Georgia High School Football Kickoff Weekend

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Warner Robins, Villa Rica and Clinch County kick off new season

It’s is hard to believe that the 2018 Georgia High School Football season kicks off this weekend.  I’m not sure I have fully recovered from last year’s Class 5A championship game but I have to shake it off and turn the page to a new season.  For the past two seasons I have had a weekly feature on Georgia High School football.  I’m going to do it a little differently this year but I’m defintely going to be tuned in to high school football games on Friday nights again this fall; however, I will have a few weeks that I will miss here in the early part of the season due to personal reasons.

With each season there are three teams I always follow.  They are Warner Robins, Villa Rica and Clinch County.  Why these three teams?

I’ll start with the first one in my personal timeline – Clinch County.  My father used to play football for the Panthers.  The first football game he took me too was a Clinch County game and that’s something special to me.  Homerville is that typical small, rural Georgia town where they close down the town on Friday Nights to go to the football games.  It is a great atmosphere.  When I started high school, I attended Villa Rica High School where I attempted to play on the football team.  (There may be a blog about this later)   Then, years later, I ended up in Warner Robins and from 1984 – 2010 I spent many Friday nights in the fall at International City (now McConnell-Talbert) Stadium in Warner Robins.  I adopted Warner Robins as my team and I still follow them today.

So, here’s a little preview of the three teams I follow:

Warner Robins Demons

The Demons’ were my surprise team last season as they rebounded from a 3-8 season in 2016 to 14-1 and an appearance in the Class 5A State Championship game.  Warner Robins returns experienced quarterback Dylan Fromm (Yes, his older brother is Jake).  Dylan made his own mark on the high school field last season with a school record 3,505 yards and 35 touchdowns.  His favorite target is his brother – Tyler Fromm – who had 43 receptions for 529 yards and five touchdowns.  The only question mark for the Demons is how they will replace seven starters on defense.  The schedule is going to be interesting as well.  The Demons open tonight against Tift County as well as Colquitt County on September 14.  My gut tells me that the Demons might go 7-3 this season.

Villa Rica Wildcats

The Wildcats finished 5-5 last season and if not for two Paulding County schools (East Paulding and Paulding County), they would have made the playoffs.  In fact, the Wildcats started 4-1 but the second half was brutal with losses to Carrollton, Kell and Rome.  Villa Rica opens the season tonight at Campbell and they still have Carrollton, Rome and Kell to contend with.  Friday Night Football magazine lists Villa Rica as a team on the rise in Class 5A.  I’d like to agree with that but this is a tough region.  I’m thinking a 6-4 record for the ‘cats in 2018.

Clinch County Panthers

The Panthers are looking to repeat as Class A Public school champions this season and they have a pretty good shot at it with All-State Trezmen Marshall in his senior season.  Marshall is the first Clinch County player to be named Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Preseason Super 11.  The Georgia commit can do it all – kickoff specialist, inside linebacker, nose guard, punter, quarterback and tailback.  The Panthers finished second in the region but defeated region champion Irwin County for the state title last season.  The Panthers open at home tonight against Hebron Christian Academy before a challenging three weeks with games against Brooks County, Dooly County and Irwin County but playing these heavyweights at home will help.  I’m expecting the Panthers to roll to a 10-0 record.

As we embark on another high school football season, let me share with you some of my resources I use throughout the season:

  • Georgia High School Football Historians Assocation
    • This is absolutely the best-ever resource for team records, histories and statistical information
  • Georgia High School Football Daily
    • This has been an amazing resource of information.  It is produced and owned by Todd Holcomb and Chip Saye.  I’m not sure what’s going on with it this year as it hasn’t been updated since August 1st.
  • Score Atlanta
    • Another good source of information and stories as well as game reports.  I am usually constantly checking the High School Scoreboard on Friday nights.
  • Tommy Palmer Media Group
    • Tommy Palmer is a legend and I consider him THE expert in Georgia High School football.  He does the Georgia High School Scoreboard Radio Show starting around 10 pm on Friday nights.  Palmer also does a couple of other podcasts such as “This Week’s Top Ten” and “This Week’s Top Games”.
  • GPB Football App
    • Georgia Public Broadcasting has improved this app over the years and it is a good place to go.
  • Sportsmic App
    • This is another app on my iPhone and one I use to listen to Warner Robins broadcasts.

