Pat's Reporter Blog

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012

Thursday, November 15th, 2012
Patrick Newell

* Wednesday’s sports section featured a story on the 50th anniversary of the Clyde Cole Wrestling Tournament. The narrative was mostly informational, but in the process of gathering information, Terry Stark, passed on some history of the tournament that I was unable to fit into the article. Stark is an Oxford Rotarian, and is the organization’s lead organizer in its co-sponsorship of the tourney. The tourney is named for Oxford’s wrestling coach in the 1930s and 1940s. Under Cole’s tutelage, Oxford wrestling was well regarded throughout New York. For a variety of reasons, Oxford’s athletics department dropped wrestling in 1947. For years, talk of restoring the wrestling program was bandied about, but the sport did not return until 1962. During the summer of ‘62, a 36-foot by 36-foot wrestling mat was purchased, and at the end of the fall sports season, a call was put out to any boys interested in joining the wrestling team. A total of 23 wrestlers came out for wrestling under head coach and Oxford AD, Al Doyle. Doyle was assisted by Don Hackett and Clyde Cole disciple, Edwin Winner. Oxford wrestling was on its way back.
The following year, the idea of a holiday wrestling tournament was born. It would begin a long tradition of early-season wrestling that features Chenango County teams and invited schools from around New York State. As was stated in Wednesday’s story, over 7,000 wrestlers have competed in the tourney over the previous 49 incarnations. From that group, dozens of sectional champions have been crowned, nearly 50 New York State champions, and three NCAA Division One champions including Oxford’s own, J.P. O’Connor.
Wrestling regained its rightful place in the Oxford sports program a half century ago, and its signature tournament is now the second oldest continuous running high school wrestling tournament in New York.

* As is usual, the last fall team standing this time of year is the Greene field hockey team. At 17-0 this season, the Trojans have outscored the opposition by a combined 80-3. That includes a 4-0 shellacking last weekend of two-time defending Class C state champion Cazenovia to reach the state semifinals a fifth straight year. Since the 2009 season, Greene’s only losses have come in penalty stroke shootouts, a skills competition equivalent to hockey’s penalty shots or soccer’s penalty kicks. The last time Greene lost in regulation or overtime? The 2008 state semifinals to eventual state champion Ward-Melville. Four players, all seniors, have been constants since the 2009 state title: Jahna Driscoll, Emily Conroe, Colleen Dietrich, and Emma Anderson. For Conroe, it is actually her fifth year of varsity service.  Conroe and Anderson are among the team’s scoring leaders behind Driscoll, who leads the team in goals for the third straight year. Driscoll has 22 goals and 17 assists this year, and for her career has 90 goals and 38 assists. We don’t have Greene’s career scoring records at our disposal, but presumably, she must be among the all-time leaders. The Trojans will play Section II champion Greenwich Saturday morning at Cicero-North Syracuse. Look for a preview of that game in Friday’s Evening Sun.

* A couple notes on former Chenango County athletes who are doing well. First, G-MU graduate Tonya Barnes, who scored over 1,000 points during her basketball career with the Raiders. A sophomore for Delhi Tech’s women’s team, Barnes had 16 points, three steals, four rebounds, and three assists as the Broncos evened their record at 3-3 with a 61-43 over Broome Community College earlier this week. Barnes’ high school teamate, Bri Lambert had a fine all-around floor game scoring six points to go with six steals, five assists, and five rebounds. The Delhi roster has a strong Chenango County flavor with Bainbridge-Guilford graduate Shania Vandermark and Sherburne-Earlville grad Cassie Beaver also on the roster…Remember Andy Gates? Gates played soccer and basketball for Oxford around a decade ago. Gates has paid it forward and is imparting the lessons he learned from Oxford’s coaches as the head varsity soccer coach for Walton. Gates was recognized for his coaching this past season sharing Midstate Athletic Conference coach of the year honors with Greene head coach Rick Tallman.

