Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Last Two Weeks Before Blast-Off

It's been awhile since my last post so let's do some catching up as we have been busy before our next trip overseas . . .

First Stop,
The Home of The Flashes

Why you ask? 

To be the Color Commentator for the Ventura County Star's Game-of-the-Week streaming broadcast of the 106th American football game between the Santa Paula Cardinals and the Fillmore Flashes.

I would be working with Play-by-Play broadcaster Danny Page and Sideline Reporter Will Cowan for the second straight Friday night.

We had a lot of fun again on this warm evening.

 Santa Paula led the series
that dates back to 1923

Future Flashes packed the aisles

At Halftime,both bands shared the field

Since Fillmore only has stands on one side of their field, the two fan bases shared the stadium's seating 50-50 too.

This was not a problem as this is an intense but friendly rivalry in the final analysis.

It was a good game with lots of ebbs and flows. I thought that the smaller, underdog Fillmore squad played way over their heads for most of the contest but in the end Santa Paula's size advantage just wore the Flashes down.

Final Score: Santa Paula (2-2) 34 - Fillmore (0-4) 19.

The Cardinals increased their series lead to 60-39-7.

Saturday night at Pierce College

Laurie and I journeyed down the 101 Freeway on Saturday evening to Woodland Hills to catch a Junior College game, the Southwestern College Jaguars (2-0) at the Pierce College Brahmas (1-1).

Pierce's problems continued as they lost 42-13.

Sunday could only mean one thing, NFL football was officially back in Los Angeles!

 After 22 years in St. Louis,
the Rams were back at the Coliseum

The first Ram game that I ever attended at the Coliseum was back in 1958, a 24-24 tie with the "Monsters of the Midway," the Chicago Bears.

On Friday before the game Mike talked me into going arguing that we simply had to be in attendance at the Rams first home game of the regular season if we were truly to be born-again Ram fans.

Seattle Seahawks (1-0)
Los Angeles Rams (0-1)

We found affordable tickets on-line, so off we went.

#75 David "Deacon" Jones
The Secretary of Defense

Mike's favorite Ram growing up
Erik Dickerson

Lots of tailgating on this Sunday!

Having food and a cold beverage
before entering the Coliseum

Our view from the cheap seats

We were in the Coliseum's Bob Uecker seats and the Red Hot Chili Peppers were playing live at the far end of the field to get the crowd's juices flowing.

 Our seats directly faced
the blazing Sun

Mid-way through the 1st quarter we walked around to that ?Jumbotron in the distance which would cast a cooling shadow on us the rest of the afternoon.

What a crowd of 91,046 looks like

It was a defensive battle
from the start

Todd Gurley trying to run over
Seahawks DB Richard Sherman

 Robert Quinn forcing a
Russell Wilson fumble

Defense INDEED!
Final Score: Rams 9 - Seahawks 3

We opted to take a mid-week get-away to the Avila Beach-San Luis Obispo area.

Our destination was a new spot for us, the Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort.

I highly recommend it the next time you vacation on California's Central Coast.

Laurie on our hike from the Resort
to Avila Beach

Summer is over but Avila Beach
still looked good to us

 The Sycamore's relaxing mineral
hot tubs allowed us ample
time to reflect on life

 Eventually we reflected all the way
to SLO's Apple Farm for . . .

. . . DESSERT!

Apple cobbler for me and the apple dumpling for Laurie.

Damn that was good!

We eventually made our way slowly back down the coast via stops in Los Olives and Solvang fully relaxed and ready for action.

 Last Friday Night Lights
for some time

I was up in the booth for the Venice HS at Newbury Park HS game trying to help Jason Klein with the defense. It was a good night to be a Panther!

Final Score: Newbury Park (4-1) 28 - Venice (2-2) 0.

So what is next you ask?

This reminded me

 I'm off to Madrid for our
Eighth EuroBall Experience

To review, here are our previous seven stops:
2008, Defensive Coordinator, Catania Elephants, Italy
2009Head Coach, Catania Elephants, Italy
2010, Head Coach, Hässleholm Hurricanes, Sweden
2012, Head Coach, Thun Tigers, Switzerland
2012-13, Head Coach, Bron-Villeurbanne Falcons, France
2015, Head Coach, Murcia Cobras, Spain
2016, Consultant, Wäsby Warriors, Sweden

 2016, Consultant Osos Rivas

As I was asked to do in Sweden last Spring, this will be another short stint during the Osos' off-season in the Madrid suburb of Rivas.