So here are my preseason picks to win state titles in 2018:

  • Class 7A:  McEachern
  • Class 6A: Tucker
  • Class 5A:  Rome
  • Class 4A:  Cairo
  • Class 3A: Peach County
  • Class 2A: Thomasville
  • Class 1A (Private): Eagle’s Landing Christian
  • Class 1A (Public):  Clinch County
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Three-peat! Oklahoma Thunder Takes Third Straight Gridiron Bowl Title

thunderFor the third time in the past three years, the Oklahoma Thunder knocks off a team from Tennessee to win another Gridiron Bowl Championship in the Gridiron Developmental Football League (GDFL).

The Oklahoma Thunder dominated the game early to defeat the Middle Tennessee Bulldawgs 38-15 in Gridiron Bowl IX in Birmingham, Alabama.

The Thunder had previously defeated the Nashville Storm in 2016 and Chattanooga Eagles in last season’s Gridiron Bowl.

A dominating performance by the Thunder offense broke the game open in the 2nd quarter, outscoring Middle Tennessee 25-6 in a 10-minute span.  Thunder QB Brandon Noohi threw touchdown passes of 24 and 29 yards and WR DJ Dempsey added a 13-yard TD run to lead the scoring. Noohi went finish with 229 yards passing and four touchdowns.

The Thunder defense held the explosive Bulldawgs’ offense to 202 yards.   Oklahoma’s BJ Hodshire was critical to the run defense, forcing three fumbles while holding Middle Tennessee to only 19 rushing yards on 20 attempts.  DT Calvin Barnett also had two sacks, and S DJ Wolfe also added a key interception.  The 15 points scored by Middle Tennessee were the only offensive points surrendered by the defense throughout the postseason.

With the victory, the Thunder organization now claims 7 national and world championships in its 10-year existence.   It’s three consecutive national titles are the most ever by a GDFL team.

 

Madison Radicals Finally Win AUDL Title

MadisonThe Radicals have always been the bridesmaid but never the bride when it came to the championship in the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL) but yesterday they celebrated their first title in franchise history as they defeated the Dallas Roughnecks 20-16 on their home field.

The Radicals (15-2) took an early lead when Peter Graffy scored off of an assist from Colin Camp.  Madison and Dallas (15-2) went back-and-forth throughout the rest of the first, finishing the quarter tied at 6, before the Radicals opened up a 10-8 lead heading into the halftime break. With the lead still at two late in the third quarter, Kevin Pettit-Scantling caught a deep pass to score as time expired to hand the Radicals a 15-12 advantage.  Madison pulled away in the fourth quarter, taking a 19-13 lead with 3 minutes left and holding on to seal the victory.

Kevin Brown had three assists and Andrew Meshnick and Thomas Coolidge each had two blocks for the Radicals. Brown also led the team with 22 completions.

The Radicals, which were formed in 2013 and have advanced out of the Midwest Division every season of their existence, were making their third appearance in the title game after downing Los Angeles 24-19 in the semifinals Saturday night.  The Radicals showed their experience, proving far more prepared for the intensity of the moment from the opening pull. They leaped out to score the first four goals. The four straight defensive breaks were all created by incredible Madison blocks instead of simple Los Angeles miscues from the Aviators. By the time the first quarter ended, the Radicals had blitzed the Aviators to a lead of 9-3. Pat Shriwise was especially impressive with his throws, and he finished the game with a team-high five assists on 39-of-40 throws.

Madison lost the 2013 and 2015 finals and have made five final four appearances.

The Dallas Roughnecks were making their third straight appearance in the AUDL final four having won the title in their first season in 2016 and losing to the Toronto Rush in the semifinals last season.

