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Thursday, September 19, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Steve Christilaw: WIAA’s new rule requiring game film for post playoff play is great improvement

Gonzaga Prep’s Jake Parola, center, tries to slip out of the backfield with the ball between Mt. Spokane’s Grayson Bowles, left, and Ryan Miller (11), right, Friday, Sept. 27, 2018 at Joe Albi Stadium. Mt Spokane won 13-0. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga Prep’s Jake Parola, center, tries to slip out of the backfield with the ball between Mt. Spokane’s Grayson Bowles, left, and Ryan Miller (11), right, Friday, Sept. 27, 2018 at Joe Albi Stadium. Mt Spokane won 13-0. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

You see the darnedest things online.

No, I’m not talking about cat videos (did you see the one of the kitten trying to pull a trout out of a bucket?). Or the videos of people taking some pretty spectacular pratfalls or pulling some outlandish pranks.

Still, there are some incredible things caught on cellphones.

Friday night, after browsing through a listing of high school football results, I came across something unique. Someone posted an incredible video from Whidbey Island and that night’s Coupeville vs. King’s game.

It wasn’t about a great play, although it included a long run for a touchdown.

Nope. This one was of one of the stranger things you can see at a high school football game.

A deer, presumably of the black-tail variety common to the San Juan Islands, watched the game from the end zone, then decided to, well, do a little streaking. It bounded along the end line, turned up field and raced the length of 120 yards in front of the home fans and into the woods on the other end. Right behind the deer came a Coupeville player racing for a touchdown.

Now, whether the deer was attempting to be a blocking back or just wanted to preempt the play, no one knows. In this case, Nothing Runs Like A Deere takes on a whole new meaning.

Of course, you could make a case that this was a pack of (Coupeville) Wolves chasing a deer, but I doubt the game warden is going to get too excited about it, unless of course he’s an alum.

Hey, if this had happened at a Deer Park game, there could have been a flag for having too many Stags on the field.

But I digress.

The advent of phones taking video of great plays is commonplace. These days, you don’t just hear about a great play – you can do the Google and probably find it for all to see.

So, you would think that, what with the plethora of online sites devoted to the medium, that sharing video of a football game would be a snap.

That would be a false assumption.

My bad.

And, give them their due, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association is keeping up with the times.

The WIAA is driving headlong into new territory this year. A committee will decide seeding for this year’s football playoffs for the first time as the state abandons its long-held habit of seeding the playoffs before the start of the season.

The idea is to make seeding fairer and more equitable to teams that have earned their way into the playoffs. It’s not a be-all end-all answer to a challenging problem, but it’s a good start. Eastern Washington is under-represented on that committee, but that is not a failing of the WIAA. Turns out there weren’t enough volunteers for the assignment from this side of the mountains – a subject we’ve addressed here already.

The way the process will work is that on Nov. 4, after the field is set, the committee will seed the tournament and decide who plays whom and who plays where.

In seasons past, the advantage of having a pre-seeded tournament meant that teams could suss out who they were going to play pretty easily and reach out to the coaching network to get game video of their first-round opponent.

Under the new system, time is not on a playoff team’s side, and the WIAA executive board addressed the challenge late last month.

The new rule is this: Coaches are required to send film of their team’s last three games within 30 minutes of the bracket being announced. If they don’t they will be suspended for the ensuing game.

Not overly cumbersome. Game video is almost always digital these days and all it requires is to be loaded into an email. A half-hour after the bracket is announced, while your fans are still trying to figure out where they’re heading for that first-round state playoff game, you’re going to have three games to analyze as you prep for the game.

Talk about striking a blow for fairness. Nicely played, WIAA executive board.

Over the years there have been coaches out there who refuse to share game video. On general principles, supposedly. I won’t make any assumptions about personality disorders that might apply.

And there have been leagues in this state that have written rules prohibiting the sharing of video and others that have unspoken rules to the same effect. Call that institutionalized jerkiness, if you will.

With the luxury of time, it was possible to go around those roadblocks and reach out to opponents who, in the interest of fairness, would share THEIR game video. It took time. In a lot of cases, it took some strong coaching connections and some tactical planning to get there.

No more. That era is now over.

If you’re in the playoffs, you’re going to share or you’re not going to coach. Equal playing field for everyone. No messing around.

Basically, the WIAA has passed a rule saying “Don’t be a jerk.”

That’s a great step forward.

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