I am being asked to coach the coaches and teach fundamentals to the Osos and one of their feeder programs in nearby Guadalajara.

It should be a lot of fun in a GREAT city!

Reading Is FUNdamental!

 Nordic Noir with a happy ending

My favorite Inspector
in all of Sicily

The next time I reach out to you, I will be on the Iberian Peninsula.


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Colin Kaepernick, Paul Sabolic and Ventura County's Oldest High School American Football Rivalry

Much has been written and said in recent weeks about respect for the flag and America during the playing/singing of the National Anthem at sporting events due to . . .

. . . Colin Kaepernick's kneeling
during the National Anthem at
recent San Francisco 49ers games

During the subsequent weeks I have been thinking in depth about this issue of guaranteed First Amendment Free Speech vs. respect for the flag.

Two things brought this issue into focus for me in the past few days.

The first was at the Newbury Park-Westlake game last Friday during the usual playing of the National Anthem just before kickoff. Most people stood at attention, men with their hats off, and were respectful. I saw nobody protesting but, as has become far too usual during the anthem, about 10-15% of the crowd just kept talking and walking around paying no attention at all.

Though not a protest, I find this constant disrespect much more bothersome than Kaepernick's protest. I can only remember two times when I felt everybody at a stadium completely bought into the National Anthem, once at the Rose Bowl for the Army-Navy football game and another time in San Diego while scouting a Valhalla H.S. football game. San Diego is a Navy town and people there that night were 100% behind our country and the men and women who serve it.

The other incident that got me to thinking happened when I met with some old friends and the topic quickly got around to Kaepernick. My friends were decidedly against Kaepernick's actions. No problem, I understood their position.

About 20 minutes after their anti-Kaepernick statements the topic of conversation somehow got around to the Vietnam War and the draft.

I was not drafted into the military during those troubled years because of my status as a teacher.

My two friends, who were incensed about Kaepernick's anti-American protest, then began to detail how they had both sought counsel as to how to best avoid the draft and both independently opted to gain massive amounts of weight in order to get an obesity deferment. It turns out that they were both successful in their weight gaining efforts and did not serve.

So all of this got me to thinking, who do I know that I could turn to for their take on Kaepernick?

Paul Sabolic in 1967
Los Angeles Valley College
Offensive Lineman

I have known Paul since our days as students at the University of Washington in the late 1960s.

I once read that every time that you meet a person, subconsciously you answer two questions about your new acquaintance. First, can I trust this person and second, can I respect this person.

For me when I first met Paul, the answers were decidedly YES and YES!

After graduating from the U.of W., Paul joined the Navy via Officer Candidate School and served a tour of duty in Vietnam.

I will see Paul this Saturday night at the Pierce College game and as a veteran I want to hear how he feels about all the brouhaha.

Paul Sabolic today
Thank you for your service!

Meanwhile, back in Ventura County . . .

Santa Paula H.S.

Home of the Cardinals indeed!

Cardinals working on tackling

I visited with Santa Paula Head Coach Mike Montoya on Tuesday to gain some inside knowledge about his club before Friday night's game against their rivals . . .

. . . the Fillmore Flashes

Flash QB going DEEP

Fillmore 7-on-7 Drill

On Wednesday, I spoke with Fillmore H.S. coaches Matt Dollar and Curtis Garner about their takes on the big game which will be broadcast live on an on-line stream by the Ventura County Star at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Fillmore. I will again provide color analysis with broadcast announcer Danny Page and sideline reporter Will Cowan.

This will be the 106th meeting in American football between the Cardinals and Flashes. The first game was in 1923 and Santa Paula leads the series by a tally of 59-39-7.

Reading Is FUNdamental

A low body count for
a Jack Reacher novel

But still a good read!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Another Week, More American Football Mania

Another week rolled by as the starting date of my newest adventure coaching American football in Madrid, Spain for the Osos Rivas American football team rapidly approaches.

This week would be a tad different as Danny Page, who I first met in Barcelona back in late June, had asked me to work with him on the Ventura County Star's live on-line streaming broadcast of the Newbury Park HS (2-0) at Westlake HS (1-1) game on Friday night. I would be Danny's color man in the booth while Ventura College Athletic Director Will Cowan would be Danny's sideline reporter during the contest.

