Monday, October 31, 2011

Band of Brothers: The Almost Inspiring True Story of NDP Boys' Swimming

   “Notre Dame Swim: Stop Laughing.” This was the t-shirt proposed by team captain Jack Poupore during our spirit shirt brainstorming session. For most of the season, I thought Jack was just being funny, but after a futile post to the Dog Pound Facebook page looking for anyone who wanted to come out to our last home meet, I realized that the chances of any sort of student presence at an NDP swim meet were next to none. Mrs. Treadway could not even make it. Ouch.
   It was fitting, because the guys’ swim team at Notre Dame has had their backs up against the wall all season. The average size of a high school swim team is probably around 15-20 kids. NDP started the season with 10. After a week, we were down to nine. It only snowballed from there. We have had some kids, who shall remain nameless, leave due to external conflicts (some things are just better left unsaid), others due to academic issues, and others just because they care more about the things they make in their toilet at night than the swim team.
   To make a long story short, we ended the season with six swimmers. You know what you have when your team is made up of six swimmers (Hint: it is not enough people for two relays, so that is out)? You have a band of freaking brothers, and while I could put more fisticuffs and donnybrooks (look ‘em up) in this article than a story about turf wars, we emerged from these tussles as a swim family.
   Despite this end result, however, I think there was a point for each and every one of us on the team where we absolutely wanted to punch someone else in the mouth (and trust me, a few of us tried). As the only senior, I was deemed immune to any sort of physical abuse (even when the purple-nurples turned into twists of love), and even though I refrained from the bloodshed myself, that does not mean I did not see my fair share of locker room scuffling. All I will tell you is that Joe Starkweather still has a stretch mark on his right pectoral. He would probably show it to you if you asked him (Hey Joe, you are welcome).
   It just occurred to me that this is probably the only connotation where nipple-talk would be appropriate (Yes, I just coined the term “nipple-talk”, feel free to steal it), but after Riley Denton pointed out that us swimmers have seen each other more often shirtless than fully clothed, I do not really feel bad about bringing it up. Dare I digress.
   As the season went on, and our less-than-valiant teammates began to realize that they actually wanted to maintain a social reputation in high school and quit, we hit a turning point as a unit. It is all because of the 500. The longest race in high school, it is twenty laps of a dear-Lord-just-end-me-now funfest (unless you’re Jack Poupore, in which case it’s twenty laps of a why-is-this-sport-so-easy yawner). During an invitational, our 200-free relay missed our race. Coach Brian (“Bri-Bri”, but not to his face . . . well sometimes to his face) was less than pleased, so he decided to slot three of us into the 500 for our next dual meet. That meant that one of us was off the hook. How did we decide? What better way than a good old round of nose-goes. First three people to lose swim the race, simple as that. The final round came down to Jack and I, as it seemed destined to be, and I pulled off the win with the fastest pair of “moose ears” I could throw up. Jack still says he had no idea what moose ears were. I did not know either, I just copied Brian. He could have done a handstand for all I knew.
   Ten minutes later, as I watched my three colleagues dive in, I realized that I was this close to actually feeling bad. I should be in that pool swimming my little life out of me too. That is when I knew: this was a team that had each other’s backs. Props to Jack, Joe, and Riley for swimming that 500. It may not have been the fairest form of punishment, but you guys did it. The mark of a team is a group of people who would be willing to sacrifice for one another, and you guys sacrificed yourselves. You may be thinking that it is pretty easy to say all of this when I am just sitting on the side cheering while I count Joe’s laps for him (He won, by the way. I take no credit), but if I had been swimming I probably would have been thinking more about those freaking moose-ears than my teammates in the lanes next to me.
   But it was not all I learned from my first and only year of high school swimming. Some of it was disturbing, and some of it was hilarious, but it was all memorable. Here are some highlights:

1.       Riley Denton has an extremely weak bladder.
Maybe, maybe not. But this kid went to the bathroom so many times during practice; all I had to do was put two and two together. You could just say he was trying to skip a workout, which is much more likely, but this is more interesting.

2.      Eliot Parker enjoys singing.
We heard him. Every time I hear Avril Lavigne from now on, I will think of him. If you are wondering if that is a good thing, it absolutely is. He is going out for the musical, and everyone should go cheer him on. If he is so much as a backup singer in that thing, consider that a ticket sold to the entire swim team. What a guy.

Emile Kassir has the longest nipple hair I have ever seen. We wanted to cut it for him. Seriously.

Warning: Proceed with caution (and if you are reading this on an iPhone, it is already too late).
Step 1: Copy the bolded lines above.
Step 2: Paste them onto another document.
Step 3: Change the font to anything outside of Wingdings.
Step 4: Remember that I warned you.

I swear the devil made me do it.

4.      Emile Kassir enjoys the 500.
He swam this at the very last meet. We practically had to force him onto the starting blocks. His first words afterward, “I think I’ll do that next year.” He loved it. That is the heart of a true NDP swimmer right there.
It almost makes up for that other one, huh?

