Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hamilton at Middlebury preview

Hamilton at Middlebury—Youngman Field at Alumni Stadium

Needless to say, this is a must win for the Panthers, and the Continentals can play spoiler as Middlebury looks for its first NESCAC title since 2000. Currently the Panthers are tied for first at 5-1 with Tufts whom they play next week. Tufts is at Colby to take on the Mules, so if both teams win today, as many expect them to do, next week’s game will be for the NESCAC title.

Middlebury comes into this afternoon’s game with a record of 5-1 following last week’s 22-14 victory over Trinity. The game that was played in a driving rain was delayed twice due to lightning which had to throw the timing off for both teams. On his way to Rookie of the Week honors, Donald McKillop was 14-22 for 145 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. David Randolph had 32 carries for 70 yards and Timothy Dillon had a game high six receptions for 64 yards and a score.

The Panthers defense and special teams was very impressive against the Bantams. Middlebury’s defense was able to hold Trinity quarterback Eric McGrath to only 7-30 for 158 yards and an interception to go along with his 68 yard TD strike to Joe Clark. After the middle portion of the first quarter, McGrath was held to only 53 yards through the air. Middlebury was able to shutdown the Bantams running attack as they rushed for only 87 yards. The biggest play of the game for the Panthers came with 11:02 to go in the game when Jack Britton pooched a punt inside the Trinity one yard line. Two plays later Erik Woodring tackled McGrath in the end zone for a safety to give the Panthers a two point lead. Later, Timothy Dillon would snag a 25 yard TD strike from Donald McKillop and the Panthers kept their hopes for a NESCAC title alive. For Middlebury, Erik Woodring had 14 tackles, including three and a half for losses, Nathan Clancy had 11 tackles, and Brian Marcks earned NESCAC Defensive Player of the Week honors with five tackles, a forced fumble, broke up three passes and had an interception.

Hamilton comes into today with a record of 2-4 on the season following their 34-9 loss to Williams. In that game Williams quarterback Pat Lucey was 14-25 for 223 yards and a pair of touchdown passes, and Brian Morrissey carried the ball 31 times for 162 yards and three scores. The only touchdown of the game for Hamilton came with 7:30 remaining when Claudius Zorokong returned a kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown. Williams out gained the Continentals 425-265. Hamilton quarterback Dan Hood was 19-36 for 186 yards and threw an interception.

Hamilton has struggled this season as they have scored only 75 points in six games, but have played better of late. The Continentals opened up the season with losses to Tufts, Wesleyan and Trinity, but have rebounded to win two of their last three, including a 20-0 victory over Colby.

Hamilton is lead on offense by senior quarterback Dan Hood. Hood is a 5’11, 180 pound senior out of Simsbury, CT. For the season, Hood is 82-167 for 968 yards with four touchdowns and six interceptions. His two leading receivers are Joe Rinaldo and Maxwell Foster. Rinaldo is a 5’8, 195 pound senior from Canastota, NY. Rinaldo has 24 receptions for 235 yards and a score. Foster is a 6’1, 185 pound sophomore out of Sherborn, MA. Foster has 20 receptions for 397 yards this season. The team’s leading rusher is Mark Snickenberger, a 5’11, 195 pound freshman from Wellesley, MA. Snickenberger has 69 carries for 341 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

On defense, linebacker John Lawrence leads the team in tackles with 42, he has seven and a half tackles for a loss, has three interceptions and three and a half sacks. Lawrence is a 6’0, 215 pound sophomore out of Baldwinsville, NY. Also look out for safety Matt Pittarisi who leads the team in interceptions with four. There are two Vermonters in the Hamilton defensive starting lineup. Nick Rockwell will get the start at one of the linebacker positions, he is a 6’3, 238 pound senior from Shelburne. Rockwell is fifth on the team in tackles with 32, he also has three and a half tackles for a loss along with an interception and a sack. The other Vermonter getting a start today is defensive tackle Derek Donovan. Donovan is a 6’2, 260 pound junior from Stamford. Donovan has 19 tackles this season with two coming for losses.

By the numbers:

On offense, Middlebury comes into today’s game leading the conference in rushing at 171 yards a game, they are third in scoring with 24 points a contest, and are third in total offense at 348 yards an outing. On defense, the Panthers lead the conference allowing only 12 points a game, they are number two against the pass, are third in total defense, but only seventh against the run allowing 120 yards a game.

Hamilton is ninth in scoring offense with only 12 points a game, are fourth in passing, and are last in the conference in rushing as they gain only 86 yards an outing. On defense, the Continentals are ranked sixth in the conference allowing 21 points a game, and are ninth against the pass, but are stingy against the run as they allow only 83 yards a game.

Keys to the game:

On offense, this may be more of a passing game for the Panthers than what is the norm. Donald McKillop will have to play another strong game, and may see his arm tested more than in weeks past with Hamilton being ninth against the pass, so that will be a key. David Randolph and the running backs will have to be patient against a Hamilton run defense that is one of the best in the conference. The defense will just have to do what has become the norm over the years and that is play hard and aggressive against a team that does not put many points on the board.

