Saturday, November 10, 2007

Mavericks gallop past Rebels

Mavericks gallop past Rebels

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

LINDSIDE — The hard-nosed defense and single-wing offense of the James Monroe Mavericks caught fire in the second quarter Friday night, sending the Mavericks spinning and slashing to a 48-6 win over the Tolsia Rebels as the first round of the Class AA playoffs got under way.

Ernie Tincher scored four touchdowns and Nick Kisiel gained 169 yards on the ground as the Mavericks improved to 10-1 on the season.

It was all Tolsia in the early going. The Rebels took their first possession 85 yards to paydirt. Quarterback Derrick Robertson completed two long passes, including a 40-yard scoring toss to Darin Parsley.

Mavericks senior lineman Chad Parker said, “We came out and they were hitting us pretty hard. ...We just need to step it up and start going from the beginning of the game, all the way out.

“They had that first score, and we had to remember back to last year — there were only two scores. They let us have six last year, we let them have six this year, and we won, so we’ll take it.”

Tolsia had beaten James Monroe 7-6 last November in the playoff semifinals.

James Monroe head coach David Witt said, “They just took the ball and rammed it down our throat. ...Then we got our running game rolling, and when you get it rolling, it puts a lot of pressure on their defense, because you get tired. And Tolsia had a lot of players on the line playing both ways.”

An interception by James Monroe’s Taylor Robertson early in the second quarter began the turnaround. Robertson’s seven-yard run tied the contest, but Logan Ray’s point-after kick hit the right upright and bounced away.

Tolsia was forced to punt on its next drive, and Kisiel ran 77 yards on first down to set up Tincher’s five-yard scoring run.

In the last minute of the half, Robertson got a crucial first down on a fourth-down play and then tossed a scoring pass to Tincher. Robertson then ran across the two point conversion for a 15-point lead.

Witt said, “When you go in 21-6 instead of 13-6, and you score right at the end of the half like that, that’s a big boost for you going in. It’s tough to recover from that, when you’re on the other end of it.”

In the third quarter the defense shut the Rebels down. Tincher scored again on a reverse and Robertson passed to Zach Mann in the back of the end zone for another six points. On the second play of the fourth quarter Tincher ran in an interception 17 yards to the goal line.

Tincher said that Tolsia’s only score was, “Mainly my fault. I blew my assignment. So it felt real good to make up for it, on that interception.”

Witt said, “If you create turnovers you’ve got things going your way, particularly if you get as good field position as we did off of them.”

Reserve running back Tanner Beasley notched the final touchdown with 2:38 left in the game.

Witt said, “We’ve got a lot of respect for Tolsia, and they have a lot of respect for us, I think. Tolsia is a class act, that’s all I can say.”

Tolsia coach Larry Waller was unavailable for comment immediately after the game.

The Mavericks will continue on to next weekend’s quarterfinal playoff round, facing No. 6 Magnolia. Game time for next weekend will be established on Sunday.

— Contact Tom Bone


Tolsia...............................6 0 0 0 — 6

James Monroe................0 21 14 13 — 48

First Quarter

Tol — Darin Parsley 40 pass from Derrick Robertson (Pass failed), 5:43

Second Quarter

J.M. — Taylor Robertson 7 run (Kick failed), 9:49

J.M. — Ernie Tincher 5 run (Logan Ray kick), 4:12

J.M. — Tincher 18 pass from T. Robertson (T. Robertson run), 0:29

Third Quarter

J.M. — Tincher 1 run (Ray kick), 4:01

J.M. — Zach Mann 15 pass from T. Robertson (Ray kick), 0:27

Fourth Quarter

J.M. — Tincher 17 interception return (Ray kick), 11:17

J.M. — Tanner Beasley 7 run (Kick wide), 2:38
The Bluefield Daily Telegraph
928 Bluefield Ave,
Bluefield, West Virginia

Friday, November 9, 2007

Northern California Athletes of the Week

Northern California Athletes of the Week
Harold Abend
Special to CalHiSports

We made a rare exception this week by naming two athletes from the same section, albeit each is from a completely different geographic setting.

One is a football player who has been nominated more than once this season, has a brother who leads a Pac-10 school in rushing but had his season cut short by injury, and after a top-notch performance against one of Northern California's top defensive teams, finally gets the nod from the committee with the deciding vote coming from Cal-Hi Sports Executive Editor Mark Tennis.