In their semifinal win over the New York Empire, Dallas opened the third quarter with continued pressure, forcing a Harper Garvey throwaway. The Roughnecks offense cleanly converted once again, as Dillon Larberg led the charge. He finished the game with five assists. The pace finally slowed, as both teams settled into more effective defenses. Offences held up, throwing clean points, but taking longer to score. The third quarter finished with only one turnover – ending in a Dallas break – as the Roughnecks received in the final quarter, leading 25-23. Jay Froude led Dallas in the third quarter, beating Beau Kittredge at will to pace the offense.  The fourth quarter began with Dallas again throwing to Froude deep, but Kittredge caught up and tipped the disc. It was a sign of Dallas’ impending win when Froude still easily tracked down the score. A Dallas break pushed them ahead by four points following an Empire turf.

The future of the AUDL looks to be bright as the league is on their way to raising $450,000 to take the league to a higher level to become a professional league in North America.  The AUDL currently has 150 investors to date on their effort.  The AUDL has experienced consistent growth in its first six years and hopes to expand exposure of the sport beyond the Ultimate community to include a broader sports audience and fan base, which has created the opportunity to partner with us at a very unique time.

audl_2018

 

11 Unofficial Rules for Walking In Public

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I can’t tell you the number of times I have almost been bowled over or hockey-checked against the walls with people barreling out from a side hallway or office directly into the main hallway of where I work.  It’s amazing.  To be honest, these folks walk like they drive on the highways around here – they do whatever they want to do without regard to rules, etiquette or just basic common sense.  Here I am just talking about WALKING in public.  The emphasis is on the word “public” which means there will probably be other people walking.  I know that’s a shocking concept to actually THINK of others but it is something which is seriously lacking and all you have to do is walk around downtown or an office building to see it.

So I have come up with 11 unofficial rules I have for walking in public:

  1. Be aware that there may be others walking around you!  In the world of billions of people, if you walk out into a public hallway or sidewalk there’s a good chance other people will be there too.  If you remember nothing else remember this #1 rule.
  2. Walk on the RIGHT side of the hall/sidewalk.  How hard is this?  Just do as you would driving.  I’m amazed at the people who seem to be confused by this and will try to play chicken with you or force you to move out of their way.  This is the same for entering and exiting stores.
  3. Don’t tailgate someone.  Keep at least a body length between you and the person in front of you.  If they are going too slow then go around them.  I have felt the breath of my neck several times and simply stepped over to let the tailgater pass by.  Hey buddy where’s the fire?
  4. No sudden stops.  If you have to stop suddenly, look behind you and make sure you aren’t about to take someone out.
  5. If you are stopping to have a conversation, move to the side so others can pass.  Look, I know it’s an important conversation or office gossip you are sharing but other people may want to get by.  It’s not that important to stop walking traffic for your conversation.
  6. When the elevator opens WAIT until people on the elevator exits BEFORE you enter.  Never assume the elevator is empty.  Always look before you jump onboard.
  7. When you approach a crosswalk, obey the appropriate signals to walk.  Getting hit by a car is going to hurt you regardless of who is at fault.
  8. When walking through a parking lot, it is YOUR responsibility to watch for cars.  You can see the cars better than the drivers can see you.  Don’t have one of these macho standoffs with a car.  Again, if you get hit it will hurt you more than the car.
  9. If you feel the need to light up a cigar, cigarette, vape or whatever – be mindful of people behind you.  My wife and I once were totally swallowed up by a cloud of smoke once when the people walking in front of us decided to light up.  Just turn your head around and look behind you.
  10. When you exit from a side office or hall way into a main hallway, YIELD to walkers who are already in the main hallway.  They don’t know you are going to shoot out of there like a missile.  Look both ways before entering.  How hard is that?
  11. Don’t text and walk.  People totally lose their minds when walking and trying to text at the same time.

I honestly don’t know where people learn their walking behaviors and it seems to be more common now in our “selfie” generation to people are in their own world instead of being cognizant that other people may be doing the exact same thing.