Hamilton will have to do what many have not been able to do and that is play keep away from Erik Woodring, the NESCAC’s leading tackler with 13 a contest. But, with guys like Brian Marcks, Brian Young, Alex Buggy and a whole host of others, it is like picking your poison when it comes to the Panther defense. Hamilton may need to do the unexpected against the Panthers and try to trick the defense just a bit. On defense the Continentals will have to try and confuse Donald McKillop, the freshman out of Poway, California. McKillop tossed five interceptions against Williams with a variety of defensive sets by the Ephs. McKillop is poised, but is still a rookie, so he may see some sets he has never seen before.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My take on the ABA

As I drove to and from Maine for the Middlebury/Bates football game on Saturday, my mind drifted as I dodged moose poop, various road kill, and tried to figure out where on the back roads of Maine, Cow Hampshire and Vermont I could get coffee and take a much needed pee break. When it drifted, the state of the ABA came to mind. Yes, I laughed quite a bit at some of the outrageous things I have seen and heard, but then I composed my three brain cells and came up with the following...........

I really think that the end of the league is near and that it will not survive the season. There is just too much going against it right now, mainly the Play On deal falling through. The league does not have any money right now, there is very little coming in, and the reputation of the league has scared away potential corporate sponsors.

The league needs money, but with the way Mr. Newman has run his league, he won't get any from anyone. Brad is in a terrible position where he has fantastic ideas but Mr. Newman refuses to listen to him because Joe thinks he is always right about how the league should be run. As we have seen, he is quite delusional in his thoughts.

As it stands now there are teams that have not been heard from, others jumping leagues or folding, and the crucial piece of this puzzle is that there isn't a cent of revenue coming in. Combine that with astronomical debt, I simply don't see how the league can survive.

For the teams that are run well, like those in the Northeast, I would get out before the ship sinks. Obviously there are teams who run themselves well, draw well, and have the overall concept as to how to run a team. Those teams should in my opinion leave the league and create their own. Have Alex Wolff be commissioner, involve the guys from Strong Island in the new league, as well as a select few who will set guidelines and follow them.

Minor league basketball has a place in sports, but just not the way it is being run now. Look at the CBA for example that has been around forever. They have solid teams, strong guidelines, conduct extensive due diligence on prospective teams, and as a result they have been a success. Their players are scouted, and signed by not only overseas teams, but NBA teams as well.

The only solution is for Joe to sell the league. Sources have told me there is an offer on the table but he has declined to sell. If Joe doesn't sell the league, it goes down the toilet. When the league goes down, he will probably be forced into bankruptcy. Obviously this is something Joe does not want to see happen to himself and his family.

Many may give James of the Bulldogs a hard time, but at least he is trying. Owners like Larry seem to have these grand plans for their teams, but they don't do a darn thing about it. Words are one thing, actions are another. This is a league that seems to be all talk, but the action does not exist. Give James credit, he at least tries to make his team solid and has done a good job with publicizing his new franchise.

Brad Hester is just too good for this league. I know some don't seem to care for the man, but he has solid ideas, strong desire, and a love for the game. A man who cares as much as he does and works as hard as he does deserves a better fate.

Hang it up Joe, and do it before you tarnish the reputation of all of minor league basketball and take some good people with you.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Trinity at Middlebury preview

Trinity(4-1) at Middlebury(4-1)—Youngman Field at Alumni Stadium—Middlebury, VT

Middlebury is 4-1 on the season after their 13-0 victory over Bates on Saturday in Lewiston. Donald McKillop was 19-31 for 227 yards, he did not throw a touchdown but did throw an interception. David Randolph had 20 carries for 88 yards and a one yard touchdown run; Gary Cooper added the other score for the Panthers. James Millard caught five passes for 80 yards in place of the injured Derek Polsinello and Charlie Holm caught five passes for 59. Penalties killed the Panthers as they had a touchdown run by David Randolph called back on a holding call, and Charlie Holm negated a big run with a personal foul penalty.

The Middlebury defense was outstanding in holding Bates to only 189 yards of total offense. Bates quarterback Brandon Colon was only 7-26 for 82 yards and was picked off twice. The first of those interceptions was picked off by Brian Young who ran it back 48 yards to the Bobcat seven yard line. Two plays later David Randolph punched the ball in from a yard out. Bates was able to keep the ball away from Erik Woodring, the Panthers leading tackler as he had only five stops on the afternoon. Nathan Clancy lead the way with seven stops, Michael Quinn added six. Middlebury sacked Colon twice with the sacks coming from Paul Thibodeau and Eric Kamback.

The Panthers out gained the Bobcats 378-189 and held the ball for five minutes longer than the Bobcats. Middlebury’s defense was able to hold Bates to only 2-13 on their third down conversions.

Middlebury comes into today third in total offense, second in rushing yards and are fourth in the conference in scoring at 24 ppg. The defense is going to be the key to this afternoon’s contest as they are number one against the pass, are second in scoring defense allowing nine points a game, but are seventh against the run. Middlebury is plus four in the turnover department which will be a factor today. Individually for Middlebury, Andrew Matson leads the team in receptions, yards and touchdowns with 21 receptions for 302 yards and is second in the conference intouchdowns with five. David Randolph is the team’s leading rusher with 90 carries for 407 yards and four touchdowns. Erik Woodring leads the conference in tackles with 64, he is in the running for the NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Trinity shares Middlebury’s 4-1 record after their 54-13 victory over Bowdoin. Jordan Quinones carried the ball 15 times for 107 yards and two scores; Robert Jackson had 18 carries for 88 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Eric McGrath was 15-29 for 197 yards and a pair of touchdown passes to Justin Holliday. Holliday finished the afternoon with six receptions for 120 yards. The Bantams dominated on both sides of the ball as they outgained the Polar Bears 476-158 and held Bowdoin to only 74 yards on the ground. Trinity converted an incredible 15-19 on third downs and went 7-7 in the red zone.

