Sports Editor’s Playbook, Tuesday, Oct. 12

Patrick Newell

I can hear the words of my significant other echoing in my head. She, who has lived in much bigger cities than Norwich during her life, has told me umpteen times about how “I seem to know everybody.” I was going through the football contest entries today and marking them off, and there are all kinds of connections I can make to the six people who finished in either a tie for first or second.
Tied for second were Jamie Frank, who was a classmate of mine from the Norwich class of 1985; Mark Abbott, who is the longtime coach of Norwich’s basketball team and a friend of mine; Darlene Beckwith of Oxford, who I have come to know well over the years through volunteer extraordinaire, Charlie McMullen; and Charles Podenak, who was last week’s contest winner.
Tied for first were Chris Vinal of Norwich and Kim Boeltz of Greene. Vinal was a varsity bowler for Norwich during his high school days and he has worked at the Norwich YMCA for some time now. My biggest tie to him is his surname. I’ve known generations of Vinals for most of my lifetime. The Boeltz name rung a bell in my head, too. Turns out she is the mom of one of Greene’s better volleyball players over the years, Megan Boeltz, and I am sure I spoke to Kim at some point on the phone prior to this week.
Just to put it on the record, I really “don’t” know everybody, it just seems like it.

– I looked at the Section III football standings today, and Sherburne-Earlville is one of 25 teams in four divisions. It seems the top two clubs in each division qualify for the postseason, and the Marauders are out of luck sitting alone in third place in the Class C South behind Canastota and Westmoreland. As S-E head coach Mike Jasper said in his post-game comments last Friday, the Marauders still have a lot to play for. S-E has not finished with an above-.500 record in division play since it joined Section III, it hasn’t had a winning season in five years, and according to our records, hasn’t won six games in a season since 1994 when it played nine-man football in the Tri-Valley League.

– I witnessed a first tonight at Norwich High School. I saw the volleyball team win a game. Okay, it doesn’t seem like much, but Norwich went winless last year, and in the smattering of Norwich matches I have seen over the years, I had never actually seen Norwich win a game, much less a match. Norwich went on to defeat Owego last night for its seventh win of the season, a tremendous turnaround for Norwich, who have not won more than five matches in a season in my tenure here. During the pre-match introductions, the two teams went through a handshake line, and it seemed like the Indians’ players stood a head taller than Norwich’s scrappy group. On the court, Norwich ultimately stood tall with its fundamental play. Norwich didn’t hurt itself and seldom made unforced errors. When you force the other team to make good shots, that puts the pressure on, and it was nice to see the tremendous strides Norwich has made in just one season. Another footnote to add, of the 2010 Norwich fall sports programs, the volleyball team is the only one that has a chance to finish with a .500 or better record. Now that is statement I have never written.

– Norwich’s golf team had its 10-match winning streak snapped by Windsor. It was matchup of STAC division leaders, and Windsor evened the season series. Leading Norwich was Ryan Hagen, who shot a 1-over-par 37 at Belden Hill Golf Club in Harpursville. Hagen started with birdies on his first three holes, then parred the fourth. Typically the fifth or sixth man for Norwich, it was a season-low score, and head coach Bob Branham was proud that Hagen was able to keep his focus. “It’s tough for a young golfer when they’re that much under par with a few holes to play, and hold it together,” Branham said. “He was able to do that.”

– In 14 matches this season, G-MU’s boys’ soccer team has seven shutouts –not all wins, though. The Raiders played to their fourth tie this season, and have the unusual soccer mark of 8-2-4 overall, one-half game behind Tri-Valley division leader Edmeston. Head coach Mark Luettger said he’s never had a season like this – four ties.

– Greene’s field hockey team improved to 11-0, and extended the club’s winning streak to 31. In a 3-1 victory over Walton, the Trojans surrendered their first goal of the season. Trojans head coach Sue Carlin said her club has its eye on the prize – winning games – all the time, and the shutouts are not a focus at all. In my conversation with Carlin Tuesday night, we agreed that pointing out unique statistics such as shutout streaks is something the media likes to do to build a story line, but it isn’t anything her team is thinking about when it steps on the field. The shutouts, in a nutshell, are a consequence of Greene’s excellence – and dominance – this season.

– The year before Greene girls’ soccer coach Brandy Stone took the head coaching job, the Trojans won a division title. Last year Greene took a step back, and even finished with a losing record. This year, Stone has the Trojans back on top in division play as her team clinched the MAC division one title Tuesday night with a win over Sidney. In all likelihood, it will be an all-Chenango County league championship game as Unadilla Valley is on course to win the Division II crown.