Walking with foot traffic isn’t complicated.   Just look where you are going.  Even if a hall or sidewalk is sparsely populated, it doesn’t mean you can cut around corners and charge headlong into them.    Pay attention to your surroundings and assume that there might be others walking too.

I’ve Lost The Writing Mojo

writerThere…I have confessed.  My writing has lost its steam.  I was rolling along pretty well with writing a page-per-day or 1,000 words each day working on my next novel.  Now it seems I look for every reason NOT to write.

“I MUST click on that link about what happened on the Andy Griffith Show that no one knew.”

“There must be a cat video I haven’t seen yet on YOUTUBE.”

“I need a nap.”

“I need to shop for a new (add tech gadget here) to help me with my writing.”

Here’s a good one…..”I will even read about writing.  I just don’t want to write.”

What’s wrong with me?

Apparently every writer goes through this.  Well, I don’t like it.  In fact, I would rather write a blog post than work on the novel that’s just sitting there laughing at me on my to-do list.

This is terrible.

The easy answer is to just sit down and write.  So why can’t I do it?

I think one huge thing is the lack of success in getting an agent or getting published.  It is difficult to stay motivated when you put a lot of work to submit what the agent/publisher wants only to be rejected.  If you think it’s just simply the work of submitting your manuscript, let me tell you that it’s more involved than that.  For the last submission, the agent wanted the following:

  • Two-page synopsis on the book
  • Query letter
  • Book marketing plan (isn’t that their job?)
  • Chapter summary
  • First five pages of the manuscript
  • My writing resume

Each agent wants something different so it isn’t that you can simply prepare all of this ahead of time and send them out to every agent.  Oh no.  Not so fast my friends.

So you spend time working on these requirements, send them in and immediately – thanks to the power of technology – receive a rejection email which was probably an auto-reply.

And you wonder why I have lost some steam?

It gets old.  When I first started this writing hobby (I call it a hobby because it isn’t my full-time job nor have I been published by a real publisher) you could submit your manuscript with a query letter to the publisher.  Now the publishers won’t even talk to you unless you have representation of an agent.

So, instead of being rejected by publishers, the rejections come from agents now.

The most common reason for rejection is:  “This is not what I’m looking for right now”.

I will tell you that writing is a very subjective and a very competitive venture.  One agent got bent out of shape on how I used the word “parsonage” in one of my manuscripts.  I was happy that she even gave me feedback.

So, yes, the lack of success of finding an agent/publisher has worn me down.

Another thing is that I work a full-time job.  It is difficult to carve out writing time when you work a real paying job.  I have tried several ways but none seem to gain any momentum at all.  I don’t want to get up earlier than I have to and I run out of gas at the end of the day.

So why even do it?  Why bother writing?

Oh, believe me, I have asked myself that question many times.  Why do I put myself through this?  Just work my job and let that be it right?  The problem is that I can’t do it.  I feel the desire to write.  I can’t seem to turn it off.  It’s not that I think I’m so good.  That’s not it.  It’s not that I want to be successful – although I wouldn’t turn away the extra money from it.  For some reason, I just HAVE to write.  Maybe it’s my “calling” or my purpose in life.  I just can’t stop doing it.

So what’s the answer?  Well, I’m not liking the answer.  It’s going to take discipline.  I KNOW that’s the answer but I don’t like discipline.

It seems I can find every reason NOT to write.  I need to re-discover reasons TO write and then DO it.

 

France Tops Austria for European American Football Title

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France RB Jason Aguemon led the French ground game

Just a month fresh of France winning the World Cup in the world’s most popular version of football, France’s American Football all-stars won another title, although probably not as celebrated as the World Cup, when they came back from an early deficit to defeat Austria 28-14.  France claimed their first International Federation of American Football (IFAF) title in Vantaa, Finland on Saturday.

Trailing 14-7 at the half, France staged an outstanding second half offensive display while the defense shut down the vaunted Austrian running game. France opened the scoring though in a first half that resembled a chess match between the two head coaches France’s Patrick Esume and Shuan Fatah from Austria.