Trinity is a team that is simply loaded on both sides of the football. Quarterback Eric McGrath is second in the NESCAC in passing with 1,259 yards and he leads the conference with 13 touchdowns. For the season McGrath is 93-185 and had thrown six interceptions to go along with his 13 touchdowns. Running back Jordan Quinones is fifth in the conference in rushing at 82 yards a contest. McGrath has some weapons to throw to in Joe Clark and Justin Holliday. Clark has 19 receptions for 339 yards and leads the NESCAC in touchdown receptions with seven. Also look out for Justin Holliday who has 17 catches for 250 yards. As a team, the Bantams lead the conference in scoring at 34 ppg, and are second in passing and in total offense. On defense, the Bantams are touch allowing 15 points a game, are third against the run and are second in total defense.

Keys to the game:

Middlebury HAS to control the football and play disciplined football. The Panthers have been plagued by penalties the last few weeks, and against a team like Trinity, that could hurt them. Donald McKillop has to take his time and be selective in his passing. Trinity is outstanding on the defensive end and will probably try to rattle the freshman QB. Trinity has 22 quarterback sacks on the year so the offensive line will have to be strong. On the defensive end they will have to try and contain Eric McGrath and all of his weapons as they can be deadly.

Trinity will have to play the style of play that has them scoring 34 points a game. McGrath is a good quarterback who has a balanced attack behind and in front of him. McGrath has an offensive line that has allowed only eight sacks this season. The defense will try to confuse Donald McKillop, and that is something that will be key as for the most part McKillop does not make many mistakes. The Bantams will also have to contain a very good Middlebury defense lead by Erik Woodring. The Panthers are very strong with a supporting cast of Alex Buggy, Chad Gurrerro, Brian Young and a strong host of others.

The Bantams lead the all-time series 23-8 and won last year’s meeting 40-9.

In other action, Amherst is at Tufts, Wesleyan is at Bowdoin, Hamilton is at Williams, and in a battle of winless teams, Bates is at Colby.

ESPN 1490 WFAD and on the web at at 12:30 Eastern Time.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The wild weekend that was.......

It was a good and hectic weekend for the sports clown with another three game in three day stretch. No, I am not complaining, as I still can't believe they pay me to watch and talk about football.

Friday night in the rain and wind, it was Essex taking on Burlington with Essex winning this one 20-0. Essex has a solid team with Peter Dietrich and Max Librizzi sharing quarterback duties, and with the Nicasio cousins playing very well on both sides of the ball, it was a fairly convincing win for the Hornets. Burlington is not a bad team by any stretch of the imagination, they have just been killed by injuries on their front line. The big blow for the Seahorses was when quarterback A.J. Dusablon was knocked out of the game in the second quarter. A.J. is one tough kid, and although I did not see the hit as I was following the ball, it had to be nasty for A.J. to go down and to miss the second half. Thankfully for both teams, they were playing on turf as the rain was torrential at times, but the press box wasn't spared. George Commo and I were drenched with the wind whipping the rain into the booth. We had to cover our equipment and our written notes were soaked.

Saturday was Middlebury at Bates with the Panthers moving to 4-1 with a 13-0 shutout of the Bobcats. As always, the Middlebury defense was outstanding, but the offense was sluggish. Middlebury should have been able to put at least 27 points on the board, but they committed dumb penalties at the wrong times. One of those penalties cost the Panthers a touchdown that was called back on a holding call.

Bates is a very nice campus up in Maine. The field was surrounded by a new building to the north end zone, and you could see a good part of the campus from the field. We almost didn't get on the air on time though as we were having issues with the phone line. Andy Walter, the Bates SID, did a great job getting things back up and running so we could go on the air on time.

The drive up was nice, but I learned not to trust Mapquest directions. Mapquest had me going over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house and I got so lost. Finally, after driving around in circles, I found a mail carrier who got me to where I needed to go, although it was a bit late. Not his fault, I blame Mapquest. Needless to say, I asked one of the locals how to get home and it was a nice straight shot. Route four to 108, 108 to Route 2 and on home. Why couldn't it have been that easy on the way there? Oh yeah, I followed Mapquest so never mind.

Sunday, after getting home late and getting up late, I made the easy trip to Barre for the UVM/Ravens semi-pro game. UVM dropped a tough 10-7 decision in a game that was pure defense. These guys were just beating the tar out of each other, and the offenses just could not get going at all. My intern at WSKI, Tanner Acebo, ended up doing PA and did an awesome job. This is one FANTASTIC kid who just wants his shot at doing sports, and is learning that the more you do, and the more opportunities you take advantage of, the more exposure and experience you will get. Great job kid, keep it up.

Here are the totals for this weekend:

Miles driven: 631

Road kill: It was a light week, even on the backroads of Maine with only eight that I could see. But, I did see someone with a dead moose in the back of his pickup on Sunday, but that doesn't count as road kill.

