Sunday, August 31, 2014

Birmingham HS at Newbury Park HS - 2014 JV Season Opener

On Friday, our Newbury Park JV Panthers opened the 2014 football season at home against the Birmingham H.S. Patriots from the Los Angeles City Section of the C.I.F.

Our new George Hurley Field
looked GREAT!

Which Panther would earn
The Game Hammer?

Mike and I were still going over
things right before the Kickoff


OL/DL Alex Urias earned the honor of carrying out the team's sledgehammer via his hard work beginning back in Spring practices through our Summer workouts and the last three weeks of our Fall camp.

It was . . .

Stalking the sidelines at the
start of my 49th season of coaching

We won the coin toss and opted to defer our choice to the Second Half. We would thus start the 2014 season kicking off and playing defense.

Dario Longhetto

Dario boomed the season's first kickoff into the end zone. He would do this again on two more occasions during the contest.


Birmingham Ball: Great start for the Defense with our first Three and Out of the campaign. Our Punt Block team came hard and forced a poor punt that only netted Patriots 12 yards.

Newbury Park Ball: Given great field position, the Panthers ripped off an 18 yard run by Kalani Sanchez but a fumble on the next play turned the ball back over to Birmingham at their 14 yard line.

Nick Cellona on the tackle

Daniel "Frenchy" McCoy in pursuit

Birmingham Ball: After a Helmet Hit penalty aided the Patriots' drive, they were forced to punt again. Again our Punt Block team rose to the occasion and forced a nine yard Birmingham punt.

Pressuring a Patriot punt

QB Tyler Hwang

He had a great game, completing 11 of his 17 passes for 256 yards, 3 TDs, 0 Interceptions.


Newbury Park Ball: It took only four plays to put the ball into the end zone as Tyler Hwang hit Ryan Matlock with a 25 yard TD strike. The PAT was good, Panthers 7 - Patriots 0.

PAT Dario Longhetto

He would make all four of his PAT attempts.

#19 Tanner Coolidge
Kickoff Team Demon

Broken Up Pass by Andrew Noble

Andrew played extremely well in all three phases of the game against the Patriots.

#22 Kaiden Raduziner in
Hot Pursuit

Birmingham Ball: Three and Out #2 for the Panther Defense. The Punt Block team was at it again as the memory of the pressure on the Birmingham punter's first two punts lingered and forced him to drop the snap. DE Nathan Zager would recover the punter's fumble 12 yards behind the line of scrimmage.

Punt Block Team
recovering the punter's fumble

Eight Punt Blockers in Action

I'm not sure what four of them are doing on this fumble.

TD Nick Cellona

Newbury Park Ball: It did not take long as Nick Cellona followed a wall of blockers on the first play and found pay-dirt 12 yards later. Dario Longhetto split the uprights again, the Panthers now lead 14-0.



Birmingham Ball: The Patriots ran off three plays as the First Quarter came to close with the score still Newbury Park 14 - Birmingham 0

Still Birmingham Ball: The Second Quarter began with Birmingham continuing their drive. On the third play of the new quarter, Austin Matney forced a fumble that Nick Cellona recovered.

Andrew Noble
"To the HOUSE!"

Newbury Park Ball: It only took two plays for Tyler Hwang to hit Andrew Noble with a 55 yard bomb of a TD pass. Longhetto was perfect again on his third PAT attempt,
Panthers 21 - Patriots 0.


Birmingham Ball: After giving Birmingham a first down via penalty, the Panthers got their third turnover of the game when Nick Cellona recovered his second fumble of the day.

Nick Cellona's second Fumble Recovery

1-on-1 with Andrew Noble

No thanks.

Kaiden Raduziner scoring the first
TD of his football career

Kaiden is such a talented, hard working athlete, that it was hard to believe that he had never scored a TD before. Predictably, he was pumped!

