Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Wind, the single-wing, sheds, Gouveia and Barber

Wind, the single-wing, sheds, Gouveia and Barber

Prior to my wonderful discovery of Newspaperland, I used to be a television guy. I spent the good majority of my four college years wrapped around a microphone, blathering about football and basketball games on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons. I wasn't the greatest play-by-play announcer in the world, but I'll tell you this: AT LEAST I WAS WARM.

I know that statement seems ridiculous, but trust me, it's just the first in a series of random points included in this blog entry.

I covered the Div. 5 Northern Region championship game on Friday afternoon, a match up that featured Edison (10-3) traveling to Stone Bridge (12-1).

Now, because it's Monday and my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers play the Miami Dolphins tonight, my brain is a bit frazzled. Here's a few random thoughts from this past Friday afternoon.

First, the wind was blowing entirely too hard. I was freezing and I hadn't even walked into the stadium yet. I had an epiphany to wear my waterproof jacket, thinking that it would be sealed enough as a top layer to not let the wind blow right through. Ya, don't think so.

Secondly, and that's it for my complaining, I swear, Stone Bridge is fun to watch! They run a single-wing offense, an offense that features a lot of really crazy stuff. Running backs spinning, handing off and doing a lot of faking. A flea-flicker is not an uncommon play. Several times, Stone Bridge ran a set with one or two tight ends, one or two running backs and two wide receivers bunched in the backfield – and they'd still throw the ball!

Edison coach Vaughn Lewis told me prior to the game that it's the most unique offense they've seen and I believe him. It's definitely one of the most unique offenses that I've seen.

Alright. Here's something else unique. Stone Bridge coach Mickey Thompson told us media folks after the game that his players hang out in an area called the “shed,” before games. According to Thompson, it's not uncommon for a few former Bulldogs to show up and offer words of encouragement.

As I often do in this space, I'll reflect on this with my own experiences in mind. As a freshman on my high school football team, I remember an area we had that was similar to Stone Bridge's “shed.” For our first home game during my freshman year, I remember a player that graduated the previous year had came back to offer a motivational speech in the locker room before the game.

He 'bout got laughed out of the room.

I don't remember what he said, but it didn't matter. We didn't listen because we were too cocky, too headstrong and too dumb. When ended up losing the game – I think by 30 or so – en route to a 5-5, playoff-less season.

Mickey Thompson doesn't have that problem.

The fact that former players are welcomed back is a good thing. It states the obvious about Thompson's program – that it's successful and people want to be a part of it.

Lastly, I was very, very impressed with Stone Bridge safety Jeron Gouveia and Edison quarterback Ben Barber. Gouveia is a heavy-hitter that tortured Edison's skill players, but Barber, to me, was the kicker – not literally.

(Side note: The Times will feature Gouveia this week as our Defensive Player of the Year in Thursday's paper, so I'll talk about Barber a bit more now.)

Here's a kid who played wide receiver last year and torched Stone Bridge to the tune of nine catches, 103 yards and a touchdown in this very game a year ago. This season, Barber has found continued success as a quarterback.

Barber passed for 1,321 yards this season, ran for 1,000 and posted 32 total touchdowns. He was also name the National District Offensive Player of the Year.

It's hard to imagine that Frank Beamer will keep him as a quarterback at Virginia Tech, but it wouldn't be hard to envision Barber filling Eddie Royal's (Westfield) shoes.

The kid created so many second-chance plays for Edison. He probably should've been tackled over 15 times in the backfield, but somehow escaped the pressure.

Wind, offensive innovation, sheds, Gouveia and Barber definitely made for an entertaining – and cold – afternoon.


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