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Lee: Whitmore, Morgan show class on, off field

Time and time again, small-school coaches tell me they’re good friends with coaches from rival schools.

It really seems like a type of fraternity.

I don’t encounter that much at bigger schools. It shouldn’t be any different, though.

So when I caught up with Lind-Ritzville/Sprague football coach Greg Whitmore over the weekend to find out what happened Friday when his game against Colfax had to be postponed, he spent considerable time talking about his close friendship with Colfax coach Mike Morgan.

Whitmore told me a week ago that he and Morgan sat together at an Eastern Washington University football game this fall.

Last Friday, when it became apparent that there were no referees for their game, Whitmore and Morgan sat down to try to resolve the issue.

The dilemma facing Whitmore was losing five starters – including quarterback Dylan Hartz and left tackle Tyler Frederick – this week to the FFA national convention in Lexington, Ky. In fact, they flew out Saturday morning.

Whitmore proposed playing the game that evening even though he’d be short-handed. Morgan declined.

“Mike said we’re not going to play you when you’re not at full strength,” Whitmore said. “That’s the kind of guy Mike Morgan is. We’re great friends.”

Morgan echoes the sentiment. In fact, both coaches have similar respect for Reardan coach Eric Nikkola.

This and that

So the Coeur d’Alene football team’s overall record (5-3) doesn’t come off as sterling. The Vikings’ losses weren’t to the Sisters of the Poor. They lost to two-time defending Washington State 4A champ Skyline, 4A Bothell and No. 1-ranked Highland of Pocatello by a combined 18 points. Those teams have a combined record of 22-2. Skyline opened the season with a 45-7 loss to 3A powerhouse Bellevue. The following week Bellevue handled Bothell 49-6. Bellevue is ranked 11th in the country by one national poll. … CdA football coach Shawn Amos, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma two weeks ago, had his first chemotherapy treatment Monday. He reports it went well. … This caught my attention recently. Because of more than two dozen fights and posturing following games in Kentucky in the last three years, the state activities association issued a directive requesting that all schools forgo with postgame handshakes. After this information was released to the public, several Kentucky legislators ripped school officials for the decision. Then the activities association quickly backtracked and said it was directing administrators at schools that wanted to continue with the traditional postgame handshakes to step in and monitor it so things remain civil. In all my years of watching prep sports – now in my fourth decade – I’ve never seen athletes fight. Here’s the bottom line – the purpose of postgame handshakes is for athletes to win gracefully and lose gracefully. The act of sportsmanship should never be squelched. … Remember that record-setting season Shadle Park quarterback Brett Rypien had last year when he threw for 3,179 yards in league? We thought he could do it again, but the prevailing feeling was he wouldn’t have to for two reasons: Shadle expected to have a productive running game and the Highlanders expected to play with leads rather than from behind this season. Well, Rypien needs just 206 yards Friday to exceed 3,179. Here are statistics that I find just as compelling as total yards. He’s completed 67.3 percent of his passes, almost 5 percent better than last year. And he’s thrown for 40 touchdowns and has just six interceptions.