Area standout Denton Guyer High School tight end Brian Polendey (83) gets a block on Plano Senior High School defensive lineman Daniel Tolliver (40) during the second half as Plano Senior High School hosted Denton Guyer High School at John Clark Field in Plano on Friday night, September 23, 2016. (Stewart F. House/Special Contributor)
Plano coaches apologized to Guyer tight end Brian Polendey and head coach John Walsh after seeing film on Saturday of a cheap shot that appeared to be an attempt to hurt the Miami recruit’s right knee late in the first quarter of Friday night’s District 6-6A opener.
Coaches’ film from the game shows Guyer handing the ball off to a running back and running right while Polendey, a senior, is blocking away from the play on the left side.
He is engaged with Plano’s outside linebacker when a defensive end leaves his man, runs away from the play and the ball-carrier and dives at Polendey’s knee, which buckled as a result.
“The play was going away from me, and I was blocking down on their linebacker and felt someone diving to my leg,” Polendey said. “I didn’t know if someone threw him there or what, but it completely took out my knee.”
Longtime Plano coach Jaydon McCullough said the type of play is not one he or his staff supports, and he said his player had been reprimanded. He declined to detail the punishment.
“I’ve already spoke to [Walsh] about it,” McCullough said. “We don’t condone that. We don’t teach it. It’s been addressed. The player has been reprimanded. It wasn’t malicious. The kid started crying when we talked to him about it. I don’t know why he did it. We’ve apologized to [Polendey] and the Denton Guyer football team.”
Polendey said Plano defensive coordinator Brent Graham called him on Saturday afternoon to apologize.
“I’m not angry with Plano or something,” Polendey said. “I thought they played a good game and good luck to them this season. I just want everyone to be safe. I don’t want to see anyone get a career-ending injury or anything like that.”
Plano, which lost the game 34-24 after allowing Guyer to run for 353 yards and five touchdowns, has a history of similar play.
In a 2014 game against Plano, Hebron star offensive lineman Zach Rogers, who is now at Arkansas, suffered a broken ankle on a similar play — one Walsh said he also saw film of on Saturday morning.
“I’ve been coaching for 22 years, and I’ve never seen anything like that,” Walsh said. “When the video hit the media this morning, I was told about the Hebron thing and I called [Hebron coach Brian Brazil] and he told me what had happened with them. I watched that, too. I’m not going to assume anything, but I know it’s a very unethical play.”
On Friday night, no penalty was called on the play in question, and Guyer coaches didn’t realize what had happened until running backs coach Michael Sampson saw the play in film review around 4 a.m. Saturday. It was clear then what had happened.
“We all watched it when we got to school [Saturday] morning at 8 o’clock,” Walsh said. “My initial reaction was just anger. The game we play, the safety of my boys is the utmost importance.”
Polendey said he felt fortunate to not have suffered a serious injury on the play.
“Initially, it really did hurt,” he said. “That part of my knee isn’t covered and the way he hit me, it was his helmet on my knee. If my leg had been locked out and straight, I probably wouldn’t be walking today.
“I didn’t think it was that bad until I saw it on film. On the play after that he tried to do the same thing to another kid on our team. It wasn’t just one play. It was more than just one time.”
Once he saw the play on film, Polendey said he was “pretty mad.”
“I wasn’t aware of how bad it was,” he said. “I was just like ‘Wow.’ There’s a difference between playing physical football and hurting people. When you’re playing physical football, you’re not trying to hurt people. You’re just trying to win games.
“On a couple of plays last night, I think the refs might’ve missed it because the play was going away from us and that stuff was happening. It’s important to pay attention to that stuff if you’re the ref because you can’t just let that stuff go on.”
Guyer (3-1, 1-0) continues district play on Friday when it hosts Plano East, while Plano (2-2, 0-1) travels to McKinney.