Archive for May, 2009

Kentucky Horsemen Defeat Mahoning Valley Thunder 61-39

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The Mahoning Valley Thunder showed heart and resiliancy in the second half of their game with the Kentucky Horsemen.  Ultimately, however, the Horsemen prevailed 61-39.  The Horsemen prevented new coach Chris MacKeown a victory in his debut and also sent Mahoning Valley away with their eighth consecutive loss.

Jared Lorenzen gave the Thunder defense fits as he passed for 195 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for another three scores on his way to being named Russell Offensive Player of The Game.  The high-powered Kentucky offense uses a semi-platoon system at quarterback with Lorenzen yielding snaps to Justin Rascati who threw for one score and ran for another, he also caught a few balls lining up at receiver en route to winning the JLS Ironman Player of The Game Award

Lorenzen drove the Horsemen down the field as they scored in two plays to make it 7-0.  Quorey Payne, as I guaranteed in his feature piece, returned the next kickoff for a touchdown to make it 7-7.  The Horsemen again scored to post a 13-7 lead as the extra point kick was blocked. 

The Thunder offense finally hit the field 20 points later and quarterback-center exchange problems on their first two plays gave the Horsemen the ball deep in Thunder territory, where they would again capitalize to take a 21-7 lead.  The combination of Blake Powers to Payne, which clicked all night, put Mahoning Valley back in the game at 21-13.  Lorenzen mowed some bodies on a one-yard TD to put the Horsemen up 27-13.

As the Horsemen mounted their next drive, a roughing the passer call erased  a Thunder interception in the Horsemen end zone.  Kentucky would eventually turn the ball over on downs.  The first quarter finally ended with Mahoning Valley trailing Kentucky 27-13.

The only score of the second quarter came on a Lorenzen to John Cooper touchdown pass and the Horsemen took a 34-13 lead to the locker room.  Cooper finished the game with 8 catches for 88 yards and the touchdown.

Blake Powers threw a pick on the Thunder’s opening second half drive.  Lorenzen drove the Horsemen down the field and went in untouched on a keeper making it 41-13.  Powers responded on the next drive finding Chris Schubert for a score.  The Horsemen again scored to push their lead to 48-20. 

Powers again found Payne to cut the lead to 48-26.  The Thunder attempted an onside kick, but failed to convert the attempt.  A third Jared Lorenzen TD pass extended the Horsemen lead to 55-26 on the first play of the fourth quarter.  Powers marched Mahoning Valley down the field and capitalized with a run for a touchdown to cut the Kentucky lead to 55-33.  Another onside kick attempt failed and the Thunder defense flexed its muscle keeping Kentucky out of the end zone. 

On the ensuing possession, Blake Powers showed where his heart was as he scrambled for a touchdown taking a very nasty hit at the goal line.  Powers hurt his right shoulder on the touchdown and his status for next week is uncertain.  With that score, Mahoning Valley cut the lead to 55-39.  Again, the Thunder attempted an onside kick unsuccessfully.  With 20 seconds left Lorenzen was driving the Horsemen again when an errant snap was scooped up by Michael Alston for what appeared to be a Thunder TD, but the play was flagged as Alston kicked the ball about fifteen yards downfield before he scooped it cleanly.

Lorenzen closed out the scoring throwing his fourth touchdown on the last play of the game, making the final score 61-39.

Blake Powers finished the game 23-42 for 259 yards and 3 TD’s but was intercepted twice.  He also rushed for 26 yards and two more touchdowns.  Quorey Payne had an outstanding gamecatching 11 balls for 143 yards and two touchdowns.  His 58-yard first quarter kickoff return tied a Thunder record for longest return in franchise history.  The tandem of Powers and Payne will thrive under Coach MacKeown’s new system.

“We shot ourselves in the foot early and we are making too many mistakes.  Playing a high-powered offense like this, you can’t afford to give them easy scoring chances, which we did.  We adjusted and played a better second half.  I was proud of the heart and fight shown by this team tonight.  We will break down the film in the morning and do what we have to do to become a better team for next week”, said Coach MacKeown after the game.  I asked Coach Mackeown if there would be wholesale personnel changes to which he replied, “No wholesale changes, I saw positives we will build on.  I was happy with the play of the O-line and the defense at times.  There is potential to win with what is here and we will turn it around, I am very optimistic from things that I saw tonight”.