* Seven area seniors were selected to play in the Ernie Davis Football Classic next week. It is my no means a sure thing to earn a spot on the roster, and coaches typically nominate multiple players for the team with the hope of one or two earning spots. Expected to play in the contest are Jake Mazzarella, Bainbridge-Guilford; Dan Treadwell and Trevor Flohr, Greene; Grant Brightman and Kyle Edwards, Norwich; Paul Wonka, Oxford; and Kody Homann, Unadilla Valley.

Follow me on Twitter @evesunpat

Remembering my introduction to running

Thursday, October 25th, 2012
Patrick Newell

About 12 1/2 years ago, in early 2000, I decided to renounce my sedentary home and work lifestyle, and get back in shape. At first I tried the stationary bike, then I moved on to an elliptical cross trainer, and finally, my albatross, running.
All through high school, except my freshman year, I cagily avoided the dreaded “one-mile” run during our track and field unit in gym class. From the time I graduated from high school until my early 30s, I could probably count on my hands the number of times I went for a run – just for exercise. For me, running was only useful as a means to chase a ball, and nothing else.
It took an eye-opening moment to change my view on exercise.
My third child, Arielle, was due in about two months, and I resolved to drop some weight. I was aghast the last time I stepped on a doctor’s scale, and I kept pushing the sliding weight farther to the right than ever before. When it comes to weighing yourself, right is definitely wrong.
Back in 2000, my sister Kate was the fitness director at the Norwich YMCA, and she gave me the nickel tour of the Nautilus center. In over 20 years as a Y member, I had never set foot in the hallowed Nautilus room. That was another level up on the membership purchase, and my lone interest at the Y, to that point, was honing my marginal basketball skills.
Kate took me through the nautilus lifting stations, and the rest was up to me and my motivation. After a week on the bike, I decided I needed something else. I didn’t have music to listen to at that point (I really could have used Internet radio), so my workout was me, my machine, and my meandering thoughts. Getting me to stay in one spot for more than 20 minutes at a time is difficult enough, especially when I am willingly doling out sweat in buckets. Sweaty shirts? What the heck were those?
Sitting on a bike was boring, and the elliptical kept my interest for only 20 minutes at a time. I sure as heck wasn’t getting on the Nordic skiing track, so my logical move was my bane for years.
I remember clear as day my first run outdoors. I had pre-measured a one-mile loop from my house on Francis Ave., and made my trek mid-evening in February. With the temperature approximately in the high 20s, I equipped myself with sweatpants, two undershirts, and a sweatshirt. Not familiar with how much the body heats up during a run, I made darn sure I wasn’t freezing my hind end.
That one mile was the longest 5,280 feet I ever covered on my own. Despite running at a musical pace best defined as “largo,” I was starched by run’s end. I think I coughed up every bit of mucus my body had produced the last 10 years, then I wheezed and hacked myself into the belief that running was actually beneficial to my health.
Just like anything, the more you practice, the better you get. I gradually added tenths of miles to my runs. Literally, I progressed from 1.0, to 1.2, to 1.4 miles, and eventually up to nearly two miles. Did I ever get the running bug? Heck no! I still would rather chase a ball, but with age, you have to make some concessions. Within a few years, I was running five-kilometer races, and to my surprise, I didn’t embarrass myself.
I recount my foray into running as a segue into our selections this week as Athlete of the Week, Norwich juniors Robert Jeffrey and Matt Murray.
As a some-time runner – and competitively a few times – I have great admiration for those who attain times I can only dream about. Matt and Robert are standouts on the NHS cross country team, and neither ran distance races competitively as recently as two years ago. Matt has long been known as an outstanding sprinter and middle distance runner, and Robert was still on the soccer team at the start of fall practices this August. Matt has a leg up on Robert – by one year – and the two are setting a brisk pace that should take them to the state cross country meet next month.
As talented as these young men are, I can safely assume neither one has worn three layers of clothes while running or nearly died after the first mile.

Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012

Thursday, October 18th, 2012
Patrick Newell

* In the glow of his team’s 42-0 victory over Roscoe/Downsville last Saturday, UV head coach Daryl Decker looked across the field and saw slumping heads and shoulders as the Blue Devils met with their coach. Decker walked over to R/D head coach Fred Ahart and asked if he could say a few words to the Blue Devils. Decker had seen that look before – on the UV sidelines – three years ago. “I told them to not hang their heads. The team they played against was exactly in their shoes three years ago,” Decker said. “We didn’t finish games and got blown out 60-0. This group (of UV players) has stuck together, listened to their coaches, and they’ve become a decent team. I told them they have the potential to be a decent team. They have to stick it out through the rough times and listen to their coaches.” Decker also remembered the feeling when you’re on the short end of a blowout. He told his team that once they met their team goal for the day, they were done (scoring) and would switch it up. “My kids understood that because they know how it feels to get blown out,” Decker said. “We didn’t set out to embarrass them.” More from Decker…All season he has played the numbers game, and on game day he is never sure if he’ll have enough players to field a regulation team – 16 players. “I know I harp on it week after week, but every day I am counting guys in practice,” Decker said. “We’ve had practices where we only had 13 kids show up. You can’t do much in practice with 13 guys, and you certainly can play games. It’s a constant battle. There are probably eight guys walking around the school who used to play and could have helped us. We think by winning games and the potential of a winning season, that will help build the program and get more kids out.”

* Oxford assistant football coach Norm Kaufman is finishing up another season on the sidelines serving under head coach Ray Dayton. It’s a sure betg that Kaufman will transition to Oneonta State’s women’s basketball team this winter where he has served as an assistant coach the past few years. Kaufman was a head football coach at Norwich in the early 1970s, and has worked as an assistant almost continuously the last 40 years. I knew Kaufman had been around for at least 40 years, but I was surprised to learn that this year is actually his 51st year of coaching. Before he came to Norwich, he was an assistant coach in the New York City area for many years. “I love it,” Kaufman recently said at an Oxford football game. “It’s like a hobby to me.” Dayton had lofty praise for his venerable assistant who has probably forgotten more football than this writer will ever know. “I love the guy,” Dayton said. “He has great ideas, he loves football, and he loves working with the kids. He has no vested interest in any of the kids, but I can tell you he would do almost anything for them. Norm really loves the game, and he understands the life lessons you can gain from playing the game. He has been a great assistant, and he is even a better guy.”

* For the second time in as many weeks, we recognize a Greene soccer player as athlete of the week. Paige Wilcox has set the soccer pitch on fire since her ascension to the varsity level two years ago. For her career, she is averaging almost two goals a game, and through last week had 103 career goals. She is three shy of tying Greene’s all-time school mark, set last year by Alex Driscoll. With at least one game left this year and full season left to play, the junior striker may threaten the 150-goal mark. Without verifying statistics, I can safely conclude Wilcox will be Chenango County’s all-time leading goal scorer.

Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat

The good, the bad, and the ugly

Monday, October 15th, 2012
Patrick Newell

From this weekend’s games we have gleaned some highlights, lowlights, and moments we would prefer to forget among high school, collegiate, and professional games.

THE GOOD
* Unadilla Valley’s football team won at home for the first time since the 2010 season, and the shutout of Roscoe-Downsville’s was the first by the Storm since the 2004 season.
* Aaron Rodgers threw for a league-best six touchdowns leading the Packers past previously-unbeaten Houston. A-Rodge was producing tepid numbers the first month of the season, but last night’s offering reminds us why he was last year’s NFL MVP.
* The Alabama run defense is darn near impenetrable. Following last week’s game, the Crimson Tide are on record pace allowing 55 rushing yards per game. The defending national champs have yet to be tested, and were easily the number one team in the first BCS poll.
* Greene junior striker Paige Wilcox reached 100 career goals in just her third season on the varsity soccer team. She added three more goals Monday, and is on pace to set the school’s all-time mark – boys or girls – established by Alex Driscoll a season ago.

