Archive for September, 2010
Health, it affects all of us at some point in our lives. Ely Ducatel has been a member of the Youngstown State University Football Team for awhile, but in 2010 something is very different — he’s healthy. Ducatel has not enjoyed the countless hours of pain and rehabilitation to get back, but he is enjoying his role on the team. The 6’1″, 195 pound junior from Naples, Florida has goals beyond the field and had some enlightening answers to many questions.
Paneech: You had a couple of years where you got hurt. How hard is it to sit there and just watch?
Ducatel: It is really hard to deal with. I put a lot of time in, especially my first year going into that Spring. I redshirted and worked on getting stronger and faster and ended up tearing my ACL. After that, I had a series of injuries including reinjuring the ACL, dealing with back spasms, and hamstring injuries. It feels really good to get back on the field. I took care of myself this year which meant working hard but also eating right. Coach Longo always let me hear about eating right and kept telling me to stay away from McDonald’s.
Paneech: Let’s shift gears and talk about your education, how is school going for you?
Ducatel: My education and studies are going really well. I am surrounded with good people, such as tutors, who are willing to help me when I need it. The football players have a great academic center to work with. We have study tables where people are making sure that you are going to class. Even the teachers are willing to work with you because they know you travel and they really do hold the players best interests at heart.
Paneech: Dominique Barnes is the big-play receiver on offense, do you feel like if a team wants to take him out of the offense that your role expands?
Ducatel: When our top receiver, Dominique Barnes, is getting double-teamed, of course I want to step up and make plays knowing that I have one-on-one coverage on me. Usually they will just move the safety over and that leaves just a cornerback for me to work on and I can run routes into areas where there is a linebacker.
Paneech: Is the team chemistry better this year than it had been since you arrived here?
Ducatel: It’s much different, I can’t really say what is better and what is worse. This year, we are definitely more focused. These coaches really get after you, but they honestly want the best for you. They are not here to be your best friend, they are here to coach you up to be the best player that you can be.
Paneech: Who is going to the Superbowl this year and who wins? Stephen Blose picked the Raiders.
Ducatel: I definitely want to see the New England Patriots go. I would say the Saints or the Packers, although the Packers lost their running back. Michael Vick is starting now, so I am going to say it will be New England and Philadelphia. The NFC won last year, so I think it will go back to the AFC, I will say the Pats win it all.
Paneech: What other sports do you follow besides football?
Ducatel: I like basketball, both NBA and college. I love watching certain players like Lebron James. Lebron is still growing as an athlete and he will keep improving. With him going to Florida, it is just electrifying down there right now. I also watch a little Tennis, the Williams Sisters are interesting to follow and you can actually pick up things to try on the football field such as lateral movement.
Paneech: Now that Coach Longo has left the field, please tell me what you were eating that was so unhealthy.
Ducatel: (laughs) I love Charley’s Steakhouse. After the season is over, I will probably go over there and grab me a little steak sub, some fries and a lemonade.
One Word Answers
Best Show On Television: Sportscenter.
Favorite Pro Wrestler: I loved Hulk Hogan.
Song No One Would Expect On Your ipod: Christina Aguilera – I’m A Genie In The Bottle.
Gum You Chew: Minty or Winter Fresh Orbit.
Favorite Beverage: Lemonade.
Best Move You Ever Made On The Field: Catching a bubble screen and cutting across the middle of the field for about a 60-yard touchdown.
Toppings On A Pizza: Supreme, everything.
Tell Me What Picture To Use In Your Profile: I would like something of me and all the other receivers together. That would be a really cool thing.
After being picked to finish seventh in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, Youngstown State University had to have September 25 circled on their calendars for a long time. Not only would that date signify the beginning of conference play, but it would also mark a game with Southern Illinois, defending champs and reigning FCS powerhouse of the past few years. Coach Eric Wolford and staff proved up to the biggest challenge of the season and rattled off 31 unanswered points to stomp the Salukis, 31-28.
