Saturday, October 31, 2009

Pacifica JV and Varsity Games

Friday night means another series of high school football games in America. We'll start with the Rio Mesa JV game.

JV Defense

This has been the strength of our JV team in '09 and today would be more of the same.

You MUST control the line of scrimmage!

A lot of pink on our uniforms tonight in honor of those who are battling or have battled cancer.

JV Toss Sweep

The JVs surged to a 34-0 lead before cruising to a 34-13 victory. The JVs are now 8-0 on the season and 3-0 in the Pacific View League.

The Run Through Sign

A staple of high school Varsity pre-games all over the USA. The Cheerleaders make 'em. . .

. . . and the Varsity breaks 'em!

Bombs Away Spartans!

The varsity got off to a quick start but Pacifica just played a more physical game and wore down the Spartans in the end.

Pacifica prevailed 35-14 making the Spartans 5-3 overall and 2-1 in PVL action.

Just before halftime I took this picture of an apparent Hurricane on the field.

Wouldn't you know it, it was an omen because. . .

. . .Two students from Sweden were in the stands!

Introducing Caroline Sjoqvist and Anton Eldh from Sweden. Theses two teenagers are going to observe classes at Rio Mesa for the next two weeks and I am going to be asking them a ton of questions during their stay here.

They are both from a town, whose name I should have written down, that is about 200 miles north of Stockholm which puts them approximately 600 miles from Hässleholm. Still, they both knew where the Home of the Hurricanes was located. Two nice young people indeed!

Cat Conti at Cronies

We ran into young Ms. Conti after our game last night. She was fresh off working the Camarillo vs. Channel Islands football game.

When I first met Cat about a dozen years ago, she was working at Camarillo's Cronies Sports Grill and working on getting her Teaching Credential.

She professed an interest in becoming a high school football referee, a first for a woman in our area and a rarity in the USA in general. Brian FitzGerald and I got her in touch with the head of our area's referee association and the rest as they say is history.

Cat is now an English teacher at Westlake H.S and is in her TENTH YEAR as a ref! She has gradually worked her way up to working NCAA Division II games in the Northwest Conference featuring teams in Oregon and Washington. Additionally, she has also been assigned to work one of the five California State Championship Bowl games at the end of this season.

A remarkable young lady don't you think!

Meanwhile 100 miles north of us. . .

Templeton Eagles 41 - Cabrillo Conquistadores 14

Riccardo Conticello's team dropped another one to sink to 1-7 on the campaign. We are going to try to drive up to Morro Bay for his game next Friday.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Pacifica Frosh Game

Thursday the Spartan Frosh team played at home against the Pacifica Tritons. Going into the game we believed that this would be a very close contest and, as it turned out, we were correct.

Defensive Line warming up with Angle Tackling

Opening Kickoff of the Game

It was pretty much downhill for us after this point as we could not stop hurting ourselves.

Our micues included a Kickoff Return where the kick ricocheted off of one of our front five players and right back into the waiting arms of a Triton at midfield. How common is this? It is only the second time that I've seen this happen in 42 seasons of coaching!

Our more conventional turnovers were three lost fumbles (one at the 2 yard line on 1st and goal) and a game ending interception in the end zone.

It is hard to win a close contest when we commit FIVE TURNOVERS!

Final Score: Pacifica 12 - Rio Mesa 6

This disappointing day dropped our record to 3-5 on the season and 2-1 in Pacific View League games.

I was very proud of our defense's effort in only allowing one TD off of these five turnovers and of our team's never say die attitude in the face of adversity. Our kids fought hard and we had a chance to win it in the closing minute of the game as we drove down to the 15 yard line before throwing a pick.

After the game,
Mike with Vanessa and his In-Laws

The Perez family showed up to the game in support of their new Son-in-Law/Brother-in-Law.

Monday, October 26, 2009

NFL Sunday Results

We watched the New Orleans Saints play at the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. . . GREAT GAME!

Saints QB Drew Brees

We are currently Saints fans because our God Son, Scott Fujita, is their starting Outside Linebacker. When he played for the Kansas City Chiefs for three years, we were Chief fans, when he spent a season with the Dallas Cowboys we were Cowboy fans and for the last four years it has been "GO SAINTS!".

For more on Scott go to Scott is #55 on the bottom row of the pictures that will pop up for you.

The Dolphins were SMOKIN', taking a commanding 24-3 lead before Drew Brees ran a QB sneak with 2 seconds left in the first half to make it Dolphins 24-10 at the intermission.

Back and forth in the 3rd quarter with the Dolphins still leading 34-24 with 15 minutes left in the game.

