Sunday, September 28, 2008

Valentine's Day Party in September?

I graduated from the University of Washington in 1969. My time in the Seattle area, as you would expect, offered me some of the best experiences and friendships of my life.

As a result, every year at Valentine's Day in February we go to a dinner party at the home of one of four couples on a rotating basis. In 2008, it was our turn to host the party but I was in Sicily and they didn't want to fly over the Atlantic Ocean to party in Catania! As a result, the 2008 party was hosted at our home last night with an Italian theme and as an excuse to gather together to watch the Huskies beat Stanford in a 7:00 p.m. game on television while we dined.

The initial common thread here is that all four husbands are U. of W. alumni who have known each other for over 40 years.

Peter "Spear" Claridge was a wide receiver for the Huskies and was a year ahead of me in school. He is THE most die-hard Husky fan I know and is dying a thousand deaths this season as our beloved Dawgs continue to swirl around the drain. His wife, Sherlyn, also went to the U. of W. and is a great counterpoint to Peter's intensity.

Paul Sabolic was an offensive lineman in his Dawg days and, though not quite as intense as Peter, has frustration issues growing as well as the Husky losses continue to mount. Paul's wife, Joanne, is bubbly and brings an air of hope to all Husky functions.

Mike "Tuna" D'Antuono was a wrestler for the Huskies who nearly upset Olympic Silver Medalist Rich Sanders in an epic match between the Huskies and Portland State in the late 1960's before a packed, frenzied home crowd in Seattle. He and his wife Susan, both cool, calm and collected Husky fans, are the main forces behind this now traditional yearly event that has gone uninterrupted for over 25 years with the exception of one missed year due to the "National Moratorium on Gatherings" imposed by the Reagan Administration.  Football nuts that they are, the D'Antuonos went to the UCLA vs. Fresno State game, won by Fresno State 36-31, at the Rose Bowl before driving the hour from Pasadena to Camarillo.

First Order of Business...Root the Huskies on to Victory!

Mike in the funky Italian hat, with Paul and Joanne behind him watching the game as Stanford builds a lead and our star QB Jake Locker goes down with a broken thumb in his passing hand!

All of our efforts did not work...

Final Score: Stanford 35 - Washington 28 dropping us to 0-4 on the season and 0-2 in PAC-10 play.

Laurie made a statement with her red based,
Valentine themed, dinner table.


Happy, Satisfied Friends Trying to Overcome the Agony of Defeat

Laurie, Joanne, Sherlyn and Susan

George, Paul, Peter and Mike

As it is every year, last night was a GREAT night of fun, food and friendship! Plans are already in motion for next year's gathering at the Claridge's new home in late January before our return to Catania.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Rio Mesa Freshmen Beat Agoura

Rio Mesa (2-0)
at Agoura (0-2)

Game 3 of the season saw us hit the road for the 30 minute bus ride south to Agoura. It was predicted that it would be hot and the temperature at our 4:00 p.m. kickoff was indeed 99 degrees Fahrenheit! 

Agoura High School's air conditioned multi-purpose room 

The Charger's were great hosts and let us into this very comfortable room for our one hour wait before we would take the field. 

We told the team to pre-hydrate themselves for at least the last 24 hours before kickoff. For once they followed directions only perhaps a little too well. When I asked them if any of them had to use the restroom, the response was the best pursuit drill we have had all season!

In order to insure against any shenanigans, I went to the entryway of the restroom to monitor their behavior. After 3 or 4 minutes of nobody leaving the restroom and with 15 players waiting outside, I went inside to see what was holding things up. As it turned out there was one toilet stall and 3 urinals at our disposal. Everyone was waiting for the toilet! After informing them of the purpose of the urinals, they reluctantly started to use them.

The joys of coaching 14 year-olds for the first time NEVER ceases to amaze me! 


Let the game begin!

Fullback/Falcon Tanner Wrout

Tanner had a GREAT game! His blocking was a throwback to the Golden Days of two back offenses. He had a 35 yard TD run, caught a 2 point PAT,  forced a fumble and had 2 tackles for losses totaling -9 yards.

Tailback Brandon Chong

Quick and tough, he had 4 carries for 67 yards.

Defensive End Ben Dixon

Ben has been our leading tackler all season. Here he is rumbling to his first high school touchdown on a 23 yard scoop and score of a Charger fumble.


We had 4 of them and a lot of pressure on their QB all game long.

Free Safety Darren Gales

Darren had 5 tackles and was a very positive force in the secondary.

Quarterback Trent Thornton

3 for 6 passing for 46 yards and 2 rushes for 29 yards and a TD.

Cornerback/Tailback Jaylen Stewart

Groin issues limited his playing time but he still ran the ball 4 times for 63 yards and a TD. On defense he intercepted a pass and is seen here returning it 80 yards for his second TD of the game.

Kicker Jason Ah Sue

After a poor showing in our season opener that led us to go for two in our second game, Jason has worked very hard to improve his craft. His form and efficiency were great in this game.

In the end, we were able to improve our record to 3-0 with a 41-20 victory. We were up 34-0 after the first drive of the second half and started to substitute liberally.