Southern Illinois hit the scoreboard first with 2:16 left in the first quarter when Taylon Hunter returned a blocked punt 38 yards. The blocked punt came after YSU had punted the play before and downed the ball on the 1-yard line but a penalty forced the Penguins to kick again. The Salukis are not a team to give second chances to, and this particular instance proved that.
Southern Illinois scored again to push their first quarter lead to 14-0. Chris Dieker found John Goode in the end zone for an eight yard touchdown strike with just four seconds left in the quarter.
The mark of a good team is how they play in the face of adversity. Down 14-0, YSU could have packed it in and handled the beating. Coach Eric Wolford transcends a difference not seen here since Jim Tressel as his Penguins would rattle off 31 unanswered points over a quarter-and-a-half. The Penguins took the ball on their own 19 and marched 81 yards to get on the board. Kurt Hess put the exclamation point on the drive finding Kevin Watts in the right back side of the end zone.
When Southern Illinois got the ball back, YSU showed a flash of serious momentum on defense. David Rach (pictured above) knocked the ball from Dieker and Luke Matelan landed on it to give the Penguins the ball on Southern Illinois 18-yard line. Hess again found Watts from eight yards out to tie the game at 14.
Brandian Ross got into the act with a spectacular pick of Dieker setting the Penguins up on the Saluki 41-yard line. Hess showed a lot of poise on the drive that would give YSU a 21-14 halftime lead. Three times on the drive, Hess looked as though he would be sacked for a loss but each time managed to throw the ball for a completion. Carson Sharbaugh hauled in a 3-yard heave (below) from Hess to give the Penguins their first lead in the contest.
In the third quarter, YSU gave Southern Illinois a healthy dose of Jamaine Cook. Cook had consecutive carries of 10,8, 3, and 1 yard with the one-yarder resulting in another YSU touchdown. The plunge of a yard made the score 28-14 with 5:59 left in the third quarter and the lid came off of the place as all 17,660 red-wearing Penguin fans were cheering wildly.
Stephen Blose hit a 37-yard field goal to increase the Penguin margin to 31-14. The Penguin defense was outstanding and set the offense up with great field position the entire game.
Southern Illinois scored a touchdown with 1:28 when Dieker ran one in from four yards out to make it 31-21. Dieker then found Joe Alaria cut the lead to 31-28 with 44 seconds remaining. Southern Illinois attempted another onside kick but the ball went out of bounds on the hop and YSU ran the clock out for the win.
After the game, Hess talked about the victory. ”Being down 14-0 is not what we expected or wanted, beating the defending champions was a big win for this program. We worked hard all Summer for this, we are going to celebrate and then get ready for Missouri State next week”. Hess finished the game 9-15 passing for 94 yards and three touchdowns. He also had six carries for 24 yards but more importantly, he did a great job managing the clock and making some clutch plays under pressure.
Jamaine Cook was the leader on the ground for the Penguins (3-1, 1-0) with 26 carries for 115 yards. Cook commented on the win. ”I think this win sent the message to everyone that this is not the old Youngstown, this is a new Youngstown, and we’re back. The offensive line did a tremendous job and they are getting better every week.”
Coach Eric Wolford was in a great mood after the game and had praise for everyone involved with his program. ”It’s a big win, I tried to downplay the game. We worked fundamentals hard this week. We gave them the 14 points at the beginning. They are a good football team but I didn’t sense any panic on the sidelines. You really find out what kind of person you are when you face adversity in your life. I have a lot of confidence in our football team and we all believe in each other, we have a really tight family. I told the team that we have been one of the teams doing the hunting, now we have officially become the hunted. We are ten scholarships under everyone else using 53, this win is a tribute to this coaching staff.”
Southern Illinois (1-3, 0-1) was paced by Dieker’s 24-42 passing for 258 yards. Dieker flipped a pair of touchdowns in the loss.
Youngstown State University (2-1) welcomes Southern Illinois (1-2) to town for the Missouri Valley Conference opener for both teams. Southern Illinois has enjoyed recent success against YSU winning the last three meetings. Things have changed at both schools in the past year. Eric Wolford has taken over YSU’s program and has the team really playing with a beam of confidence. Southern Illinois seems to be missing their patented running game. Overall, the series is tied at 10-10-1.