The Fourth Quarter? The Saints went wild scoring 22 unanswered points to win 46-34!

The Saints are now 6-0 and the Dolphins dropped to 2-4. WHAT A GAME!

Only the 6-0 Indianapolis Colts and 6-0 Denver Broncos can match the saints record at this time. By the way, this is the first time in NFL history that three teams are still undefeated this late in a season.

Patriot Defense Swarming in London

Meanwhile, across the pond, the New England Patriots (5-2) hammered the Tampa Bay Bucaneers (0-7) 35-7 in front of 84,254 fans at Wembley Stadium in London.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

College Football Results of Interest

Another great
College Football Saturday!

Here are the results of interest to my friends in Sweden and Sicily.

Hurricane Watch

It was a bad weekend for Hässleholm's two favorite Division I teams.

Clemson (4-3) 40 - Miami (5-2) 37
The Hurricanes lost in overtime

UTEP (3-4) 28 - Tulsa (4-3) 24
The Golden Hurricanes played Wednesday night for BIG TV money

Now it is on to teams
of interest in Catania

First, the winners:

Arizona (5-2) 27 - UCLA (3-4) 13

Jason was at the game and quite happy I'm sure!

Hardin-Simmons (4-4) 29 - Sul Ross
State (2-5) 6

Matt's Cowboys are finishing strong.

Wabash (6-1) 37 - Wooster (4-3) 27

Denver's team rebounds nicely from last week's heart breaking loss.

And now for aturday's Silver Medal Winners:

Oregon (6-1) 43 - Washington (3-5) 19

My Dawgs keep competing which is good but we also keep losing which is bad. We've now dropped two straight since the miracle against Arizona.

Jacksonville (4-3) 34 - San Diego (3-4) 16

Taber's team losses two in a row for the first time this season.

Central Missouri State (7-2) 49 - Nebraska-Omaha (5-4) 31

Second straight loss for Larry's team as well.

Linfield (7-0) 30 - Willamette (6-2) 27

A huge Northwest Conference game did not go Brandon's way.

The NFL is playing
in London Today!

The annual NFL regular season game in London's historic Wembly Stadium is today between the 4-2 Patriots and the 0-6 Bucaneers.

I'm guessing that several Hässleholm Hurricanes and Catania Elephants are in attendance enjoying an up close look at American football at the highest level.

O.K., maybe I stretched the truth with the Tampa Bay playing at the highest level reference.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

New Hässleholm Hurricanes Website

I'm happy to announce that your Hässleholm Hurricanes of the Swedish American Football League, officially the VERY cool

"Sveriges Amerikanska Fotbollförbund"

have a new and improved website that you can find at

NJUT, which is "ENJOY" in Swedish. . . I think.

Friday H.S. Football Results

The Spartans returned to Channel Islands H.S. on Friday to take on the Raiders in the traditional JV/Varsity doubleheader.

Blake Selig, WR/DB

Blake is having a great year for the Spartans' JV squad. He was the hard luck guy last year on the Frosh team as he had to sit out the vast majority of the season with a broken collarbone. He is a very talented and hard working young man indeed.

Tanner Wrout, RB/LB/Stud

The last part of the above is not a position, rather it is an evaluation!

Note the C.I. defender on his back in Tanner's wake as exhibit "A". The pink gloves are a "Cure for Cancer" statement.

The JV's continued their rampage through the schedule, humbling C.I. 47-0.

The JV's improved to 7-0 on the season and 2-0 in the Pacific View League.

Great TD grab by Lawrence Garcia,
a 19 yard strike from QB Blair Benchwick

The Varsity was facing a 5-1 Raider squad that was ranked #6 in the C.I.F. a week ago.

The Spartans were more than ready to play some football!

Devon Hall with the stiff arm

Devon is one of only two Seniors that are on the Varsity for their third year, Jamison Jordan is the other one. They are thus the only players on this year's Varsity that I coached in my last year as the Varsity's Defensive Coordinator.

Devon plays hard and represents Rio Mesa very well. He had 90 yards rushing last night.

At the end of the evening, the Spartans prevailed easily 40-6. The Varsity is now 5-2 on the season and 2-0 in PVL play.

Luis Holguin, Rio Mesa, Class of 1992
Noel Alaniz, Rio Mesa, Class of 1994

If any Rio Mesa alumni bleeds more Red and Black than these two, I have yet to meet them!

Yes, I know that Noel also has traces of Lakers' purple and gold as well as "Dodger Blue" racing through his veins too.

Meanwhile about 100 miles north of us. . .

