As the rain poured and mud soiled every jersey number beyond recognition, a player who had just carried the football trotted to the sideline. The reporter approached him, got close enough to see the sprinkles of mud under his eyes through his face mask, and yet still couldn't determine whether he was wearing No. 6, No. 8 or No. 9.
So glad Wauconda has become the latest Lake County school to get artificial turf.
Keeping football stats just got easier.
Friday night, some high school football player is going to rush for 150 yards. Or, depending on which reporter/statistician you trust, the kid will be credited with 154 yards, Or 161. That was No. 6 who carried the ball, right?
It's the fun part of the job. And the hardest. High school stat guys get one look at a play. There are no replays. Sideline stat guys dread the 50-yard gain from the team playing the no-huddle offense. We are like cornerbacks in man coverage: Alone on an island.
Never trust a statistician sitting in the press box for the spot of the ball inside the red zone, as the viewing angle is brutal. It's guaranteed a PA guy will say the ball is at the 2, when it's actually at the 1, or 3.
Wish us luck.
There are, however, some guidelines for keeping stats. Let's see how good you are:
1. After a touchback, Grayslake North takes possession at its 20. Titus Booker shows why Indiana offered him a ride. He busts off a long run. The ball is spotted the length of a mouthpiece past the Knights 40, not touching the actual line. Credit Booker for a rush of how many yards?
2. Libertyville ball at the 50. Quarterback Riley Lees takes the snap, backpedals to the 45 and throws an overhand strike to wide receiver Jake Mansfield, who catches the ball at the Libertyville 44 and races to the Palatine 45. Credit Mansfield with what?
3. Antioch ball at its own 35. Quarterback Alan Taylor takes the snap, immediately tucks the ball and sprints wide left. Miami Ohio-bound Ryan Mullen of Lakes busts through the line and drops Taylor for a 1-yard loss. Credit Mullen with what?
4. Warren ball at its own 40. Speedy running back Darrius Crump races to the Stevenson 45, but is popped by linebacker Jason Vravick and fumbles. The ball bounces forward, tight end Caleb Reams recovers it at the Stevenson 40 and barrels his way to the 35. Credit Crump with what? Credit Reams with what?
5. Round Lake is in "Victory Formation" from its own 27. Quarterback Cole Steger takes three successive knees, losing 2 yards each time, as time runs out on the game clock. Credit Steger with what?
6. A favorite play of mine: The hook and ladder. Vernon Hills ball at the DeKalb 45. Quarterback Connor McNamara drops back to pass and hits Kiwanne Durant at the 30. Durant catches the ball and immediately laterals to Richard Clark, who snags the ball at the 33 and sprints into the end zone. Credit each player with what?
7. Lake Zurich ball at its own 25. Ben Klett takes a pitch, Wyoming-bound Zach Wallace takes out two would-be tacklers, and Klett is off, racing all the way for a touchdown. But hold up. Flag down at the 50. Holding, LZ. Ball is spotted at the LZ 40. Credit Klett with what?
8. Carmel ball at its 36. Quarterback Michael Huiras fumbles the snap, but dives for the ball and wrests it from gigantic teammate Sean Foster, as Fenwick tackles Huiras at the Carmel 33. Credit Huiras with what?
9. Grant ball at its own 40. Quarterback Spencer Lhotka pitches the ball to Jeremy Bredwood, but the pitch is well behind Bredwood, who can only stab at it. Lhotka and Bredwood race after the ball, and Bredwood falls on it at the Grant 30. Credit who with what?
10. Indian Trail ball at its own 8. The quarterback drops back and is chased by Eastern Michigan-bound Nick Dillon, who beats a double-team and makes the tackle in the end zone. Credit Dillon with what?
1. Credit Booker with 1 rush for 21 yards. Measurement should be derived from the front point of the ball in the direction of the team in possession. If the back point of the ball was touching the 40, Booker would be credited with a gain of 20 yards.
2. Credit Mansfield with 1 rush for 5 yards. This play would be ruled a lateral. It doesn't matter if a ball is thrown overhand, underhand or sidearm. In order for a play to be ruled a pass, the ball must travel forward.
3. Credit Mullen with 1 tackle for loss (for 1 yard) and not a sack. Just because the quarterback is tackled behind the line of scrimmage does not mean it's ruled a sack. The QB must show an intent to pass.
4. Credit Crump with 1 rush for 20 yards and 1 fumble. (Sorry for the last stat, Darrius.) The ball carrier gets credit for yardage up to the point where the ball is recovered. Credit Reams with 5 rushing yards but no rushing attempt.
5. Don't credit Steger with anything. Just give him a "Nice game, kid." Credit Round Lake "team" rushing with 3 rushes for minus-6 yards.
6. Credit McNamara with 1 completion for 15 yards. Credit Durant with 1 reception for 15 yards. Credit Clark with 33 rushing yards and 1 touchdown, but no rushing attempt.
7. Credit Klett with 1 rush for 25 yards. He gets credit for yardage up to where the infraction was called. Which is also where the yardage (10 yards for holding) is marked off.
8. Credit Huiras with 1 rush for minus-3 yards. (Sorry, Michael.)
9. Scorer's decision, but if it's determined that the fumble was the fault of the QB and not the intended ball carrier, the QB should be charged with the fumble. Give Lhotka 1 rush for minus-10 yards. (Sorry, Spencer.)
10. Credit Dillon with a sack for 8 yards, but do not reward him with 2 points, even though the play is ruled a safety.
Thanks for playing.
• Follow Joe on Twitter: @JoeAguilar64