Last season, the Salukis defeated the Penguins, 27-8. The last meeting at Stambaugh Stadium was forgettable for the Youngstown sports faithful as Southern Illinois won in a blowout, 33-0. There are several streaks heading into Saturday’s game to make note of. Southern Illinois has won a conference record 14 straight Missouri Valley match-ups. However, the Salukis are currently on a two-game losing streak falling to SE Missouri State last week and being handled easily by Illinois. Their lone win came in the opening week of the season, a 70-7 (not a typo) win against Quincy.
Youngstown State opened with a loss at Penn State and the Penguins have posted back-to-back wins over Butler and Central Connecticut to boost their win total, but more importantly, their confidence level. One notable streak to watch will be based on the performance of Dominique Barnes. Ironically, Barnes originally signed a letter of intent to attend Southern Illinois but later changed his mind and came to Youngstown State. With one catch, Barnes will extend his consecutive games with a catch streak to 27 straight games. With two catches he will tie Renauld Ray for sixth place on the all-time Penguins reception list. With six catches, Barnes can tie Lorenzo Davis for fifth on the all-time Penguin reception list. If Barnes goes completely ballistic and catches 14 balls, he will tie Bob Ferranti for fourth.
The thing Southern Illinois has to be most concerned with is the arsenal of players Wolford has used this season. Last week against Central Connecticut, the Penguins used four different running backs who all had at least nine carries each. Adaris Bellamy, Torrian Pace, Jamaine Cook and Jordan Thompson have all had quality touches the first three weeks of the season. Wolford has proven in the last two games that this year’s Penguins team is multi-faceted. Take the run away and Kurt Hess can throw to Barnes, a healthy Ely Ducatel, and Kevin Watts. It has been set up rather cleverly as a “pick your poison” type of offense.
The key to Youngstown State coming out of this with a win is to minimize penalties and mistakes. The perfect game is what YSU needed to play to beat Penn State. Sloppy play will not cut it this week. The Penguins do a good job taking care of the ball and Southern Illinois is not the type of team you can make too many mistakes against . YSU Receivers Coach, Phil Longo, coached at Southern Illinois as the Salukis Offensive Coordinator over the past two seasons. He will surely provide some insight as to schemes, personnel, and even tendencies — more stuff than the Penguins could ever see on game films.
Coach Wolford said that this game has to be played as a normal conference game, nothing more. ”Every conference game is a big game for us. However we don’t make this particular game out to be the Super Bowl or anything. If we approached it like that and made it too big, I think maybe guys would get too tight. There is a certain degree of looseness you want and a right time to tighten down the screws and go. With young people, you have got to squeeze ‘em. When we squeeze them, we are pushing them to get better. At the same time, you better hug them and love them, squeeze them that way too. These kids know that we love them even though we coach them hard.”
Wolford has done something really impressive. Before each home game, the coaches and players, in suits and ties, walk through the main tailgate lot to share in the joy of a Saturday in Youngstown with the great Penguins fans. Wolford has seem to have done everything right so far. Attendance is up, there is no media scrutiny, his relationships with executives at YSU remain increasingly positive, and he has really liked coming home.
Beware this week, Southern Illinois, these are not the same Penguins you have beaten up on since 2007.
Andre Elliott is not your average Penguin. He has responsibilities and pressures that many student athletes do ot have to deal with as a parent. ”At the end of the day I don’t have time for TV and video games, I would rather go and spend time with my kids. I have a daughter, a son, and a stepson. I prefer to just go home and spend time with my girl and the kids, that is a good night to me”, said Elliott. He does manage to sneak a Tweet in now and then, but for the most part, he is one of my favorite Penguins over the past few years and has earned the respect of many with his great on-field skill set.
Paneech: Let’s start with the obvious. You were a carryover from last year under Coach Heacock, now you are playing for Coach Wolford. What is the difference between this year and last?
