Random News of the Day: Good Gosh Almighty!

Random News of the Day: Good Gosh Almighty!

Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010
11:30 AM

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

This is a guarantee: dreams will come true for hundreds of football players this weekend.

Its high school football championship time in Illinois once again. Teams from all sorts of backgrounds from the corn belt to Chicagos city streets will fight for the right to hoist a state trophy in Champaign. The 1A-4A games are on Friday, while 5A, 6A, 7A and 8A teams get their crack on Saturday. Some games will be remebered for the hard tackles. Others will be remembered for the last-minute touchdowns and clutch kicks.

And if any game can produce a fraction of the bizarre heroics seen in the Good Gosh Almighty game, consider it a success.

This Friday marks the 16th anniversary of one of the wildest, heart-stopping games (or heartbreaking, depending how you look at it) in high school football history: the 1994 Texas Class 5A Region II semifinal game between Plano East and John Tyler. Over 30,000 fans packed Texas Stadium the former home of the Dallas Cowboys and witnessed an absolute Tilt-O-Whirl of a battle with a remarkable finish. It led to national attention, which included The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and, in a roundabout way, the 1999 movie Varsity Blues.

Plano East came into the game ranked 2 in the state, with John Tyler right behind at 3. The two undefeated teams traded scores and hits over the first three quarters before John Tyler blew the game wide open in the fourth. A 35-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown put the Lions from J-T ahead 41-17 with 3:03 to go.

And then this happened.

(Spoiler Alert: Please make sure you watch that clip until the very last second!)

It was arguably one of the best (well, at least the most breathless) finishes to a football game in history. Try finding another game that featured...

Five touchdowns in three minutes

Three consecutive onside kick recoveries by the kicking team

A 97-yard kickoff return for touchdown that served as equal parts winning the lottery and a steel-toed kick to the gutdepending on what team colors were in your corner.

A jubilant team of (ahem) unbiased TV announcers becoming overnight stars.

Denny Garver, a local coach, was one of those announcers in the booth that night. He made phrases like Break out the Oreos baby!, Good gosh almighty! and They did it! They did it! They did it! momentary household terms. Garver was teamed with fellow announcers Eddy Clinton and longtime Texas high school football coach Mike Zoffuto on Plano's TeleCable Game of the Week.

I had never called a game before, Garver said in a telephone interview from last week. We werent making any money, we were volunteers. We figured if the viewers thought we were having a good time, they will as well. The game was unbelievable. People still talk about it, and I really can't believe that people do.

John Tyler won 48-44 and it made front page news in Texas the next morning. But that was only the beginning for Garver and company.

"I get a phone call from David Letterman and he wants me to be on the show," Garver said. "I said if he wanted me, he would also need to have Eddy. David only wanted me. Then Leno calls. They wanted both of us. I told them we would be there if there was some Lone Star Beer waiting for us. Sure enough, we get there, and there's a tub of Lone Star Beer. It was really special. We ended up being on about a hundred radio shows when it was all said and done."

A few years later, production on the movie "Varsity Blues" began in Georgetown, about three hours south of Plano. When the production staff needed a couple of announcers, Garver --and broadcast partner Clinton-- had their phones ring again.

"They told us just to be natural and be yourselves," Garver said. "We had no lines. We just started doing stuff off the cuff. They just told us to react to the plays. That was pretty cool. We shot from six in the evening to six in the morning. They were very professional."

Garver and Clinton became overnight sensations, going from broadcast volunteers at a high school playoff game to appearances on The Tonight Show and landing announcer roles in the movie "Varsity Blues" with James Van Der Beek and Jon Voight. But in my interview with Garver, he frequently mentioned that he never wanted to be bigger than the kids on the field. He even called himself "the biggest idiot" out there in Texas Stadium. I wouldn't say idiotic. Down home, maybe. Whatever the case, the game continues to be a conversation point at this time of year. The YouTube clip alone (shown above) has close to 1.5 million hits.

Denny Garver is now a baseball coach at Plano West High School. He helped coach the 2008 team to a Texas state title. Ironically, one of the players on that team, pitcher Robert Huber--who now attends Duke University, is the nephew of Jeff Whitley...the quarterback of Plano East from that classic 1994 contest. Garver has been giving DVDs from the broadcast of that game to kids and adults alike, presented as a sort of motivational tool.

"It wasn't so much about our call...but what people can learn from this. I always show this to people as reason to why they should never quit. You always have to play to the final whistle, the final buzzer or to the final out. This is why you never give up."

