Thursday, November 29, 2012

Andre Maginot was...

...the French Minister of War who built the famous Maginot Line in the 1930s. A series of concrete fortifications, tank obstacles and other defenses, the Line was meant to forestall another direct attack from Germany like the one the French experienced in World War I. At the time, it was hailed by military experts as a work of genius.

When the Germans finally did invade France in the spring of 1940, however, they sidestepped the Line by sweeping through Belgium and the Netherlands. The Blitzkrieg lasted all of six weeks and the French surrendered on June 22.

The colossal failure of the Maginot Line may have inspired the adage, "Generals always fight the last war."

And that brings me to The Big Lesson I Learned This Year.

My biggest takeaway as a fan from the 2012 Illinois football season was: Don't fight the last war. Or, Don't be overly influenced by the previous year's season.

Take, for example, my post on Prairie Ridge in August. I complained that the Sun-Times wasn't giving the defending 6A champion Wolves enough respect. While I acknowledged that PR had graduated a number of seniors, I couldn't help recalling their victories in 2011 over Jacobs, Nazareth and Richwoods. I concluded the piece by saying:

There is no way -- no way -- that [Coach] Chris Shremp won't have the Wolves ranked in the Top Ten by the end of the season.

Prairie Ridge went on to finish the season 3-6. Ouch.

I guess I figured out I was mistaken when the Wolves lost to Huntley, 30-7, in Week Three. I wrote:

The Chicago papers were right about Prairie Ridge; MaxPreps was wrong.

I later went on to talk to a couple of guys in the bleachers (at some game; I can't remember which) who told me that they had talked to some PR fans at the end of last year. They had told them that the Wolves "had graduated everybody; we'll be lucky to win one game next year." Oh.

My other big example of fighting the previous war was my insistence -- all year -- that Mount Carmel and quarterback Don Butkus just weren't that good. It was based on -- you guessed it -- my recollections of 2011. (You can read all the embarrassing details here.)

I seem to recall reading somewhere (I think it was Edgy Tim) that Caravan Coach Frank Lenti likes to start a junior at quarterback (like Butkus in 2011). His strategy is that while the first year should be a learning one, the second should be a push for the state championship. If that's right, then Lenti succeeded brilliantly.

But I didn't know that.

So maybe that's why guys like Edgy Tim and Mike Helfgot get paid to write about high school football, while I'm just a blogger in a bathrobe.

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