Sunday, November 29, 2015

Super Bowl 2015 - The Brief Look at Prior Years

Ah, the Gridiron Game.  Football is a special sport when we're talking about youth sports.  The kids learn teamwork, perseverance, character and other traits that you can't get replicate in any other setting.  And while injury concerns hover over the sport, I can't help but think that everyone should play this sport if even for a year.

This season marks the 5th year that I have coached G's team.  Ever since the boys were 2nd Graders, struggling to score touchdowns and preventing the other team from doing the same, the boys learned a lot about teamwork, dealing with frustration and perseverance.  That was a defining year though because, in addition to the character goals that we have always had, I was determined to help the kids with their stated goal - the Super Bowl.

3rd Grade was what we were hoping would be the first year of a dynasty.  Armed with the kids who learned a lot from the year before, the team added a couple of handful of kids who could play and were aggressive.  Going 6-1-1, we waltzed into the Super Bowl after beating one of our rivals in the semifinals 26-0.  We even took a police escort and a bus to get to the site.  We had a "carb-loading" party.  Ultimately, we were unsuccessful in falling to a tougher team 12-6.  While some of the kids were crying after that game, other kids started to look determined. 

4th Grade was a tough year.  We struggled all year in every aspect.  Coaching especially.  Thinking that we were going to get better and beat the same opponents that we beat the year before, we actually struggled against all of them.  We ended up losing in the first round of the playoffs, 22-6.

5th Grade had the same end result, despite the fact that we had a better season.  The team fared better with an increased emphasis on the passing game.  We ended up losing in a literal nor'easter 8-0 to the same team that we lost the Super bowl to in 3rd Grade. The boys worked hard though, harder than they ever had.  Although we lost in the first round, the boys measurably improved over 4th Grade.  The JV team experienced a renaissance of sorts finishing the year undefeated, 7-0.

Through these years, a lot of players came and went.  But the same core remained through those 4 years and it lead me to believe that we were finally going to be seeing a real success.  When I met with one of the coaches before this year - 6th Grade - I declared that this was going to be our chance to win the elusive, broken, trophy.  We had a couple of laughs about it, but I truly thought that that was attainable this year.

The 6th Grade year was successful.  The boys, including an injection of new players, really seemed to be clicking.  Despite a couple of stinkers in the Metro South area, we were in a good position to finish 2nd or 3rd place in the league.  Either way, were going to have a favorable match-up in the semifinals to advance to the Super bowl.  In one of the most exciting games I watched, the boys held strong (including a game ending sack that actually caused me to jump for joy) to advance to the Super Bowl.  the team we were facing was a behemoth though and we were unlikely to win.  We wanted to keep the score close and work hard.  My goal was to win one quarter at a time.  If we did that, who knows what could happen.  Unfortunately, we turned the ball over 5 times and ended up on the wrong end of a 34-0 score.  Although we were unsuccessful, the boys performed at a high level, stood up against tougher teams and demonstrated a significant amount of intestinal fortitude.  It was great to see.

Now those 2nd graders have become 6th Graders.  Ready to take on the world.  I just hope that I have had a positive influence over them these past 5 years.  Good luck, boys!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Night 19-0 Ended - I Hate Joe Buck Edition

It was a sleepy, rainy Veterans' Day in the JMR household.  DLG was with friends of her's while the boys were busying themselves with video games.  Having decided to take the day off and after cancelling football practice for the 6th Graders, I was now the one looking for something to do.  What better way to waste an afternoon on the couch than to watch some reruns on TV?  And oh what a rerun I found.

Super Bowl XLII was the culmination of what was supposed to be an historic season for the New England Patriots.  On a run unlike ever seen, the Patriots blew through the regular season at 16-0, the first team to ever accomplish that feat (no matter what Mercury Morris might try to tell you).  They faltered a little int eh playoffs as they secured unconvincing wins against the Jaguars in the Divisional Round then the Chargers in the AFC Championship Game.  This would set the scene for the rematch with the New York Giants who took the patriots tot he wire in Week 17 just a few weeks earlier.

We pick up the action in the Fourth Quarter with 8:30 remaining and the Giants leading 10-7, for no other reason than that is when I turned it on...

On a 2nd and 9, Manning escapes the sack (a recurring theme sadly).  The cornerback covering Plaxico Burress must have misjudged the LOS because he went after the QB instead of staying with the Receiver.  Fortunately, Manning missed a wide open Burress.  This led to a punt to give New England the ball back on their own 20 yard line.

Nice story about John Johnson.  Trainer for the Giants since 1948.

Catches by Wes Welker and Randy Moss gives the Patriots the First Down.  The graphic shows that the Patriots had only scored on 1 of its 7 drives.  The Giants' pass rush was "relentless."  Welker ties the record for most receptions in a Super Bowl with 11.  Funny not to see Gronk out there.

On this drive, now at the 10 yard line just demonstrates that the Giants are a bunch of pansies - 3 guys come off with injuries.  On third and goal, Moss catches a quick slant to for the TOUCHDOWN!  Fortunately, the Giants CB slipped as he was running backwards leaving Moss by himself in the End Zone.

Giants start on their own 16 yard line with 2:42 on the clock.  After an incompletion to Burress, Joe Buck ominously starts talking about Burress only having one catch on a couple of targets; that he was note really a part of the game.  I hate Joe Buck.  Giants convert on a 4th and 1 on a very favorable spot on a Brandon Jacobs Left Dive.

That was not a fumble.  Manning's knee was down.  I didn't think so when I watched this game live.

Assante Samuel needs to make that catch.  The target of that wayward pass?  David Tyree.  Even more ominous.

In the Grasp!  In the Grasp!  In the Grasp?!?  Followed shortly by That ball hit the Ground!  That ball hit the Ground!  The ball hit the Ground!  What's funny is that Buck and Aikman did not make a big deal about that catch.  Hum drum for these guys.  Harrison should have had the interception there.  Hey Tyree, I'd like fries and Vanilla Frosty too.

I forgot that Manning was subsequently sacked by Adalius Thomas.  This is a joke.  And another missed interception from Brandon Merriweather this time.  On a third and long, Steve Smith gets just enough for the first down.  I know where this is going.

"Manning lobs it, Burress, alone, Touchdown New York." squeals Joe Buck. Man I hate Joe Buck.

I would love to know why Randy Moss walked out of that huddle while being yelled at by Brady.  Incompletion, Sack, Incompletion, Incompletion.  Giants win 17-14.  1 second left, I mean.  I shut the TV off as Burress starts to cry and Joe Buck goes on to call it the biggest upset in Super Bowl history.  Don't like either of those guys.

In retrospect, going 19-0 is tough.  Every team is coming after you.  Every team gauges their season on how they did against you.  You have a bullseye on your back.  Forget about the pressure of an historic season.