As it would be my first time working as a color commentator, I felt that I had to be more than a little bit prepared.

Thus, on Tuesday, I was off to . . .

Newbury Park HS
Home of the Panthers

My first assignment was a good 30 minute interview with Panthers' Head Coach Jason Klein to find out all that I could about the team's personnel and and strategies of note.

Jason made my job easy with his openness.

After our interview, I sat in on their practice that afternoon. 

The Panthers looked confident

Maybe too confident.

The following day, Wednesday, I was off to . . .

Westlake HS
Home of the Warriors

Just like I had done the day before, I started with a 30 minute interview with the Warriors' leader, Coach Tony Henney.

Tony also pulled no punches in telling me all that I needed to know about his club and what they needed to do to defeat the Panthers for a ninth straight season.

Warriors' Inside Run Defense Drill

There was a palpable sense of urgency during the Warriors' practice.  They needed to rebound from their worst defeat in school history in Texas the previous Friday against Aledo HS.

It looked to be a good matchup from what I could tell.

Thursday night, Laurie and I were off to La Cañada-Flintridge, California to watch my alma mater, the St. Francis HS Golden Knights (1-0), host the Pasadena HS Bulldogs (0-2).

St. Francis HS is a GREAT
setting to watch a game

Especially when the Golden Knights are rolling to a 35-0 victory.

Friday night was my broadcasting debut.

A beautiful late afternoon
at Westlake HS

I spent 11 years here from 1978-1988 as the Warriors' first Head Football Coach.

I'm on the left and Danny Page
is on the right

You can hear our broadcast at this website:

Westlake in Orange,
Newbury Park in White

It was a fantastic game to watch as underdog Westlake had a 19 point lead in the 4th quarter.

The Newbury Park's Oklahoma University commit QB Cameron Rising led a furious comeback to lead the Panthers to an astonishing 43-40 victory. When the Panthers scored the last TD of the game with 1:37 left in the fourth quarter to make it 43-40, it was the first and only time that NPHS led in the game.

The Newbury Park-Westlake series started in 1979 and is now tied at 19-19-1.

I guess that I did OK as a color commentator since they asked me to come back and do it one more time next Friday during the Santa Paula HS Cardinals (1-2) at the Fillmore HS Flashes (0-3) game. This is the oldest rivalry in Ventura County high school American football history with Friday night's meeting being the 106th between these two schools located only a few minutes apart on Highway 126.

Saturday was College Game Day at our house.

Son Mike and Grandson Jacob joined us to watch, God only knows, how many NCAA contests on TV.

 Although it was COLLEGE
Football Saturday . . .

Mike had purchased two Los Angeles Rams jerseys for Jacob that arrived just in time for the Rams' season opener Monday night on the road against the San Francisco 49ers.

Go Rams GO!

 Saturday Tradition

After each TD is scored in a game we are watching, Mike takes Jacob outside and throws him up in the air once for each TD we've seen, i.e., once after the first TD of the day, four times after the fourth TD of the day, etc.

By mid-afternoon, Mike was getting tired.

Jacob not so much.

See, even after the days TENTH
TD, Jacob is still raring to go!

Saturday night NCAA DIII
Football Live

I drove down to Eagle Rock, California to see the University of Puget Sound Loggers (1-0) take on the home standing Occidental College Tigers (0-0).

This game was of more than the usual interest to me as I had spoken to players from both schools last Spring about furthering their careers in EuroBall after graduation. 

 The Sun going down over
Occidental's Jack Kemp Field

It was a spirited contest from start to finish with UPS leading after three periods 22-20.

Then it got crazy as the two teams combined for 49 points in the fourth quarter.

UPS prevailed to go back to their home in Tacoma, Washington with a thrilling 49-42 victory.

FS Jacob Wuesthoff
University of Puget Sound
Senior - 6'1" - 185 lbs.

Jacob is a Newbury Park HS alumnus who I met with back in June to discuss his interest in furthering his playing career after graduation.

On Saturday night he had two forced fumbles, intercepted a pass and was in on a whole bunch of tackles.

EuroBall coaches and teams need to take a good look at this kid after he graduates from UPS next Spring.

I also saw another five players on the field from both squads who are Seniors and can also have good careers in EuroBall in my opinion.