5.      Jack Poupore is so incredible, he is receiving a spin-off article entirely in his honor.
Coming soon.

6.      Joe Starkweather is the only person who does not know he is a Native American.
With nicknames that include “Squanto” and “Chief Running Water”, I do not understand how he has not accepted what is clearly his true heritage. Just look at the guy. If it was not for Sebastian Rodriguez-Wakim, he would have had the darkest complexion on the team. He says he is white; everyone else disagrees.

   There you are. That is your final 6, including myself. We had one victory all year, but that was against a Coronado team that was more than double our numbers (a couple of those kids on Coronado looked more like small boats than swimmers, but they say a win is a win). Despite this, we celebrated that win, because at the end of the day we just did not want to be those kids who never did anything.
   Well, we sure did something. We created a unit that managed to hang tough in a stormy season. We saw our fair share of struggles, and while some we swept aside more gracefully than others, they all built character. At the beginning of the season, I was seriously concerned that being the only senior was going to be a problem, and I could not have been more wrong (it probably bailed me out of a ton of pranks and other shenanigans anyway).
   This year’s swim team was one that I will never forget, because we were a family. Some of us might not have worn Speedos, some of us might not have used a cap, and some of us might have even painted our nails during a meet, but none of us quit, none of us backed down, and none of us cared what the rest of the world thought of a few guys swimming for fun. Even through all of the bickering, dead-arms, and missed relays, we were a band of brothers to be sure.
   But seriously, stop laughing.

There’s that infamous 200 free relay. Daswick, Poupore, Starkweather, and Denton. I still don’t know who I’m waving to in this.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The College Quest--Part VI: Duke Schmuke

   I was early on the road of the college quest. Lining the path were several schools, some bigger than others, and some closer to the path than others. Farther down the road, things began to slope upward to a magnificent hill. The other schools began to drop away, and as I went farther down the path toward the hill, only one institution remained. At the top of the hill, Gothic architecture gloriously apparent even from the humble valley I stood in, sat Duke University.
   This was the big one. The number one. The ace that would turn my cards into sure winners. This is where I wanted to go. This is the visit that I had been waiting for amidst all the others. I wanted to go to Duke.
   I wish I did not have to be this guy, but I wore a blue shirt for my Duke visit. Trust me, a kiss-ass was the last thing I wanted to be, but this one was important. I would find a bigger kiss-ass, I was sure. This is Duke for crying out loud, it seems like everyone is looking at this place. When I walked into the info-sesh, I found out that everyone meant everyone.
   You think Arizona had any sort of props here, like it did at UVA or Davidson? Hell no. There were girls here from Beijing who looked like they were going to be UN delegates one day, there were dudes from Prague who were probably already building some sort of manservant robot that ran on toothpaste or some crap like that, and there were still other kids asking what kind of opportunities Duke presented to environmental engineers. The speaker had not even started talking and I was already freaking out. Geez, I want to be journalist or a writer, and what the hell is that when compared to freaking Einstein in the next row? I almost felt lazy.
   In listening to the speaker, one thing was apparent: Duke knew it was awesome. Duke has the best kids. Duke has the best teachers. Duke has the best vibe and spirit. Duke has the best sports environment. Duke has the best-looking women (Okay, maybe he did not say that, but he might as well have). It almost was obnoxious, and maybe other schools say the same thing, but there was something different about the way this guy was talking about the school. It was if we should have known it all already. Looking around, it seemed like everyone did know it already. Was I the only one here who was keeping a relatively open mind about college?
   This environment would set the tone for my visit, and I would see later on that the people visiting alongside me would very accurately reflect the Duke students. But until then, a few things would stand out. First, Duke has a clear commitment to diversity, but it is in a really weird way. We were informed that they were making a clear commitment to the Northeast portion of the country, with a heavy emphasis on New England. The insinuation was that the university was looking for kids from wealthy families from New York or Connecticut who could essentially make their own way.
   Another thing: Duke’s incoming class this year was 26% Asian. This is not a coincidence. Duke wants a certain demographic, and they are pursuing it. All it means to an uninteresting white guy like me is a taller hurdle to jump. Better start stretching.
   So after my self-esteem was positively bulldozed by the info-sesh, I was given the opportunity to enjoy a closer look at the campus that as of right then seemed about as close as Mount Doom probably felt to Frodo in Fellowship of the Ring. It felt like I would have better luck seeking out Mordor, anyway. I could climb the volcano and throw away any notions I ever had of being accepted into a good school. But I can only dream . . .
   You know how every school tries to be hip and cool and say their campus looks like Hogwarts? Half the time this is a load of gobbledeegook (if you understood that reference, good job. If not, just know I already consider myself a nerd), but when Duke says anything about bearing a resemblance to the wizarding school, believe it. The place is sweet. The gothic architecture is awesome, and as you go farther away from the main pod, the buildings transition to a sleek modern look. It was probably the nicest campus I saw on my whole trip, and every campus we saw was pretty darn nice.
   Our tour guide took any hope I had of Duke redeeming itself and crushed it in her horribly boring fist. She must have compared notes with the Wake Forest chick; it was awful. My dad and I started a pool to see how many times she would change her facial expression. It really showed how important it is to have a good tour guide. It was not quite a huge factor at Wake, but here it only made an awkward situation worse.
   Duke prides itself on being an exceptional research institution. You hear this from a lot of schools, and it does not become any more appealing each time. Seriously, who the hell wants to do research, in addition to all their classes and homework? I do not understand at all where this notion came from that people want to go out and do some research while they are in college.
   In any case, at Duke you are going to give yourself a fine education, so the academics were not the kicker for me. What did Duke in, ultimately, was the vibe it gave off on campus. What I took away from Duke was a place that was competitive and cutthroat, and not really a place where you can just relax and hang out. It felt like everyone spent their time trying to push ahead of everyone else, and it was hard to imagine myself (I consider myself very laid-back, my parents would probably argue that I am too laid-back, but I suppose you cannot please everybody) having a good time with people for a good time’s sake. It was a drag to say the least.
   I will come right out and say it: Duke is off my list. It simply is not the right atmosphere for me, but there are some things you might be able to take away from it.
   For one, Duke has killer athletics. Cameron Indoor Stadium is incredible (we snuck in and shot some hoops, the girls’ basketball team was less than pleased with us), and the basketball culture that has been built by Coach K has grown into something that is either really passionate to those who support it or really, really annoying to everyone else. People that go here love this place; it is as simple as that.
   I usually do one of those little “What Jumped Out” deals, but since Duke turned out to be the biggest flop since Kyrie Irving’s academics (zing), I will skip over it this time (Speaking of Irving, we saw the guy. He was in the library. Well, he was leaving the library. Probably sick of studying for a class he had flunked during the year). You should just know that Duke offers a ton of opportunities in the educational world and has a terrific athletic environment.
   But at the end of the day, Duke was not the right fit for me. The campus vibe was just too weird, and seemed to conflict too much with my personality (all of this makes it sound like I am looking for a soul mate and not a college, but I guess if we are making that comparison, Duke is like that really hot trophy wife who looks great on the outside but sometimes you just really wish she would shut up about that awful dress Stacey wore to that party Saturday night). There was definitely a Duke look: all guys wore khaki shorts, polos, and lugged around black backpacks. The short haircuts too did not quite match up to what is referred to by some of my classmates as my “flow” (I don’t ask for this, people). Basically Duke was a swing and a miss, and my number one school went from the top spot to completely off of my list.
   So you probably expect something really good for the kiss-ass award. Here is what I will tell you: everyone here is a kiss-ass. Duke won the kiss-ass World Cup.

