As Sam Sees It

The Winslow Little League lost a good friend with the passing of Bill Elzey last week. Elzey was active in the organization for approximately half a century and held an important office in the state Little League organization. He was a principal reason Winslow has been able to attract its share of Little League Tournaments over the years.

Elzey also served the community as the mayor of Winslow in the 1980’s and was an officer in the Navajo County and Arizona Democratic Party. He was a man who did a lot more than just go to work and earn a pay check. Bill Elzey was active in his community and Winslow is a better place for his having been here.

Bill was an excellent golfer and a lot of fun to play a round with. His health had not been good in recent years and this was a sport he was no longer able to enjoy. When Winslow still had a golf course, though, you could often find Bill Elzey there.

The Winslow Bulldogs-Snowflake Lobos game was every bit the contest we expected. Winslow fans were disappointed with the loss, but left with plenty of reason to think that there would be another shot at the Lobos in their future. This much is very similar to last season when the Lobos prevailed in a hard-fought game and both worked their ways through the regular season to the state semi-finals. Neither made it that last step to the Championship Game, but both came excruciatingly close.

Many Bulldog fans will replay that game in their minds and probably conclude they should have won it. Half the fun of being a sports fan is second guessing the coach’s decisions. I plead guilty as one who “coaches” both teams and knows what they should have done, at least what I think they should have done. The truth is, coaching is not that simple. There is no way of knowing if what you would have done would have worked any better than what the coach did. And how about all of the times he does something different and it works?

Winslow is truly fortunate to have Matt Gracey as its football coach. He has the respect of the players and that is a very valuable asset. Frankly, it is more important than being “right” on the X’s and O’s all of the time.

The wind played an important role in that game and I would have preferred to see Winslow take either the ball or the wind advantage to start the game. That said, it is also true that the wind advantage was negated before the game was decided. The decisive drive of the game was the 19-play, 80-yard march by Snowflake that ate up over seven minutes on the clock. The crucial decision was Snowflake’s choice to go for two points after they scored on that drive.

The real game ended 22-21. Snowflake’s last touchdown came only after Winslow went for a fourth and long they would never have attempted if any  significant amount of  time remained on the clock.

If these teams do meet again in the state play-offs, don’t be afraid to back the Bulldogs. Winslow was without the services of Lucas Armenta, an exceptional senior whose return will improve the team on both offense and defense. Also, quarterback Jordan Payne will be 100%, something he was not in last week’s contest.

In short, it will be very much like what it was then: anybody’s game. Personally, I don’t want to miss it if these two teams meet again.

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