Cabrillo's QB trying to rally the struggling Conquistadores

Sicilian foreign exchange CB Riccardo Conticello's Cabrillo team played a home game last night against the Nipomo Titans.

The Titans won 37-14 to drop Cabrillo to 1-6 on the season and 1-4 in the Los Padres League.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Channel Islands Game

We had a very interesting week of football leading up to our second Pacific View League game against Channel Islands (3-2 overall, 0-1 PVL).

After shaky QB play the first five games of the season, we had switched to a new starting QB last week. This young man was easily also our top defensive player the last two games as one of our two Falcons (Strong Safeties). In addition, he was our top punt returner, kickoff returner and held on PATs as well as being a key member of every other Special Team. Due to injuries, the flu epidemic and disciplinary issues we are not a deep team right now and we just can't get this kid off the field.

Unfortunately his legal guardians can.

Due to a poor grade in his English class and an attitude issue which we never saw on the field, they decided to remove him from the team on Tuesday. What a potential blow to our squad!

Add to this issue our two team rules of
1. "Miss a Practice - Miss the First Half" which would also claim eight more players including four starters.

2. "Miss Two Practices - Miss Two Halves" which would claim another six players and you can see our cause for concern.

These two team regulations meant that we only had 28 players at our disposal in the first half of the game. . . YIKES!

Then a funny thing happened.

Wednesday was a pupil free day at Rio Mesa for teacher meetings. Since Freshmen can not drive, legally at least, and there would be no school busses, we could be headed for a disasterous day. You must remember that Rio Mesa sits in the middle of strawberry fields with no housing for at least two miles. Some of our players live as far as seven miles from school.

They all showed up!

Then it was Thursday, Game Day.

It got stranger.

They were focused on the 15 minute bus trip to Channel Islands H.S. Once there, they remained focused as we waited under the visitor's bleachers for about 45 minutes for our warm-up routine to start.

Now you need to remember that this is a FRESHMAN team! Your average 9th grader normally has the attention span of a gnu during the fifth month of a drought in the African veldt!

Something was afoot here.


We started the game with great field position due to awesome kickoff team coverage. . .

High Point the Ball!

. . . but C.I. kept making 3rd down conversions. The Raiders opened the game with a 12 play, 51 yard drive that featured two of these plus our stopping them on 4th down to finally end the bleeding.

Gabriel Duongtran is#9 in white, much more on him later.

Third and 20
The Raiders were at it again!
This time we stopped them.

Martel Tyler, #5, on the Sweep

Martel has been the heart of our offense most of the year and had to work hard for his 88 rushing yards today. He would also complete a 2 point PAT pass and register a team high 9 tackles from his Falcon position.

What the. . .?

Is that WR Riley Fagan, #4, actually scoring on a 25 yard TD PASS? We really enjoy throwing the ball in California but our kids have not been able to execute this phase of our offense very well this season.

Until now!

Our QB Gabriel Duongtran was a perfect 4 for 4 passing today for 59 yards and this TD thing.

With my wife Laurie

She arrived at halftime from her job in Santa Barbara about 45 minutes north of C.I.H.S. and was shocked to find us leading 20-0 at intermission.

Frankly, so was I!

Gabriel Duongtran sprinting out

Talk about a young man that responded to the challenge! Besides his passing exploits, he rushed 5 times for 31 yards and scored 2 TDs. He also caught Martel's 2 point PAT pass.

Defensively, Gabe made a tackle, broke up a pass and returned two interceptions a total of 49 yards.

In his spare time, he booted a 43 yard punt!

Player-of-the-Game seems logical to me.

Duongtran being tackled at the end
of his 24 yard interception return.


I was SO proud to address our squad after the game. Our effort and focus against C.I. was just GREAT!

The final score you ask?

Rio Mesa 27 - Channel Islands 6

As always we got a chance to play everyone in the 4th quarter leading 27-0, with the usual results. C.I. had a 70 yard TD called back but came through with a 63 yard short pass and long run TD play two plays after the penalty.

As always "Shutouts are Fascist!" Both teams could now leave the field with a little dignity.

After the game with Jorge Zaragoza

Jorge was one of my linemen at Rio Mesa in the late 1990's when I served as the Head Coach of the Spartans' Varsity team.

He now coaches the C.I. Freshman team as well as a Pop Warner team. He is still young enough to have incredible amounts of energy and patience to coach these two age groups during the same season!

Tragically for the two of us, by the time this picture was taken, C.I.'s snack bar was already closed for the day.

It could have been an epic moment worthy of the "Man vs. Food" TV show!


Here with Mike, my son, and Ralph Lemos, our Defensive Line Coach, enjoying the delicious post game snack that the parents provided for the team.