The Thunder play at Milwaukee Friday.  I will get to practice this week and better acquaint myself with Coach MacKeown and his goals.  Coach Brennan Booth and Coach MacKeown will be a dangerous tandem in AF2 for the rest of the year.  

Kelly Pavlik Re-Ups With Top Rank, Mora Date Coming Soon

Kelly Pavlik has signed a contract extension with Bob Arum and Top Rank Promotions.  The details are still unknown but the beef of the agreement is that Pavlik will remain with Top Rank until at least 2011.  Pavlik was quoted by the Youngstown Vindicator as saying, “I was brought up the right way, I’ve been with Top Rank for going on 10 years now and we’ve had a good working relationship.  I wanted to give them the first chance in negotiations and they came back with a good offer “.

Top Rank and Don King are the two big players in the sport and I can’t see Pavlik under the poisonous eyes of Don King.  I am happy that this deal went through and I am pretty sure that Kelly is being forthright about being loyal to Top Rank.  They were there for his rise to stardom and he has delivered for Arum.

Arum will now turn his attention to rescheduling a Pavlik vs Sergio Mora fight sometime in September if all goes as planned.  Look for the Kelly Pavlik vs Arthur Abraham fight to get pushed into march or April of 2010.  Pavlik is ready to roll and is anxious to start training again.

The Cavs Are Down, But Not Out – It’s In Lebron’s Eyes

More important than lifting his team to fight another day.  More important than scoring 37 points.  More important than posting a triple-double, was the look in Lebron James eyes late in the fourth quarter.  As Dwight Howard fouled out and jawed at Lebron, the look Lebron shot back said more than anything, we aren’t quitters.

You know Lebron is performing like a king when they put his name and stats right next to the 1965 Jerry West game-by-game stats.  It is a record that hasn’t been flirted with often.  Lebron will probably not break that particular record in this series.

I feel refreshed that Mo Williams can still shoot.  Lebron’s supporting cast stepped up last night and played the way they had all year until the start of this series.

Game 6 in Orlando is not only do-or-die for the Cavs, but I feel it is now do-or-die for Orlando as well.  If the Cavs can sneak one out in Orlando, then I feel Game 7 would see the Cavs as big home favorites.  One game will dictate an outcome of a great season for the best Cavs team in history.

If Lebron has that look in his eye Saturday, beware Magic, the king knows what’s up.

Mahoning Valley Thunder Profiles: Blake Powers

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Blake Powers has had his ups and downs in the lifetime of a football player so far.  He was a starting quarterback at The University of Indiana, and still loves the school.  He visited his girlfriend there during the bye week.  His father was also a standout at Indiana and influenced him to attend IU on a football scholarship.  Powers enjoyed some success and broke most of Antwan Randle-El’s single season records but left his life as a Hoosier with a bitter taste in his mouth.  Powers was replaced as the starting quarterback and still wonders why.  He says “The guy they replaced me with was a better scrambler, and with the line we were using the quarterback was always getting flushed out of the pocket and running from the rush“. 

Powers aspires for more.  He knows that AF2 can be an opportunity to be noticed and has grasped the opportunity with both hands.  The Thunder situation is similar to what Powers faced as a Hoosier in the sense he is hurried and forced to throw or risk being sacked.  He gets hit almost every play and gets back up.  Davon Vinson is a better scrambler, but Powers is a pure passer.

In his spare time, Blake likes to play video games.  He has an XBOX 360 and is currently playing Wolverine and FIFA Soccer.  He lives with CJ Brewer who has to tolerate loads of Classic Rock.  Yep, Powers, in the predictable quarterback tradition, listens to the old hard stuff.  He says his favorites are Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd.  If he could pick a dream concert Powers replied, “Without a doubt, Skynyrd has always been my band”.  Good news Blake, they are touring (what’s left of them anyway) with Kid Rock this summer.

Powers watches reality shows on VH1 and likes his daily hit of Sportscenter.  Interestingly enough, he said he likes to watch HBO documentaries and original programs.  Maybe we will see him on Oz someday, but lets hope not.

