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PETALUMA — In trying to understand why Petaluma and Casa Grande should be playing each other again in high school football, let's make sure we remember what didn't happen in that 2011 Egg Bowl.

There were no knife fights. No one landed in the hospital. Riot police didn't rush to the scene. A brawl didn't happen. The situation was not grave. It was, however, ugly. Nineteen penalties, some real cheap shots. Racial epithets. Cursing. Yes, it was conduct unbecoming. No one on either side of the ball should have been proud of that night.

That said, I thought then and I still think now that canceling the next two Egg Bowls was an overreaction. The punishment didn't fit the crime. Consider the environment. I live in Petaluma. I love Petaluma. I know Petaluma.

This town is not a roiling mass of tension and anger, where people are afraid to walk the streets. People don't look over their shoulder downtown. In fact, I've heard some teenagers around here claim Petaluma is boring, a nice place to raise a family but a snoozer when it comes to raising hell.

Casa kids and Petaluma kids have spent most of their lives comfortable together, having gone through Pop Warner or Little League or CYO. They know each other. For years they have known each other. In fact, you may have noticed that every other athletic competition between the two high schools has continued.

You know what gets people hot in Petaluma, spitting anger? All those cars crawling up each other's bumpers on East Washington near Target. Yes, traffic! That's it. Traffic congestion! Talk about living the good life — when the primary disturbance in your day is five more minutes getting crosstown.

Reasonable people in a reasonable town work things out. That's why I thought the two-year ban was an overreaction. The people at the two schools — administrators and coaches — are reasonable people. No knuckleheads here dedicated to expanding their power base at the sacrifice of the community.

That's why I was so encouraged to hear what Rick Krist told me Monday.

"I think there's about a 75 percent of it (Egg Bowl) resuming (in 2014)," said Petaluma's head football coach. "I want it to happen. I know Trent (Herzog, Casa's coach) wants it to happen. Now I think it's up to the administrations of the two schools to determine whether they feel if it would be a positive experience."

Monday, I left messages for Petaluma Principal David Stirrat and Casa Principal Linda Scheele. I left messages for the assistant principals, as well. I was unsuccessful in contacting anyone. I draw no opinion as to the lack of connection. It's two weeks before Christmas break. Life is a blur right now to anyone who has a life.

If, however, the people with the decision in front of them can pause for a moment, a few things have been going on. Maybe they know already.

"Trent and I have talked about bringing the team dinner back before the Egg Bowl," Krist said. "In the past, the two teams sat on opposite sides of the room, the room split in half. Why not let the kids sit together? They know each other anyway; they grew up together.

"Trent and I also have talked, and I'm not saying this is definitive answer, but have something like having the two teams, during the week leading up to the Egg Bowl, go out to a soup kitchen and feed people. Stop making it an East Side-West Side thing. Make it a Petaluma thing."

Enjoin, not separate.

It's the city of Petaluma playing that Friday or Saturday. Work on a solution instead of throwing up brick after brick of doubt and distrust. Reasonable people like Herzog and Krist are developing reasonable scenarios.

While admitting the Egg Bowl had lost its way.

"At some point it became kind of nasty," Krist said. "So maybe it was time to take a couple steps back. Educate the kids on how to behave. I noticed this: The animosity changed (declined) when the kids got together."

Was it parents, relatives, alumni or just someone with an ax to grind who was turning up the heat, putting the kids on edge, creating the potential for boil-over during a game? Krist wouldn't say. "Adults in general," is what he did say.

Let the kids play a game, a game that most of them won't play again when they leave high school. Let the kids be kids, not vicarious tools of someone else's frustration of being a subpar athlete when they were young. Sit on your hands. Sit on your ego. Sit and enjoy a most rare thing.

"When buddies are playing buddies," Krist said. "We want to make this a positive experience they'll remember forever."

Not reinstating the Egg Bowl offers only two possible explanations.

The adults — coaches, administrators, families — aren't capable of returning it to a positive experience.

Or the players aren't capable of being disciplined and taking instruction.

I don't agree with either. In fact, I happen to believe in the opposite.

The two-year ban got everyone's attention. Got everyone to talking, how to make right what was wrong, understanding how important the Egg Bowl was to a town. The dramatic point was made. We learned. Now it's time to move on.

Going forward, after all, isn't that what we humans do really well? We could live in the past but, really, where does that take us?

Nowhere.

You can reach Staff Columnist Bob Padecky at 521-5223 or bob.padecky@pressdemocrat.com