Elliott: They were actually pretty similar. They had the same goals in mind and have a common goal which is to get back to the playoffs where we used to be. The difference now is the enthusiasm. Coach Wolford brings a lot of enthusiasm and that rolls over to the players to bring to the field. When everyone is enthusiastic about the game, we just fly around and have fun.
Paneech: What about position coaches, is there a bigger difference this year than last?
Elliott: They are pretty much different even though they both worked really hard with us. Last year, Coach K (Kanatzer) did a lot in the film room with us. This year, Coach Stoops seems like he works harder on the field with us. They are both pretty tough coaches.
Paneech: You and a few of your fellow Penguins follow paneech.com on Twitter. What is your Twitter ID so we can build you some followers and talk about social media networking and sports. Who follows you that is big?
Elliott: My Twitter ID is Dre_Elliott2 and I tend to follow back anyone who follows me. Donald Jones follows me, the biggest response I ever had was from Kevin Hart, that was about it. I was active on Twitter early on and it just got old to me, so I fell back, now I am active with it again. I can easily see it shifting to something else because now my little sister is on it (laughing).
Paneech: You are majoring in Psychology. If I were an incoming freshman, what teacher should I take and what teacher should I maybe sidestep?
Elliott: I’m looking to finish up in December. The teacher to take would be Dr. Clayton, I love Dr. Clayton. I really don’t know who to avoid, I have had classes with mostly all of them and they all came off pretty good. There are some funny teachers like Dr. Flora that I would also recommend. The best class I ever took here at YSU though, is fencing. It’s pretty interesting getting to stab people for no reason (cracking up). The worst class I ever took was biology, I just couldn’t get into it.
Paneech: It has been said by the players, the coaches, and some of the media that if you guys play the way you did in the first half of the Penn State game that no one else left on the schedule can beat you. Do you agree?
Elliott: I agree with that. The rankings really don’t mean much in this conference because every team is a pretty good team and at anytime, anyone in the conference can beat anyone else. We have to play everyone in the conference as though we are playing for a National Championship. Being picked to finish seventh burned us, but it is a position we have to earn, and we failed to do that last year, so we have to fight for respect now.
Paneech: Who are you closest with on the team?
Elliott: Probably Brandian Ross, we take pretty much the same classes with the same major. My brother is actually his roommate so we do hang out a lot. I am still close with my family and they visit frequently. My mom just left today to go back to Cleveland and my dad gets down here when he can.
Paneech: If I were a high school senior in Youngstown, what would you say to make me want to go to YSU?
Elliott: There are a lot of things– the coaching staff, the fans, the intensity of the conference, the chance to play for a National Championship. The school is great and the enrollment has been growing, there is a great support system here.
One Word Answers
Musician That People Wouldn’t Believe You Listened To: Lady Gaga.
Favorite Restaurant: Cheesecake Factory. (Big ups to Dre_Elliott2@twitter.com on that).
Favorite TV Show: Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
Favorite Pro Wrestler: Hulk Hogan?
Favorite NFL Player: Ed Reed.
Favorite NBA Team: (pauses) Uh.. Cavaliers, even though LeBron is gone.
Order At Taco Bell: #6 Two chalupas and a soft taco with a strawberry fruitista freeze.
Best Football Move: My spin move coming on a blitz against Western Illinois last year.
Biggest Moment On The Field: 30-yard interception to the house against Northeastern last season.
If You Could Pick Anywhere To Live, Where Would You Go? France.
Adaris Bellamy has emerged in Youngstown. Anyone who watched Youngstown State’s 31-7 victory over Butler caught a glimpse of a bright future for the running game. Bellamy, a freshman, was a part of that excitement and showed a small portion of his capabilities on a 25-yard touchdown scamper that put an exclamation point on the win for the Penguins. Bellamy is fun to talk with, a good interview, and if he plays his cards right, the future of Youngstown State Football. The Heisman pose (above) may be a bit premature, but the upside of this kid is through the roof. He shows a killer spin move, but says that comes from instinct, not practice, it looks unrehearsed and more a reflection of his natural ability.
Paneech: You had a deal worked out to play in Florida. How do you end up in Youngstown, Ohio?
