Paul Valencia column: Battle Ground's Haynes shows grace after tough loss

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

Published:

 
photoBattle Ground running back Kevin Haynes.

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There was emotion. There was controversy.

There was conflict.

Yet in the middle of all this intensity, when the game was ruled to be over and everything had gone against the Battle Ground Tigers, there was Kevin Haynes finding his opponents to extend his hand and say congratulations.

It was Battle Ground running back Kevin Haynes who had the ball in his hands on the last two plays of last week's game against Heritage.

On both plays, he was ruled to have been down short of the goal line in a 12-7 loss to the Timberwolves.

All of the Tigers believed he made it to the end zone, that they should have been awarded a touchdown, that they had won the game.

The officials ruled otherwise.

Yet no matter how upset he was about the call, Haynes knew his next move.

"As soon as the game was over, there's 38, shaking my hand," Heritage coach Jack Hathaway said, using Haynes' number to describe him. "Talk about classy."

If high school sports really are an extension of the classroom, we might already have our sports valedictorian.

This is the second time this season an opposing coach has gone on record to praise Haynes for his sportsmanship.

Battle Ground beat rival Prairie in Week 2. The two teams share District Stadium as a home field, and after the game, many of the Tigers reminded everyone that the stadium was their "house." Reportedly, some Prairie signs were torn down in the excessive celebration.

Haynes, though, put his celebration on hold to visit with the Falcons.

"I just wanted to say that Kevin Haynes might be the best player in the county, as well as a class individual," Prairie coach Terry Hyde said back then.

Haynes was humble in victory that night, and he was gracious in defeat Friday. Two emotional nights, two very different results, yet the same reaction.

"I was really impressed with him," Hathaway said. "Classy. I have the utmost respect for the kid."

* * *

Alas, Friday's game also showcased an ugly side of sports: When fans question the integrity of an official.

I wrote in our blog this weekend that the act of criticizing officials is not necessarily a bad thing. Officials understand it is part of the job. Officials use critiques, internally and externally, to improve their skills.

However fans cross the line when they question the integrity of another man based on what they believe is a bad call. Some at Battle Ground have called for investigation, seriously accusing the officials of being for Heritage.

An official's worst nightmare is missing a call that determines the outcome of a game. For sake of argument, let's say the last two calls were wrong. That just makes the officials human, but I'm not buying that any of the Evergreen Football Officials Association members are on the take, or have some hidden agenda against Battle Ground.

That would make for an incredible, Tim-Donaghy-cheat-the-NBA-like story, but I see no evidence.

There are 22 players and a five-man crew working the high school games, meaning there are 27 people on the field for each play. All 27 have the capacity to make a mistake on a given play.

Yet we do not question the integrity of the defensive lineman who jumps offside, right? Or the quarterback who throws an interception right to the other team?

An official missing a call is the same as a running back fumbling the ball with no one around him. It happens, but we do not question the integrity of the running back.

We could all learn from the example set by Kevin Haynes.

Don't have to be happy about a bad call, but we have to be mature about it.

Paul Valencia covers high school sports for The Columbian. He can be reached at 360-735-4557 or by e-mail at paul.valencia@columbian.com. Follow him on Twitter: @360paulv