French quarterback Paul Durand, who was the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, connected with Andrew James in the first quarter to give France a 7-0 lead.  Austria responded as the Austrian offensive line started opening up huge holes and running back Sandro Platzgummer who had played brilliantly all tournament long, found a gap and raced 41 yards to tie the game up at 7-7. The Austrian defense continued to dominate while quarterback Alexander Thury caught France in one on one coverage against huge wide receiver Bernhard Seikovits throwing it to him in the corner of the end zone to give Austria a 14-7 lead.

France set the tone on their opening drive of the second half driving to the Austrian 44 yard line and then Durand handed the ball off the running back Jason Aguemon on a draw play who got outside and scampered down the sideline to score the tying touchdown with three minutes gone in the third quarter.

With Austria unable to move the ball, France took over again on their own 37 yard line with just over seven minutes left in the quarter. Durand mixed up his play calling driving France down to t Austria’s one yard line and found Jerome Valbon all alone for the go ahead touchdown.

The France defense kept playing brilliant football and France took over again, at the 10 minute mark of the fourth quarter. Durand engineered a 75 yard, clock-eating, five minute long drive capping it with a beautiful 20 yard touchdown pass to Jefferson Alexandre to extend the lead to 28-14.

Austria’s offense simply could not move the ball after that. Despite two possessions in the final five minutes, including getting the ball with a minute and a half after an interception, Austria’s offense was unable to find the end zone. A final incompletion with a minute left from Thury to Adrian Platzgummer sealed the historic win for France.

Click here to watch highlights from the game.

Here are the scores from the IFAF European Tournament:

  • First Round
    • Israel 28, Spain 20
    • Switzerland 21, Slovakia 0
    • Russia 20, Norway 0
    • Serbia 56, Hungary 0
    • Czech Republic 14, Poland 7
    • Netherlands 17, Belgium 3
  • Second Round
    • Italy 40, Israel 10
    • Serbia 17, Switzerland 0
    • Great Britain 30, Russia 3
    • Czech Republic 20, Netherlands 13
  • Third Round
    • Italy 17, Serbia 14
    • Great Britain 38, Czech Republic 13
  • Group Round
    • Group A
      • Austria (2-0)
      • Sweden (1-1)
      • Denmark (0-2)
    • Group B
      • France (2-0)
      • Finland (1-1)
      • Great Britain (0-2)
  • Bronze Medal Game:  Finland 35, Sweden 21

Thanks to the American Football International website for the game reports and highlights.  If you want to know more about American Football being played around the world, you really need to visit their site and subscribe.

The First Sundays of August

first sundayWhen I was growing up as the son of a preacher man, the first Sunday of August marked the beginning of a new church year in our denomination.  Over the course of 18 years at home, seven of those first Sundays in August were the first Sunday in a new church.  Let me tell you that those first Sundays in a new church were scary.  I never liked them.  The preacher’s family is always in a fish bowl but never as much as that first Sunday when everyone is checking out the new preacher and his family.  It was never a fun experience for me and perhaps one reason I am quite reserved in the beginning when I meet new people or I am in a new situation.

Kids are cruel and I have experienced that first hand in the church and before any first day in a new school.  In many of these first Sundays I heard their unfiltered comments.  “He’s ugly” or “He looks nerdy” were the ones that pierced my feelings the most.  Yes, it was a cruel initiation at a new church.  Unfortunately, if the parents didn’t like my dad being the pastor, the kids took it out on me.  I was just part of the collateral damage to their dislike for him.  It wasn’t always like this but I would say it happened more than not.

