rainy Thursday in Houston

October 26, 2006 on 4:55 pm | In Uncategorized | 1 Comment

I’m enjoying a lazy day off today, updating and preparing schedule pages and emailing coaches about my Hockey Night in Boston preview. For the record, I have to turn in my preview before practices even start.

Giants – Cowboys
I’m lucky enough that one of my best friends/college roommates has Dallas Cowboys season tickets, so I drove up to Big D for the Giants-Cowboys MNF showdown this week. And despite ridiculous traffic problems, I emerged without having beer dumped on me and with bragging rights over both of my Dallas-residing college roomies and a certain NBIAL athletic director who will remain anonymous.

Due to traffic and the parking situation, we missed the opening kickoff and the Giants’ first possession, so it was already 7-0 when we got to our seats. I enjoyed the half, but when the Cowboys were driving down 12-0, I turned to my buddy and said, “You know, 12-7 would be a bad half-time score for the Giants.” He replied, “14-12 would be worse.” And wouldn’t you know it, the Cowboys were about to do just that when Bledsoe threw that wonderful interception in the front of the end zone. Just priceless.

I was stuck in line waiting for food when the second half started, but I got to watch the interception and Shockey touchdown on a nearby TV. I celebrated with a Giants fan next to me in line; he flew in from Connecticut because it was easier to get tickets in Dallas than East Rutherford. Crazy stuff.

So I missed two Giants touchdowns, but I saw plenty of good stuff and enjoyed myself thoroughly. Moreso than my roommate, that’s for sure.

Scheduling Stuff
I spent much of today working on Southern Conference schedules. Props to St. Joseph (Hammonton) for putting five non-league games on its schedule — its first non-league games ever in its third season. St. Joe has home-and-home series with fellow low-budget program Gloucester Catholic and first-year program Paul VI and a road game against Johnson.

And not that I hadn’t noticed this before, but the Shore Conference alignment is just moronic. If you’re unaware, the Shore ‘A’ division (which they tried to name a confusing color, as if we needed conflicting color scales) contains the two Gordon teams, the Bricks, and the Middletowns. That means CBA and St. John Vianney are required to schedule Brick Memorial, a Southern Blue team! Shore ‘B’ includes the Red Division privates (MonDon, RBC); the Toms Rivers; and RFH. Not a bad division, but why aren’t MonDon, RBC, and TRN in the top division? Shore ‘C’ includes RBR, Wall, Point, Southern, Manasquan, and St. Rose. Why are RBR and Wall playing in the Shore C when they’ve clearly earned the right to move up a division? Finally, here’s hoping newby Jackson Memorial gets on the schedule with Wall and Manasquan, thereby de facto adding it to the Shore C Division.

Misc.
Can anybody shed any light on Monroe Township? The school is listed on three varsity schedules even though I’ve never heard of it having a varsity program … Check out Lufkin-The Woodlands on ESPN2 tonight at 7 pm ET for a taste of Texas high school football. I haven’t seen either team, but Lufkin is in the top 10 in the country and The Woodlands is a legit program in a northern suburb of Houston.

dabbling in high-school football

October 21, 2006 on 12:15 am | In Uncategorized | 1 Comment

so y’all know those posts, usually at least once a season, when I come back from a game and just gush about how cool it was and how much I love New Jersey hockey? (try this one or this one or this one if you don’t know what I’m talking about) I’ve got one of those tonight for Texas high school football, and since the game was not in the coverage area of my newspaper, y’all get to hear about it.

I’ve started broadcasting high-school games here for TSRN Sports, and tonight was my first play-by-play assignment. I was dreading more than anticipating the game, however, because doing play-by-play means bringing and setting up the equipment, which is always a hassle, and just a lot more responsibility in general. And I was already stressed from starting my job this week and knowing that I have to go to work at 9 am on a Saturday morning.

So I wasn’t in the greatest mood heading to Thorne Stadium for the intra-Aldine ISD matchup between Eisenhower and Nimitz. And it just turned out to be awesome.

I got there early, loved the stadium (I think small college football stadiums should be built in its image), and set up the equipment without too much trouble. My partner was an inexperienced guy, and we had our problems, and the place was really cold (for football in Texas, not for hockey of course), but the game made up for it.