THE BAD
* Norwich football’s playoff situation. The Tornado did not get the division title – and home playoff game – they craved losing to Chenango Valley last Friday. The Tornado finish the regular season with a non-league game against Greene this week, and will travel to number one ranked Maine-Endwell next week for the Class B semifinals. Yes, the same M-E team that beat Norwich 49-7 two Fridays ago.
* Jose Valverde, Detroit Tigers reliever. Relievers were known as firemen years ago. Lately, Valverde has acted as an accelerant for other teams’ offense. The Yankees nearly pulled out another dramatic victory in game one of the ALCS knocking Valverde around in the ninth inning. Valverde was equally dreadful in his last ALDS appearance getting rocked by the Athletics.
* West Virginia’s hype. The number five team in last week’s AP poll was completely outplayed by Texas Tech. We’d like to think the Big East Conference has a relevant national title contender, but the Mountaineers’ poor showing discourages any of those thoughts.

THE UGLY
* Jeff Nelson’s missed call. Maybe we should call the other Jeff Nelson out of the bullpen. Okay, he’s retired, but could he do any worse? Nelson blew a call at second base Sunday night allowing the Tigers’ eighth inning to continue. The two insurance runs made it a 3-0 lead heading to the ninth. Closing the final inning is by no means a certainty in Tigerland (see Valverde), but the mindset with a three-run margin changes for both clubs. This wasn’t a bang-bang close play. Nelson was in position to make the right call, and he saw it wrong. Instant replay, anyone?
* Blowouts in high school football. That same Maine-Endwell team that rolled over Norwich last week by six touchdowns beat Susquehanna Valley, 71-0. Waverly also reached 70 points routing Dryden, 70-21, and in an exhibition, Schuylerville toppled Groton, 67-7.
* The face of Fabio Maldonado. This is a more obscure reference, but if you have an opportunity, take a look at post-UFC 153 photos of Maldonado. He was beaten to a pulp by Glover Teixieira in Saturday’s fight in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat

Greene football will suffer from Paske’s absence

Thursday, October 11th, 2012
Patrick Newell

I opened my email early Wednesday morning, and the second item I read: “Pat, a great coach was suspended for the rest of the season! Greene supports coach Paske.” I scrubbed out the corners of my eyes and murmured to no one in particular, “huh, say what?” I thought I was still dreaming.
Among Chenango County’s current coaching brethren, Paske is at the top of the list in terms of integrity, honesty, and success. A Facebook page was created late Tuesday evening in support of Paske, and through this morning had well over 800 likes. For a small community such as Greene, that is saying something. Shock waves reverberated around the area, with most people who know Paske expressing disbelief at the school’s decision. “Wow…I am shocked to hear this,” said Norwich varsity football coach John Martinson. “I’ve developed a good rapport with Tim.” Said Oxford’s coach Ray Dayton:  “Everything that Tim does is first class. He’s built a great program down there, and he’s someone I look to for advice all the time.”
From a sportswriter’s perspective, Tim is the model by which all football coaches should be judged. He gives of his time freely, and has consistently gone out of his way to provide me with whatever information I need. His suspension on Tuesday precipitated a special Greene Board of Education meeting Wednesday evening. Dozens of supporters attended with one speaker after another endorsing their football coach. No decision was made by the board of education following the meeting, so by default, Paske is not where he should be: coaching on the sidelines.
I spoke to Tim late Thursday afternoon, and he was unable to comment on the status of his suspension, but was indeed touched by the sentiments of the Greene community. “My family and I are overwhelmed and humbled,” Paske said, “…that the community has shown so much support.”
It is widely speculated that Paske was disciplined after his team did not participate in last Friday’s homecoming parade. I ask you, how many varsity football teams are out marching in a parade a couple of hours before a game? And why would they? The parade leads toward the football field where the football team is the feature attraction. Not to mention, football teams begin their pregame preparation and focus at least a couple of hours before kickoff.
Is there more to this story? If there is, no one in a position of power is able to comment on it. In the meantime, the Greene football team, one that Paske built from the ground up, will suffer from his absence.

Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012

Thursday, October 4th, 2012
Patrick Newell

I am over 15 years into this job and past 40 years old, but it’s good to know my parents will still jump to my defense – even when it isn’t necessary. Earlier today I was talking to my dad at the YMCA (we were both working out), and he mentioned that my mother read a comment online in our reader forum, “30 Seconds.” Mom was bothered by the anonymous remark, and my dad was indignant: “Don’t they know, you’re just one person, you can’t be everywhere. You have a tough job trying to please everyone.” If I thought of my job in that particular light, not only would my hair accumulate more gray, but it would also be less abundant. I used to take every negative comment personally. I remember talking to myself where I passionately defended my position. I won every one of those arguments. The truth is that no one in the writing profession is immune to criticism. Even Stephen King has received the occasional bad book review. Over time, you develop a mental callous that allows you to quickly sort out a valid criticism from an inane comment. On this level of reporting where the bulk of my news is high school sports, criticism not steeped in facts are typically born of self interest. If I do get something wrong, I take immediate measures to correct it in the next day’s edition. When it comes to coverage in the fall, I report on six football teams, 17 soccer teams (boys and girls), six volleyball teams, three swimming teams, two field hockey teams, two cross country teams, one tennis team, and one golf team. That is 38 high school sports teams, and it used to be more. Ever try to be in 38 places at once? Not possible. A trite cliche aptly sums up my game coverage process: All I can do is take it one game at a time.

I first met Kyle Edwards when he was a six-year-old in my son’s kindergarten class. I volunteered once a week, the last hour of the day, and assisted the teacher with whatever she needed. I noticed right away that Kyle was ahead of the rest of the students with his reading and writing. That year, not once did I help Kyle with any in-class assignments. Eleven years later, Kyle is now a senior at Norwich High School, and he is tomorrow’s selection as Athlete of the Week. The theme of my story was born of those first experiences, and my narrative could only come from first-hand knowledge. He was a bright-minded, outgoing young kid who was a step ahead then, and not much has changed in the now.

The late Rodney Dangerfield used to include copious “I can’t get no respect” jokes in his comedic schtick. On a more serious note, it is obvious the Norwich varsity boys soccer team “can’t get no respect” either. In reporting yesterday’s result against Chenango Forks, the NHS head coach was displeased with his team’s home field conditions. Throughout the year, the team has used the all-weather field turf for home games and many of its practices. Wednesday, the team was relegated to the modified team’s grass field adjacent to the field turf, while the varsity and junior varsity football teams practiced on the field turf. For one, seating at the modified field is BYOC (bring your own chair) Second, the field is beat up from repeated use by other teams (and Physical Education classes). And third, it is a MODIFIED field, not varsity. A friend of mine has a son who plays on the Norwich team. In all of the years I have known him, I have never heard him utter a cross word or a complaint. Following Wednesday’s game, this mild-mannered gentleman was fuming. He sought me out Thursday morning, and told me about this injustice. I am sure he is not alone in his thinking. Can you ever imagine in a 100 years the football team moving its game to an inferior field so that the soccer team could conduct a practice? Now that deserves a chuckle.