Offensively, nine different players carried the ball a total of 27 times for 271 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Defensively, our statistics sheet showed that THIRTY-TWO different players were in on at least one tackle! We recovered two fumbles, had an interception, made 3 tackles for losses and recorded 4 QB sacks. Of course, we also scored the two defensive touchdowns that I mentioned earlier.

Up next is our toughest test to date, St. Francis H.S. who is also 3-0. We'll play them on Thursday at 4:00 p.m. at home.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Emancipation Proclamation

Air Force One


Simi Valley, California is the home of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library which is about 20 minutes from Casa Contreras. This weekend was the beginning of the Library's exhibit of the actual Emanicipation Proclamation which for my Sicilian friends is one of the most important documents in United States history.

Our son Mike and I, two history buffs, had to go see it Saturday.

President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, as the nation approached its third year of bloody civil war. Most people believe that this document freed all the slaves but this is not accurate. It actually freed all the slaves still living in areas in rebellion to the United States on that date. Thus, for example, it lists 13 parishes in Louisiana as exceptions to this Proclamation because U.S. armed forces now controlled them.

These singers greeted us as we walked into the Library's Main Courtyard

Ronald Reagan was the 40th President of the United States
serving from 1981 to 1989.

President Reagans Statue

Nancy Reagan eerily seen here was the Nation's First Lady.

"Rosie" the Spy

To tie in with the Emancipation Proclamation's Civil war theme, The Library had several Civil War re-enactors on duty to add a little authenticity of the day. "Rosie" was a widow and a spy for the Confederacy who would get sent to jail twice. Eventually she would drown when her boat capsized as she was wearing a dress with a considerable amount of gold sown into it.

The American Civil War started in 1861 and ended in 1865.

Nancy Reagan was known as a VERY classy dresser.

This dress is made out a popular Tartan plaid. 

The couch in our computer room shows that we must have GREAT taste too!

The Library's re-creation of the President's Oval Office has this sign as you enter.

President John Adams must be disappointed by the last 8 years.  

The Gipper

Ronald Reagan's most famous acting role may have been as Notre Dame's All-American running back George Gipp.

Mike's reflection in the glass case protecting George Gipp's actual Notre Dame letterman sweater.

I'm actually smaller that this representation of the U.S. Federal Budget!

But this statue was made before the recent government bail-outs.

LENINADE? For sale in the Reagan Pub? Incredible!

A piece of the Berlin Wall

President Reagan's Grave

A Civil War Re-Enactor... COOL BEARD!

A Civil War Surgeon


After three hours viewing all the displays, including Air Force One, we had to sit down and discuss what we had just witnessed by going to the nearby, world famous eatery, The Hat. 

Mike Digs In!

What makes The Hat so good? FRENCH DIPPED PASTRAMI SANDWICHES!!! Pass the HOT mustard please!

Calcio Catania!

When we got home, we found Calcio Catania battling Atalanta in Catania! We were glued to the TVset the rest of the afternnon!

I didn't see anybody I knew in the crowd shots.

An injured Catania calcio player... how is that possible?

Catania eventually won by a final score of, are you ready for this, 1-nil!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Rio Mesa Freshmen Win Their Home Opener

at RIO MESA (1-0)

Our home opener was played on Thursday, September 18th at 4:00 p.m. against the Newbury Park Panthers.

"Captains Out!"

#56 OG Kody Herman, #9 TB/CB Jaylen Stewart,
#91 DE Ben Dixon and #11 FB/Falcon Tanner Wrout

Tanner Wrout rumbling up the middle!

Tanner picked up some tough yardage against a very good Panther defense. His totals were 15 carries for 83 yards and 1 pass reception for 13 yards.

WR/CB Blake Selig

Blake did not play in our first game due to injury. He has great speed and is seen here on a WR reverse.

Workhorse Jaylen Stewart

Jaylen probably plays too much in our games. He had 27 carries for 94 yards, a TD and a 2 point PAT. He also was in on 5 tackles and broke up a pass from his cornerback position.

Pass Completion!

#7 Trenton Thornton to #1 Blake Selig

Two Ancients pondering their futures!

NG #45 Zach Saldana

Zach played REALLY well in what turned into a defensive battle. He had 7 tackles including a 9 yard QB sack, 3 tackles for losses totaling 6 yards and he recovered a Panther fumble.

DE James Turner forcing a fumble down low as fellow DE Ben Dixon gives chase. 

Jaylen Stewart battling in the secondary.


DE Ben Dixon recovering a Newbury Park fumble.

The extremely hard hitting, defensive game ended with Rio Mesa improving their record to 2-0 after hanging on to defeat Newbury Park 8-0!

The Spartans had 215 yards of total offense on 55 plays but lost 3 fumbles.

The Panthers were held to 41 plays and 179 yards of total offense but turned the ball over 4 times on 3 lost fumbles and an interception. We were able to hold them to only 6 completions in 20 passing attempts. Losing their starting QB on the second series of the game was an obvious turning point in the momentum of the game.


After the game was officially over, we had a "5th Quarter" consisting of 10 offensive and 10 defensive plays each to give the athletes who did not get into the game a chance to compete.

It was GREAT to see these kids out there who work so hard in practice!

#12 Richard "Slick" Vasquez at QB

#15 TB Roderick White exploded for two TD's in the extra period.

Defensive Swarm led by #60 Marcos Vega