Powers said in his spare time he likes to go bowling.  He also picked Applebee’s as his favorite place to grub, but was really looking forward to the team dinner at a Mexican restaurant later that night.

Come and see Powers and The Thunder challenge the high-powered offense of The Lexington Horsemen this Saturday.  Powers is a native of Brandenburg, KY, so he will feel a little extra motivation to play well against Jared Lorenzen and The Horsemen.  Kickoff is set for 7:05 at The Covelli Centre.

Linked And Loaded – Friday 5/29/09

Hopefully you were not sitting behind home plate at this game.  Lots to get to today.  Here are some great stories from other sites.

Linked And Loaded – Thursday 5/28/09

Nate McLouth has had an up-and-down 2009 so far.  Look for Nate The Great to put up bigger numbers between now and the All-Star Break.  He is traditionally much better in the first half of a season and it will show soon.  Here are some other great stories:

5 Athletes Who Took Superstitions And Rituals Seriously

After doing some research, I have come up with what I feel is a list of the five most superstitious athletes of all-time.  I am sure there are many more, and I welcome you to add them to this list by commenting.  The five athletes I have chosen particularly fascinated me through the years by being repetitive to a fault.

  1. Turk Wendell  – Perhaps the dictionary definition of a superstitious athlete.  Wendell, as seen above, would never step on a baseline going to or coming from the mound.  He wouldn’t just step over the line, as many do, he hopped like a fourth grader propelling himself to maximum heights.  Maybe his vertical distance meant he was far from the baseline as well.  This wasn’t it.  After he set records for hopping baselines, he would head to the dugout to brush his teeth EVERY INNING.  I looked at almost two hundred websites, but none that mention the dental hygiene obsession mention whether or not Wendell did this on days he didn’t pitch.
  2. Wade Boggs – Boggs would eat chicken every day before a game.  I’m not sure if he retreated and ate steak on off days, and perhaps the “other white meat” all Winter, but on a summer day when the Red Sox were playing, Boggs was doing the poultry ritual.  Boggs also wrote the word “Chai” in the dirt before every at-bat.  Chai is a Hebrew word meaning “living”.
  3. Peyton Manning – Manning has a ritual that is less perplexing.  Before every game, both home and away, Manning has to read a program from cover-to-cover.
  4. Brian Urlacher – Urlacher eats exactly two chocolate chip cookies before every game.  Not one or three cookies depending on hunger levels, but exactly two cookies.  Must have gotten bamboozled by The Count and Cookie Monster as a kid, but only as a tandem.
  5. Michael Jordan – Wore his North Carolina shorts under his Bulls uniform shorts every game.

Bonus: Curtis Martin – Dating back to his days at Pittsburgh and through his entire NFL career, Martin always read Psalm 91.

I know we, as humans, develop rituals which can sometimes defy logic.  However, the above listed athletes have not tried to function without the routines they adapted as “their own”.  Publicity stunt or obsessive-compulsive?  In all of the above listed instances, I would call it obsessive-compulsive behavior.

Linus Van Pelt always had his blanket and got lightheaded and dizzy when seperated from it.  The above listed blankets fascinate me.

Mahoning Valley Thunder Hire Chris MacKeown To Head Coach

The Mahoning Valley Thunder have named Chris MacKeown (Mack-Cue-Win ) as their new Head Coach.  Interim Coach Brennan Booth will retain his position as Defensive Coordinator.  The move comes just a few days away from a home game with Lexington at The Covelli Centre.

MacKeown has a surplus of coaching experience in both AFL and AF2.  In his ten years as a head coach, his teams have made the playoffs seven times.  He has led teams to conference finals four times and to the championship game once. 

Thunder GM Adam Tokash thinks Coach MacKeown brings the chance of turning things around faster than most other candidates would.  ”Chris brings a tremendous amount of arena experience and a history of winning along with a track record of turning teams around.  We appreciate the effort of Coach Booth who did a nice job of righting the ship and getting the team headed in a positive direction. We’re confident the hiring of Coach MacKeown will result in a winning product for several seasons to come.”

