Loyalty. It’s rare in high school football these days. It’s rare despite the best efforts of some coaches, schools and districts that still believe in its value. It’s not good enough to play for your neighborhood school anymore.
Programs that have tasted winning want more and no price is too great to keep their palettes satisfied.
Quality athletes, disenchanted or seeking the limelight, filter in and the ones who gave their hearts and souls to the programs — who have lived in the school’s attendance boundaries forever — are forced to the sideline or out completely.
Basha High football coach Tim McBurney grew up in an era when loyalty was paramount and he still believes in it today.
“(Loyalty) is what makes or should make high school football,” McBurney said. “Our neighborhood is going to play your neighborhood. The kid that lives next door to you should be your teammate — not on the other team.”
McBurney built 4-year-old Basha from the ground up with the idea that kids should be rewarded for their sacrifices.
“If a kid works hard and you are making him give all he has, you want him to move up the ladder at each level so no one can come in and take his position,” McBurney said. “I’d like to think the kids know loyalty is important and that hard work is rewarded. A kid from outside has to prove they fit in with the rest of the team on a number of levels.”
Many coaches agree with McBurney. But there still are many athletes who switch schools and are treated like they have been part of their new school their entire life, even if it’s for one year.
Terrell Suggs left Chandler for Hamilton. Gerald Munns exited Basha for Hamilton. Erik Archuleta went from Mesquite to Phoenix North. Chase Larsen went to Corona del Sol from Hamilton. Clay Busch left Dobson to go to Desert Ridge.
Would Adam Archuleta have left Chandler for another school? I doubt it. Not with Jerry Loper as his coach.
Occasionally, a stud athlete transfers from out of state or outside the Valley. That type of move-in is more innocent and puts a coach in a tough spot.
“Last year when (starting running back) Channing (Trotter) moved over (from Westwood) it could have been a tough situation,” Red Mountain coach Jim Jones said. “I had some mixed feelings.
‘‘It worked out because the kids accepted him personally right off the bat (and) we didn’t really have a kid that was the heir apparent at the position.”
Jones doesn’t like the current trend that is overtaking East Valley football.
“We want kids to know it feels good to be a Mountain Lion,” he said.
I still would rather have seen Trotter stick with Westwood. It doesn’t look right for high school kids to wear several sets of school colors in their careers.
Maybe that’s why Under Armour apparel is so popular.
High school football doesn’t have to be so dishonorable.
Since the abolition of the 600 form, AIA rules have made it simple for a student to attend the school he wants from the time his eligibility begins. Play for the program or coach you want — or the one your parents have researched diligently since your Pop Warner days.
It’s within the rules, so do it. No need to worry about anything but competing the next four years. Yet we still have students transferring after freshman year and I take issue with that.
It trashes loyalty. No matter how you slice it, those instances deserve closer scrutiny to achieve greater adherence to the letter of the law — certainly more than they are getting now.
Some parents seem to want high school football to operate the same way as the college or pro game operates, with rampant recruiting and free agency. So, it’s no surprise that these same parents have found loopholes in the transferring rules. Sometimes, it comes with the help of schools and districts that refuse, per AIA bylaws, to self-police. In other words, they refuse to be honest.
So much for AIA programs like Victory with Honor and Character Counts. So much for educating our children with sound values. It’s a hard sell to kids who have put in four years of hard work, only to be relegated to the role of cheerleader. It’s a hard sell, too, to players and coaches of the schools the transfers have vacated. Loyalty isn’t dead yet in high school football. But it’s on life support and that’s a shame.