Follow me on Twitter @evesunpat

Cabrera or Trout? It’s a matter of taste

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012
Patrick Newell

By tomorrow morning, we will know if Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera won the American League Triple Crown. Unless Texas’ Josh Hamilton resuscitates his power stroke in short order, Cabrera will likely become the first player since Boston’s Carl Yastrzewski completed the feat in 1967. (Author’s note: My initial attempt at spelling Yaz’s surname was abysmal.)
Less certain than Cabrera’s history-making effort is the AL MVP tabulation, to be determined later this fall. On the West Coast, Anaheim plebe, Mike Trout, is close to making history. His rookie resume is as good as any in baseball annals, and he makes a strong case to pull off the Rookie of the Year/MVP daily double. On a personal front, I drafted Cabrera in my fantasy baseball draft, while Trout, was unavailable on draft day. Trout was subsequently snapped up by my good friend Tom Bryden, who clinched our league title a couple of weeks ago. As for me, my team secured last place around the same time Bryden earned frontrunner status.
Making a case for either player as a clearcut choice is along the lines of choosing a Big Mac or a Whopper – it comes down to one’s taste. Are you one who likes the table-setter who hits for average, steals bases, scores runs, and shows good pop with the bat? Or, do you prefer the consistent run producer who hits for a high average and power – and in the clutch — and allows his teammates to see better pitches?
Since Trout was called up in late April, the Angels have had one of the best records in all of baseball, but a bad start likely cost them a shot at the postseason. Trout has impacted and improved his team, but one has to also consider that high-priced Anaheim free agent, Albert Pujols (also a Newell draft choice), hit as many home runs in April as this writer. Since early May, Pujols has been much more “Machine like.”
Over the last two months, Detroit surged past the struggling White Sox to clinch the AL Central Division. The Tigers’ record during that time was not overly auspicious, but Cabrera’s numbers were. Not counting Tuesday night’s games, Cabrera has hit 19 homers and batted .344 since Aug. 1. Trout has dinged 12 homers, but his average is a less sublime .284 during the same time frame. When it mattered most, Cabrera was a little better than Trout, and if I had a vote that counted, Cabrera would get my nod as the AL MVP.

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012

Friday, September 28th, 2012
Patrick Newell

A quick thought or two on the Unadilla Valley football team. While most great football programs have entrenched coaching staffs, UV has had a veritable coaching carousel with four head coaches over the past four years. I learned early this past summer that last year’s head coach would not be returning. It wasn’t until a couple of weeks before preseason practice started that I was told Daryl Decker would be taking the head coaching reins. During my preseason interview, Daryl was quick to point out that he was not the sole head coach, and in fact considered Jim DuVall his co-head coach. The two of them worked together as Physical Education teachers a few years ago at UV, and both had a high regard for this current crop of students.  That is why the two of them agreed to split the head coaching salary this season. Why split the salary when it is standard in high school varsity football to pay at least one or two assistants in addition to the head coach? Because the UV school district’s athletics budget only allowed for one paid varsity football coaching position. I am not familiar with the limitations of UV’s budget, but I do know paying just one varsity football coaching position is setting up a program to fail. If you know of any other football team in Central New York that pays just one varsity football coach, please let me know.

Greene’s field hockey team has won several state titles, all in the Class A or Class B ranks. For those who do not know, the Trojans have been a Class C-sized school for as long as they have had a field hockey program, and for the first time, will compete in sectional play against other Class C schools. Head coach Sue Carlin decided it was best for her team to move back to Class C, that despite a tremendous winning record on the state level against schools significantly larger. “Our enrollment keeps dropping, and we’ll be pretty close to a Class D school in a few years,” Carlin said. “This is a special, talented group of girls, and I felt they deserved a chance to play against schools their own size.”

Lights are coming to Otselic Valley – for one weekend at least. The Vikings are renting lights for next weekend when the varsity and modified will compete in a two-day tournament. OV girls’ soccer coach, Kevin Springer, said this is the first he can ever remember Otselic Valley played any type of a night game — in any outdoors sport. “It’s a big promotional thing and great for the kids,” Springer said. The tournament will also serve as a fundraiser for the OV sports programs as concessions will be available throughout the weekend. Prior to the tournament, community members are invited to participate in a bonfire Thursday evening. “There is going to be a lot of soccer played (here) next weekend,” Springer said, summing up the tournament.