Newbury Park Ball: It only took three plays before Tyler Hwang found Kaiden Raduziner for a 19 yard TD play. Back-up kicker Cole Thompson made his first PAT attempt of the day. Newbury Park 28 - Birmingham 0.

Kick Off Team

Spencer Thompson #81, Tristan Montes #52, Tanner Coolidge #19 and Mike Estandian #29 all did well today covering kicks.

Andrew Noble Interception

Birmingham Ball: On their first play, the Patriots threw an interception that Andrew Noble gladly accepted.

Newbury Park Ball: An eight play drive ended with a missed Field Goal.

Birmingham Ball: The Patriots had their best drive of the First Half as they reeled off nine plays. The Second Quarter ended with the Patriots at mid-field. 
Half Time score: Panthers 28 - Patriots 0

Newbury Park Ball: The Panthers started where they left off by covering 74 yards in eight plays with Kalani Sanchez covering the last yard for a TD. Cole Thompson made the PAT,  Newbury Park 35 - Birmingham 0.

Up by 35 points in the Second Half, the "Mercy Rule" was put into effect and the rest of the game would be played with a running clock. We were at the 8:08 mark of the Third Quarter when the "Mercy Rule" was invoked.

One of Andrew Noble's
3 Broken Up Passes

Birmingham Ball: The Patriots went for it on Fourth Down at their own 34 yard line. Why? Their Fourth Down pass was double covered and broken up by Ryan Matlock and Andrew Noble.

Panther Game Socks

Nick Cellona

Alex Urias
Pad Under Pad

Kalani Sanchez
6 carries, 46 yards, 1 TD

Sanchez Again

Good Effort by a Flying Patriot
on this PAT

Newbury Park Ball: It took five plays for Newbury Park to score one last time as Nick Cellona carried the ball in from a yard out on the last play of the Third Quarter. Longhetto kicked his last PAT of the day, Panthers 42 - Patriots 0.

Nick Cellona
5 carries, 17 yards, 2 TDs

Back-up Defenders Playing HARD! 

Before the start of this final stanza, we had cleared the bench. Getting a chance to see our hard working Scout Team players get some playing time was rewarding as a coach.

Birmingham Ball: Birmingham saved their best for last as they put together an 85 yard scoring drive that ended with a 27 yard TD run by their QB. Their PAT was good, N.P. still led 42-7.

While some coaches get manic when they lose a shutout at the end of a game, I am OK with it as I believe that shutouts are Fascist. At the end of the day, all of our kids got into the game for some significant playing time and Birmingham earned a bit of dignity at the end of what was a long afternoon for them.

Mike Estandian attempting to block
the Patriot PAT

Newbury Park Ball: The clock ran out as Mike Estandian carried the ball on the only play of this drive.

Newbury Park (1-0) 42 - Birmingham (0-1) 7

Post-Game Talk to a bunch of
Happy Panthers

Final team statistics for the day:
NPHS Offense: 32 plays, 333 yards, 10.4 yards/play, 1 turnover, 42 points

BHS Offense: 40 plays, 77 yards, 1.9 yards/play, 4 turnovers, 7 points

Our Special Teams played very, very well today. 

While Birmingham was obviously not a good team on this occasion, we dominated them as we hoped we should. We still have a lot to work to do before we can be considered a good team. Nine NPHS penalties for 100 yards is just not acceptable! 

Son Michael with Grandson Jacob

The Game Hammer went to
Andrew Noble

On Offense, Andrew had four catches for 136 yards and a TD.

Defensively, he made two tackles including one behind the line of scrimmage for a two yard loss, broke up three passes and intercepted a pass.

He also returned a punt for six yards and two kickoffs for 24 yards.

Easy choice for the Game Hammer after this game.

Next Game: Newbury Park (1-0) vs. Saugus (1-0) at College of the Canyons, Friday, September 5, 4:00 p.m.

Newbury Park Family Tradition
Ryan Hurley, Mason Williamson
and George Hurley

Ryan does a great job coaching our JV linemen. He played at NPHS when his Father, George, was the Head Coach.

