from all players and assistants. He is the only coach I have seen in 25 years of watching HS football to "coach" from the press box.
Instead of running off kids that don't fit his mold, maybe he should consider adjusting his mold. I think he is being very selective about which young men he is trying to "change". Other coaches don't seem to be having issues coaching the kids he has had issues with.
If he truly wants to be a coach that makes a difference, step up to the challenge of working with all those young men, and get in the trenches with them on game day.

Anonymous said...

There seems to be some "Monday morning" quarter backing going on here. Let the Coach do his job or go and offer to coach, otherwise shut up.