The decision coaches dread: avoiding, or ignoring, the donut

PRIZED, DESPISED?:  The donut, a shutout, is embraced by defenses. But will offensive coaches go to extremes to avert being blanked?


Is it a statistical anomaly or a mark of shame?

One thing is for sure – defensive coaches are a lot more concerned about them than offensive coaches.

Shutouts aren’t a regular part of a high school football team’s season (unless you are really, really good or really, really bad), but they do happen.

Nobody wants it to happen to them because it looks more like a stain than a final score. It’s hard to ignore.

Ask a coach if he’d rather lose 48-7 or 41-0 – after all, both are 41-point losses — and the choice is easy.

“It depends on if you are an offensive coach or a defensive coach,” Haughton head coach Jason Brotherton says. “I’m an offensive guy, so I’d rather lose 48-7.”

Ten of Shreveport-Bossier’s 19 teams were last shut out either this year or in 2021. From there, it becomes a little more scarce. But only two have failed to take the collar in the last 10 years.

It was Sept. 30, 2011, when the Bossier Bearkats traveled to Northwood and put 42 points on the scoreboard.

The Northwood Falcons didn’t put up any.

That was a little surprising, since the Falcons had scored 110 points in the previous three games.

Since then, the Falcons have scored in every game. All 124 of them. And they really haven’t had to sweat it, since they have scored in double-digits in all but six of them. However …

When Northwood beat Minden 20-14 in 2018, the Falcons’ offense didn’t score a point. But thanks to three defensive touchdowns – two fumbles and an interception – they avoided the donut.

Northwood head coach Austin Brown was defensive coordinator for Northwood that night. “We let the offense hear about it a little bit after that,” he says.

The other team with a long shutout-less streak is Loyola, which last got a goose-egg on the right side of the hyphen in 2012 when University Lab showed up and posted a 55-0 win.

“It seemed worse than that,” said Steven Geter, who was the Flyers’ head coach at the time and throughout much the Flyers’ streak. “We didn’t come close to scoring.”

Loyola has since scored in 108 consecutive games and also has been rarely threatened with a shutout. Until this year, the Flyers had a 65-game streak of scoring at least 10 points every game since 2015.

“I know it’s a big deal (to avoid a shutout) but I never really thought about going down at the end of the game and kicking a field goal to try to avoid it just to say I didn’t get shut out,” Geter says. “I always looked at it as just trying to get better, even if that meant having younger guys in the game at the end.”

But in Geter’s first term as Loyola head coach, he did get his shutout hat handed to him a few times – 49-0, 41-0 (2008) and 30-0 (2009).

“In games like that, you are trying to put together some kind of drive or some kind of momentum so you can come back the next week and have some positive things to build on,” he says. “But for me, it was never just to score points. Back then, I was probably too stubborn as a young coach to just go ahead and kick a field goal anyway.”

“You don’t think about it a ton, but you don’t want to get shut out,” says Brotherton, whose team was last blanked in 2016. “It’s a bigger deal the other way for the defense. We’ve had games when we are up 30 and the defensive coaches are wanting to put the starters back in to keep the shutout.”

This year, the Bucs lost 35-3 to Many in the third week of the season and did kick a fourth-quarter field goal (5:25 remaining). On that night, yards and points were hard to come by.

“It was something like fourth-and-eight and I didn’t think we could get the first down, so we kicked it,” Brotherton said. “But the comment was made on our headset – ‘At least we didn’t get shut out!’”

For Huntington coach Stephen Dennis, whose team scored 168 points combined in a four-game stretch last year – sandwiched around getting shut out by Neville – preventing a shutout may sound like the right idea, but you never really know until the game starts.

“The game dictates it,” he says. “That’s not an easy question to answer. Nobody wants to get shut out and I want our kids to know that we are still trying to score, but there are a lot of variables involved. Who are we playing? How hacked off am I? Has the other coach put his JV in?”

“At the high school level, it’s pretty hard not to score points,” Brown said. “I would say there’s a sense of urgency when you get to the fourth quarter and you still haven’t scored. It’s a relief when you do.”

“Would I do anything to avoid it?” Dennis says. “It’s not a simple yes or no.” 

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Last time SBJ schools were shut out

Year Schools  
2022 Bossier  
B.T. Washington  
Plain Dealing  
2021 Airline  
Green Oaks  
2020 Benton  
2019 Byrd  
2018 Parkway  
Captain Shreve  
North Caddo  
2016 Calvary  
2012 Loyola (108 games)  
2011 Northwood (124 games)  
Note: Does not include 2-0 forfeits