Where Have All The Shutouts Gone?

TPI's Terry Carter has seen shutouts and defensive dominance win many games in the past 25 years both in Texas and a host of states. The question remains for every team that is ranked today: Where is your first team defense?

Where have all the shutouts gone? Gone to seasons long ago?

It seems today's top teams don't post as many shutouts as the ranked squads of yesteryear. Of the TPI 5A Houston Top 20 released this week, only Pearland Atascocita let their defenses dominate totally by combining for a 92-0 score.

The convincing wins included Hightower — acknowledged by many for the best defense in Greater Houston — with a 30-5 win, No. 2 The Woodlands with a 24-7 win and North Shore — best secondary I've witnessed in 2009 — with a stirring 28-15 victory over state-ranked South Lake Carroll.

Could any of these winning teams have posted a shutout? Only hungry No. 9 Pearland (61-0) and No. 10 Atascocita (31-0) notched 5A shutouts in my Houston rankings this week. Why so few if these are the best teams?

Is it that coaches are subbing their second and third teams on offense and defense and allowing late scores? Or are points given away to make the other team feel better about a defeat?

Or are opposing teams talented enough that shutouts are unrealistic in this age?

The classic adage still stands that defense wins championships. True as that remains, teams are most excited when they score a bundle of touchdowns, outrun an opponent or raise their average score.

Why then did 5A front runner Hightower allow five points instead of posting a more impressive shutout? Even 3A No. 1 Giddings permitted Elgin three points.

Now, I can understand a few point totals. For example 4A top-ranked Angleton beat No. 9 La Marque, a potential powerhouse, after allowed two touchdowns. When ranked teams clash, shutouts are exceptionally rare in any season.

But consider this from what I consider to be the ultimate defensive team of all time in high school football:

— In 1944, Las Vegas (Nevada) High School went unbeaten and won its state championship as many great teams do annually. During that season, the Wildcats never allowed a team to score a touchdown or field goal. Imagine that.

— Las Vegas also did not permit any foe to reach its red zone at the 20-yard line according to team members. Nor did the unbeaten Wildcats allow even a field goal attempt that year. In fact, if I recall correctly, fewer than five teams opposing offenses got past midfield against this defensive dynamo.

—  Even first downs were a monumental achievement against Las Vegas in 1944. The official stat is that no team ever earned consecutive first downs against the Wildcats. Nobody kept detailed stats, but probably fewer than 15 were allowed by this unit all season. Hard to fathom?

— Zero points, zero attempted points in a perfect 8-0 season — it's 1944 before the forward pass and stats even became popular, let alone half a dozen playoff games. Las Vegas has won 16 football state championships since 1927, including 1931-34, 1938, 1944, 1945, 1947. However 1944 was by far the best season by far — in any state that I know of.

— When Sports Illustrated released the 20th Century Top 50 Greatest Nevada Sports Figures on Dec. 27, 1999, the well-trained eyes of SI recalled the first great high school team in the nation by ranking Bill (Wildcat) Morris of Las Vegas No. 47: "Starred on undefeated 1944 Las Vegas High football team that never allowed consecutive first downs; late president of UNLV"s booster club."

This team succeeded where no other team has because the Wildcats had a bond, a special agreement, that made them 10 times as good as they would be without the bond. Led by team captain John Mendoza, team MVP linebacker Morris and running back Myron Leavitt, Las Vegas High owned California and Nevada's best teams.

If a scoreless season is possible, why do Texas's best teams — and yes, Texas has the best high school football in the nation (I've experienced California, Florida, Michigan, Ohio and 26 other states) — struggle to post shutouts in 2009?

Where have all the shutouts gone? And how does your team compare to this Las Vegas squad from week to week?

I challenge Texas coaches to put the relief teams in on offense when winning big, but keep your starters to ensure a zero on the scoreboard every game it's possible. A shutout shows defensive strength every team will need in December. The top teams should be posting massive shutouts next week.

Show us the shutouts!

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