After crossing over a couple of Mt. Tamalpais foothills to interview our boys honoree at home, the caravan heads down the coast along Highway 1 to the Monterey Bay Peninsula to honor a young woman who will soon have a huge home-course advantage, and whose tools for her sport include names like Spoon, Niblick, Brassie, Baffy, Mashie, Cleek, Bulldog, Driver, Jigger, Benny and Sammy.

To see and talk with Darius Bell at home with his family in sleepy San Anselmo, one wouldn't think Darius was much different than any other high school senior – busy doing homework and working on the family computer while answering the constant ringing of his cell phone from friends calling.

However, get Bell out on a football field and this mild-mannered, well-spoken young man becomes an offensive machine who can also deliver bone-crushing tackles as a defensive back.

As a 6-1 216-pounder who often lines up alone in the Crusader backfield, opponents are pretty sure only a few things can happen and most of the time it's been bad for them. Either Bell will run the ball as a planned play, scramble and run, hand off on a reverse to teammates lined up as wing backs or launch passes to D1 prospect and the Bay Area's leading receiver Daniel Cannon (53 receptions, 1081 yards, 12 touchdowns), some of which travel 60-plus yards in the air.

The fact this finely honed athlete is doing his dandy work in the City at Riordan and not out in the Marin and Sonoma County suburbs where he grew up and still lives, is not only a testament to Darius, but to his entire family.

In order to get Darius across the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco at the wee hours of the morning, and not having him back home most nights until almost 9 pm, the Bells have sacrificed much to be sure the baby of the family receives the same opportunity as his three older sisters and two older brothers, including Kahlil, a former Marin Catholic (Kentfield) star and currently a junior at UCLA and the Bruins' leading rusher. Two two weeks ago, however, Kahlil tore his ACL and is lost for the rest of the year.

What Darius has done to show his gratitude for the sacrifices is take the bull or should we say the Crusaders by the horns and along with Cannon, has Riordan in a position to win a CCS championship in the medium schools division for the first time in many years.

"We're happy to have him and when he leaves we'll miss him a lot since our offense has been built around him and Daniel (Cannon)," head coach Mike Langridge told Cal-Hi Sports. "Darius is a great kid, works hard, is a great example to the other kids, and he hasn't disappointed us. From day one when he showed up, he clicked well and fit right in. I told the other coaches, that's the sign of a good leader. He walked right in and took charge."

Not only has Bell taken charge but he has put some big numbers on the board. This past week against a St. Francis defense that bottled up CCS leading rusher and former honoree Nick Kalpin, Darius threw for 295 yards and three touchdowns, ran in a two-point conversion and also rushed for 116 yards to give him 411 total yards in a 21-21 tie on the road in Mountain View.

For the season Bell has thrown for 1,667 yards with 15 touchdowns, a .677 completion percentage and 105 quarterback rating. As a runner, he has rushed for 586 yards (5.48 average per carry) with three touchdowns. On defense Darius has 40 tackles and a couple of sacks.

It's no wonder several schools including Villanova, Portland State, Sacramento State, Oregon and Colorado have expressed interest in having him in their offensive and possibly even defensive backfields.

While football is important, the other part of Darius' thankfulness to his family and the school that accepted him after two years at Sir Francis Drake (two blocks from the family home) is his desire to get the education needed to make something with his life.

"I'm in it for the love of the game and the education," said Bell who has his GPA up to nearly 3.0 and knows his grades are important for him to realize his dream of playing quarterback at a D1 school. "I want to go somewhere I can play quarterback. Just give me a shot like my brother."

Bell certainly has the support of his dad and mom who wandered in and out during our interview. His father, Mike, retired form the Sonoma County school system, played D1 basketball at Eastern Kentucky and wants to see his son achieve his goals. "We want to see Darius given the opportunity to prove himself as a quarterback at a major school," said the elder Bell.

It's not only his dad and brother Kahlil who were or are athletes. Mom Elizabeth, a 29-year veteran of the Sonoma and Marin County Superior Courts where she is a courtroom clerk, was a semi-pro softball player, and won two national championships as a shortstop with her Santa Rosa team.

Oldest brother Radshad, currently a Certified Public Accountant in Los Angeles, played basketball and football at Cardinal Newman back in the early 90s. Oldest sister Danielle, who played basketball at Drake, is currently working and going to Santa Rosa Junior College where she hopes to make the basketball team. Darius' other two sisters are Nerisa, who works and goes to Contra Costa College in San Pablo, and Lei, a freshman at Sonoma State.

Before the CCS playoffs begin, the Crusaders have a tough game upcoming against surging Valley Christian (San Jose) and the contest promises to be a fireworks display of big-play offense. In the ultra-tough WCAL, you can't look past anyone.