Coffee consumed: Six cups while on the road.

Minutes spent lost in Maine: 45

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

How bad will I embarass myself?

This is the proverbial question of the day is how will I possibly embarrass myself? Now many say that I do that on a day by day basis when I open my mouth, but of course I disagree with that....Somewhat. But anyway, as I have been known to do, I digress. Alex Wolff of the Vermont Frost Heaves gave me a call last week wondering what my schedule was for the weekend of November 3rd and 4th. After going through the book, seeing the Middlebury football game and nothing on Sunday, relayed that in which Alex said, "How would you like to suit up for us?" I told him that well, I don't think I can play pro ball, my wife would kill me, in which he cut me off and said, "Well, we are doing a fan fest that Sunday in Burlington and are inviting members of the media to play in a scrimmage." Ahhhhhhhhhh, yes, now that I can do.

The Heaves, who are the class organization of the train wreck known as the American Basketball Association, are holding scrimmages, three point contests, and slam dunk competitions in preparation for the season. This is great PR, and a great way to get the fans involved in what has become one of the biggest draws in Vermont sports. The team is classy, its owner is classy, and the staff is one of the best in all of minor league sports. What they do is to have a member of the community, or in this case the media, be the "13th man" and actually play in an ABA game. This is one of the better league rules, and rewards those who are active in the community, or are former players/coaches and allows them to show off their skills.

Now what skills I have left are debatable at best. I played in high school, had a decent jump shot, could drive to the inside, and was a bit of a pain in the butt on defense. But, it has been quite some time since I have actually played in an organized game. I would love to be able to play more than once every five years, but this annoying thing known as my blown knee tends to get in the way of such endeavors. Sometimes breathing sets the thing off, and Lord knows the steep steps in some press boxes tend to make it scream things that are just not suitable for the FCC, or for that matter, my mother and nieces.

But, do you think I am going to miss this? Heck no. I actually went out the other day and started shooting some jumpers and did a little bit of light running. The knee screamed, but it was a good scream. The threes started coming back to me, and I actually hit four or five in a row. Not too bad for a radio guy who is just a wee bit out of shape.

Now, the big question will be, how bad will I do in the game? I know full well that Coach Voigt will laugh hysterically when he puts me in the game, and anyone who has seen my writing on the ABA will start drooling at the thought of a hard foul on me that may put me into Lake Champlain on the fly. (I have insurance, so it is all good.) Now, if Jeff Mongeon is one of the officials, he will probably call a foul on me for something like sweating on the ball, or some other foul that isn't even in the playground hoop rule book. Do I care? Heck no. This is the one chance to play in an actual game in front of actual fans. Media types don't get this kind of chance. We just babble on and on about the sports we cover and rarely have the time to actually play.

This will be FUN, and I can't wait to suit up. Sunday the fourth at Burlington's Memorial Auditorium for what will be a great chance to see the ABA champs in action.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Middlebury at Bates preview

Middlebury (3-1) at Bates(0-4)—Garcelon Field—Lewiston, Maine

Middlebury 3-1 is on the season after a 30-22 loss to Williams. Freshman quarterback Donald McKillop had his roughest outing of the season going 26-45 for 223 yards and threw five interceptions to go along with his two TD passes. On the bright side for the Panthers, David Randolph carried the ball 14 times for 124 yards and Andrew Matson had 11 receptions for 123 yards and two TD catches. Matson now has five touchdowns on the season.

The Panthers defense showed they are human as they allowed 402 yards in total offense to the Ephs, but held the NESCAC’s leading passer Pat Lucey to only 171 total yards and he did not throw a touchdown. The Panthers allowed 402 yards in total offense with 231 of those coming on the ground. Brian Morrissey had 27 carries for 137 yards and three scores, while Kevin Flynn added 66 yards on ten carries. Erik Woodring had 19 tackles, a fumble recovery and a blocked PAT as he earned NESCAC Defensive Player of the Week honors. Alex Buggy was strong as well with an interception to go along with three tackles.

The Panthers have played very well on both sides of the ball and have opened up the offense a bit this season. Coach Bob Ritter has some experience in the backfield with David Randolph, and receivers like Matson, Derek Polsinello and Timothy Dillon that can stretch the field. The receiving corps also does a very good job of blocking down field. On defense, Erik Woodring is having a career season as coming into today’s game he leads the conference in tackles with 59, has seven tackles for a loss, a sack, a fumble recovery and a blocked PAT. The defensive backfield is strong as well with Nathan Clancy, Brian Marcks, Brian Young and a host of others.

By the numbers, Randolph leads the team in rushing with 329 yards and three touchdowns. He is followed by freshman Gary Cooper with 136 yards and a pair of scores. On the receiving end, Matson leads the team with 17 receptions for 263 yards and five touchdowns. Timothy Dillon has caught 12 balls for 150 yards to rank second. On defense, Erik Woodring leads the team in just about all defensive categories. On special teams, James Millard is dangerous averaging 28 yards a return; he had an 80 yard kickoff return for a touchdown on the opening play of the season against Wesleyan. Middlebury ranks third in scoring offense at 26 ppg, and are fourth in total offense with 367 ypg. On defense, the Panthers allow 14 ppg and are second in the conference against the pass.