Bellamy: I had an agreement with South Florida that if I went to a prep school and became eligible, I would play there. Coach Leavitt got fired and they brought in Skip Holtz. Coach Holtz did not honor my scholarship agreement. I came here [Youngstown State] on a visit that my little cousin, who was already committed, set up with Coach Wolford. I liked it and ended up signing. My teammates are like brothers to me and I love the family environment. I know there are bigger programs I could go to out there, but I couldn’t ask for more.
Paneech: Are you looking forward to November when you could get used to some snow?
Bellamy: (laughing) No! Not at all! I wish we could stay in August and September forever. Not looking forward to the white stuff at all.
Paneech: What was it like to play against a team like Penn State in Happy Valley?
Bellamy: It was major. For that to be my first college game and to get to play in front of 100,000 plus was an amazing feeling. I still can’t believe it to this day. To play as well as we did in the first half, we basically set a target on our back. As long as we play like that all through the season, we are going to be something very special.
Paneech: Coach Wolford is very intense. How will he manage keeping you guys calm when there is a bullseye on your backs?
Bellamy: As long as we play more like we did in the first half and not the second half, there isn’t a team in our conference that we should not beat. We have to keep it in our mind to come out and play at our intensity level and not the level of the other team.
Paneech: What NFL running back would you say you resemble on the field?
Bellamy: Either Clinton Portis or Frank Gore. Portis is a power back that can be shifty, which are a couple of the qualities that I have. Gore can be a power back and can also break tackles, but he can do whatever the coach asks of him.
Paneech: Walk me through the typical day, start to finish.
Bellamy: I wake up off of instinct, I have never owned an alarm. I get up and brush my teeth and head down for the morning workout. After that, I take a shower and head off to breakfast check. I then go to my nine and ten o’clock classes. My third class is from 11:00 to 11:50 and when it ends I have an hour break to go eat some lunch. After lunch I head back to the stadium for study table from 1:00 to 1:50. Our team meetings start at 2:15 and we are usually in there for about 50 minutes then we have to be on the field for practice at 3:10. Practice runs until like 5:00, 5:05. We get dismissed, head to shower it up then go to the training table to eat. After that, I go home to finish whatever homework I didn’t finish at study table, and after that I’m in the bed for the rest of the night.
Paneech: With Southern Illinois looming in the distance, do you guys watch them as the conference favorite or do you only worry about them come game week?
Bellamy: It is something we will worry about when the time comes. We need to worry about who we have each week and concentrate on winning that game. We can’t play this week if we worry about Southern Illinois.
One Word Answers
Song People Would Be Shocked To Know You Like: Party In The USA, Miley Cyrus.
Next Favorite Sport: There isn’t one.
Cartoon Character You Would Be: Bugs Bunny.
Best Fast Food: Taco Bell.
What Would You Order In An Omelet: Ham and Cheese.
Biggest Phobia: (long pause) ugh… I don’t even know.
Favorite Drink: Sunkist Orange.
Favorite Animal At The Zoo: Lion.
Worst Habit: I twitch a lot.
Youngstown State University opened the home portion of their 2010 football schedule Saturday. The opponent for the home opener was the Butler Bulldogs, defending co-champs of the Pioneer Football Conference. Youngstown State rode a very consistent offensive effort to rack up 286 rushing yards on their way to a 31-7 victory over Butler giving Eric Wolford his very first head coaching victory.
The Penguins got on the scoreboard first with 3:35 left in the first quarter. Jordan Thompson hit pay dirt from eight yards out. Thompson had the last three carries of the drive, covering 25 yards on runs of six and eleven yards before his scoring jaunt of eight yards. Kurt Hess hooked up with Kevin Watts for 14 yards to start the scoring drive. Stephen Blose knocked the extra point through to put YSU ahead, 7-0.
YSU added to their lead with 11:22 left in the first half when Adaris Bellamy tallied from five yards out. The Blose extra point made it 14-0 in favor of the Penguins. Bellamy had only four carries in the first half, good for 28 yards.