"We're happy to be in the playoffs but we're not satisfied. We know we have a CCS championship within our reach and the team is determined to make it happen," Bell said.

With Darius Bell lining up as a single-wing behind center, chances are he can and will make it happen.

Girls: Mina Harigae
(Robert Louis Stevenson, Pebble Beach)
In what may very well turn out to be one of the biggest understatements in the history of CIF California state girls' golf championship competition, our girls' honoree sheepishly told Cal-Hi Sports, "I probably have a big advantage over a lot of people. A home course advantage," said Mina Harigae (pronounced Mee-na Ha-ri-guy), who on Monday won the CIF girls' NorCal golf medalist honors after firing a 72 at the Spring Creek Golf and Country Club in Ripon.

What Harigae was referring to was the Dec. 15 state championship where she will be competing for medalist honors on her home course of Poppy Hills in Pebble Beach, a stone's throw from the prestigious Monterey Peninsula private college prep school she attends.

If Harigae can pull it off, the victory will be the ending of a high school career, but also a fitting stepping-stone to what may be a college and professional career that will have us all learning how to pronounce the name of this delightful and very talented young golfer whose parents comes from Japan.

"Mina is really a one-of-a-kind that comes along once in a lifetime," said long-time Stevenson coach and Monterey Peninsula Club head pro David Vivolo. "Not only is she an amazingly self-motivated young woman with tremendous golf ability, set goals that earned her a scholarship to Duke, could play pro right now, but she's a great teammate and well-liked, plus she's patient with other people and takes time to help them with their game. I really admire her. Look for her to be the next big star."

Speaking of teams and teammates, Mina has a great mate and best friend in Sydney Burlison, who herself received a scholarship to Stanford and helped Harigae and the Stevenson team to a second place finish in the NorCals behind St. Francis of Sacramento.

While the team, even though on its home course is not an overwhelming favorite to win the team title, Harigae, the No. 1 ranked junior golfer in the nation, already knows who her top competitor will most like be besides Burlison, since Mina has played with, beaten and is friends with the southland's top golfer, Jane Rah of Torrance, who is the favorite to win the SoCal Championship Nov. 12 at SCGA Golf Course in Murrieta.

When we asked coach Vivolo to give us a list of accomplishments for Mina we didn't realize how impressive her credentials actually were.

How about starting out with being the five-time California State Amateur Women's Champion, having won against women of all ages since she was 12 years old. Then there's the USGA Public Links Championship she won last summer, the Verizon Heritage Classic, numerous AJGA tournaments, plus she qualified and played in this past U.S. Women's Open in North Carolina and made the cut. And that's not all.

Mina made it to the semifinals of the U.S. Women's Amateur, won the Golf World West Coast Championship and was a member of the U.S. Jr. Solheim Cup this past month. Finally as a high-schooler, Mina won the CCS title in 2006 (she finished second this year with a 70 behind winner Burlison who shot a 68) and has won the Tri-County League title four years in a row.

Never, in the two-and-a-half plus years of this award, has there been an athlete honored whose first-class ticket to a pro career would seem to be paid in advance. "I knew from the time I was 12 or 13 I wanted to be a pro golfer and after college I plan on turning professional,' said Harigae, who has a 3.8 GPA and plans on studying History when she's not out hitting her Driver of Brassie.

One thing that caught our attention was the occupation of Mina's parents because we love Japanese food, especially sushi. Dad Yasunori and mom Masumi, own a restaurant in Monterey called Takara, where Yasunori is the sushi chef and Masumi also cooks.

Obviously, Mina learned to slice up opponents (not shots) from watching her dad's skillful hands required of a master sushi chef.

Next week out at Poppy Hills, Mina Harigae can bring home a big fish if she can medal at this years Girls' State Championship. If she does, yours truly may drive down to Monterey to celebrate and sip some premium cold sake at Takara Restaurant in Mina's honor.

Congratulations to Darius Bell and Mine Harigae from and

Honorable Mention
This week we expand the honorable mention section and even included some past winners who had gigantic efforts.

Tito Pica, football (De La Salle, Concord), Usua Amanam, football (Bellarmine, San Jose), Jake Davis, football (Novato), Jamie Jensen, football (Gilroy), C.J. Woodbury, football Foothill, Sacramento), Ronnie Thomas, football (Granite Bay), Mike Makela, football (Del Oro, Loomis), Kevin Rogers, football (Homestead, Cupertino), Nick Kalpin, football (Los Gatos), David Henderson, football (Lincoln, San Francisco), Tayathi Minkin, football (Stagg, Stockton)

Ashley Edwards, golf (Deer Valley, Antioch), Joy Kim, golf (Albany), Alexandra Groetsema, golf (Palo Alto), Tessa The, golf (Los Altos), Grace Na and Emily Childs, golf (Alameda), Jordan Ontiveras and Jane Lee, golf (Monte Vista, Danville), Alyssa and Kaitlyn Lo, water polo (Drake, San Anselmo).

