The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on January 26, 1996 · Page 15
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 15

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Friday, January 26, 1996
Page 15
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^ JAI ' THE SAL 1 OURNAL Sports SCOREBOARD/ C2 SUPER BOWL / C3 CLASSIFIED / C5 c V COMMENT V SUPER BOWL XXX JASON WHITLOCK The Kansas Ct$ Star Chiefs fans better root for Dallas Emporia saved Lett 1 TEMPE, Ariz. — I've got some advice for all of you AFC-loving, Dallas Cowboys-hating, under- 'flog-rooting, Kansas City Chiefs fans hoping and praying that the Pittsburgh Steelers upset the Boys on Sunday in Super Bowl XXX. 'Be careful what you wish for. The worst thing that could happen to your beloved Chiefs is for the Neil O'Donnell-led, lucky- there's-no-instant-replay, AFC champion Steelers to beat Jerry, Barry, Emmitt, Troy, Michael, Prime Time and the rest of the NFC's men of distinction. If you really care about the Chiefs, when you get on your knees tonight you should ask the football gods for plenty of Deion Sanders high-steppin' highlights. You should fantasize about Deion prancing down the sideline, head kicked back, left hand behind his helmet, legs chopping high in the air on his way to another Dallas touchdown and a celebration jig that would make Michael Jackson and Hammer jealous. Cowboys 45, Steelers 17.. That should be every Chiefs fan's dream. Because I can promise you this. If the Steelers happen to play the Cowboys close, the pro football organization that resides catty- corner from Quincy's Lounge is going to use it as an excuse to keep its head buried in the sand about the fundamental problems keeping it from realizing playoff success. The organization that refuses to admit that Lin Elliott was a mistake, the organization that is how in the eighth year of a five- year plan, the organization that consistently raises ticket prices and expectations but also consistently prematurely evaporates at playoff time will rationalize its 1996 playoff failure by saying, "We're as good as the Steelers. And the Steelers beat (or nearly beat) the Cowboys in the Super Bowl." Yes, the Chiefs are as good as the Steelers. But so what? We all know the Cowboys are signifi- cantly'better than the Steelers. So are the 49ers. And for my money, so are the Packers. Being as good as the Steelers is the equivalent of saying, "Hey, my lawyer is as good as Marcia Clark." After you've seen the Dream Team up close, it's obvious Marcia needs two more makeovers and 10 additional years of law school. Tuesday and Wednesday I got to personally meet the NFL's Dream Team. They wear blue and white, lots of gold chains and two Super Bowl rings. They have 10 players — running back Emmitt Smith, receiver Michael Irvin, quarterback Troy Aikman, tackle Erik Williams, guards Nate Newton and Larry Allen, defensive tackle Leon Lett, end Charles Haley, safety Darren Woodson and Prime Time — whom you can argue at one tune or another were 6r are the best at their position. ; The Chiefs can't come close to making a similar argument, especially when you talk about their offensive skill players. : So just like Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne had to quit worrying about Big Eight teams and concentrate on building a team good enough to beat Miami, Florida State and Florida, Carl Peterson needs to forget about his sorry AFC counterparts and start chasing the Cowboys, the 49ers and the Packers. The Chiefs shouldn't spehd their off-season comparing Steve Bono to Neil O'Donnell or Webster Slaughter to Yancey Thigpen. ... Compare Bono to Aikman, Slaughter to Irvin. Marcus Allen and Greg Hill to Smith. The math in those equations leaves the Chiefs in the hole. A Steelers' victory on Sunday might stop the Chiefs from attempting to dig out. ! And without improvement on those fronts, next season the Chiefs will again be vulnerable to the same kind of embarrassing playoff loss that wrecked this season. Cowboys tackle found new life while playing for Emporia State By The Associated Press TEMPE, Ariz. — Tiny Emporia State University was just what Leon Lett needed to turn his life around, the Pro Bowl tackle said as he got ready to play in his third Super Bowl in four years •"""""." witn the Dallas Cowboys. "I just took a chance on Emporia State," Lett told The Kansas City Star. "It's a very slow town, which is what I needed. It was a nice place. I kind of grew up there." Lett twice failed to meet academic standards at Division I schools, and had gone back home LETT to Fairhope, Ala., . after spending two years at Hinds Junior College. He was working for a landscaping