Butler got on the board with a touchdown when Andrew Huck found Jeff Larsen on an out pattern. The drive was set up on a gadget play when Butler covered 41 yards on a double pass. Huck took the snap, threw a lateral to Matt Kobli, who found Huck 10 yards downfield, and by himself. Huck ran the other 31 yards after the catch.
YSU marched almost the length of the field before halftime, but had to settle for a 29-yard Stephen Blose field goal to make the score 17-7 at intermission.
As the second half started, so did the rain. The elements were not enough to contain Mr. Electricity, Dominique Barnes. Barnes fielded a punt and seemed contained but erupted through a small seam in the middle before getting downhill and racing past the Bulldog coverage for an 86-yard score. The punt return was the second longest in school history. Blose knocked the extra point through to put the Penguins comfortably in front, 24-7.
In the fourth quarter the Penguins tacked on 7 more points. Bellamy, who averaged 10 yards per carry, capped off an 8 play 80 yard drive with a 25-yard run off of the left interior. With Bellamy, Jamaine Cook, and Thompson, the Penguins showed a versatile selection of backfield weaponry.
The defense played strong too. Andre Elliott and Brandian Ross were all over the field making tackles. Butler went to a short passing game in the second half. Once Huck found a receiver and threw the ball Ross was immediately in the face of the receiver. John Sasson had 10 tackles (six solo) and true freshman Donald D’Alesio had seven tackles with five solo.
For Eric Wolford, it was win #1 as a head coach. Wolford commented on how he felt notching his first victory. “It really is different as a head coach. You win a game 31-7 but you want to win 50-0. It is special, but as a head coach it is also more stressful.”
Dominique Barnes spoke about the big punt return that took the wind out of Butler’s sails. ”Coach told us we needed to make a big play and we got one. I have to praise the punt return unit for the great blocking on the touchdown.” Barnes also commented on the run heavy play calling. “We showed we can pass last week, this week we showed we can run, it is the best of both worlds.”
Youngstown State (1-1) gained a balanced 286 rushing yards in the game. Jamaine Cook had 98 yards on 18 carries, Jordan Thompson had ten carries for 65 yards. Adaris Bellamy had six touches for 60 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Torrian Pace had 9 carries for 39 yards. Wolford commented on the youth factor at the running back position. ”We have three freshmen and a sophomore that can all get the job done. The person with the hot hand will get a majority of the touches.”
Butler (1-1) was paced by Matt Kobli who had 46 yards on the ground. Andrew Huck finished the game 20-32 for 148 yards through the air.
Take a “Straight A” student who plays college football but doesn’t care much about the pros and you can only come out with one thing… a kicker. Stephen Blose has already graduated with a 4.o GPA. Blose is on The Watch List for the Fred Mitchell Award. The Mitchell Award is given to a kicker from a D-II or D-III school who show excellence both on the field and in the community. Last season Blose was a perfect 27-27 on PAT’s and 9-16 on FG attempts. He was named to various Academic All-American Teams and is looking to be the edge the Penguins need to get over the hump in 2010.
Paneech: What do you do all day since you have already graduated?
Blose: I’m still a full-time student with twelve hours. I am broadening my horizons with some classes. I graduated with a 4.0, which was a personal goal, to strive for straight A’s.
Paneech: How did you feel about being picked to finish seventh in the conference?
Blose: It’s humbling. You always want to be projected to finish higher, but that gives us, as a team, more incentive to come into practice and work harder knowing that we are not expected to win. It makes us grind a little harder and come out with more attitude.
Paneech: What NFL Kicker do you pattern yourself after?
Blose: I never really set my goals as far as looking at professional athletes. I look up to my brother and my dad for different reasons. As far as those guys go, Sebastien Janikowski has a great leg, but I can’t really say who would be the ideal kicker.
Paneech: So how did you first get involved with kicking?
Blose: I played other positions in high school. It really came down to my high school team needing a kicker. Coming in as a freshman, I knew I could earn a spot at the kicking position so I picked that up and gradually worked my way in at other positions. I started with kicking, and it kind of stuck with me.