We are now 3-4 on the season and 2-0 in the Pacific View League. Up next is a home game next Thursday against the Pacifica H.S. Tritons.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Weekend Football Wrap-up

Time to recap another weekend of football for my European friends following teams of interest.

Pioneer Valley vs. Cabrillo, in white

Friday night Riccardo Conticello's Cabrillo team (1-5) lost to Pioneer Valley 13-42.

Saturday's College Results of Interest to Catania

Arizona State 24 - Washington (3-4) 17, the Dawgs are killing me after giving up the winning 50 yard TD pass with 5 seconds left in the game.

Arizona (4-2) 43 - Stanford 38, Jason's 'Cats bounce back in a game as wacky as the score would indicate.

Willamette (6-1) 35 - Pacific Lutheran 17, Brandon's team continues to a methodical march towards the NCAA Division III playoffs.

Hardin-Simmons (3-4) 38 - Howard Payne 31, Matt's Cowboys are starting to get their act together after a shaky start to the '09 season.

Drake 21 - San Diego (3-3) 14, Taber's Toreros continue to alternate wins and losses each week.

Fort Hays State 31 - Nebraska, Omaha (5-3) 20, this was the first time that Larry's Mavs have lost to Fort Hays State since 1959. That's 50 years if my math is correct. . . OUCH!

Wittenberg 10 - Wabash (5-1) 7, Denver's Little Giants lost their first game on a Field Goal with 1 second left in the contest.


New Orleans (5-0) 48 - New York Giants 27, the Giants were 5-0 coming into the game and were pretty much handled by the Saints. On a bad note, LB Scott Fujita left the game early in the 1st quarter with a pulled calf muscle and did not return to action. The Saints are now one of only four NFL teams without a loss this season, the others are Denver (5-0), Indianapolis (5-0) and Minnesota (6-0).

Swedish Updates

Time to get our Hässleholm Hurricanes up to speed on the results of our two favorite college teams this weekend.


University of Miami (5-1) 27 - Central Florida 7, the Miami Hurricanes have been a real surprise this year.

Boise State 28 - Tulsa (4-2) 21, the Golden Hurricanes suffered a tough loss to the 6-0, 5th ranked Broncos.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Homecoming Game

Rio Mesa's 2009 Homecoming Game.

For our readers back in Sicily and now Sweden, America has a tradition during the football season of picking one home game to designate as the Homecoming Game. During this weekend, alumni are invited to return to their Alma Maters to visit the school's new facilities, rekindle old friendships, see halftime fireworks, attend the Homecoming Dance Saturday night and, of course, determine how this year's Varsity football team measures up to the teams of the storied past, a.k.a., "The Glory Years".

The evening started off with the Junior Varsity game and the young Spartans improved to 6-0 on the season and 1-0 in the Pacific View League with a 56-0 shellacking of an undermanned Hueneme squad.

Tough Varsity Opponent

Hueneme's Vasrsity team, in red and white, was a surprising 4-1 entering this Pacific View League opener. They were also ranked #8 in this week's C.I.F. Northern Division poll.

The Spartan's, at 3-2, were unranked coming into the game but were hungry for redemption in their first league contest.

The stands were packed on an unuasually warm mid-October evening as the Spartans exploded to a quick lead thanks to running back Jamaal Perkins who had scoring runs of 90 and 47 yards on his first two carries of the ball game! After only 4 minutes and 7 seconds of First Quarter action the score was 20-7 Rio Mesa as both offenses exploded and Rio Mesa recovered a Viking fumble in the end zone. . . WILD!

At halftime with my Daughter-in-Law Vanessa who is wearing her husband's old #5 Spartan game jersey

I volunteered to work the chains for the Varsity game after being the announcer for the J.V. game. I enjoy watching and listening to other coaching staffs as they deal with the ebb and flow of a game. The Hueneme coaches remained very positive and professional in their approach to their players even though things didn't go as they planned.

At halftime, it was time to introduce the Homecoming Court which includes a King and Queen, each class's Prince and Princess and a Faculty Duke and Duchess. They get to do a vistory lap in a vintage car as they are introduced to the crowd.

For example. . .

A Porsche,

a Corvette and

a long-finned Cadillac

You HAVE to have a Balloon Arch. . .

. . . and Fireworks are a MUST as well!

Things settled down in the second half and the Spartan's were able to cruise to a 40-7 win as the offense accounted for 430 yards. The defense contributed a fabulous goal line stand after facing a first and goal at the one foot line!

The Varsity Spartans are now 4-2 on the year and 1-0 in PVL action.

All and all, a great Homecoming night in El Rio, California!