Sunday, September 19, 2010

Pssst. Look at the Heisman Trophy candidates over here

It’s only two weeks into already the most-hyped college football season in the history of Lee Corso and the Heisman Trophy race has started.

On the East Coast.

Out here, on the Left Coast, our Heisman Trophy horses apparently are still in the barn because they are not getting much notice.

Andrew Luck of Stanford had a Heisman Trophy-winning highlight reel of a 52-yard touchdown run on Saturday night on the World Wide Leader in Sports and I bet at least three quarters if not 90 percent of Heisman Trophy voters missed it. The Stanford quarterback completed his first eight passes and finished 17-of-23 for 207 yards and four touchdowns as Stanford built a 55-10 lead before Luck left the game with 11 minutes left in the THIRD quarter of an eventual 68-24 victory over Wake Forest.

Hello, Heisman Trophy frontrunner. Anyone listening?

Unfortunately, most everyone was asleep when ESPN began coverage of the Stanford-Wake Forest game at 11:30 Eastern time on Saturday night. Luck’s incredible performance will be old news by the time Game Day and most the nation catches up with it following NFL Sunday.

Too bad. Unless you happen to be the quarterback of national media darling Boise State, you have about as much of a chance as Reggie Bush of winning a Heisman Trophy if your football team plays west of the Mississippi River or Tuscaloosa these days.

For example after the sun set in Bristol, Connecticut on Saturday, Andy Dalton, the quarterback of the No. 4 ranked team in the nation – TCU – completed 21 of 23 passes for 267 yards and two touchdowns. But he barely got noted outside “The Bottom Line” on your TV screen.
Same with LaMichael James. He is the running back for the No. 5 team in the nation – Oregon – who ran for 227 yards on just 14 carries. Never saw his name on the “Bottom Line” but I did see that the Ducks won 69-0.

And, on Friday night, two players stood out on the Cal-Nevada game. Bears running back Shane Vereen ran for 198 yards and three TDs and Wolfpack quarterback Colin Kaepernick, one of the best all-around quarterbacks in the country, ran through and passed over then the nation’s No. 1 ranked defense to pace his team to a 52-point outburst.

But if you check out ESPN’s Heisman list this week, you will see Alabama’s Mark Ingram (even though, in my opinion, he’s the second best running back on the Crimson Tide behind Trent Richardson) topping the list, along with Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor, Boise State QB Kellen Moore and Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett, the best QB in reputably the best conference in the nation.

All of them are credible Heisman Trophy candidates. But there are many more if you look closer to the Left Coast.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sweet revenge is mine

I had my Friday night lights moment without the lights.

I got a measure of revenge.

On Friday, September 3, I returned to the Dexter High School football field in Maine for the first time in 40 years – for the first time since I was the starting quarterback for the Foxcroft Academy Ponies against the Dexter Tigers, our arch rivals, in a game we lost 58-0.

That’s right, 58-0. Hammer vs. Nail.

How could I not forget that game? The Dexter Tigers were dedicating a brand new scoreboard that day and they were determined to make it look like pinball machine at our expense and humiliation.

Get this. They were leading 50-0 in the fourth quarter. They had their starters on the field and we were in punt formation near our own end zone. They lined up to block the punt. They blocked the punt. They recovered it in and ran it into the end zone for another touchdown. Then they went for a two-point conversion and got it.

They were piling it on like as if using a bulldozer to cover a grave.

I then dedicated myself to a lifetime of hatred for the Dexter Tigers. It’s like Red Sox fans hating the Yankees when they are in first place. Which seems like approximately forever.

I was back in Maine attending a family memorial last week. I saw the Maine high school football schedule in the Portland newspaper on Friday morning and saw that Foxcroft was scheduled to play Dexter in Dexter on Saturday afternoon, the next day. The same day that I needed to be in Boston to fly back to San Francisco.

However, at three o’clock on Friday afternoon, I was in Dover-Foxcroft visiting a high school classmate, the lovely Kathy McCarthy Polk, when I learned that the game between Foxcroft and Dexter had been re-scheduled because of Hurricane Earl. It was moved up to Friday – at four o’clock.

Within an hour I had postponed a dinner date with my stepmother and sped across the county line to Dexter in my rental car. When I arrived, the same scoreboard that recorded my nightmare game was still standing and Dexter was driving for a touchdown near its shadow. The Tigers scored on the opening drive of the game and my pain returned.

Not for long. The Ponies proceeded to score 36 unanswered points. Foxcroft’s head coach is Danny White, the son of Jere White who replaced me at starting quarterback after that 58-0 loss in 1970. He, too, vividly remembers that game as does Rick “Cheese” Pembroke, who along with me, Mark “Bagga” Stevens and Mike “Ace” Thomas comprised Foxcroft’s Fearsome Foursome as freshmen football players in 1968 when the four of us all weighed less than 100 pounds. Now I’m guessing the four of us combined weigh at least 800 pounds.

Anyway, it was payback time. The Ponies eventually won 44-12. The only thing that would have made it better is if the numeral `1’ had wound up in front of the `44’ on the visitor’s side of the scoreboard.

It just goes to show you that what goes around comes around.

Foxcroft has now beaten Dexter in football 20 years in a row.