Paneech: You played under Coach Heacock, and now Coach Wolford. What is the contrast in styles?
Blose: There are a few differences. You get used to Coach Wolford’s intensity. He knows how to get players motivated and really has the intensity cranked up right now. He [Wolford] comes out and emphasizes hard work every day. Coach Heacock had guys working hard to, but the intensity at practice has taken a big shift.
Paneech: What was it like to play at Happy Valley against Penn State?
Blose: It’s just another game in a bigger stadium, as a kicker you can’t really get too hyped up about it. I was there my freshman year and feel like I am kind of familiar with the facilities.
One Word Answers
Favorite Cereal: Reese’s.
Favorite TV Show: Family Guy.
Biggest Phobia: Spiders.
Best Movie Ever: Dumb And Dumber.
Animal You Most Resemble: Monkey.
Best Class Offered At YSU: Chemistry.
Worst Habit: Hitting The Goal Post.
Favorite Drink: Water.
2011 Super Bowl Prediction: Oakland Raiders will win.
Vegas Or Cancun: Cancun.
Youngstown State University is opening their home schedule for the 2010 season this Saturday at Stambaugh Stadium. The opponent of the Penguins will be the Butler Bulldogs, 2009 Pioneer League Champions. Youngstown State is coming off of a 44-14 loss at Penn State but gained national respectability in the loss by not giving up and holding a 7-6 lead through a good portion of the second quarter. The Penguins have a good track record for home openers winning their last 14 in a row. Butler is coming off a season-opening 29-13 victory over Albion.
If Youngstown State is to be successful, they will have to concentrate on shutting Butler’s junior quarterback, Andrew Huck, down. Against Albion, Huck was 20-31 for 222 yards with three touchdowns. Bulldog wide receiver Jordan Koopman had nine receptions good for 108 yards. Butler finished the game with 519 yards gained on offense. As strong as the Bulldog offense looked, the defense also played well in holding Albion to 232 yards of team offense, and just 87 yards rushing.
Youngstown State looks to unleash a whole bunch of offense. QB Kurt Hess did little to look like a nervous freshman in the loss at Penn State. Hess did not commit a turnover, was only sacked once against a nationally prominent defense, and even led his team to an unlikely time of possession advantage. Hess’s hookup to Dominique Barnes in the first quarter marked the longest regular season passing play from scrimmage for YSU since 1998. Barnes had 11 catches (ties school record) for 135 yards and showed the nation why his speed and elusiveness might get some notice from those teams that play on Sundays. Speaking of playing on Sundays, Eric Rodemoyer will be. That is not a prediction, that is a guarantee. Rodemoyer has been nothing short of dominant in the past eleven weeks winning the Lineman of The Week Award ten of those weeks.
Saturday’s contest will mark the first time these two schools have ever met on a football field. Both schools are members of the Horizon League for basketball. Everyone should recall that Butler marched through the NCAA Tournament before losing a heartbreaker in the final game. For a moment, Youngstown State became an extension of Butler’s fan base. However on Saturday, a school with a decent football program is coming to Youngstown to play football, not basketball. I can’t see YSU losing this game unless they shoot themselves in the foot repeatedly. The bigger, faster, stronger slogan would prove true this weekend if both teams play to their potential.
Eric Wolford is too intense of a coach to let the team suffer any kind of a letdown after Saturday’s loss at Happy Valley. Barnes and Ely Ducatel both scored touchdowns against the Nittany Lions, both will score plenty this season. However, this is the week when Youngstown will get their first glimpse of Adaris Bellamy. Bellamy and Jamaine Cook are going to be household names in Youngstown for the next few years. Offensive Coordinator Shane Montgomery said it best last week when he stated, “The best way to give Kurt [Hess] confidence is to establish a running game, which in turn will help the passing game.” Look for the Penguins to have a huge Saturday running the football.
Defensively, Brandian Ross always looks good. He can tackle and he can cover. David Rach had a pick against Penn State, but he also broke up another pass and was involved in eight tackles. Holding All-American Evan Royster to 40 yards is a victory in itself.