Comments or corrections? Email or



Victory goes to the man who's desire is strongest.

Single-Wing vs Tennessee

Arkansas gets boost from reviving two-back attack
By Ron Higgins (Contact)
Tuesday, November 6, 2007

It's Tennessee week for the Arkansas Razorbacks, so it must mean it is time to get the Wildhog offense off the shelf.

The offensive formation, which features all-American running back Darren McFadden as a quarterback in a shotgun formation, with backfield mate Felix Jones as the motion man, hasn't been seen much this season.

Certainly it hasn't been employed as effectively as the Razorbacks used it in last season's 31-14 victory over the Vols in Fayetteville, a game in which McFadden ran for 181 yards and two touchdowns and passed for another TD.

But on Saturday night, when McFadden and Jones made NCAA history in a 48-36 victory over South Carolina, Arkansas ran 16 plays from the Wildhog resulting in two touchdowns and a healthy hunk of the Razorbacks' 541 rushing yards. The 541 was the sixth-highest rushing total by an SEC team in conference history.

McFadden tied an SEC record with 321 yards on 34 carries, matching Vanderbilt's Frank Mordica, who rushed for the same total in 1978 against Air Force. Jones turned in a career-high 166 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries. The NCAA confirmed on Monday that the Arkansas duo owns the Division 1-A record for combined rushing yards by teammates in a single game (487).

"It was a great feeling once you get back there (in the Wildhog) to get it going like we had it going," said McFadden, who ran eight times from the Wildhog for 117 yards. "Our coaches felt like we had it going, so they kept sending in plays for the Wildhog."

Last year, as much as anything, McFadden's play in the Wildhog spurred Arkansas to the SEC's Western Division title and got him a second-place finish in Heisman Trophy voting.

For most of this season, as the Hogs struggled to find offensive balance, new offensive coordinator David Lee hasn't relied as much on the Wildhog.

The main reason is a lot of teams did their defensive homework in the off-season.

"Last year, teams played basic defense and didn't know which way (the Wildhog) was going," Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said. "So this year, teams have been prepared and been better suited to stop it."

But against South Carolina, when McFadden and Jones got hot in the Wildhog, it was on.

"When you're hitting runs (as the Hogs did against South Carolina), we had like 9 yards a carry the first few runs, it makes you want to stay in it," Nutt said. "It's all about production. If it gets stopped, we have a tendency to go away from it and come back to it later. But the way it was going, it was hard to get away from it."

In just the first quarter against the Gamecocks, Jones ran for 119 yards, with touchdown runs of 40 and 72 yards.

"I've seen defenses do different things to try and stop the Wildhog, but it's hard to do once we get it going," Jones said. "It (the South Carolina game) was the most fun I've ever had in a game. Everything was clicking."

McFadden agreed.

"I've missed running the Wildhog a lot this year," McFadden said. "It was a lot of fun to rip off an 80-yard run, and it was fun to stand over there and watch Felix rip off his long runs."

After the game, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier jokingly accused Nutt of "Running up the score on the ground".

But Carolina defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix wasn't as jovial, staring a hole through the stat sheet.

"It's embarrassing, it's sad that somebody can run the ball the way they did," Nix said. "I hope both of those guys come out in the draft early."

It won't be soon enough for Fulmer, who tuned into the South Carolina game after the Vols beat Louisiana-Lafayette, 59-7. He couldn't feel sorry for Spurrier because Fulmer had the same helpless feeling last year in Fayetteville, when McFadden ran for 100 yards in just the second quarter.

"That's unbelievable," Fulmer said. "(South Carolina) didn't look like the same defensive football team that played against us.

"I think that goes back to (Arkansas) doing all the misdirection stuff, something you don't see every day. It's hard to simulate it in practice."

The Commercial Appeal
495 Union Ave.
Memphis, TN, 38103


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Community rallies behind Panthers

Community rallies behind Panthers for title game against Menominee

Wednesday, November 07, 2007
By Jon McQuinn 895-3528

As the state high school football playoffs enter their third week, the number of teams still standing has thinned considerably.

