Losses in the opening round of the playoffs Friday marked the end of football careers all over the state.
In many cases it brought to an end a career that has spanned as many as 10 years. In others it ended only a one year association with the game. Two such cases of those were Shane Downs and Caleb Beeler in Magazine.
The cousins, along with Josh Wootton, a third cousin, and twins Aaron and Adam Toland, were five of the names on the Rattler roster this season as a result of the so-called Tim Tebow rule enacted by the Arkansas Activities Association that allows home school students to participate in public school extracurricular activities.
None of the five – I cannot imagine a team having more Tebow rule players than Doug Powell had in Magazine – had a significant role for the Rattlers. Downs had a carry and a kickoff return. The Tolands both had a few carries and Aaron Tolan had an interception. Wootton had the first tackle of the season. Beeler sat out several games with an injury but was on the field during the playoff game and was the intended target of a pass.
Still, because three of them are nephews and I know the other two, I am quite confident in saying they wouldn’t trade the experience of summer workouts, 7-on-7, fall camp, bus rides and the rest for anything.
That’s not to say there weren’t problems. I heard stories of how some of their teammates might have been less than enthused to have them, but heck, teammates clash all the time. And, it’s not like the rule’s namesake because there wasn’t a lot of competition – thanks to the way the rule was crafted – to have any of the five.
In the end they were largely accepted. They even acquired nicknames like Buzz, Fluffy and even McFly. Like most nicknames, there is an interesting story that goes with them.
Of course Beeler and Downs were one and done might find themselves a little jealous next year when the Tolands and Wootton are eligible to continue playing. The Tolands actually can play two more years.
It is, of course, that kind of longevity that make the rule truly noticeable.
In the case of the nephews football was totally new, but the rule could also prove beneficial in basketball, baseball or other activities, especially if the kids have played the game before.
For example, Downs and Beeler have played organized basketball before. Whether they will do so in a Rattler uniform is yet to be seen.