I think everyone is happy the “professional” NFL referees will return to the field this week (assuming all of the I’s are dotted in the tentative labor agreement). As for Monday night’s controversy, I have little new to add to what has already been discussed. Oh, if you’re in the one percentile of sports fans who didn’t hear, the NFL’s replacement officials blew it – big time. It is clear the referees got it wrong, and the NFL front office wrongly backed an egregious mistake. Everyone with an opinion complained ad nauseum about the need to replace the imposters, and it seems those voices were heard. One complaint I heard was to bring back the “real” referees. Let’s get this straight, the replacements in black and white stripes were real referees, not just getting a jump on their planned Halloween costume. They’re like you and me – working a day job, then officiating on the weekends for extra money. The difference is that these guys only had to learn a rulebook that is approximately one-fourth the size of the NFL’s rules and casebook. In 2003, I spent the fall months officiating local football games. My rulebook was probably 60 or 70 pages, and we had weekly meetings during the summer to review the various sections of that book. I have to assume that the NFL’s replacement officials, many of whom were high school officials, were versed in the same book I studied. It takes weeks and months of study to learn high school rules, and even longer to recognize how to correctly implement all of them during actual game action. Even though you might know what a holding call looks like, sifting through the mass of players and recognizing it with little or no time to spare is much more difficult. Compare that to the NFL rulebook. I opened a PDF file of the rulebook, and it was 244 pages. Someone recently told me that the number of words in the NFL rulebook (along with supplements for rules interpretation and implementation) exceeds the number of words in the bible. I can’t confirm that, and I sure as heck am not going to count words. Anyway, it is inconceivable that any replacement referee could ingest up to four times more rules information in a few weeks. And, as I said, to not only know the rules, but have the mental acuity to implement those rules expeditiously. That is why we saw such lengthy delays and endless referee conferences during games. No one person knows everything written in the NFL rulebook, and the substitutes who filled in for several weeks knew far short of everything. With the labor battle over, I almost choked when I saw the final agreed-upon salaries of the NFL officials. Hard for me to garner much sympathy for their plight when the five-year accrued salary for an NFL referee is between $900,000 and $1 million. That’s entertainment!

Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Friday, Sept. 21, 2012

Friday, September 21st, 2012
Patrick Newell

* Today we began our Athlete of the Week series, one we hope to run without interruption during the prime high school sports seasons. It was a bit of a delay this year as we searched for a title sponsor, and we thank Matthews Ford/Planet Preowned for stepping up to support Chenango County Athletes. The first honoree, Jake Mazzarella of Bainbridge-Guilford, is an example of making the most of an opportunity. As detailed in today’s article, Mazzarella was buried on the depth chart on last year’s varsity team. Around the midway point of last season, head coach Tim Mattingly was looking to better complement fullback Billy Holden. More and more, teams were stacking their fronts to slow Holden, who still managed a 1,000-yard season in just eight games. At tailback, Mattingly was looking for a little bit more than what he was getting. He turned to Mazzarella, and it proved a great choice. Since making his first start in the backfield, he has remained a fixture, and has gone one better this year. Instead of acting as the “change-up” to Holden’s “fastball,” Mazzarella is now the number one pitch in the B-G offense. Each week he has improved, and over the past two weeks he has rushed for nearly 500 yards to go with five touchdowns. Usually a head coach is well aware of his top prospects while they are still a year or two away from joining the varsity. As Mattingly admitted, Mazzarella was not immediately on his radar. “To be honest, we didn’t see this coming from Jacob,” Mattingly said in a phone interview earlier this week. “But boy, we’re glad he’s here.” So, too, are the rest of the Bobcats.

*NFL Films president Steve Sabol died earlier this week after an 18-month battle with brain cancer. The last time I saw him, he was introducing his father Ed at the 2011 NFL Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Canton, Ohio. Ed Sabol founded NFL films, and quickly enlisted his son as a cameraman and writer. Eventually Sabol took the reins at NFL Films as his father stepped back into retirement. In my generation — and those who grew up in the 1960s –– NFL films served as a video catalog of the greatest NFL games of that era. It told football stories that became operatic, balletic, and poetic. The narration of legendary John Facenda added gravitas to what was already cinematic beauty. Who doesn’t remember the trumpets and horns sounding off as a ballcarrier (running in super slow motion) drives forward with great exertion toward the goal line? The camera work was brilliant; the script always on point, and Facenda…well, his moniker as “the voice of God” was well deserved. If you loved football, an NFL Films presentation was a must watch. Rest in peace Mr. Sabol, and thank you for helping foster my love of sports.