I am happy Coach Booth was retained and thank him for his accessibility and demeanor whenever I had a question.  With MacKeown, Booth and Andy Kelly form a dangerous coaching triangle that will be tough to outsmart. 

The Thunder host Kentucky Horsemen this Saturday.  The Horsemen are coming off of a 83-48 win against Florida.  They have a quarterback named Jared Lorenzen, a former Kentucky starter, who is built like a tackle.  The Horsemen bring a 4-4 record to Youngstown.  Kickoff is at 7:05 at The Covelli Centre.

Linked And Loaded – Wednesday 5/27/09

Pretty amazing that the jockey didn’t get killed.  Cavs can’t seem to stop the barrage of threes from Orlando and are in deep trouble.  Indians are starting to show signs of life after that huge comeback and the Yankees still stink.  Check out these great stories:

 

What 5 Players Could Outeat Charles Barkley ~ NESW Sports
Tim Lincecum Is Back ~ Josh Q. Public
Two-Year Old Pool Hustler (Video) ~ Steady Burn
The Most Horrific Soccer Injury: Leg Breaks In Half ~ Total Pro Sports
Steelers Rubik’s Cubes Rule ~ PSAMP
Soccer Player Moons Fans During Game ~ Sports Rubbish
Breakdown Of Future Pros: Tyler Hansbrough ~ the 5th Corner
Zack Greinke Hurts His ERA By Allowing A Run ~ Detroit4lyfe
Anquan Boldin Fires Agent Drew Rosenhaus ~ FOX Sports
WR Matt Jones Is Looking For A New NFL Home ~ My Sports Rumors
Paaaaaavanooo!!! ~ Tribe Daily
Cavs vs Magic Game 4 Recap ~ Talk Hoops
Five Coaches Most Likely To Be Sprewell’d ~ Zoner Sports
Penguins vs Hurricanes Highlights ~ The Program

Hey Mike Brown…Why Is Zydrunas Ilgauskas Shooting Threes?

With Cleveland’s pure outside shooters (Delonte West & Mo Williams) struggling to hit outside shots, why is Zydrunas Ilgaukas outside the arc firing threes?  I was never a fan of Ilgauskas shooting very far from the paint.  Why not keep your biggest player close to the hoop?  Maybe he would get a rebound or get Dwight Howard to foul him.  I have been fired up all year when Big Z shoots these long-range shots.

To me, this is the equivalent of bringing in that utility outfielder to pitch when you are getting clobbered and realize realistically that you have no chance to win.  It is lining that fat tackle up as a tight end eligible on the one and throwing to him when you are up by more than 10 points in the fourth quarter.  It is something that should be seen as a novelty in sports.  Unfortunately for Cavs fans, Ilgauskas has his mind set on firing bricks from more than 20 at least three times a game.  This all started in the early 90′s when Manute Bol would get the ball with big leads or deficits and shoot the 3.

Message to Mike BrownTear that play out of the arsenal.

Sadly, a few of Z’s threes have gone in.  Take a six-year-old to a putt-putt course and they might get a couple hole-in-ones for getting lucky enough to hit the clowns mouthBig Z hit the clowns mouth a few times from three this season, so now he thinks he is Robert Horry and wants to hang outside the three-point line and just wait for the ball.  In the meantime, Lebron James is driving and if he misses and doesn’t get his own rebound, there is no one else around.  They are all having a picnic waiting for the ball to be kicked out.  The two exceptions are Anderson Varajeo and Ben Wallace.  They hustle after loose balls and play the game according to what their size dictates they should do.

Maybe we should turn Ben Wallace loose.  He can fire up his new McDonald’s sponsored 30 foot hook shot.  If they start to fall, people get a free sixth Quarter Pounder if they buy five.  Or we can let Anderson Varajeo (Sideshow Bob) run give and go plays with Big Ben all night.

Bottom line is real simple…  If Delonte and Mo can’t hit the outside shot, bring in Joe Smith and Sasha Pavlovic and go to the bigger post-type lineup.  Where is Wally Szcerbiak?  He gets hot and nails threes in bunches.

There are a million opinions as to what has to happen for Cleveland to pull this series out.  I don’t think you would hurt your chances of winning any if you didn’t waste three possessions a game on Zydrunas Ilgauskas firing up bombs from long range.