Mason is Ryan's nephew and George's grandson. He plays on the Varsity's defensive line and intercepted a screen pass in their 42-14 win Friday night.

George was the long-time Varsity Head Coach of the Panthers. George was enshrined in the Ventura County Sports Hall-of-Fame due to his illustrious coaching career. He is now retired but still coaches the NPHS Freshman football team. The Freshmen team beat Birmingham 26-6 on Thursday afternoon.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Spanish American Football Website

Ismael Sánchez
"El Catalan"

A big GRACIAS to Ismael, who was our amazing Free Safety on the Bron-Villeurbanne Falcons in 2012-13, for his very kind words about me on the Spanish American football website about my being hired to coach the Murcia Cobras in 2015.

Here is the link to the article:

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Are You Ready For Yet Another Adventure?

As many of you know, I have fallen in love with Europe and its various customs, traditions, peoples and cuisines.

Since 2008, Laurie and I have been fortunate enough to spend six to nine months at a time, living abroad as we coached American football teams in Italy, Sweden, Switzerland and France during five different seasons.

Euro-Life with, in order, the Catania Elephants, Hässleholm Hurricanes, Thun Tigers and Bron-Villeurbanne Falcons was a constant delight and eye opening as we have witnessed a wide variety of interesting and culturally diverse experiences.

We left France after our Falcons went 12-0 and won the 2013 Division III National Championship season in June of 2013. In the intervening 14 months we have thoroughly enjoyed reuniting with our family and friends back in the USA, but Europe kept calling to me from deep in the recesses of my soul.

My dream has always been to coach an American football team in Spain. Unfortunately, the downturn of the Spanish economy has made it financially tough for teams to afford import players and, especially, coaches.

Why consider Spain you ask?

Quite a few reasons really. 

First, I speak Spanish. Finally, coaching a team and living in a country where I can understand most of what is being said would be refreshing . . . Catalonia, Gallicia and the Basque country not withstanding.

Second, my Grandparents on my Mother's side of the family were both born in small villages (Grandfather in Infiesto and Grandmother in Alles) in Spain's northern province of Asturias. Thus, these family roots make me want to explore more of the home country.

Finally, Laurie and I have spent much of our European downtime crisscrossing Spain to enjoy Barcelona, Madrid, Granada, Sevilla, Córdoba, Asturias, Cadaqués, Pamplona, León, Burgos and, of course, Santiago de Compostela at the end of my 500 mile Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in 2010. We have come to love Spain and have had, as I said, a strong desire to return there to experience more of this diverse country and, hopefully, coach a team.

Thus, with the end of the Summer approaching, I started to get feelers from teams in Europe to see if I might be interested in coaching their squads in 2015.

I received some strong interest from teams in Germany, Italy and France. These were teams that have good programs and were willing to make very solid offers, but my heart was still in Spain.

Enter an American football team in southeast Spain.

The team in question is based in Murcia

Murcia does have a traditional
Cathedral Plaza . . .

. . . and interesting outfits

Murcia is near beautiful beaches
on Spain's Costa Blanca

. . . and they take Easter Week
very SERIOUSLY in Murcia

Very interesting outfits INDEED!

These people are wearing traditional penitent's garb, NOT what most of you are thinking.

The Flag of Murcia

What do those four castles and seven crowns signify?

So, who is this mystery team?

The Murcia Cobras

They just completed their
20th season in 2014

2013 Murcia Cobras Team Picture

So what do we know about the Cobras?

1. They are in España!

2. They compete in Serie B, the second division of American football in Spain.

In 2014, Serie B consisted of 14 teams split into three different conferences.

In 2015, LNFA (Liga Nacional de Fútbol Americano) because of the growth of the sport in Spain, has opted to have three levels of competition, Serie A, Serie B and Serie C.