* Until yesterday evening, I had not looked at the 2012 state football rankings. In an interview with Greene head coach Tim Paske, I asked if he knew his team’s ranking – if at all. He didn’t have an answer, but did say that this week’s opponent, Chenango Forks, was probably ranked pretty high. Paske was right, Chenango Forks is ranked high, number 12, but Greene is ranked even higher. The Trojans appear to have garnered some respect based on their 9-1 finish last year. Greene is presently ranked number six among Class C football teams. It’s a nice ranking, but Paske will be the first to tell you the only ranking that matters is the last poll when the state playoffs are completed. Among other local teams, Bainbridge-Guilford’s 3-0 start has it ranked number 12 in the Class D poll. Norwich, in Class B, received honorable mention status.

Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Thursday, Sept 13, 2012

Thursday, September 13th, 2012
Patrick Newell

* Today’s sports section detailed the boxing journey of 1990 Norwich graduate Angel Bovee. She followed the traditional path to success – at first – attending college after high school and earning her degree. She was building a nice career for herself in the television industry when she abruptly changed course. Is there anything greater than a 180-degree turn? Bovee went from television producer and renting a nice apartment to living out of her car and training as an Olympic-style boxer. That moved paid off as she accumulated a long list of championships including three New York Golden Gloves titles. She was working toward her ultimate goal: To compete in the Olympic Games. Unfortunately, women’s boxing did not become an official Olympic sport until this year. Bovee, who is 40 years old this year, retired after her last Golden Gloves title in 2007, mainly because she exceeded USA Olympic Boxing’s maximum age for an amateur (35). Instead, she has immersed herself in promoting women’s boxing, and is the ultimate advocate serving as a member of the USA Boxing Board of Directors. Her story is a triumph in perseverance, and you can read about it by either picking up a back copy of today’s edition or clicking on the sports link on The Evening Sun’s website.

* Through five games this season, the Greene girls varsity soccer team has a 2-3 record, and in those five games, the Trojans have scored around 15 goals. Tonight, the Trojans lost to Sidney 2-1. In the process of taking the box score, I ask for the goal scorers and those who were credited with the assist. When I asked head coach Brandy Stone who scored for Greene, she said “Paige.” As if I expected anything else. Paige Wilcox has scored, in games reported to our paper, every single goal. There is one game of the five that was not reported, so I cannot say with 100 percent certainty Wilcox has scored EVERY single goal. Still, the odds are that if the team scored, she had a part in it.

* Seems like some anomalies have crept into the football schedules for a few local teams. For me, if I want to take in some games, I’ll likely need to fill my gas tank. Norwich and Oxford play on the road in four of the first five weeks; Sherburne-Earlville played its first two games on the road; and Unadilla Valley was scheduled for road trips in three of the first four games. A back-loaded home schedule seems nice, yet you have to consider that the potential for inclement weather is more likely in mid- to late-October. Oxford’s schedule seems particularly brutal with Friday the first of three straight road games against extremely difficult opposition. Coach Ray Dayton says this is “an opportunity to see what his kids are made of.”

* I compiled an interesting statistic on Greene football for my game preview article tomorrow. Since 2008 – and not including playoff games – Greene has a 30-6 overall record for an .833 winning percentage. I do not have complete season records of every Section IV team in that time, but I can safely conclude, based on the records I do have, that the Trojans’ mark is among the top three or four overall in that time span. The streak of seven straight winning seasons is also among the top four in Section IV. Nearly every football coach I speak to is striving for the tradition and excellence of football programs such as Chenango Forks and Walton. I think Greene is there.

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