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A healthy rivalry

In the heat of battle, cooler heads prevail.

How many times have we heard these words echoed in terms of sports?

As Super Bowl XLVII began to unfold, I still couldn’t tear myself away and root for one Harbaugh brother against the other.

Since becoming a transplant of the Mid-Ohio Valley several years ago, my wife has made me a die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan, so it was a sure bet I couldn’t pick an AFC North Division rival.

On the other hand, my distaste for the Chicago Bears as part of my Midwestern roots wouldn’t allow me to support a former Bears quarterback who has made his mark as the 49ers head coach.

What did catch my eye as kickoff approached was an excerpt from an article in the most recent Sports Illustrated issue. The writer touched on Christianity with professional and college athletes.

In bold letters read the passage: Athletes don’t pray for victory. Instead they pray for health, or just a good, fair game.

I admit, I stayed glued to the television for the final outcome. I even paid attention to some of the more original commercials which made their debut on Sunday.

But on occasion, you just want to sit back and let the game play out – and appreciate how strategy takes shape from the respective sidelines.

Take Friday’s high school boys basketball game between Williamstown and Parkersburg Catholic, for example. Less than a week had passed since the Yellowjackets snapped a 10-game losing streak.

Yet, these same Yellowjackets had Parkersburg Catholic on the ropes and led 59-58 when a double-technical foul was assessed by the officials with 2:30 remaining in the fourth quarter.

As tempers began to flare, peace was immediately restored. Once the technical fouls were assessed, both coaches (Williamstown’s Scott Sauro and Parkersburg Catholic’s Rob Strcula) were brought to the scorer’s table for a meeting with the officials.

“It’s a rivalry,” Sauro said. “Kids from both teams got a little too fired up and we were able to take care of the situation.”

Once the discussion ended, the respective teams regained their composure and the Crusaders pulled out a 69-62 win.

“We talked in the locker room after the game about how the game, the setting and the emotion can never be bigger than you,” Strcula said. “If it is bigger than you, you will never be able to overcome it.”

Regardless of what the record says, both programs have passion. With two wins in its past three games, Williamstown plays three games in four days beginning with a road test Wednesday at Doddridge County.

“Throughout those losses, our kids’ attitudes were phenomenal,” Sauro said. “They didn’t pout. They came to work every day.”

Since having an 11-game winning streak snapped by Ritchie County last Tuesday, PCHS closed out the week winning at Clarksburg Notre Dame and again on Friday against Williamstown.

“With Scott Sauro, he makes you gameplan and prepare for a lot of different things,” Strcula said. “I don’t expect nothing less from Scott, and that’s a testament to what kind of coach he is.”