Friday, June 3, 2011

Bubba Starling; Putting Gardner on the Sports-World Map

It was a beautiful September night and I was doing what I love to do on Friday nights in Gardner, sitting in the stands with Chris Billings, watching the GEHS football game. Gardner was starting their second year under their future Kansas Football hall of fame coach Marvin Diener, when a tall, but skinny QB broke a long TD run. I looked in the program and exclaimed, "that kid's a freakin' freshman." A couple of games later, a guy behind me mentioned, "oh yeah, he can throw a baseball 90 mph, too." To that I responded, "this kid's a freak." But I had no idea just how talented he really was. It's pretty hard to comprehend, really, watching Bubba play football. The best comparison I can think of is that's it's like a college football video game in which a player with artificially inflated talent runs circles around the other players.

Bubba's performance in GEHS's upset loss to Blue Valley (a team they'd beaten by three touchdowns earlier in the year) in the game to play in the State Championship was the most incredible thing I've ever seen. Due to a few unDiener-like mistakes, the Blazers got down by 17 points. Knowing he'd been put in at safety during another game, knocking down a fourth and goal pass to beat fellow state-championship hopeful McPherson HS, I turned to Chris Billings and said, "they need to put in Bubba on every play." Sure enough, the next kickoff GEHS received, it was Bubba standing on the goal line. Next punt return, Bubba was out there. And he got the ball EVERY single play. It didn't matter that everyone knew he was getting the ball, Bubba literally dragged two linebackers to pick up the first down. But the fact that GEHS's receiving core was less than stellar and that the defense was keying on him, Bubba couldn't bring them back by himself. He started cramping but rather than leaving the game, he simply stretched his legs while calling out the cadence from the shotgun. A few plays later, he collapsed on the field and had to be carried off. But the intensity with which that 'freak of nature' played before his body gave up on him was the most amazing thing I've ever seen an athlete do.

I'll admit, it's a bit weird to talk about a high school kid in that way, especially a kid I've never personally met, but I'm not the only one doing so.

Very interesting read. link

Here's the video on Bubba that was on the front page of this evening. For some reason, the embed code isn't working correctly, so here is the link.

And here's the video I took during the 2009 State Championship Game.

Man was it fun watching him play football for these past four years. And it sure has been cool to have ESPN in Gardner on several occassions this past year. Not that my opinion matters, but I view all of sports through my Hawkeye-allegiance. And while I'd love to watch him play for Nebraska in football in the Big Ten, I'd hate to see Bubba's career ended by a Norm Parker blitz. Wait, Norm Parker (Iowa's D-Coordinator) never blitzs. So I'd hate to see Bubba's chance at millions ruined by Iowa's middle linebacker, Zach Morris. Or maybe I'd hate to see him run roughshod over my Hawkeyes...

But I would love to see Bubba play for the Royals - article link.

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