Meanwhile, the array of 'Good Luck' signs around Standish-Sterling Central continues to grow.

The Panthers find themselves playing in Saturday's Division 5 regional title game against Menominee, and they also find themselves making the trip to Gaylord with plenty of local support. And that is something not lost on the players or coach Paul Walderzak.

''The school support and the support around the community has just been awesome,'' Walderzak said. ''Coming do wn the road from any direction to the school, and seeing all those signs, it's been tremendous.

''The kids love it. They're eating it up, and it makes them want to get more done. We haven't had anything quite like this.''

Saturday's game kicks off at 2 p.m. at Gaylord High School. That Gaylord was chosen as the 'neutral site' for a game involving one team less than 90 minutes away and the other based on the Wisconsin border was a surprise to Walderzak.

''I'm shocked we're playing that game in Gaylord,'' Walderzak said. ''I was thinking St. Ignace, maybe Cheboygan, maybe Marquette. I don't understand why we're playing there. It seems like every other team from the U.P. is playing in the (Superior) Dome.

''I mean, we're happy - it makes for a nice trip for us - but we're surprised.''

Standish-Sterling reached Saturday's game by virtue of its 39-34 win over Tawas Area last Friday night at home. There, the Panthers overcame a 2-touchdown deficit in the early going to beat the Braves and move on.

''That was a huge game for us,'' Walderzak said. ''Tawas is a very good football team - very talented, very disciplined, very well-coached - and I've got to give my kids tons of credit for staying with them.

''There were a couple of breakdowns for us, a couple of big plays for Tawas, but our kids kept battling and we had a great second half.''

Senior running back Brad Bialobrzeski enters Saturday's game with 758 yards and 12 touchdowns, while junior quarterback Austin Collier has 1,150 rushing yards and 21 TDs. Defensively, linebackers Adam Gulvas and Jason Kandal are both approaching 130 tackles for the year, according to Walderzak.

But the Panthers will have to come up with their best game of the season to have a shot a Menominee, the state's top-ranked Division 5 team through the regular season and last year's Division 5 state champion.

The Maroons are perhaps just as famous for their offense - the single wing - as they are for their reams of success.

''You hear about all this stuff they run and it's pretty amazing,'' Walderzak said. ''It appears as though they run a lot of power, some counters, and they throw the ball well.''

Ethan Shaver keys the Maroons offense, while Matt Eisenzoph anchors the defense and plays a major role in his team's offensive backfield.

''Ethan was the U.P. Offensive Player of the Year,'' legendary Menominee coach Ken Hofer said. ''He's considered our quarterback, but technically he's our tailback.

''And Matt was the U.P. Defensive Player of the Year this season. He was an All-State linebacker last year, but he's also our fullback and our lead blocker. He's our soul.''

The Maroons reached Saturday's game by routing Elk Rapids 41-0 last weekend. Menominee put up 35 points in the second quarter in that game while Hofer watched from the press box.

''I got nailed in practice a couple of weeks ago,'' Hofer said. ''I fractured my tibia plateau, and they put a plate and seven screws in my knee a week ago Sunday.

''I'm pretty immobile right now - been in the press box the last two Saturdays. I feel better, my strength's a little bit better, but I have no other choice right now but to be in the box. I don't like it up there. There's no energy, and I feed off of that energy.''

Hofer's coached at Stephenson from 1964-71, then returned to the sidelines at Menominee in 1975. He's been there ever since.

And he's done well. Hofer enters Saturday's game with a career record of 278-122-2, and is currently eighth on the Michigan High School Athletic Association's all-time win list. In addition to last year's title, his 1998 squad won the Class BB state title.

Continuity has played a big role; in addition to Hofer and his ancient - and very effective - offense, coaches Satch Englund, Joe Noha and Jamie Schomer have been together for years. Noha played collegiately at Saginaw Valley State University in the early-1980s.

''I've got a great group of coaches, and we have a group of young people who just love to play football,'' Hofer said. ''They're willing to make changes and get better.''

Walderzak knows what his team faces this weekend, but don't expect anyone in Panther land to be awed.

''We're just going to go into it like we'd prepare for any other team,'' Walderzak said. ''We're going to look at what they do best, and do what we can to shut those things down.''

And Standish-Sterling knows it will have a pretty good ''12th man'' in the stands come Saturday.

''What's happened around here is really special,'' Walderzak said. ''You hear of other communities who go through this, and it's a great feeling to be in the middle of it.''