Bates is 0-4 on the year and have struggled this season. The Bobcats are coming off a 41-21 loss to Wesleyan, a game where Essex Junction native Zack Librizzi went 13-22 for 173 yards and a pair of touchdown passes. Librizzi also carried the ball nine times for 121 yards and two scores, one of those scores was a 79 yard jaunt. For the Bobcats, quarterback Brandon Colon was 12-24 for 156 yards, did not throw a TD pass and had two balls picked off, one of them went back the other way 100 yards for a touchdown, that coming from John Freres. On the ground, Greg Thornton carried the ball 12 times for 51 yards while Judd Smith was 12 for 38 and two TD runs. Bates was able to convert 11 of 18 on third downs and helf a slight edge in time of possession.

By the numbers, Bates has been outscored 131-67 and are averaging 268 yards a game in total offense while allowing 410 a contest. Opponents average 219 yards a game on the ground with Bates averaging only 98. Quarterback Brandon Colon is 54-115 for 658 yards with four touchdowns and five interceptions. Greg Thornton leads the way in rushing with 41 carries for 159 yards and a score. On the receiving end it is Matt Gregg with 14 catches for 174 yards and a TD; Ross Van Horn has 14 for 164 and Tom Beaton has caught 12 passes for 191 and two TD’s.

On the defensive end, Kyle McCallister leads the team and the conference with four interceptions running one back for a score. Todd Wilcox leads the team in tackles with 40 and tackles for a loss with three and a half. Graham Raymond is second on the team in tackles with 34 and has three and a half tackles for a loss.

Keys to the game:

Middlebury has to shake off their loss to Williams and that means quarterback Donald McKillop basically forgetting about his five interception performance against the Ephs. McKillop will have to regain the form of the first three games which he was stellar and made very few poor decisions and reads. On defense, the Panthers just need to do what they have been doing this season and that is attack as statistically, Bates has the worst defense in the league as they are allowing close to 33 points an outing.

Bates needs to be patient and somehow keep the ball away from Erik Woodring who has created havoc on defenses this year. They will also have to be quick on the passing game as with guys like David Ellis, Chad Gurrerro and a host of others, the Panthers will create problems in the backfield.

In other action, it is Colby at Hamilton, Wesleyan at Amherst, Bowdoin at Trinity and Tufts is at Williams.

Monday, October 15, 2007

What a Saturday night

Unreal. Simply unreal, mind blowing, and just about every other superlative known to mankind is what would describe the Ice Storm/Watertown game on Saturday night in Colchester.

This was a game for the ages. These are two teams who beat the snot out of each other, but have mutual respect as well. It was cold, it was raining, and the stands were packed. Trust me, if you weren't at that game, you missed one that I will be replaying in my mind for 20 years and then some. The Ice Storm came in at 14-0 on the year, and had defeated Watertown by only a point in their last meeting. The difference was a missed field goal as time expired and that was the closest the Ice Storm came to a blemish on their perfect season.

The game itself was a chess match from the beginning, and went back and forth and back and forth throughout. An Evan Hicks 38 yard field goal in the second was the only score of the first half as the teams slogged through the mud and muck. The fans were needless to say totally into the game as there were times I couldn't hear myself, or my play-by-play guy because of the insane amount of noise.

What the game boiled down to was one of the gutsiest performances I have ever seen in any sport. In the fourth quarter, with the Ice Storm down 8-3, Ice Storm wideout Rob Joy took a NASTY hit. The hit was so bad, and his knee went in directions I didn't know possible that I thought he wouldn't walk again. The screams could literally be heard across the field, and no one thought Rob would ever play again. Well, Joy ended up coming off the field under his own power, but again, with the ambulance coming, we thought he was done. Well folks, he was far from being done.

The Ice Storm got the ball back with about four to play needing a TD to win. Quarterback Brad Ruderman, who had been off target all game long finally got hot. He found Austin Partain for a gain of 15, Zach Howe picked up another big gain, and then........Joy came back on the field, with everyone thinking "Huh????" and caught a pass for a huge first down with about two to go.

Fast forward to a fourth and one, 30 seconds to go, no Ice Storm time outs and make it or go home time. Rudy threaded the needle to the human highlight film known as Austin Partain on a play I still can't believe happened. Austin, with two men on him, and the ball behind him made a circus catch at the three, Rudy spiked the ball to kill the clock, and there was time for one, maybe two plays to go with ten seconds on the clock.

Then, the incredible happened. Rob Joy, the man who could barely walk, caught a three yard TD pass with 3.9 seconds to go in what proved to be the game winning TD. He had two guys just draped all over him, and somehow he managed to make the catch. Rob threw his helmet in celebration, he was mobbed, and Colchester High School was louder than I have ever heard it before. After the game, Coach Perez said that he had told Rob not to go back on the field because he wanted Joy to be able to walk sometime during the rest of his lifetime. Good thing Rob doesn't listen very well.......

The post game party at Franny's was beyond insane. Everyone went nuts when the trophy came in, and no one could stop talking about Rob's performance. One of the funny things was when the guys went up on stage to sing "We Are the Champions" and Russell Humphries literally dragged me up to sing with them. He told me that I was a part of the team, get my hands on the trophy and sing dammit!!! (Thankfully, no one could hear my horrible singing voice.)

Thanks guys. Thanks for allowing me to be a part of this, and to become part of the Ice Storm family. As I kept saying over and over and over again, what a run. What a season, and what a group of guys. 15-0, EFL champions and you did it in style. Wow..........

Friday, October 12, 2007

The other big game........

Saturday night at Colchester High School, the Vermont Ice Storm take on the Watertown Red and Black for the Empire Football League title and I simply cannot wait.

Why can't I wait you may ask? Not only because this is a title game, and I get pumped for those, but this is a world class organization with world class people. For those who are not familiar with semi-professional football, these are guys who actually pay to play. They pay dues to the team (which is a non-profit organization) and pay for their own equipment. In other words, these are guys who play for the love of the game and they are darn good at it.

These are world class people. Guys like Jeff Miller, Russell Humphries, Brad Ruderman and so many others have treated me like a member of the family since we started broadcasting their games. It is funny, there was one time that out of the blue Russell said to me, "Chris, remember, you are part of the family now. You have been good to us, we will be good to you. If you ever need ANYTHING, you call us and you will have an army behind you." Man, I am just a media guy and he said this and meant it. I have been invited to team gatherings, and the team banquet at the end of the year. How can you not root for them?

Head Coach Doc Perez has given me access to the team that I could not have dreamed of. Doc will answer any question and take all day if I need it. When I needed a color guy for a Middlebury College football game, Doc didn't hesitate to offer his services. Now, as Doc is a college professor with a love of pontification, getting him to stop talking could have been an adventure, but he was fantastic. But, he was a bit disappointed that both teams were in the no-huddle so he couldn't talk as much as he wanted to. (Sorry Doc, I had to.)

The fan support is tremendous and they are amazing. Not only do they cheer for EVERYTHING, but they are fans who applaud the opposing team as they are coming off the field. Their attitude is that without the other team, there would not be a game, so the fans show their appreciation. Where else would you find that sort of attitude and consideration? I will answer that for you; nowhere.

As guys like former player Jerry Rascoe know, I rip on the Storm when they are not doing well, but I cannot help but root for them. Their class, their openness, and desire to win, yet be classy at the same time is refreshing and appreciated. Why they don't get more coverage than through us just simply blows my mind. (Well, Channel Three and Five do a good job, but no one else does.) They are the fifth ranked team in the nation and yet cannot seem to get the respect of the rest of the media.

Thanks Dawn, Doc, Scotty, Rudy, Kevin, Peety and the rest of the gang for treating me like family. You guys are incredible and you deserve the best. As I am a guy who wears my heart on my sleeve, let this be my way of saying thank you for the hospitality, the kindness and the friendships I have developed through this team.

Now, I have just one more thing to say to you guys..........BRING IT BOYS!!!!!!!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Middlebury/Williams preview

Just remember, you can catch the game live on ESPN 1490 WFAD starting at 1:05 Eastern Time and on the web at

Williams at Middlebury—Youngman Field at Alumni Stadium

Middlebury comes in to this afternoon’s game with a record of 3-0 on the season after last week’s 19-13 victory over Amherst. David Randolph had 18 carries for 68 yards and a pair of scores, and Donald McKillop had another solid game going 15-34 for 168 yards and did not throw an interception. On the defensive end, Eric Woodring had 15 tackles and an interception and Nathan Clancy had eight tackles for the Panthers.

Middlebury opened up the scoring on their first drive as David Randolph capped off a nine play 60 yard drive with a 32 yard TD run to make it a 7-0 game. Jack Britton then kicked a 24 yard field goal with 3:33 to go in the first and it was a 10-0 Middlebury lead. Amherst got on the board with 1:18 to go in the quarter as Guy Matsis tackled David Randolph in the end zone for a safety and at the end of one it was 10-2.

The Amherst offense got on the board two minutes into the second as Lucas Loeffler connected with Brandon Bullock on a nine yard TD strike, with the PAT it was a 10-9 game. Then with 5:39 to go in the half, David Randolph ran one in from ten yards out, his second TD of the game to make it 17-9. Middlebury tacked on a safety a minute later and at the half it was a 19-9 game.

The defenses took over in the second half as we were scoreless until the last minute of play as Bullock and Loeffler connected again on a seven yard TD pass to make it 19-16, but the ensuing onside kick failed, Middlebury ran out the clock as the Panthers moved to 3-0 with a 19-16 victory.

For the season, Middlebury is among the top of the list in most defensive categories and that defense will be put to the test against the Ephs passing attack. The Panthers are second in the NESCAC in scoring defense and fifth in the nation in that department. Middlebury is also second in the nation in turnover margin with a plus seven. The Panthers are outscoring their opponents 84-26 and are converting third downs at a rate of 45 percent. One of the stats that stands out is that the Panthers have outscored their opponents 38-2 in the first quarter and 21-0 in the third. In other words, Williams defense will have to start out strong as the Panthers can get on the board early. Middlebury leads the conference in rushing offense at 197 yards a game, are third in scoring offense at 28 points a contest and are third in total offense at 363 yards an outing. One note on the offensive end is that the Panthers have attempted the fewest passes in the NESCAC.