Nimitz came in 5-1 and Eisenhower 1-5, but the Eagles had played maybe the toughest schedule in the state, including three undefeated teams and the district leader, and Nimitz was only ahead by one game in the District 19-5A standings. Nimitz dominated the first quarter and into the second with a decent running game, but Eisenhower pulled to within 14-10 at halftime.

Perhaps the most amazing part of the game was the fact that Eisenhower had at least five players making major contributions at skill positions as sophomores – virtually unheard of in Texas 5A football. And they seemed to mature before our eyes, taking leads of 17-14 and 24-21 in the second half. Nimitz rallied to tie it 24-24 with 3:20 remaining, setting up a dramatic finish.

When Eisenhower took over, its sophomore quarterback dropped back and never took his eyes off the receiver in the right flat, allowing a linebacker to read it all the way and pick off the pass for an easy touchdown to give Nimitz the lead out of nowhere. It could have crushed the quarterback (making his first career start), but instead he led Eisenhower 70 yards, without a timeout, including two fourth-down conversions, for a touchdown to tie the game with nine seconds remaining. It was amazing.

Eisenhower then won in overtime 38-31, scoring on the first possession and stuffing Nimitz’s excellent quarterback on back-to-back short-yardage situations to finish it off. If you’re really curious, check out this video clip. Sorry there’s no crowd noise; there was on the broadcast. (I had an awesome shot of the tying touchdown, but my battery ran out.)
Anyway, it just restored my faith in high school sports and their worth, even if nobody was listening to the game. It was just plain fun, and definitely made me want to keep doing one game a weekend, even if it costs me part of my social life.

But I still have to go to work in the morning.

Addition

Oh yeah, before I forget. Of course I plan to maintain that new schedule page for all divisions if I decide it can be done. But I don’t know the algorithm or whatever that allowed the guys at www.5atexasfootball.com (the inspiration for the page, which I created myself) to make theirs automated, so it would be a third set of things I would have to manually update, which is really difficult.

H-town update

October 10, 2006 on 7:50 pm | In Uncategorized | No Comments

Just checking in from Houston while watching my A’s in the playoffs. As you may have noticed, I’m preparing to maintain my site for another season and am enjoying tracking down schedules and the like. My find of the day? Lawrenceville and Delbarton will meet for the first time since the 1999-2000 season in a February matchup at Aspen Ice in Randolph. Although the biggest news on campus may have been this gem: Lawrenceville’s Trees Begin Magnificent Fall Show. I guess fall can officially begin now that Lawrenceville’s trees have decided to observe the season. (Big Red fans, pardon my sarcasm, but c’mon. That press release is a bit much.)
On a personal note, I spent the 2006 baseball season working full-time and broadcasting for the Alexandria Aces in the independent United League. It was a tremendous season, capped off by the United League championship, which I had the pleasure of announcing. After the season, lonely for big-city life, Rice athletics, and my friends in Houston, I moved back to the Space City and searched for employment. I have recently been hired as assistant sports editor for the Observer Newspaper Group, part of Houston Community Newspapers. I still plan to pursue broadcasting opportunities for next season – I will be broadcasting high school football games for TSRN Sports this fall – but Houston is the plan for now.

As for the high school ice hockey season, we’ll see what happens. I am committed to maintaining the standings and schedule pages, as I have in years past. I hope to post updates and miscellani on this blog, although entries will be more whimsical in the absence of first-person game recaps. I have not yet decided about rankings other than HNIB Top 10s. So that’s the plan. I hope you will continue reading this site, clicking on ads, and sending me e-mails with facts, reasonable opinions, and suggestions.

Speaking of suggestions, check out this article about a former New Jersey high school opponent of mine … it’s good reading: Wayne’s Coyne Journeys to Botswana. And I’ve enjoyed reading Dan Rosen and co.’s Varsity Aces blog when I miss my NJ HS sports … here’s hoping it makes for good hockey coverage come December. Finally, it’s been great to hear from writers, coaches, parents, and fans again, and I really appreciate the inquiries about my life and even the occasional job offers. I’ll be writing again as the season approaches.

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