Preview: White Sox, Royals tangle Friday night on CSN

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Preview: White Sox, Royals tangle Friday night on CSN

The White Sox take on the Royals on Friday, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. from Kansas City. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Miguel Gonzalez (0-1, 4.57 ERA) vs. Danny Duffy (0-0, 2.13 ERA)

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get your White Sox gear right here]

— Channel finder: Make sure you know where to watch.

— Latest on the White Sox: All of the most recent news and notes.

— See what fans are talking about before, during and after the game with White Sox Pulse.

Preview: Cubs, Phillies start series Friday on CSN

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Preview: Cubs, Phillies start series Friday on CSN

The Cubs take on the Phillies on Friday, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins with Cubs Pregame Live at 12:30 p.m. Then catch first pitch with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on Cubs Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Jon Lester (4-3, 2.60 ERA) vs. Adam Morgan (1-2, 5.61 ERA)

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

[SHOP CUBS: Get your Cubs gear right here]

— Channel finder: Make sure you know where to watch.

— Latest on the Cubs: All of the most recent news and notes.

— See what fans are talking about before, during and after the game with Cubs Pulse.

Bears' move away from Forte part of change in run-game philosophy

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Bears' move away from Forte part of change in run-game philosophy

The Bears’ decision to move on from Matt Forte, the No. 2 running back in franchise history behind only Walter Payton in yardage, was not necessarily an easy one. It was, however, unanimous at Halas Hall, sources told CSNChicago.com. And it was also part of a significant deeper change in the main operating principle underpinning the Bears’ rushing offense.

Depending upon what Forte does with the New York Jets — and for how long — the decision might be open to question. Few NFL decisions aren’t.

But the Bears’ offense under John Fox and new coordinator Dowell Loggains was clearly going away from what Forte was accustomed to — a true featured back with a relief-back in the form of a Chester Taylor/Marion Barber/Michael Bush — and moving onto a true use of two backs in the fashion that Fox’s Denver Broncos offenses used them.

The change will be more than just a few carries. Forte lost carries last season to Jeremy Langford and Ka'Deem Carey. This is different.

Instead of Forte and an understudy, as the de facto rushing offense has been since Forte was drafted in 2008, the Bears this offseason made the decision to emphasize the run even more under Loggains, and that has meant something other than simply more carries for Forte’s understudy.

For perspective purposes: Last season Forte missed three full games due to a knee injury but still totaled 276 touches (carries plus targets) to 236 combined for Jeremy Langford and Ka’Deem Carey. When Forte returned from the three-game injury break, the offense had changed. Forte had four 20-carry games in the first six. He had one over the final six.

Forte did not appear publicly to genuinely embrace the job-sharing approach as Langford’s carries matched and in cases exceeded his own. Whether he would have been on board with ceding even more meaningful time to a co-back is another matter that would have been open to question, though any suspicions that direction are now moot.

(If Forte would have had problems with younger backs rising, he would not have been the first; Thomas Jones ultimately demanded a trade after the Lovie Smith Bears drafted Cedric Benson to broaden the run game.)

Regardless, the true multi-back system will be a change for the Bears, harking back perhaps to the Bears building their run game on two starter-grade backs in Benson and Jones. The Bears’ unsuccessful attempt to bring in C.J. Anderson from Denver suggests less a no-confidence vote in either Carey or Langford than a measure of the commitment to both competition and a depth chart with meaning past the top one or even two names. The Bears have used mid-round picks on running backs in three straight drafts (Carey, Langford, Jordan Howard this year), making the same point the Anderson interest did.

And that’s how Langford took the Howard selection to a position that where confidence in him was one of the reasons the organization was OK with parting with Forte.

“I really didn’t think too much of (the Howard pick),” Langford said. “I know it’s just competition. That’s what brings a lot of running backs, a lot of positions, to push themselves even more. Competition is always a good thing, and playing in the NFL, there’s always going to be competition, so you can’t really become too complacent as a player.”

“Complacent” wasn’t a word anyone was likely to apply to Langford, and certainly to Carey, who played his way up from a roster bubble at the end of training camp last year. And Howard as a fifth-round rookie isn’t guaranteed anything for awhile in training camp except reps with the 2s or 3s, with Jacquizz Rodgers also re-signed after an injury shortened 2015.

Loggains has been dealt a hand without an ace like Forte but with what he and the organization think can be three or four kings, depending on roster decisions at the end of August.

“We like where Jeremy’s at,” Loggains said. “He needs to continue to develop. There’s things he can do a better job of in the passing game, but we still like our other backs. Ka’Deem Carey finished strong for us last year. We obviously drafted a back. We’re excited about getting Jacquizz Rodgers back as well.”