Bay City Times/ Michigan Live


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

SSC Takes Aim at Menominee Juggernaut

Division 5 Regional Final Preview: SSC Takes Aim at Menominee Juggernaut
by Brent Baker of Buckland Media

STANDISH-STERLING - The Standish-Sterling football team has known for the past three years that the road to Ford Field goes through Menominee.

The past two seasons, they haven't gotten the chance to play the Maroons, who won last year's Division 5 state title with a dominating squad that never allowed more than 10 points in a game.

This year, they do, and while Menominee hasn't been quite as dominating, they're still 11-0 defending state champions, riding a 25-game win streak and appear to be playing their best football of the year.

"For the past two years we've talked about getting the chance to play them," said SSC coach Paul Walderzak. "We're looking at this as a great opportunity to play the state champs, a team that is very, very good again this year.

"We think we have a good shot. But we also know we have to play the best football we've played this year."

Offensively, the Panthers will have to account first and foremost with Upper Peninsula player of the year Matt Eisenzopf, who has a reputation for being able to singlehandedly blow apart offensive game plans.

"He's tough, quick and just flies to the ball," Walderzak said. "He doesn't waste any time thinking about what he's going to do.

"As a running back, he runs the ball the same way. He has good speed and you really need to do a good job of wrapping him up."

Eisenzopf lines up offensively with halfback Ethan Shaver, another all-UP player that rushed for more than 1,200 yards. Adding to the challenge is the Maroons' single-wing offense, a holdover from the era of Notre Dame's Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse -- the style of football played before the mid-'50s but seldom seen today.

In the single wing, the running backs receive a direct shotgun-style snap from the center and run, pass, hand-off, spin or pitch the ball, while the quarterback is more of a blocking back that lines up behind the tackle. While there are variations of the single wing that depend on deception, Walderzak said the Maroons play it with more emphasis on straight-up power.

"Their two backs are both very good athletes who can both run, throw and catch the ball very well," Walderzak said. "They run a lot of power off tackle and traps and they throw it more than we thought they did. And they can give you a lot of different looks."

While the state title squad was virtually unchallenged through 14 games, this year's team has had a couple of close calls. Late in the year the Maroons held on for an 18-13 win over a 4-5 Marquette squad, then trailed Marinette (Wisconsin) at halftime before winning 28-14.

On the other hand, Menominee trounced Kingsford 35-0 in the fifth game of the year -- the same team that just ended NEMC co-champ Ogemaw Heights' season 51-12. Menominee has also outscored its two playoff foes 94-7.

Still, there is a reason the games get played on the field, and imposing foe or not, the Panthers are looking forward to taking their shot at the perennial power.

"We're in good spirits and excited," Walderzak said. "I have no doubt we'll give them our best."

Undefeated Butte Fall Wings It into the Playoff's

Gridiron trio reach perfection entering the playoffs
Prep Notebook

By Kris Henry
Mail Tribune
November 06, 2007
Every team seeks perfection, but few actually attain it.

In the case of three Southern Oregon football teams, however, perfection was secured this past Friday as Ashland, Butte Falls and Illinois Valley each wrapped up the regular season with undefeated records.

The trio are among only 14 football teams in Oregon with unblemished records heading into the state playoffs.

"They think it's pretty awesome and totally unexpected," Butte Falls coach Randy Stephenson says of the feeling around town. "We knew we were going to be competitive this year, but never, ever thought we'd be undefeated."

Butte Falls wrapped up the Class 1A District 2 title last Friday with a 46-0 triumph over Prospect, improving the Loggers to 9-0 overall and 8-0 in league play.

"It's not us coaches, it's the kids who have dedicated themselves to making this happen," adds Stephenson. "Their hard work has paid off."

It's been 17 years since a Butte Falls team has gone undefeated in the regular season and, in that 1990 campaign, the Loggers went 8-0 in the regular season before eventually losing in the second round of the state playoffs.

Butte Falls will make its first state playoff appearance since 1993 when it hosts Perrydale at 1 p.m. on Nov. 10, and Stephenson says the sophomore-heavy squad has high hopes of carrying over their success rate into the playoffs.

"I don't even know if they realize what they've accomplished already because they're so focused on the playoffs," says the fourth-year coach. "I think it'll sink in someday, but right now these kids want a championship."

Buoyed by the play of senior Joey Knighton and junior Josh Dyck, the 15-deep Loggers have outscored teams by an average score of about 40-9. The single-wing attack used by Butte Falls has been a staple in Stephenson's years with the school, while the defensive effort has been a pleasant surprise considering this is the first season the Loggers have had the numbers to hone their abilities in practice.

