|Clayton Kendrick-Holmes has been getting most of
the attention, but the Privateers are 8-0 and in line for a playoff
SUNY-Maritime athletics photo
SUNY-Maritime is 8-0 and the national media is calling. Coach Clayton-Kendrick Holmes and the Privateers were the subject of a segment on the Today show last week. There was a story in the New York Times. CBS College Sports, CBS Sports and ESPN have something in the works.
And, of course, 8-0 is only part of it. The hook for the story
is Kendrick-Holmes' deployment to Afghanistan after the season.
A producer explained all the attention to the coach by saying that eveything is perfectly aligned for a great story. Not only the team being unbeaten, but the fact that the deployment is scheduled for right after the season.
"If I were going in, say, April, it wouldn't be as big a deal," Holmes said.
The coach is a little uneasy about all the attention.
"I'm kind of humbled," Kendrick-Holmes said. "You walk into the a meeting at the Reservist Center and there are guys there who have already been to Afghanistan a couple of different times. Why aren't they getting a big story?
"It's one of those magical kind of things."
The magic continued this week. The Privateers went to Mount Ida and and had to score late to pull out a 37-35 victory. SUNY-Maritime had led throughout, but the Mustangs scored with 1:49 remaining to take a 35-31 lead.
Then, 45 seconds later, quarterback Joe Dickey tossed a 45-yard TD pass to Erik Heedles. The pass was nearly intercepted, but found its way into Heedles' hands and the Privateers had a 37-35 victory.
- Watch Heedles' catch as part of D3football.com's Plays of the Week
Dickey, pressed into service early in the year due to an injury,
threw for 168 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another
"I was really proud of him. I was proud of our whole team," Kendrick-Holmes said.
Ida's star running back Johrone Bunch did not play due to injury but the Mustangs' Scott Drosendahl was prolific, throwing for 301 yards and five touchdowns.
It all sets up the showdown for first place in the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference on Saturday with defending league champion Norwich coming to New York City. Norwich is 7-1 and 4-1 in the league. The Privateers are 5-0 in the ECFC.
Norwich did its part to set the stage by whipping Anna Maria 81-6 as the Cadets rushed for 552 yards with 11 backs sharing the 50 carries. Quarterback Kris Sabourin led the way with 116 yards and three touchdowns.
"It's a terrific scenario and it'll be a lot of fun for everyone," Norwich coach Shawn McIntyre said of the approaching showdown.
"Our guys were happy to get the win but they were immediately thinking about Maritime."
Norwich has scored a lot of points the last couple of weeks, but McIntyre knows the SUNY-Maritime defense is a different animal.
"Keith Barnes is as great a defensive player as there is in the league," McIntyre said.
Barnes, a linebacker, led SUNY-Maritime with 11 tackles against Mount Ida.
"When you are an option team, everyone talks about your option and nobody talks about your defense," Kendrick-Holmes said. "But we made a concerted effort to recruit on defense and our defense has played very well."
Should SUNY-Maritime beat Norwich and win the following week to finish 10-0, what's next? A movie? Maybe a documentary? Maybe even something more, like a classic to be put up on the same shelves with "Rudy" or "Remember the Titans"?
"I don't know about that," Kendrick-Holmes said.
But think about it. All the elements are there. A coach who played at Navy is hired as the football coach at SUNY-Maritime as the school starts the sport as a means of boosting enrollment. The sport debuts on the varsity level in 2006 and soon climbs the ladder, going 6-4 in 2009 and then putting together a magical season in 2010, fueled by kids' playing on emotion for a coach being deployed after the season.
Coach leaves behind a wife and two young sons for his year in Afghanistan.
The movie scenes are incredible. A huge crowd gathers under his office window -- just like in We Are Marshall," for the big sendoff.
The tears and well wishes after that 10th win. All with New York City as a backdrop.
If a manuscript doesn't wind up in the office of some Hollywood producer right after the Privateers win that 10th game, someone is missing out.
But here come those Norwich Cadets with that bruising running game and a burning desire to defend their ECFC title and tear up the script.
Wedding bells in the Big Apple
Oh, if you need another little scene for the movie, here's a good one: Matt Gregory, the voice of the Privateer Radio Network, is getting married Saturday, the day of the Norwich showdown. He will still call the action of the first half before running to the altar.
"You've got to do something before you get married," Kendrick-Holmes said.
Getting to know you
The ECFC is getting its share of exposure. Not only is SUNY-Maritime making a splash everywhere you look, the Anna Maria program was the subject of Selena Roberts' column in Sports Illustrated.
"The ECFC is where it's at,"Kendrick-Holmes said.
"The conference is not what people think it is," McIntyre said. "We're a lot better than people think. We have seven nonconference wins this year."
WNEC gets biggest and first
You can call it Western New England's biggest win ever and it was its first (in 13 tries) against Plymouth State.
The 14-6 victory gives the Golden Bears sole possession of first place with a 5-0 record in the Boyd Division of the New England Football Conference. It was also their seventh win in a row.
The game went to the wire as Phil Tsopanides intrecepted a Plymouth pass with less than two minutes to play to preserve the win.
JJ Jachym ran for 122 yards and a touchdown.
Gunslingers in the neighborhood
Not even 35 miles of asphalt separates the campuses of Middlebury College and Castleton State College.
There's a lot of footballs being slung in that little part of the world. Middlebury quarterback Donnie McKillop seems to set a New England record every week and if somebody ever breaks those marks someday it might be the guy firing passes at nearby Castleton State.
McKillop set the New England Division III record for career passing yards in the 22-9 win over Bates. He now has 7,847, eclipsing the 7,814 by Plymouth State's Matt Jozokos from 1987 through 1990.
The previous week McKillop set the New England record for attempts and the week before that the one for completions.