Williams—1-2 on the season after a come from behind 31-26 victory over Bates to win their first game of the year. Patrick Lucey went 31-44 for 348 yards and four scores and Brian Morrissey carried the ball 24 times for 130 yards and a score. Nick Caro caught six passes for 115 yards and Craig Sundberg had a pair of TD receptions. Kevin Flynn earned NESCAC Player of the Week honors as he had 276 all purpose yards against Bates. He carried the ball 11 times for 66 yards, had two receptions for 42 and had 123 yards in kick returns.

Williams has struggled this year as in the opener they were upset by Bowdoin in a game that saw the Ephs turn the ball over seven times. Many say that the Ephs have not lived up to expectations this season, but this is a Williams team that can put up points behind Morrissey, Lucey and the talented bunch of Williams receivers. Defense has been an issue for the Ephs this year as they are last in the NESCAC in scoring defense allowing 33 points an outing.

Keys to the game:

Williams will have to keep their hands on the football as they have the worst turnover margin in the NESCAC and with Middlebury having the best. Pat Lucey will have to be careful with the ball as the Panthers throw many different sets at their opponents which could confuse Lucey and the offense. They will have to contain the running attack of David Randolph, Gary Cooper and Eric Rostad as they can be deadly. With a freshman quarterback in Donald McKillop, I expect to see the Ephs throw different sets at the rookie to see if they can force him into bad decisions.

For the Panthers, they will have to stop the passing attack of Pat Lucey. Lucey is the leading passer in the NESCAC and is very well known for burning teams with his strong fleet of receivers. On offense, the Panthers will have to control the clock as they do not want the ball in Pat Lucey’s hands.


The Ephs lead the all-time series 61-17 and have not lost to the Panthers since 2000. Middlebury has not defeated Williams at home since 1987.

Monday, October 08, 2007

The weekend of insanity

First off, congratulations to the Vermont Ice Storm for their 31-19 victory over Chategueay on Saturday night in the slop and mess of Colchester High School. The Storm move on to take on Watertown on Saturday night for all of the marbles in what should be an incredible game. Pack Colchester High as this will be the first football title game outside of high school to take place in Vermont. Get em boys.

Now, for the insanity that was the weekend. Friday night I had the Springfield/Montpelier game down in Springfield as the Cosmos won that one by two scores. The field in Springfield has to be one of the nicest in the state because of its setting. The field is surrounded by trees, the stands are always packed, and the press box is way up on a hill, so the view was simply outstanding. I guess we were the first radio crew to broadcast a game there in the last four years, so that was some fodder for the broadcast. It was funny, as the Yankees/Cleveland game was going on, the guy running the scoreboard kept asking me if I could find out what the score of the game was. Too bad I couldn't tell him the Yankees had lost while we were still there.

So, I get home at midnight, listen to the Sox win and then wake up six hours later to head to Amherst, MA for the Middlebury/Amherst tilt. Coffee in hand, bagel in hand, it was a very nice trip down with the foliage and the assorted road kill that was on the side of the road. It was a great game with the Panthers moving to 3-0 on the year, and they will be a team to contend with this season in the NESCAC. The offense was strong and the defense continued to live up to all of their expectations. It was a brutally hot and humid afternoon and I was sweating my tail off up in the booth. Good press box, food there and ready, and a Sports Information staff that is top notch.

About two seconds after the game was over, I was in the car and headed back up north for the Ice Storm/Titans game. Now, as we have been broadcasting Ice Storm games for two years, and getting to know the players as I have, there was no way in the world I was going to miss this game. Mother Nature had other ideas as from about Exit One on I-89 on up, it was pouring rain and as foggy as a typical day in San Francisco. I finally got there with about six to go in the half to the cries from Dawn Miller of, "Oh sure Chris, fly right on by me and NOT SAY HELLO!!!" Ah yes, it is good to be loved. Anyway, I hobbled my tail on up to the booth, grabbed the headphones and mic, and sloshed my way over to the mud pit. I would like to thank the Chategueay quarterback for calling one of the most boneheaded plays in football history which gave me something to talk to Offensive Coordinator Scott Agulia about during the half. On the last play of the half, this guy tossed a pass down the sideline when he should have taken a knee, and Bomby returned it 70 yards for a score. Talk about a shift in momentum and the QB leaving his brain at the border.

So, I was drenched, and of course Stormy was being himself and doing everything in his power to mess up a guy who was starting to get so pooped that I was seeing three of him. Trust me, one is bad enough. So, Doc gets even wetter with the post-game Gatorade bath and the cheerleaders mud wrestled in the slop at mid-field. Ah, I love female mud wrestling and football together.

Because I am one who doesn't seem to know the meaning of the word "rest", I got out of bed the next morning and headed to Barre to do PA for the Vermont Ravens/Exeter game. This game was in many ways a pure disgrace to football as Exeter showed up with a grand total of 12 players. Yes, 12 players and one of them got hurt so the 11 on the field had to play every single down. How a team can be that disorganized just blows my mind. The guys from Exeter played very well under the circumstances, but to show up with only 12 guys makes me wonder about the league itself.

As it was a 42-0 game, I had to do something to keep myself awake and the fans involved, so UVM coach Darren Haynes was my target of the afternoon. I kept razzing him about filming the game and that he was stealing signals in the mold of Bill Bellicheater. Being the tremendous guy that he is, Darren just gave it all back and we had a great time. Darren is this huge guy who could probably still play the game and is one of the nicest guys on the planet. Anyone who takes my grief and doesn't kill me is good in my book.

