Odessa, Texas gave rise to one of the best football books ever written. Friday Night Lights has been devoured by just about everyone who loves the game.
Just over 30 miles from Odessa is the little Texas town of Crane that also is a big part of a football book. That's the hometown of Kenny Walker, author of the autbiography Roar of Silence: The Kenny Walker Story.
Walker grew up in Crane where he became deaf at the age of 2 from a high fever.
It would be an understatement to say he overcame it. He went on play at Nebraska where he was an All-America selection and Defensive Player of the Year in the Big Eight. He became a defensive lineman for the Denver Broncos in 1991 and 1992, the first deaf player to play in the NFL in 20 years.
He was just recently brought aboard the Gallaudet coaching staff by athletic director Michael Weinstock.
Gallaudet is famous for education of the deaf and hard of hearing and Weinstock also brought in Curtis Pride, the deaf former major league baseball player, as the Bison baseball coach.
Weinstock is a go-getter.
"When I started here four years ago, I had my dream list at the time," Weinstock said.
Walker was on that list. Weinstock knew he had been working at the Iowa School for the Deaf and was hoping he would be interested in relocating.
"His football knowledge is off the chart," Weinstock said.
But that was only one reason Walker was brought to D.C. His story offers a great example to the Gallaudet players.
"We want to send a strong message to the players that they can play at the pro level," Weinstock said.
Playing at the pro level, whether in the NFL or CFL -- Walker went to the Canadian Football League's Calgary Stampeders where he was the first known deaf player in the league -- or ascending to the top or pro level of business or any other endeavor of life is an example Weinstock wants the students to see and be around.
"He is a very intense coach," Weinstock said. "I can be 10 feet away from him when he is coaching and he won't know I'm there."
The man Tom Osborne once called "the greatest pass rusher in college football today" must have felt compelled to charge onto the field and go after Castleton State quarterback Shane Brozowski on Saturday. Brozowski threw for a whopping 413 yards in leading the Spartans to a 31-28 victory over the Bison.
The foot was very much in the game Saturday. Castleton won its game when Carl Ojala booted a 20-yard field goal with just 11 seconds remaining.
Freshman Dylan Rushe played a big part in Endicott's 29-28 victory over Salve Regina. He not only kicked three field goals, but he executed the on-side kick that enabled the Gulls to fashion their fourth quarter comeback.
"When it comes to the on-side kick, the kid is a magician," Endicott coach J.B. Wells said.
Rushe oozes with confidence.
"He said to me, 'I'm good at those. Anytime you need me, I'll get it for you,'" Wells said.
Curry's Matt Alksninis showed why he is on the Fred Mitchell Watch List. He was 2-for-2 on his field goals attempts, kicking them from 37 and 34 yards, in the 34-7 victory over MIT. He also punted five times, averaging over 46 yards and pinned MIT inside the 20 with one of them.
Amherst kicked three field goals by two different kickers. Matt Rawson booted two and Jake Schmidt one.
Anthony Kuchar had a 35-yard field goal for Middlebury in a 24-21 win.
Phil Cosmos had three fields goals, with a long of 40 yards, for Framingham State in a 46-7 win over Bridgewater State.
Kelton era starts strong
Aaron Kelton's coaching debut at Williams was a winning one as the Ephs toppled Bowdoin 33-15 with Pat Moffitt throwing two touchdown passes to Bryce Bennett. Ryan Lupo rushed for two TDs.
Gulls fly back
Endicott is off to its best start in its eight years after a frenzied fourth-quarter comeback to beat Salve Regina 29-28.
The Gulls trailed 21-9 going into the final quarter.
Endicott's Phil Konopka finished 24-of-40 for 208 yards and three touchdowns, but it was his fourth-quarter performance that was most amazing. He was 15-of-20 for 142 yards in that 15 minutes alone.
"It wasn't looking too good," Wells said of the game as his team went into that final period.
But Konopka delivered in the clutch.
"Salve did a good job of covering the receivers, but we gave Phil quite a bit of time and he kept his composure," Wells said.
Endicott is 3-1 and 1-0 in the Boyd Division of the New England Football Conference and now comes the big one. Perennial power Curry is in town this week.
Worcester State forced seven turnovers in its 30-18 victory over Westfield State and Graham Asum was the biggest headache of all for the Owls. He spearheaded that great Lancer defensive effort with four interceptions for 113 yards.
Worcester's Tyler Russell continued to be a wrecking crew. He had 11 tackles, two tackles for a loss. a sack and he forced a fumble. Russell already has 64 tackles this season for the 3-1 Lancers.
Nobody saw this one coming. Unless you suit up for the Falcons, maybe.
Fitchburg State came into the game 0-3 against Maine Maritime, the favorite in the NEFC's Bogan Division.
Maine Maritime got its rushing yards (443 of them) just as it always does, but Fitchburg outscored the Mariners, 46-44.
Most coaches believe the only way you beat the Mariners is to outgun them, because that bruising running game is almost impossible to slow down.
Jeremy Kimler had a lot to do with the Falcons' ability to outscore them as he tossed two touchdown passes and ran for two more TDs. He threw for 174 yards and picked 116 on the ground. Darren Wilson was a big piece of the Falcons' own powerful run game with 193 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries. And Kyle Callahan had 11 catches for 130 yards and two touchdowns.