"What they've learned up until now, they've learned in games," says Stephenson, whose team missed out on the playoffs by one game last year. "But obviously they've learned it well because our defense has been real good."

Another key has been the continued development of the team's eight sophomores, led by Codey Myers, Josh McGonagle and Harley Casillas.

"With the eight sophomores we have, we should be in the thick of things for the next couple years as long as they all stick around," says Stephenson.

As for this year, the coach says a deep run through the playoffs will simply be icing on the cake.

"Win, lose or draw Saturday, nothing's going to take away how proud I am of these kids," says Stephenson.

That same sentiment is echoed by Ashland coach Charlie Hall, whose Grizzlies clinched their first playoff berth since 2000 and first league title since 1998 with their 10-0 run thus far.

"I thought it would be a little more where we'd try to go get our first winning season since I've been here," says the third-year coach, "then I thought maybe we'd creep into the playoffs after that, and maybe get a conference title sometime after that. I didn't expect it to happen all at once. But like any sport, once you get momentum and the kids gain confidence, it can go a long way."

Unlike Butte Falls, however, Ashland found itself in a tight battle seemingly each week during the regular season. The Grizzlies have won half their games by eight points or less, including a 16-14 win over Crater and a 15-8 win over Klamath Union that helped them land the Southern Sky crown.

"Every game has been a battle for us just about, especially in our conference," says Hall. "You're talking less than 10 points separated first place and third place in terms of the teams we played against. We just happened to come up with some big plays and probably had a lot of luck involved there, but the kids have taken that and run with it and are enjoying all that comes with it."

Hall credits the Grizzlies' team chemistry and a large senior class that has paid its dues to get to this point as the reasons why Ashland has been able to have such success thus far.

"Every week it's somebody different who's stepped up for us," says Hall. "It hasn't been one particular guy, it's been everybody."

Illinois Valley's perfect season is another that has been a long time coming, with the Cougars posting their first-ever 10-win, undefeated season en route to their first Class 4A Skyline Conference championship. The Cougars didn't win a game only three years ago, and the program once had a string of 20 straight losses before ending the slump in 1997.

Perry Sheehan helped get the ball rolling for IV, leading the Cougars to their first-ever appearance in the state playoffs in 2000, and Bob Thornhill picked up the torch in 2002 and has led his team to new heights.

In an uncanny twist, Illinois Valley (10-0, 5-0 Skyline) will host Marist in two weeks in only its second-ever playoff game. Marist beat the Cougars 26-8 in the first round of the state playoffs in 2000.

SEEDING AT STATE TOURNAMENTS is a tricky proposition, and it isn't done for any sport in Oregon.

But considering a setup that has the third-ranked North Medford volleyball team opening the eight-team Class 6A state tournament against top-ranked Jesuit on Friday in Hillsboro, one wonders if it may be time to give it some more thought.

It's ridiculous to have two of the top three ranked teams in any sport meet in an opening round. While the winner retains hopes for a state title, the best the losing team can hope for is a fourth-place finish.

No other matchup at the 6A tournament is as exaggerated as the one between the Crusaders (38-1-1) and Black Tornado (30-5-1). The only other opening round game pitting two ranked teams is No. 2 Central Catholic against No. 9 Sheldon, but even that is more reasonable than what's in store for North and Jesuit.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail
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Monday, November 5, 2007

WildHog is back in force for UA

WildHog is back in force for UA

Posted on Monday, November 5, 2007


FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas suddenly ran wild in the Wild-Hog.

The Razorbacks ran their Single Wing-style formation — originally known as the Wildcat — 16 times in their 48-36 victory against South Carolina on Saturday at Reynolds Razorback Stadium. With tailback Darren McFadden taking Shotgun snaps from center, the Razorbacks averaged 18. 6 yards a play the first seven times they used the formation against the Gamecocks.

The 16 plays was twice the amount the Razorbacks had used the formation in any previous game this year.

“We haven’t been really saving it,” Arkansas Coach Houston Nutt said. “It goes back to two things. How healthy was Darren ? In some nonconference games, it wasn’t a big part of [the game plan ].

“ Every time we’ve played a conference game, we’ve had it in there. To me, [Saturday ] was the best we’ve executed it. Best blocking, best running, best ballhandling, everything. We always had it as part of our plan, but it hasn’t been this good.”

McFadden tied an SEC record with 321 yards on 34 carries as the Razorbacks ran for 542 yards in the game. McFadden said recently he had been hampered by a bruised rib he sustained against Kentucky on Sept. 22.

A return to apparent full health and a return of his favorite formation worked wonders.

The highlight play out of the WildHog was a 35-yard reverse pass from Casey Dick to Lucas Miller in the second quarter that gave Arkansas a 28-10 halftime lead. It was a play Arkansas used last year in a victory against Mississippi State, and one that offensive coordinator David Lee has been begging to use.

“He said, ‘When we cross this 50, I’m dialing it up,’” Nutt said. “We said, ‘Dial it up.’”

The play worked because after McFadden handed off to Felix Jones, the entire defense was focused on Jones. When Jones flipped the ball to Dick, who had lined up at receiver, the defense split their attentions between Jones and McFadden, while Miller ran free down the middle of the field.

Nutt smiled when asked if the Razorbacks will use the play again. Whether they do or not, it’s something future opponents such as Tennessee this Saturday will have to prepare for.

“You have to make a decision: Are you going to bring that free safety up, are you going to bring those safeties up to stop Darren or Felix or are you going to play pass ?” Nutt said. “It keeps them where they’re not aggressive. They’re off-balanced.”

The Razorbacks didn’t really need to keep South Carolina’s defense off balance because they ran the ball so unmercifully. Arkansas attempted just one pass — a halfback pass for a touchdown from McFadden to Robert Johnson — in the second half, but the lack of variety did little to help the Gamecocks’ chances at stopping the run.

That’s because the game was a continuation of Arkansas’ success at the line of scrimmage. After the Razorbacks struggled to run the ball against Tennessee-Chattanooga and Auburn in October, Razorbacks offensive line coach Mike Markuson got on his players for failing to sustain their blocks.

“Mike Markuson got pretty upset a few weeks ago and said, ‘All y’all want to do is watch Darren McFadden and Felix Jones run. You ought to buy a ticket. You ought to go get some popcorn,’” Nutt said. “Everybody is eyeballing and overpopulating to stop us and, if we’re going to block 8-man fronts, you’ve got to at least block your man and maintain it. Every one of these guys maintained their blocks.”

The dressing-down worked. The Razorbacks have looked much better running the ball the past three weeks, and they were unstoppable when it mattered against the Gamecocks.

Arkansas managed to run the last 6: 42 off the clock in the fourth quarter. The Razorbacks made four first downs on 11 running plays before one last kneeldown to end the game.

“To eat up that much time, that helped,” Nutt said. “There wasn’t one complaint [from the linemen ]. They were ready, ready to go.”


Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Arkansas Single-Wing Spin Plays

Dan Spain
Single-Wing Sentinel

More and more the single-wing is making it's way back into the college level. While other colleges were using it, the first real recognition was when Florida and Arkansas started running some single-wing plays out of it's Wildcat (Now called Wildhog or Wild Hog).

Florida was running the Tebow package, which is the power series in the single-wing. Arkansas went even more traditional by putting the All-American tailback Darren McFadden, who quarterbacked in high school, back to take the direct snap.

We seen off-tackle plays, jump passes, jet sweeps, sweep passes, and now the Arkansas Razorbacks have added the spinner series.

In the November 3, 2007 Arkansas vs South Carolina game Felix Jones 72 Yard Touchdown run off a spinner play. See video below.

This was after Jones had already ran a 40 yard TD out of a variation of the "Wild Hog formation".

Casey Dick to Lucas Miller Touchdown Pass from the Wild Hog

Then late in the fourth quarter, Darren McFadden 80 Yard TD Run.

Mcfadden rushed for an SEC single-game record 323 yards on 35 carries. That's right 323 yards.

Gamecocks Coach Steve Spurrier said McFadden’s case was made again in a big way.
“Three-twenty-three ?” Spurrier said, shaking his head. “Yeah, that will get him in [the race ].”

For good measure, McFadden threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Robert Johnson out of the WildHog formation. And handed off to Felix Jones, who scored on a 7-yard run.

McFadden’s return to the highlight reels coincided with return of the WildHog.

The Razorbacks ran the WildHog formation, with McFadden at quarterback, 16 times, twice as many plays as they have in any previous game this season.

Darren Mcfadden's has distributed the ball out of the Wild Hog. Teams are so focused on Mcfadden that when he hands-off or passes, it's usually turns out to be a big play. Though he has only passes for three times, his passing rating is outrageous:

--2--- 3--- 65-- 66.7-- 21.67-- 2-- 0--- 468.7

Stay tuned to see what's next. Tebow running the wedge? Mcfadden quick kicking?

From a previous post:

Arkansas Offensive Coordinator David Lee breaks down how the Razorback offense gets McFadden into the end zone time and time again.