My dad pastored churches in Georgia.  The worst memory of all was a small community in South Georgia named Axson.  It wasn’t even a city but it has lasting injuries on my memories.  My dad replaced a long-time pastor who was related to many of the members so that first Sunday was filled with people checking us out.  This little community church had a lot of folks who were involved in tobacco farming which was a bit interesting since our church taught that smoking was a sin.  Not sure how they worked all that out in their salvation but they were a tough bunch.  The first Sunday I heard the kids’ cruel comments and their snickers as I would pass by.  No one wanted to befriend me or even attempt to talk to me.  I was an outsider and they were intent on keeping it that way.  They made my life hell especially on the school bus where they would sit in the back of the bus and flip me off.  I would have complained to the bus driver – and he did witness it – but he was related to them too.  Yeah, some things you can’t forget – even 40 years or so later.  Our time at this church didn’t last long as it became just too much to overcome the adversity.

So the first Sundays at a new church weren’t always a great experience and unfortunately the bad experiences burn into our memory more than the good ones but there were some good experiences.  I remember two.  The first Sundays in Villa Rica and Savannah were the best ones I have memories of.  Both churches had teens that actually talked to me the first Sunday and included me as a part of their group.  When I say teens I’m not talking about a huge megachurch.  Back in those days and in the church I was a part of, a “big” church would be a congregation of 50 or more.  Most were not.  After the Axson experience, the young people at Villa Rica was the next “first Sunday” at a new church and was a total opposite of the bad I had gone through in that nasty little family church.  (No love lost there)  The young people at Villa Rica made me feel at home from the first Sunday.  I still remember the Smiths and the Horsleys and how they were some of the coolest people I ever met.  The first Sunday in Savannah was also very welcoming as well.  I also loved the city.  It was my last “first Sunday” I was experience at a new church.

The other churches were Valdosta, Moultrie, Temple and Homeland.  You’d probably need to Google it to find Temple and Homeland.  I was too young to really remember the first churches in Valdosta and Moultrie.

I have to tell the story about Temple.  The church was actually called “Oak Hill” and was probably the smallest church my dad ever pastored.  It was on a hill somewhere near Temple, Georgia but there wasn’t a tree on the entire property and most definitely absent of any oak trees.  I don’t think I ever heard why it was ever called “Oak Hill”.  My dad was appointed to this church after leaving a one-year stay in Moultrie, Georgia.  We left a church that had a parsonage (a house for the pastor and family) to Oak Hill which did not have a residence for the pastor.  My parents were unable to find a place to live in the short time to relocate there.  With time running out, we decided to temporarily move into the Sunday School rooms in back of the church.  It wasn’t a huge issue since the church was so small that they were using the Sunday School rooms anyway.  The issue for us was that the church did not have “modern” bathrooms.  The only facilities were two outhouses on the property.  Yep, outhouses – like Little House on the Prairie days.  We used them too and at my age I saw it as an adventure but my parents weren’t so enthused about it.  We each took baths in my small kiddie swimming pool.  I can’t remember exactly how we did that but it was quite an interesting temporary situation.  Eventually we were blessed with an opportunity to buy a mobile home and set it up on the property.  If memory serves me correctly, our pioneer days experience lasted for about three months.

As far as my first Sunday at Oak Hill….there’s not much to say about it since the church had no kids or teens at all.  I was the youngest one there so there wasn’t any peer pressure to deal with.  In the year at that church, my mother was my Sunday School teacher and there were some Sundays that we were the only ones my dad had in attendance for his sermon.  Yes, it was small.

Those seven first Sundays formed me.  Not just that one day but in the other Sundays that followed.  It wasn’t a charmed life.  Learning the new people.  Knowing who you could trust and who were a bad influence.  It probably had a lot to do with my introverted ways.  I wouldn’t always open up too much too soon until I got to know people.  Many times people would comment about how quiet I was.  I was quiet but I learned to observe people first and I still do that even today.

These first Sundays in August prepared me for the other firsts such as the first days on a new job.  In reflection those church Sundays might have prepared me for dealing with the new situations as an adult.  I have learned that the person who tells you office gossip on the first day is always the person who is the problem in the office.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to name those people here.  I can tell you I learned that perception in the first Sundays in church and it has been true every time.  I can also tell you that nobody in your new place cares about what successes you have had in other places, you always have to proof yourself with the new people.

Today is the first Sunday of August but I’m glad that I’m not in a new church this morning.