It’s a lovely thing in football when a team wins and every aspect of the “team” is involved. Presently, that’s whats happening for Pulaski County’s football team. It’s a great feeling. The locker room is happy. So many players are involved, so many are contributing in a positive way. You hear it often. It’s about offense, defense, and special teams. It seems at time some coaches just say that because it’s almost mandatory, but it is a beautiful thing when it really is that way.
For the 2019 Cougar football team, at least for the moment, it really is just like that. All players want to be a part of something good. Right now, things are good in the Cougar camp. All you have to do is look at the numbers. Of course it all starts with 3-0, the most meaningful statistic of all.
Lets look at the defense because that seems to be where it started. The headline says it. “105-6.” Those six points came when a Bassett lineman caught a batted pass on the last play of the game. If not for the lucky swat, Pulaski County would have for the first time in school history put up three consecutive shutouts. Northside 14-0. Bassett 42-6. Abingdon 49-0. To say the Cougar defense has overwhelmed its first three opponents would be an understatement. Again, just look at the numbers. When the other team doesn’t score, you will win most of time I think.
Against Northside Ethan Gallimore blocks a punt. Pulaski Co. scores its first touchdown. Corvin Carter intercepts a pass. The Cougars score again. Game over. Against Bassett Jakari Finley blocks a punt. Pulaski Co. scores. Gage Mannon scoops up a fumble and runs for a touchdown. Game over. At Abingdon last Friday Ethan Gallimore recovers two more fumbles, one resulting in a touchdown and the other a safety. Zeke Surber recovers a fumble. Chayton Rollins recovers a fumble. Both those result in eventual touchdowns. Carter pick off his second pass of the season, and Mannon also has interception and he returns it 40 yards for a touchdown. Game over. If you are counting that’s 10 turnovers, all of which led to touchdowns, or resulted in immediate lights on the scoreboard.
How about special teams, and the kicking game. Broc Simpson kicked two field goals at Abingdon of 42 and 45 yards. He is 15 of 16 on extra point kicks. He is averaging over 40 net yards per punt with zero return yardage. The coverage on kickoffs and punts has been outstanding, but usually when Simpson kicks off, the other team doesn’t get a return. The ball lands in the end zone or even farther. Last week he kicked one that went through the uprights. His punts have had great hang time. Then there is Layne Suthers. He has two kickoff returns of over 50 yards for the Cougars.
And then at Abingdon the offense got in on the fun. Abingdon managed only three first downs in the game and finished with minus yardage. The Falcons never reached the 50 the first half. Because of the defense and Simpson, Abingdon started every first half possession at or inside its own 20.
The offense took advantage of great field position as the first half was played entirely on Abingdon’s side of the gridiron, but then came a possession early in the third quarter. it was the first time the Cougars started on their side of the field, it’s own 44. Then it seemed to happen. It looked like a rhythm was established in the offensive front. Things looked smooth. Suddenly there were gaping holes in the Falcon front, and Cougar backs came sprinting into the secondary untouched. It only took six plays, but the names of Phillips, Dunnigan, Young, Turman, and Wright suddenly became prevalent. They were physical and blasted the Falcons off the line of scrimmage. Keyontae Kennedy had three runs of 12 yards and a final of 13 into the end zone in the most impressive offensive possession of the season.
The Cougars finished with 232 total yards for the game. That’s not a huge number by today’s standards I suppose, but it was real big last Friday because every yard of it counted. I also believe that is likely to get better. The “package” is coming together next to the big cornfield. When you have that everybody does count. That’s when you have a “team.”
Basketball coach Toney Bennett got a contract extension at UVa, certainly no surprise. He also got a raise, but turned it down. Says he and his wife are in a good place. They like living where they are and have no intention of leaving UVa. That should make all Wahoo fans happy. But he doesn’t really need any extra money. Bennett says he and his wife have enough. How refreshing. Instead he wants his raise to be spread among his coaching staff, and if there are any pressing needs in the athletic department at UVa, regardless of sport, give the money to them. He just wants to help the UVa athletic family any way he can.
Do I believe this attitude of Bennett’s is coming from winning the national championship? No, I don’t. I believe this is an example of the kind of guy Bennett is. I think it’s also a reflection of the family he grew up in. I think he is genuinely happy in Charlottesville, does not ever anticipate leaving, and wants to be a team player. I think his gesture is an example of how he feels about UVa, and what he wants his life to be. And that is so very refreshing.
NASCAR Needs an Oil Change:
The final 10-race playoff is underway in NASCAR. It started Sunday evening in Las Vegas. It also started in front of a lot of empty seats. It appears after current contracts are up, at some point in 2021 major changes will likely take place in stock car racing. I think that’s a very good idea. Head south would be my suggestion, get out of the far west, the midwest, and the northeast. I see no future in those places.
The Brickyard 400 has not worked either. You hear all the PR stuff and the ultra excited announcers, and the brick kissing, but few people are there to watch it. It is the single most glaring negative in NASCAR and there are a lot of warts lately, and it all centers around keeping sponsorships, and getting backsides in seats.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway seats 235,000 fans. The Brickyard two weeks ago had approximately 50,000, and that might have been a stretch, but nobody in NASCAR wants to talk about it, and I understand that. What that means is there were 185,000 empty seats, and that’s ugly. Prime seating was empty. Huge sections had nobody. It had to be an embarrassment. I can’t imagine how it would not be.
Over the past few years there has been a lot of experimenting in NASCAR with different tracks, different formats to make it more like other sports, and all sorts of fake looking extravaganza stuff. Get away from all that. Head back south where the roots of the sport still live today. Get back to Darlington for two races a year instead of only one. Get back to Rockingham. Some might call it downsizing. I would call it good sense. NASCAR needs to go home. I think the dedicated stock car racing fan knows where home is.
Not For Me:
Everybody makes money when Notre Dame comes to town. The average price for a ticket for Saturday’s Notre Dame at Georgia football game in Athens has risen to $611.00. Is it a big game? Yes. Is it worth $611.00? Not to me it isn’t. I wouldn’t pay that much to see the national championship game. It wouldn’t even consider paying half that. But as the old saying goes, whatever the market will bear. And this is a bear market. When the Irish come, everybody makes money. It is worth noting that last season when Georgia played Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, the average ticket price was about half that.
By DAN CALLAHAN, The Patriot