|Cam Laundry lost his father
as training camp started, but his team rallied around him and the
memory of one of their biggest fans.
Castleton State athletics photo
The hot August days of training camp can be tough, but that's not the word for the one Castleton State senior defensive end Cam Laundry went through. His world came crashing down on Aug. 15 when his father died of a heart attack while working.
Tim Laundry was 55 years old and as big of a fan as the Spartans have. He was buried in full Castleton Spartan gear.
"That is what he wanted," said his widow Rhonda, fighting back the tears just after the Spartans crushed Plymouth State on Saturday.
"Cam's Dad was such a big fan. He is a big part of why we play here," Castleton quarterback Shane Brozowski said after throwing for 400 yards, the fourth 400-plus-yard game of his career.
The Spartans showed their support to their teammate and his family. They boarded a bus and attended the funeral well over an hour away.
Brozowski was not surprised at the way the team came together. He saw it first hand this summer when his family's home in Rensselaer, N.Y., caught fire on July 2 and was uninhabitable.
Brozowski was at Fort Benning in Georgia when iit happened, going through the rigors of training with the Air National Guard.
"We are all very tight," Brozowski said. "I had 85 text messages and 45 voice mails. Most of them were from my teammates."
Then, the team rallied around the family. Castleton coach Marc Klatt was especially proud of the way the Spartans came together to support the Brozowskis because of the time of year it was.
"It was the middle of the summer and a holiday weekend. Everyone was away and relaxed. It was incredible the way they responded," Klatt said. "We put the word out to the players and coaches and they responded by donating what the family needed. I know the family had such an overpowering sense of support."
The team went through something similar a couple of years ago when Jeremy Benoit, now a senior on the team, had his family's home burn.
"We asked Shane's girlfriend what the family needed and then the players donated things like sheets, blankets and dishes. Team members brought the items to campus and we loaded them in a truck," Klatt said. "They were very appreciative.
"It speaks to the character of the players on this team and also how well they like Shane."
As is the case with any fire, the necessities are a big loss, but in some ways the treasures with a more personal meaning are a bigger loss.
"His mother (Mary Jane) was very emotional," Klatt said. "She was happy that everyone was okay but Shane lost his awards from youth and high school football and she is so darn proud of him."
Captain and senior starting defensive back Cody TanCreti is very close to Laundry. They lifted all summer together on the TanCreti property in a sugar house they converted into a weight room.
"We've had a lot of stuff happen," TanCreti said. "There was the flood, and the fires and then Cam. We've become more of a family than ever."
The flood TanCreti referred to was from Tropical Storm Irene a year ago when the Spartans lost their locker room and much of their equipment. There is a mark high on the wall to show the height of the water when it came into the locker room.
Fires, flood and a tragic death have brought this team together.
It is little wonder after Brozowski completed 22 of 35 passes for 400 yards - 308 by halftime - that his first words were in praise of his offensive teammates.
"We've got a great group of receivers and I have to give a big shout out to the line," Brozowski said.
Family: on the field, off the field.
Four wins out of conference made for a good weekend for the fledgling Eastern Collegiate Football Conference which was born in 2009. Not only did Castleton rough up Plymouth 35-7, but Norwich edged Western New England 26-24, Mount Ida nipped UMass-Dartmouth 24-21 and Becker shut down Fitchburg State 13-3.
Norwich and Ida each won with late field goals. The most darmatic came in Northfield, Vt., where Norwich's Patrick Wilson booted a 27-yarder with no time left on the clock to lift the Cadets over WNE. Wilson made both of his field goal attempts in the game.
But Ida's field goal by Bobby Hemmann might have been the victory surrounded by the best atmosphere. It was "Light the Night" at Mount Ida where the Mustangs played their first night game in a new facility and Hemmann's 47-yarder with 1:39 left provided the perfect script for the program's new era. It was Hemmann's leg and Scott Droesendahl's arm. The Mustang quarterback threw for 229 yards and two touchdowns, and was never picked off.
"It's great to have a home and great to have a facility like this. It was a special atmosphere," said Ida coach Mike Landers while viewing video Sunday morning. "Everyone came out, all the alumni, students and faculty. It was an incredible atmosphere. It was a great night for all of Mustang City.
"We have a lot of things to clean up. But we were down 13-0 and the kids fought and we found a way to win.
"We had great leadership from the quarterback position."
Becker's defensive effort was impressive, keeping the Corsairs out of the end zone. The big force for the Hawks was junior linebacker Melvin Booker who had 12 tackles, two sacks, three tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
Brozowski's main target was Kevin Alberque who caught six balls for 139 yards and three touchdowns.
Spartan fans are accustomed to Brozowski's prolific passing. They have been watching him put up big numbers for three years.
What was different was the defense. The Spartans have been giving up a lot of points in their brief history, winning some shootouts and losing more of them.
But shutting down the Panthers was something new to the Castleton fandom.
"We have matured as a defense and we're playing a lot faster," TanCreti.
Not only did Wilson and Hemmann nail game-winning field goals, but Endicott's Dylan Rushe showed why he is one of the D-III kickers on the Fred Mitchell watch list during the Gulls' impressive 34-7 win over highly regarded Framingham State. Rushe kicked two field goals, including a 50-yarder. He had a 55-yarder last season.
There was also defense factored into the Gulls' victory. They forced seven turnovers, including three interceptions by Andrew Lawson.
This is the time of year everyone tries assess team's strengths as well as the viability of conferences with all the nonleague play going on. The most impressive win for the New England Football Conference was authored by Bridgewater State. The Bears struck down Springfield, the program some point to as the gold standard in New England.
But Bridgewater comes into the campaign with some credentials of its own. After all, the Bears are the co-favorites to capture the Bogan Division of the NEFC.
Springfield led the country in rushing last season with just over 400 yards per game with a senior quarterback at the helm and the Bears slowed the 2012 version down to win 21-17. Bridgewater's Mike McCarthy ran for two twouchdowns and Caleb Desomino ran one in from 11 yards out for the winning score.
It was not all good for the ECFC as Anna Maria was popped 56-10 by neighboring rival Worcester State and Husson took it on the chin, 55-14 against Hartwick. But the ECFC's Gallaudet Bison gave a good account of themselves in a 15-0 loss to Otterbein.
WPI defeated Curry 17-7 and Westfield State trimmed Nichols 41-18.
Westfield's Tim Rich and Kevin Parnell are a pass-catch tandem to watch. Rich fired three touchdown passes and Parnell had six receptions for 137 yards and a touchdown. Kane Terilli had two TD grabs for the Owls and Michael Mercadante added two rushing touchdowns.
Worcester State and WPI has one of those attractive neighborhood rivalry games and it should tell plenty about the Worcester State. The Lancers and WPI both come in at 1-0 and it will be a good barometer for Worcester State as they continue to prepare for league play.
It promises to be a great atmosphere in New York City for the Chowder Bowl as Massachusetts Maritime and SUNY-Maritime clash under the lights and that same special atmosphere will also be wrapped around the Merchant Marine-Coast Guard game that is in New London this year.
But the most telling games could be the ones involving Salve Regina, Western New England and Westfield State. Salve is coming off an impressive win over Union and now faces another formidable opponent in Montclair State. If the Seahawks have another favorable result, NEFC opponents have to be very concerned about this team. WNE and Westfield play one another for the Presidents Trophy in what is a great game for the greater Springfield area. The Golden Bears have designs on getting to a second straight NCAA playoffs and Westfield has its own ambitions after opening 1-0.