Jim Bower rushed for 145 yards and two scores and Todd Murphy added 116 yards and a touchdown for the Mariners.
The Maritime march
The other Martitimes, though, did get in the win column.
And in the case of SUNY-Maritime, that means a continuation of a program-best 4-0 start.
The Privateers trailed Husson 21-19 when quarterback Joe Dickey ran for three straight touchdowns to turn the tide as they went on to a 47-21 victory. Dickey rushed for four scores in all.
It was an impressive showing by the Privateers who had 511 yards of total offense to just 162 for the Eagles. They had three 100-yard rushers and on defense Thomas Boney and Rob Gorgy had back-to-back sacks.
Massachusetts Maritime defeated Coast Guard 23-16. It was the Bucs first win over Coast Guard since 1999.
Making up for lost time
Nathan Sherr, who missed nearly all of last season with an injury, rushed for 86 yards and two touchdowns for Masschusetts Maritime.
And Anthony Fucillo, who also missed all of last season with an injury, passed for 255 yards and two touchdowns in leading Tufts past Hamilton in a New England Small College Athletic Conference season opener.
Anna Maria still looking
Anna Maria is still looking for the first win in the program's history. The second-year AmCats fell to neighboring Becker 43-32. Becker's Joey Diaz threw for four touchdowns and Paul Casmir complemented the passing game by rushing for 141 yards.
WNEC has it going
Western New England has won eight of its past nine games. The latest victory came against Nichols. Quarterback Bryce Brown was impressive in his first start as he led the Golden Bears to the 28-10 win by completing 12 of 21 passes for 111 yards with no interceptions. He also ran for 72 yards and two scores. J.J. Jachym ran for two other touchdowns.
Panthers on the prowl
Plymouth State is its old self after all. Reports of its demise after a narrow escape at Castleton and a beat down by Mount Ida were premature. The Panthers had this one put away early, building a 33-0 lead by halftime in the 33-9 win over Mass-Dartmouth.
J.J. Brooks got a lot out of his four passes. He completed three of them for 128 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for two scores. Plymouth had three scores on the board after just 11 minutes.
Two-headed QB at Trinity
Freshman quarterback Bec Crick rushed for 87 yards and a touchdown in the first half and Craig Dubrosky had 180 yards and two scores through the air in the second half. The 33-6 victory over Colby was the 36th straight home win for the Bantams.
The Amherst Lord Jeffs also continued a streak. When they beat Bates 44-0 it extended their winning streak to nine games. Alex Vetras threw for two touchdowns.
Pain in Maine
The three Maine NESCAC schools went 0-3 and were outscored 110-21.
New targets, old success
A lot was made of Middlebury's record-setting quarterback Donnie McKillop losing his top two receivers. Not to worry. McKillop passed for 255 yards and three touchdowns and seven different receivers caught two passes or more. Zach Driscoll and Matt Rayner caught six balls each in the 24-21 win over Wesleyan.
McKillop has 13 of 14 school passing records.
Rams butt Bridgewater
Framingham State's 46-7 win over Bridgewater State and its 3-1 start stamps the Rams as a team to watch in the Bogan Division. It was only the first game in the division but their win and Maine Maritime's loss has to to have Framingham fans thinking about the possibilities.
Kurt Leone, a transfer from Division II Merrimack, had another prolific passing game, going 17-of-24 for 233 yards and two touchdowns. Melikke Van Alstyne had 146 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries.
It was the worst loss for the Bears since 1998 when they were beaten 64-21 by Springfield.
Wall of inspiration at Ida
Last November Mount Ida got drubbed 49-14 in the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference Championship Game by Norwich.
That score has been hanging up on the wall in the weight room ever since.
The memory was erased on Saturday as the Mustangs edged Norwich 22-21. Johrone Bunch led the way by getting loose for touchdown runs of 33 and 70 yards.
Sophomore quarterback Scott Drosendahl was magnificent, completing 28 of 42 passes for 307 yards and a touchdown.
It ended a school-record 11-game winning streak for the Cadets and was Mount Ida's first win in the series.
The Big Games
The biggest game this week in the NESCAC? Trinity at Williams. Both teams are coming off impressive wins and look like contenders.
The marquee contest in the ECFC is the one that finds Mount Ida and Castleton in a game between 1-0 teams at Spartan Stadium. The Mustangs have to be the favorite after beating defending champion Norwich, but Castleton's high-powered offense playing in front of its frenzied fans has to be a cause for concern for Mike Landers and his Mustangs. A large Castleton contingent bussed to D.C. for the Gallaudet win and their optimism might mean a crowd of 4,000 or so for this one.
The key game in the Boyd Division of the NEFC? It's Curry's trip to Endicott. Both teams are 1-0 and were highly touted going into the season. Endicott might have exceeded expectations and the home crowd should be whipped up with the perennial power coming to their campus.
The Bogan Division? Take your pick. Massachusetts Maritime's game at Framingham State and Maine Maritime's home contest against Worcester State are defining games. It would be tempting to pick the Lancers if it wasn't for the fact Maine Maritime is going to be more angry and emotional than ever.