Totals for the weekend are:

Three games in about 26 hours.
Road kill: I counted 28 dead things on the side of the road.
Coffee consumed: So much that I had blood in my coffee system.
Miles on the car: 792
Times cursing Mother Nature on Saturday: 43 on 89 alone.
Time spent hanging out with the tailgaters: About ten minutes as the play-by-play mobile had to get back home for the Storm game.

Until next week when Darren Haynes will probably be breaking down the signals of some poor team that he stole.......

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Middlebury/Amherst preview

Great week last week for the Panthers as they mauled Colby 41-0. I don't think Colby is that bad of a team as they had a strong opener, but I think the variations Coach Ritter has thrown into the offense has made the Panthers more difficult to defend.

For those who may have been listening to the broadcast last week, I had the good doctor, Vermont Ice Storm head coach Doc Perez doing color. The man knows his stuff, and I was quite pleased that the man who can talk for hours without breathing knew when to actually allow me to talk. (Sorry Doc, just picking on you.)

Anyway, here is the preview of the game on Saturday against Amherst. (My notes, but this is actually the way I write up pre-games.) You can catch the game live on ESPN 1490 at 1:05 or on the web at

Middlebury at Amherst—

Pratt Field, Amherst, MA. Capacity 8,000


Middlebury is 2-0 on the season and are ranked sixth in the latest NCAA Division III New England poll. The Panthers are coming off a 41-0 victory over Colby in last Saturday’s home opener. Donald McKillop went 11-14 for 172 yards and threw three TD passes, all to Andrew Matson. McKillop also ran for a two yard score. The big blow came early when on a fake punt, Steve Hardin went 66 yards for a TD which seemed to throw Colby off their game.

On the defensive end, Erik Woodring, the senior from Cos Cob, CT had 15 tackles, including four for lost yardage and a sack on his way to Defensive Player of the Week honors in the NESCAC. The Panthers picked off three passes from three different Colby quarterbacks as Middlebury has now allowed only ten points in its first two games. Middlebury ranks second in the NESCAC in total defense allowing just five points per game.


Amherst is 2-0 on the year after last Saturday’s 30-6 victory over Bowdoin. Aaron Rauh carried the ball 31 times for 159 yards and a score while Eric Mesmith rushed 23 times for 131 yards and a pair of TD’s. Overall, Amherst outrushed Bowdoin 331-23 and outgained them 390-250. There were two other key stats on the offensive end as the Lord Jeffs held the ball for 36 minutes and converted 12-20 times on third down.

On the defensive end, the Lord Jeffs were outstanding in holding Bowdoin to only 23 yards on 31 rushing attempts. A.J. Scola, a junior defensive back from Holden, MA picked off a pair of passes for an Amherst defense that ranks first in the NESCAC in total defense allowing just three points a game.

By the numbers:

Middlebury comes into today’s game ranked second in the NESCAC in scoring offense at 32.5 points a game and are second in rushing at 227.5 yards a contest. The Panthers are second in the NESCAC in passing efficiency and are third in total offense with 377 yards a game. The telling stats for today’s game are on the defensive end where Middlebury is allowing just five points a game to rank second in the conference. Middlebury allows only 169 yards in passing a game to rank third. Overall, the Panthers are second in the NESCAC in total defense as they allow 277 yards a game and have forced five more turnovers than what the offense has given up.

For Amherst, their defense is what tells the story as they are ranked first in total defense, scoring defense and yards against the run. The Lord Jeffs are second in pass defense and are a plus four in the turnover department.

Individually, David Randolph is fifth in the NESCAC in rushing with 68 yards a contest. Donald McKillop is second in passing efficiency going 24-40 for 296 yards with three TD’s and two interceptions. On defense, Erik Woodring is second in the conference in tackles with 25; David Ellis is third in the conference with two and a half sacks.

Amherst has a deadly one two punch in the backfield as they have the NESCAC’s top two rushers ion Eric Nesmith and Aaron Rauh.


This is a game in which the offenses will have a challenge in scoring points with the top two defensive teams in the NESCAC facing off. For Middlebury, expect to see quite a few different sets as they try to contain the running of Nesmith and Rauh. Amherst has only put the ball in the air 37 times this season, but Middlebury will still have to guard against the pass with sophomore Lucas Loeffler at the helm. Amherst will run and run as is evident by the Amherst media guide which says, “Handing the ball off this season will be sophomore Lucas Loeffler.”

I expect a strong game out of AJ Scola as well as tri-captain Rob Grammer along with linebackers Mike Flanagan and Nick Boehm. Again, this is a team that is deadly against the run, so Middlebury’s running backs in David Randolph, Gary Cooper, and Burlington’s Andrew Plumley who in his college debut had nine carries for 40 yards. My prediction will be much like last year, a defensive battle with Middlebury winning 10-7.


Amherst leads the all-time series 19-13, but lost last year’s meeting 7-3 in Middlebury. The defenses were outstanding as both teams gained just over 200 yards in total offense. In that game, Eric Nesmith had 105 yards on the ground for the Lord Jeffs, but the Middlebury defense was able to keep him out of the end zone as the defense sacked Amherst QB Nick Kehoe five times lead by Kevin Ryan’s two sacks.