Serie C will include some teams that are dropping down from Serie B and some formerly regional, grassroots teams that feel that they are ready for better competition now that they have laid solid foundations for their squads.

Because of the new Serie C division, Serie B will have a new look as well. In 2015, Serie B will be made up of ten teams split into two conferences.

3. The Cobras know how to compete!

In 2014, the Cobras' record was 5-3 with all three losses coming at the hands of the undefeated, 2014 Serie B National Champion Mallorca Voltors. The Cobras were second in last year's Southern Conference and were the #5 seed in the playoffs. 

In the regular season, Mallorca defeated the Cobras twice by scores of 19-12 and 26-12. The two teams met again in the playoff semi-finals with the #1 seed Voltors being pushed to the limit before overcoming Murcia again, this time by a score of 13-6.

By virtue of winning the 2014 Serie B National Championship, Mallorca was elevated to the elite, six team Serie A league in 2015.

So who would the Murcia Cobras be playing in their as yet unnamed, revamped Serie B conference in 2015?

Imperials de Rues
9-2 in 2014 Serie B

The Imperials were the #2 seed in the 2014 Serie B playoffs and reached the Championship game where they lost to the #1 seeded, 9-0 Mallorca Voltors by a final score of 9-7.

Barcelona Búfals
5-4 in 2014 Serie B

After tying for second place in the Eastern Conference, they were the #6 seed in the 2014 Serie B playoffs, losing in the first round 16-3 to the #3 seed Las Rozas Black Demons.

Santurtzi Coyotes
3-5 in 2014 Serie B

They did not make the 2014 Serie B playoffs as they finished fourth in last year's Northern Conference.

Zaragoza Hornets
1-7 in 2014 Serie B

They did not make the 2014 Serie B playoffs as they finished fifth in last year's Eastern Conference.

So that is the make up of the Cobras' five team Conference for 2015. They will play every team twice, once at home and once on the road, for a difficult eight game regular season

Murcia is the southernmost
team in this Conference

Travel will be potential mental and financial roadblocks for the Cobras. For example, Barcelona is about 370 miles northeast of Murcia while Santurtzi is approximately 500 miles northwest of Murcia.

On the other hand, American tourists save their money for years to have a chance to visit these cities and the Cobras get to do this for a lot less money.


How about the other Serie B Conference?

Las Rozas Black Demons
8-2 in 2014 Serie B

The Black Demons, located in the greater Madrid megalopolis, were the champions of the Northern Conference in 2014. They were the #3 seed in the Serie B playoffs and were eliminated in the semi-finals 20-7 by the #2 seeded Imperials de Reus.

The Black Demons were the Serie B Champions in 2012.

Why is their logo Demon red?

Coslada Camioneros
6-3 in 2014 Serie B

Another Madrid based club, they were the Northern Conference's second place team. They entered the 2014 Serie B playoffs as the #4 seed but were beaten in the first round 31-26 by your #5 seeded Murcia Cobras.
Barberà Rookies
5-4 in 2014 Serie B

The Rookies tied for second place in the Eastern Conference. Seeded #7, they lost in the first round of the playoffs 20-0 to the #2 seeded Imperials de Reus.

Zaragoza Hurricanes
2-6 in 2014 Serie B

They did not make the 2014 Serie B playoffs as they finished fourth in last year's Eastern Conference.

Granada Lions
0-10 in 2014 Serie A

In 2013, the Lions won the Serie B Championship and were promoted to Serie A. They did not make the Serie A playoffs after a sixth place, 0-10 finish in the Serie A 2014 campaign. The Granada squad was relegated back to Serie B for 2015.

So what should we do?

Stay home for another year?

Take a job in Germany? Italy? France?

Or go with our hearts and sign with Murcia?

What do you think that we should do?

Too late . . .

Hola Murcia!!!

Pour the vino tinto!

Get the tapas ready!


For more about the Murcia Cobras team, go to:

For more about the city of Murcia, go to: