Tuesday, October 21, 2008

COMMENTARY: It’s about time the Lynx O-line got some love

By Troy Banning, DFJ Sports Editor
POSTED: October 20, 2008

Josh Evans. Cole Besaw. James Hartley. Stephan Cook. Ryan Vande Zande.

They are the big boys, covered in bruises and sweat and snot and spit with the occasional clump of dirt hanging off their facemasks. They get no love, not from you and not from me. Well, that's about to change.

Webster City's resurgence onto the football scene is no doubt remarkable considering it's a program that was just 9-27 over the past four seasons entering the 2008 campaign. Now the Lynx are back in the spotlight. They're taking their dancing cleats to the postseason for the first time in 12 years. And they'll do it at home in front of - are you listening community? what will hopefully be a packed house at Lynx Field later this month.

There are plenty of back slaps to go around. But before you can get to Webster City's backfield to offer your congratulations, first you've got to get around those big boys. They make up the offensive line. They make the machine go.

"I probably sound redundant because I say this every week, but the O-line just does an amazing job," John Hill, Webster City's poster-boy 1,000-yard rusher said following his latest highlight-reel performance - a 174-yard outburst in a 50-14 beating of Iowa Falls-Alden - Friday night. "They do a super job blocking and every week they just bust their butts."

They do more than bust their butts. They bust up the opposing defense.

Statistics never tell the entire story, but they don't lie either. So here's a bit of truth for you: Webster City leads Class 3A District 2 in total offense with more than 2,000 rushing yards and over 500 yards through the air. And while a good portion of the success must go to Hill and his backfield cohorts - tailback Ross Haren, spinback Brent Nelson and wingback Kevin Kannuan - a nice-sized chunk of it also has to be showered upon the offensive line.

Lynx head coach Bob Howard's single-wing offense is no doubt deceiving. But he's said time and time again that none of it would work without a powerful batch of men up front blowing defenders off the line and opening holes that lead to easy touchdowns.

"We lead the district in offense for a reason and it's because the line has been kicking some butt," Howard said bluntly following Friday's blowout. "I hope the line understands how big of a deal (Hill's 1,000-yard season) is for them because those guys have had some super games."

Evans and Besaw do their dirty work at the tackle positions. Vande Zande and Hartley are responsible for the interior from the guard spots. And Cook - the man in the middle at center - has what has got to be the sometimes confusing responsibility of snapping the ball to a variety of players in the shotgun at different angles.

"Stephan Cook has become a very good single-wing center," Howard said. "That ball is right there all the time and he's also blocking afterwards, and that's not easy to do."

And even though he's not an official member of the big boys club, starting tight end Karl Peterson needs to be given an honorary membership. In some offenses, ends are a big weapon in the passing game, and while it's true that Peterson gets to touch the ball from time to time - he's got 13 grabs for 245 yards and three touchdowns this season - it's also true that he would have a permanent spot standing on the sideline if he didn't know how to block and block well.

"Karl Peterson is one of the most underrated kids around," Howard said. "He isn't very heavy to do the blocking he does at tight end, but he does a great job."

The growth and growl of the Lynx line has never been more apparent than during the team's recent four-game winning streak. In wins over Hampton-Dumont, Waverly-Shell Rock, Charles City and Iowa Falls-Alden, the big boys paved the way to an eye-popping 1,341 yards in the trenches, an average of 335 an outing. That four-game output is more than the season rushing total of three District 2 teams entering Week 8.

So remember the names. Evans. Besaw. Hartley. Cook. Vande Zande. They may not make the boxscore and they may not get their pictures splashed across the pages of the newspaper in color every week, but they are a big reason - maybe the biggest reason - why Webster City will play a 10th game this season.

Football: Stone Bridge 35, Madison 0

By Dan Sousa
LoudounPrepSports.com Senior Content Editor

Vienna (Oct. 18, 2008) - The Stone Bridge High School football team captured its 21st consecutive game with a 35-0 AAA Liberty District victory at James Madison Friday night.

The Bulldogs (5-0, 8-0) got three scores from senior Michael Prince, one on a 20-yard reception from Patrick Thompson and two runs including a 93-yard sprint. Thompson finished with nearly 200 yards passing and three touchdown including TDs to John Bladel of 25 yards and to Daniel Allen, a circus one-handed 11-yard grab and run.

Madison (3-2, 4-4) didn't pick up a first down until the second half and had the ball with 1st-and-4 from the Bulldog 9 late in the game but Stone Bridge made a defensive stand to save the shutout.

Click an image to see video.

Michael Prince sprints 93 yards for his third TD of the game, making it 35-0 SB.

Daniel Allen scores on a one-handed TD catch to make it 28-0 Bulldogs.

RB's Daniel Allen on the swing pass

SB quarterback Patrick Thompson hits John Bladel again.


SB running back Daniel Allen is tripped up at the line of scrimmage.


SB running back Daniel Allen jumps thru the hole.

SB's Michael Prince scoots around the corner for a long gainer.

SB running back Daniel Allen gains 10 more yards.

Patrick Thompson completes a pass to John Bladel.


SB running back Daniel Allen for 15 more yards.


Stone Bridge coach Mickey Thompson talks to the media after his team wins its 21st consecutive game.


No. 17 Stone Bridge stays rock solid

By Jim Halley, USA TODAY

VIENNA, Va. — Stone Bridge (Ashburn, Va.) quarterback Patrick Thompson looked unflappable, maybe even bored, as he dropped back to pass. Just one play earlier, after a low snap, he had been sacked for a 13-yard loss. Given plenty of time to throw, he checked everything but his watch before finding John Blandel for a 25-yard touchdown pass.
When you're winning games by an average of 42 points, as the Bulldogs, No. 17 in the USA TODAY Super 25 high school football rankings, have been, you don't get rattled easily.

Thompson completed 13 of 21 passes for 197 yards and touchdown passes to three receivers en route to a 35-0 defeat Friday of James Madison (Vienna). Stone Bridge softened up James Madison early with the running of Daniel Allen, who twisted his way to 171 yards on 25 carries, mostly up the middle. He also had an 11-yard TD reception. Michael Prince had three touchdowns, including runs of 9 and 95 yards and a 20-yard reception.

PREP RALLY: See how the Super 25 fared

As lopsided as the game was, it was the closest one Stone Bridge (8-0) has played since its opener, a 41-28 defeat of West Springfield (Springfield).

"We sputtered a bit offensively compared to what we've been doing," said Mickey Thompson, the Bulldogs' coach and father of Patrick. "But you have to give them credit. They've always been one of the better defensive teams that we've played."

FIND MORE STORIES IN: Virginia Prince James Madison Woodson Langley Mickey Thompson West Springfield USA TODAY Super Daniel Allen Patrick Thompson Single Wing
Stone Bridge runs so many different plays out of the Single Wing that eventually one of them catches a defender unawares. Late in the game, after the Bulldogs had stopped the War Hawks on downs at the Stone Bridge 5, the speedy Prince broke open a 95-yard run that took the air out of James Madison.

"We ran in a lot of packages this week," Prince said. "We have a lot of good receivers, so somebody is going to be open, even if I'm double-teamed."

"He's one of our fastest guys and that's why he's on the wing, so he can get on the weak side," coach Thompson said.

The Bulldogs finished 14-1 last season and won the state AAA title, but were not tested much until late in the season. Now that they're getting into the heart of their schedule, coach Thompson says he hopes the players realize it won't always be easy.

"Tonight, the guys had to play a whole game. In our district, the tough games have always been Madison, Langley (McLean) and Woodson (Fairfax). That's who we're playing now, so the games are much better and you can't expect to score on every other play."

USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc

Monday, October 20, 2008

Gwinn falls to Knights and their Single-Wing Offense

By MICHAEL MURRAY Journal Sports Correspondent
GWINN - The Gwinn High School football team had a chance to edit its record book Friday night at McCormick Field.

Jake Meneghini and Norway's single-wing offense, however, had other plans.

Meneghini ran for 228 yards and four touchdowns as the Knights held off the Modeltowners, 32-19, in Mid-Peninsula Conference action.

A victory would have given Gwinn its first three-game winning streak since 1999 and its first defeat of Norway since the same year.

Instead, the Modeltowners fall to 2-6 overall and 0-6 in the conference, while Norway improves to 3-5 (2-4 in the M-PC).

Gwinn coach Dick Mettlach said the Modeltowners have no one to blame but themselves.

"We played hard, but we made mistakes and hurt ourselves," Mettlach said. "We had our chances in the first half, but we made some mental mistakes and turned the ball over.

"We shot ourselves in the foot a number of times, and that was the story of the game."

Norway took command midway through the second quarter, courtesy of a Gwinn turnover.

After Meneghini scored for the first time with 5:57 to play in the second, giving the Knights a 12-6 edge, the Modeltowners fumbled on the first play of their next possession.

"That was a mental mistake," Mettlach said. "We audibled at the line; 10 people got it and one didn't. He ran into the quarterback, and the ball was on the ground.

"It was a good (audible). If everyone goes to the right spot, it's a big play for us. Instead, it's a big play for them."

Three plays later, Meneghini took the shotgun snap from center and raced into the right corner for a 22-yard score and an 18-6 advantage.

"It was the same play (as Meneghini's first touchdown)," Norway coach Brad Grayvold said. "The blockers set up the run very well, and when Jake hits the corner, he sees a lot of green grass. For a running back, that's a good vision."

The Knights inserted the single-wing attack in the fourth quarter of a loss to Negaunee two weeks ago. Then last week, they surprised Westwood by employing the offense throughout the game.

Going without a quarterback under center gives the offense an extra blocker, Grayvold said.

"We try to put as many bodies in the hole as we can," he said. "It's been good for us the last couple of weeks. When they take away the inside, we have the speed to take it outside."

Mettlach said his team was prepared to face the single wing.

"They didn't surprise us with anything," he said. "When we got everyone where they were supposed to be, we played it well.

"But then if we get one guy out of position, or have one missed tackle, all of a sudden they're off to the races."

Gwinn took the second-half kickoff and marched 72 yards in nine plays to cut the deficit to 18-13 on Gabe Migda's 12-yard run.

In need of a defensive stop on the next series, the Modeltowners came up short, however. The Knights went 60 yards in nine plays and went up 26-13 on Meneghini's third score.

When Gwinn opened the fourth quarter with another score by Migda to pull within seven points, Norway again responded, this time with Meneghini's fourth touchdown.

Big second quarter carries Housatonic past Canton

By: TIMOTHY W. GAFFNEY , Register Citizen Staff

FALLS VILLAGE - The Housatonic football team played a brutal schedule its first four games and came away with an 0-4 record.

Drawing Tolland, Ellington and Avon in the first three games is not the best of hands, but Mountaineer second year coach Deron Bayer reminded his players not to dwell on it.

"I told them that we couldn't control the hand we were dealt, we could just do the best with what we were given."
Saturday's game could be called a jackpot game, as Housatonic (1-4) rolled over Canton 43-21 behind a 168-yard, two-touchdown rushing effort from senior Will Kennedy.
"We came out mentally prepared today," Kennedy said, "We were sick of losing and determined to do something about it."

The talented upperclassman was a one-man wrecking crew in the first half, as the home team drove down the field on the game's opening drive and didn't look back until they were up 43-7 at halftime.

Kennedy chewed up 40 yards on the 71-yard opening march that took just 1:29 off the clock. Six runs and a five-yard penalty later, Kennedy made his way on a sweep from 16 yards out. His effort didn't let up when the defense was on the field either. He added an interception, a sack and numerous tackles in the backfield as Housy stymied the 1-4 Warriors' offense while it built up the big lead.

In 2007, Bayer unveiled the single-wing offense as his team's signature attack, and it worked week after week in a 6-4 season. With that good record came a tougher schedule. Those programs, like the Mountaineers, decided somewhere along the line to buy into what their coaches were asking them to do.

That's just what started to happen in Falls Village last season.
The players bought into what Bayer and his staff were teaching them. Running a single wing runs the risk of becoming too predictable so Housy has changed up some this year.

Trevor Brissett, one of the three options who may get the ball behind center, has developed into the team's best thrower, and while he attempted only one pass against the Warriors, he made it count.
After running almost exclusively the first four times they had the ball, Brissett found blocking back Trevor Watts on a rollout from the Canton 15. Watts caught the pass on the 10 and bowled over three Warriors before bending into the end zone for a 20-0 lead.

The Warriors broke onto the scoreboard late in the second quarter when QB Tyler Campbell (10-19-190) found John Chevalier (seven catches, 137 yards) on a 32-yard strike.
Showing all grades wanted to have a voice in this win, freshman Sam Cadman took the ensuing kickoff and followed his blocking wall beautifully before streaking for an 87-yard kickoff return.

When Brissette added a 47 yard rushing score following a fumble recovery by Gian Lodevola, and Eric Avery rambled 15 yards for the Mountaineers, six touchdowns were scored by the home team in the half.
It became a junior varsity effort in the second half, and while the scoring barrage stopped, quality playing time was had by the second team.

Housatonic stays home for the next two games, playing Nonnewaug Saturday followed by a matchup with Stafford on Nov. 1.
The Mountaineers play their last road game Nov. 8 when they travel to take on Windsor Locks before finishing the season with a home game against Coventry Nov. 22 before its annual Berkshire Bowl battle with
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