Kickoff time is set for 6 p.m. at The Ice Castle. Expect a huge crowd for a rebirth of attitude and spirit.
Being in last place means the end of a season can’t come soon enough regardless of what sport. For the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, the spoiler role made a final game worthwhile, and they responded by having one of their most productive days of offense in 2010. The game was entertaining and the outcome was in doubt until the ninth inning, but the Scrappers ended up on the short end of the stick, dropping a hard fought verdict to the Jammers.
Jamestown jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Marcell Ozuna knocked in Pedro Mendoza in the top of the first inning. The Scrappers responded in the home half with a run of their own. Tyler Cannon trotted home on a passed ball by Jammers starter Adam Veras.
In the third inning, Ozuna had yet another RBI against the Scrappers when he hit a sac fly knocking home Brent Keys. Mark Canha then hit a three-run bomb to put Jamestown up 4-1.
Uncharacteristically, Mahoning Valley then put together a seven run bottom of the fourth, an explosion they must have saved for their last game. Jesus Aguilar (pictured, top) connected for a grand slam home run knocking in Cannon, Nick Bartolone and Giovanny Urshela. Brian Heere got in on the fun when he singled home Diego Seastrunk. Anthony Gallas capped off the rally with a two-run homer, his first as a Scrapper, to raise the score to 8-5 in favor of the Scrappers.
Kyle Smith entered the game in the top of the sixth inning. After loading the bases, Mendoza lifted a bloop that RF Kevin Rucker dove after. The ball landed just fair and bounced out of play for a ground rule double and two runs were plated to cut the lead to 8-7 in favor of the Scrappers.
The Jammers scored a tying run in the eighth inning when Mendoza singled off of JD Goryl. Dale Dickerson came in to relieve Goryl and inherited runners on first and third. Ozuna doubled off of the left field wall to give the Jammers a 9-8 lead. Ryan Fisher then hit a long sac fly to increase the lead to 10-8.
In the bottom of the eighth, Gallas opened the inning with a double. Aaron Fields bunted Gallas to third. Bartolone got hit in the batting helmet to put guys on first and third. Cannon doubled home a run to make it 10-9. Urshela was intentionally walked. This set the bases up for Aguilar with the bases loaded. Aguilar was 3-3 in the game, but in this particular at bat, he smoked a two-hopper right at the shortstop for the 6-4-3 inning-ending double play.
After the game, Travis Fryman reflected on the season. “Collectively, it was ugly. We were the worst-hitting team in the league, finished in last place, and finished third to last in pitching. There is no way to sugar coat that stuff. On the upside, Giovanny Urshela has a bright future. Carlos Moncrief has turned into a great story and a prospect, Jesus Aguilar got hot at the end, there were positives and good things despite the record.”
I will be posting the Scrappers organizational report card later this week.
The Mahoning Valley Scrappers were playing for pride and individual development. The Jamestown Jammers were playing for a playoff spot in the New York-Penn League Playoffs. The weather was colder than what it had been all Summer and the Scrappers were definitely in the Christmas spirit, committing 5 errors and ultimately losing, 6-4.
Manager Travis Fryman said this game was hard on the eyes. ”We saw how sloppy things can get. This was game 74 and it was the worst game I had to watch all year. It was a horrible ball game out there tonight and I could count at least nine defensive mistakes.”
Trailing 1-0, the Scrappers put up three runs in the bottom of the third inning. Two of the three runs were unearned as Aaron Fields, and Brian Heere scored on errors. Giovanny Urshela and Jesus Aguilar had RBI hits in the inning which put the Scrappers up 3-1.
Not much for receiving gifts, the Scrappers returned all of the favors in the top of the fourth. Jamestown collected three runs on two Scrapper errors and a wild pitch. Aaron Dudley delivered the big blow on an RBI-double. Each team added a run over the last four innings, and when the dust settled, Jamestown made less errors than the Scrappers and won 6-4.
Season finale is Sunday, first pitch is at 5 p.m. There will also be a legends of pro wrestling show after the game featuring Doink The Clown, Scott Steiner, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, and Greg “The Hammer” Valentine.