service when Hinds quarterback Mike Birch, who was being recruited by Emporia State, told coaches there about Lett. "You hear about players from other guys you are recruiting all the time, but not ever in a situation where the guy goes on and becomes a Pro Bowl player," said former Emporia State coach Larry Kramer, who now coaches the defensive line at Kansas State University. "Usually a Division II school will divert their energy from a guy like that because you think he's going to go to a Division I school and you try and concentrate on guys you have more of a chance of getting. But he had been out of school in the fall when we called." Emporia, about 100 miles southwest of Kansas City, seemed an unlikely place for Lett. "At the tune, I didn't like it," he said. "It was cold all the time, and there was nothing to do. As I look back, it was something I really needed in my life at the time." Lett said he never thought he had a chance of being drafted. He tried out with the Kansas City Chiefs, and was trying to arrange a tryout with the Buffalo Bills when the Cowboys made him a seventh-round pick in 1991. "Dallas was my team growing up, so I was really happy," Lett said. Lett's career has had its rough spots. In the 1993 Super Bowl, he began high-stepping before reaching the end zone and Don Beebe caught him and knocked the ball away. Earlier in the season, he tried to recover a blocked field goal and fumbled, giving Miami a chance for a game-winning kick. He was suspended for four games this year for violating the NFL's drug policy. He refused to.answer questions about those incidents. "I think I've pretty much put it behind me," he said. "People around the league I respect, they respect me for what I do on the field." On Sunday, Lett will take the field with an Emporia State T- shirt autographed by the current Hornets' team under his Cowboys jersey. T NFL COACH OF THE YEAR Rhodes wins in first year By The Associated Press PHOENIX — Ray Rhodes always thought he had what it takes to be a successful NFL coach. When he finally got the chance, the rookie coach proved his point by leading the Philadelphia Eagles into the playoffs. On Thursday, Rhodes was honored as the NFL's Coach of the Year for re- RHODES building the Eagles and guiding them to a 10-6 record and a playoff victory over Detroit. The 45-year-old Rhodes, a no-nonsense type who seldom smiles, managed a grin when he accepted the award. "Believe me, this is probably the biggest honor I've ever gotten in my life," Rhodes said. T SOUTHEAST OF SALINE TOURNAMENT Abilene buries Trojans 62-39 win propels Cowgirls into finals against Junction City By LARRY MORITZ TlieSalina Journal MTAHONAL GYPSUM — Abilene girls basketball coach Brooks Barta counts on his club to do a little bit of everything in order 'to be successful. That formula worked extremely well Thursday night at the Southeast "of Saline Invitational ' as the Cowgirls overpowered Southeast for a 62-39 victory. The win in the final round of pool play moves Abilene (10-2) into today's 7:30 ————— p.m. title game against Junction City, while Southeast (6-6) will face Salina South at 6 p.m. for third place. Playing without senior starter Lacey Canfield, who suffered an apparent season-ending knee injury Monday night, Abilene used second-chance points, an aggressive defense and a strong inside game to put away the host club. "We're the kind of team that has to get a second chance at the bucket and we have to put them in when we do," Barta said. "There is no portion of our game that we really count on, so we've got to get turnovers and second chance shots to really score some points." The Cowgirls took control in the first half when they hit 17 of 33 shots from the field and built a 35-24 lead at the break. Southeast did not start a player taller than 5-foot-8, but held its own on the boards against the taller Cowgirls. Defensively, the Trojans had trouble stopping Abilene's inside combination of 5-11 Anne Schwarting and 5-10 Stephanie Wedel. Schwarting had 16 points, hitting 7 of 10 shots from the field, See SOUTHEAST, Page C3 KELLY PRESNELL/The Salina Journal Southeast's Angle Rlffel Is hit In the face while rebounding in front of Abilene's Anne Schwarting. South gives Blue Jays better test in defeat Second meeting this season much closer; JC takes 47-35 win By LARRY MORITZ The Salina Journal GYPSUM — They may be closing the gap, but the Salina South girls still have some ground to make up before catching Junction City. The two teams met for the second tune this season, and unlike their earlier meeting, South kept it close before falling- 47-35 on Thursday in the final round of pool play at the Southeast of Saline Invitational. Junction City (9-3) will face top- seeded Abilene in today's 7:30 p.m. championship game at the Southeast gym. South (8-4) meets the host Trojans in the 6 p.m. third-place contest. When South and Junction City last played in mid-December, the Blue Jays won a one-sided 58-36 decision. Thursday night the Cougars kept it close with a better defensive effort, only to struggle putting the ball in the hole. "The whole game we keep ourselves close and then let them go on a little run, then we have to fight back again," Erickson said. "I was real pleased with the defensive effort because I thought we did a nice job there. "It was a real physical game and there were a lot of tough kids out there playing hard." South trailed 18-14 at halftime and took its last lead midway through the third quarter when sophomore Alyssa Shriver hit a 14-footer in the lane to make it 2221. But the Cougars did not have another field goal the rest of the quarter and were outscored 11-1 to start the final period down by nine. "We had a tough time shooting the ball," Erickson said. "If we hit 30 percent of our shots from outside of 12 feet we would have come close to whining the game. We've got to get kids to step up and hit the perimeter shots and we're going to be a good team when we do. " We had a lot of good shots that just would not drop and then we had to foul late so the score looks worse than it was." Junction scored nine of its 15 points in the fourth quarter at the free throw line. Blue Jay senior Sara Jackson had nine of her game-high 20 points in the final period. "I thought Amanda Reed did a great job defensively keeping Jackson in control," Erickson said. "She had to work for everything she got." Senior Carla Littleton, a 6-foot- 4 center who has committed to the University of Texas next season, was held to 10 points and seven rebounds. Shriver led South in both scoring and rebounding, totaling 16 points and 14 boards. "It seemed like one of those games where the ball never fell in our direction," said Erickson, whose team had its four-game winning streak snapped. "It can get kind of aggravating because you play hard and just don't have any balls roll into your hands." T OU FOOTBALL Switzer tied to recruiting But Cowboys' coach denies helping Blake recruit players to OU By The Associated Press SWITZER BLAKE NORMAN, Okla. — Oklahoma coach John Blake strongly denied Thursday that anyone on the Dallas Cowboys was helping to recruit players. He said Barry Switzer's appearance at a recruiting function was coincidental. "Coach Switzer did not make any recruiting or other presentation during the brief time he was there," Blake said in a statement. Switzer, in Tempe, Ariz., where the Cowboys are preparing for the Super Bowl, said he dropped in to see Blake during an impromptu visit that lasted about seven or eight minutes. "Kind of deja vu for me, 11 Switzer said of questions about recruiting at Oklahoma. He said the flap shows people in Texas still are concerned about losing prize players to Oklahoma, a common occurrence under Switzer when the Sooners were a perennial power. "What it tells me is John is kicking their butt," he said. "He's done a good job in Texas, has turned some kids around, is recruiting well." Switzer, who won three national championships at Oklahoma, resigned in 1989 after the NCAA put the Sooners on three years' probation for recruiting violations, which was followed by a series of criminal charges involving his players. He now is considered an Oklahoma booster by NCAA definitions. And under NCAA rules, a school cannot arrange for boosters to have contact with recruits. The recruiting dinner took place last weekend in Norman. Switzer said he was in town to have dinner with university president David Boren when he walked by the football offices to see Blake and to congratulate some of his new assistants. "There was nothing orchestrated. John didn't even know I was in town," Switzer said. Blake said some parents and two recruits were still in the area when Switzer showed up, and some of them approached Switzer as they were leaving. "I want to make it absolutely clear that no Dallas Cowboys players or any member of the Cowboys organization have been involved in contacting recruits on my behalf," Blake said. "No one associated with our program has now, nor will ever be, involved with any such activity." Blake played for the Sooners under Switzer in the early 1980s, and he was Switzer's defensive line coach for the Cowboys until he was named head coach last month. SUGGESTIONS? CALL BOB DAVIDSON, SPORTS EpITOR, AT (913) 823-6363 OR 1-800-827-6363

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