Making this all the more remarkable is the fact McKillop is setting these career marks in fewer games by playing in the New England Small College Athletic Conference with its eight-game schedule.
McKillop was 38-of-60 for 365 yards with two touchdowns against Bates.
Those are numbers that pale next to the ones Castleton's Shane Brozowski put up in Bangor, Maine in a 55-51 victory against Husson. Brozowksi threw for 458 yards and three touchdowns. It was the third week this year he has thrown for more than 400 yards.
Evan Cassidy was his hot receiver with 217 yards and two TDs.
Castleton's Cody TanCreti had a fumble recovery and intercepted a pass as time expired.
Lost in all this, was a spectacular rushing performance by Husson's Justin Lindie who amassed 253 yards and five touchdowns.
Castleton stayed alive in the ECFC race with a 4-1 record. The Spartans have Becker and Norwich remaining.
Gallaudet was the other winner in the ECFC, beating Becker 40-12 as Cole Johnson ran for two touchdowns.
Admiral's Cup a classic
When they sit around and rehash the Admiral's Cup 25 years from now, the 2010 edition will be talked about plenty.
It was more than the trophy that was on the line. Both Maine Maritime and Massachuetts Maritime brought 3-1 records into the game in a three-way tie with Framingham State for first place in the Bogan Division of the NEFC.
Maine Maritime won the showdown to keep pace with Framingham, but it was a battle that was not settled until Todd Murphy ran in from 11 yards out midway through the fourth quarter and Jim Bower crashed over for the two points and the 28-27 victory.
Matt Rende ran for 147 yards and two touchdowns for Maine.
Nathan Sherr returned after being injured several games ago and rushed for 132 yards and a touchdown. Sherr is one of the great stories of perseverance on the New England football landscape. Often hurt, including a serious injury that took almost all of last year away from him, he has now rushed for 984 yards and nine touchdowns in just seven collegiate games.
It will likely all be overshadowed, however, by the death of Maine Maritime assistant coach Richard Dukas, who was killed when his pickup truck went airborne and flipped over. Another Mariners assistant coach was injured.
The storied season of Framingham State continued with a 48-27 win over Westfield State. The Rams not only stayed locked at the top of the Bogan with Maine Maritime, but set several records. The 271 points they have scored this year is a program record. The Rams tied the school record for wins in a season with their 6-2 record. Quarterback Kurt Leone's 24 TD passes in a season is the school standard.. And James McCarthy has set the school season record for points, touchdown receptions and touchdowns.
On this day, Leone threw for 313 yards with four touchdowns, all four caught by McCarthy. McCarthy had 145 receiving yards.
Gulls force the issue
Endicott made things happen in its 37-13 win against Mass-Dartmouth. The Gulls turned two fumble recoveries and a blocked punt into three touchdowns.
The Gulls are working on their best season with a 6-2 mark and 4-1 record in the Boyd.
Curry bounced back in the NEFC by trimming Nichols 42-12 as Harold Rose and Robert Bambini hooked up for four touchdown passes.
Bridgewater State got 123 yards rushing with two touchdowns from Ben Desmarais to lead the Bears to a 28-13 win over Fitchburg State.
Worcester State's Tyler Russell is a tackling machine. He had 16 tackles in the 31-7 win over Coast Guard and now has the Lancers' season record with 134 tackles in eight games. He broke a record that has stood since 1995 and set by Lancer Hall of Famer Scott Holland.
Doing it on the other side of the ball for the Lancers was Marcus Price who rushed for 203 yards and two touchdowns.
Shane Lange led that stout Salve Regina defense in a 13-7 win over MIT. Lange had 15 tackles, 2.5 for a loss, and had a sack. Jimmy Connelly passed for both touchdowns.
The streaking Lord Jeffs
Amherst won for the 13th time in a row behind the prolific passing of Alex Vetras. He completed a school record 39 passes. Four of them went for touchdowns, two to Sam Legister, in a 37-10 win over Wesleyan. Vetras has thrown 13 TD passes this season against just one interception.
The coaches don't want to hear such talk, but Amherst and Williams are on a collision course for the season-ending Biggest Little Game in America. Williams also extended its record to 5-0 with a 35-24 win over Tufts. Ryan Lupo tied a Williams record with four rushing touchdowns among his 180 yards.
The Ephs did it through the air, as well. Pat Moffitt threw fir 296 yards and a score.
Colby also won in the NESCAC, spanking Hamilton 35-7 as Richard Newton picked off two Hamilton passes and returned one for a touchdown.
Trinity won its third straight as Evan Bunker ran for 223 yards and a touchdown in the 31-14 win over Bowdoin.
The Big Games
Norwich is off to SUNY-Maritime and we've pretty much said it all about that one.
"It will probably be a doozy," Kendrick-Holmes said.
Unlike in the first season of the ECFC, there is no championship game this year between the top two teams. So the stakes are high. There is also no automatic qualifier until 2011 so the Cadets and Privateers are playing for the regular season title and, hopefully, an at-large NCAA bid.
But Kendrick-Holmes is careful not to talk about such things. It's only about Norwich this week.
"We tell the guys, 'just take care of today,' Kendrick-Holmes said. "I think we fell into that trap last year."
"We're very excited for this opportunity,' McIntyre said.
Nobody would rather be home than the Trinity Bantams. They are practically invincible at Jessee Miller Field. They have won 37 in a row there and have never lost a game on that artificial turf.
Now, here's comes McKillop and the Middlebury bombs-away offense to try to end that enormous streak.
It should be a fun day in Hartford.
And a physical Tufts team will travel to Amherst with an eye on ending that impressive streak.
And the game of the weekend in the NEFC is on the Boyd side where Western New England will try to maintain its hold on first place, but will have to do it in a real battle at Endicott.