The push heard ’round the world

The push heard ’round the world

A couple of friends and I received the scare of a lifetime while walking home from school one day in first grade.

Heading down the hill from the Blaine School, one friend told the story of how a guy driving a yellow Volkswagen Beetle had recently tried to kidnap his older sister. The would-be kidnapper, he said, had a big knife.

He just finished telling the story as we approached the Centerville skating rink when, right on cue, a yellow bug came driving down Main Street.

All of us let out shriek like we were teenage girls being chased by Jason in Friday the 13th movies and scattered. I ran as fast as I could to my grandparents house, and my grandma called the police.

While sitting on the lap of a police officer, I retold the story the best I could remember. I told him the car slowed, the guy yelled something threatening and brandished a big knife that looked amazingly like the one I saw the bad guy use on T.J. Hooker the previous Friday night.

All three of us had similar, yet conflicting testimony to the police.

It’s amazing what the mind will tell you when fear or emotion enters the equation.

Looking back on the incident more than three decades later, I think the story goes something more like this: Our friend and/or his sister completely made up the kidnapping story after seeing Ted Bundy on the news or movie of the week. By complete coincidence, a man drove down the street in a yellow bug.

That man probably had no idea why we were screaming bloody murder and running for our lives.

That story came to mind the other day when I heard Billings Central football coach Jim Stanton tell Billings hometown radio guy Rocky Erickson that he was basically assaulted on the sideline by a Butte Central assistant coach.

I’m not going to defend what Butte Central assistant Doug Peoples did after the half ended in controversy on Sept. 12. But if Peoples is suspended for “pushing” Stanton, then Stanton should be flagged for flopping like a Brazilian soccer player.

I’ve watched the Zapruder film of the Bishop’s Bowl controversy over and over, and I have concluded that coach Peoples did not “push” coach Stanton after the referees ruled — correctly — that the Billings Central field goal came after time had expired.

As Stanton ran toward the field to argue with the officials, Peoples cut him off, and bumped into him while apparently saying something to the opposing coach.

A review of the film by any reasonable person will tell you that Peoples did not push anybody, even though the bump caused Stanton to go back and to the left. Back, and to the left.

Stanton put his arms up in an exaggerated motion, as if he was Manu Ginobili looking for a foul call.

Again, I am not going to defend what Peoples did. He is being punished for what he did. Some will say he was punished too harshly, while others will say the punishment doesn’t go far enough.

The memory and account of the incident by the Billings Central coach, though, is clearly a bit shaky.

On the radio interview, the Billings Central coach claimed he was “hit” with a “double shot to the chest and then a chest bump.”

When I first watched the film of the incident, I was expecting to see Stanton shoved back like it was a center-ring confrontation in the WWE. I suspect a lot of people who heard Erickson’s report were left disappointed by the film.

It was far from vindication for Doug Peoples, but it was even farther from the Woody Hayes-like incident we were expecting to see.

The Billings Central coach also claimed that his team was “in the locker room” when, in fact, most of the players were right behind the coach watching the officials confer and then rule the clock expired before the snap.

Erickson’s inaccurate report also said there were 1.7 seconds left when the clock was momentarily stopped on a Billings Central first down. It was actually 1.1 seconds that the Rams, out of time outs, had to work with to try to get the snap off after the chains were set.

The film shows it took nearly three seconds to get the snap off after the white-cap official signaled to start the clock. The officials should have blown the whistle before the kick, but they got the call right in the end.

Coach Stanton, who is without question a very nice man and one of the greatest coaches in the history of Montana high school football, also told Erickson that the three points for the field goal were put on the board, then taken off.

The scoreboard operator, who is not an official, says that is not the case. So did the principal of Butte Central. So did almost everybody in attendance.

Erickson asked, with bewilderment in his voice, if the coach had ever seen points being taken off the board before, and the coach said no.

Points, by the way, are taken off of scoreboards all the time to correct mistakes in every sport. It’s a scoreboard, not the Bill of Rights.

The Billings Central-Butte Central rivalry has turned hostile over the past several years. The rivalry saw a post-game fight last year in Billings. It saw several personal fouls the last few games as well.

Stanton said his Rams are done playing the Maroons in the regular season, and taking a break from the rivalry might not be the worst idea in the world.

One last time, I am not in any way defending an assistant coach veering over to get in the face and bumping anybody.

In this case, Doug Peoples clearly isn’t as innocent as that man harmlessly driving his yellow bug down Main Street 30 plus years ago.

The painting of the ending of a rivalry 100 percent on one side, though, is almost as ridiculous as the account of three young Butte kids running from someone who wasn’t chasing them

—Bill Foley, who flopped like a Brazilian soccer player during his days in the KC league, writes a column that appears on ButteSports.com on Tuesdays. Email him at foley@buttesports.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74. 2 comments

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  • Sean Pahut
    September 23, 2014, 8:27 am

    Nice article Fols, however, you know that the sensational story always sells better than the truth. This incident has given all the Butte haters another excuse to jump on the bandwagon…..

  • Tom
    September 24, 2014, 8:23 pm

    In addition to punishments handed down, I Believe Doug should be required to replace Coach Stanton blouse and his skirt. Contact that violent would clearly render both garments unwearable.


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