Those are the athletic facilities to my right. They made me wish I was an athlete.

Cameron Indoor. Sink a free throw here and you can consider your basketball bucket list complete.

 Krzyzewskiville. Don’t mispronounce it. They’ll kill you.

You see this road? This road leads to Tyler Daswick’s social hell. Welcome.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Powder Puff 2011--Thoughts from the Announcer's Booth

   Just to make it clear, Nolan Bidese and I are not at fault for the screwy speaker system. The speakers were as high as they could go (No thanks to you, Angus O’Donnell. This guy shoots me a text at 6:45 telling me to turn it up because no one can hear us. You do not think that Mr. Bidese and I would do everything in our power to be heard? Try moving closer, you dipwad), and Nolan and I were speaking clearly and loudly. We apologize you were not able to hear us, because we believe that we did an excellent job with the play-by-play and color commentary. It was the only place the speakers could be set up, apparently, so it came down to location, location, location. There was nothing we could have done.
   Thus, this article. Enjoy. I am now losing sleep because some lazy schmuck at the speaker company was a little gun-shy with the volume limit.
   The first thing I should say about this game was that it was absolutely a fair win by the seniors. While the overtime rules seemed skimpy, those are the rules, and they were followed to a tee. The penalty on the final play was unquestionable. Maura was creamed. None of this stuff about “Oh, well the scoreboard says 0-0 . . . so . . . uh, I don’t know what to tell you . . .” No. Shut up. Move on. The juniors made a costly mistake, the ball crossed the 50-yard line as a result of this mistake, and the seniors won in accordance to the overtime rules. It was fair and square.
   That is not in any way trying to take credit away from the juniors. They played a great game against a tough team, but in the end they made some extremely untimely mistakes. Maura was caught behind that 50-yard line dead to rights, and a little tug of the flag would have won the game. It is a tough pill to swallow, sure, but in any case, credit where credit is due. 2013 played a good game.
   Rest easy 2012. This is not going to turn into a smooch-fest with our younger associates. Understand that my colleague and I were with you guys every step of the way. Nolan and I explained during the game that unbiased analysis was not what you were going to hear from the (very, very far-off) booth. We are seniors, and in turn, senior fans. If you thought otherwise, well shame on you. The love affair between us in the booth and the “Dirty D” did not delay in its exposure.
   Speaking of the Dirty D, Jesus H Christ they were impressive. Three timely interceptions (two by Maura Kelly and another overtime pick by Kylie “Bank o’ Fear” Bankofier), snatched some much-needed momentum and rhythm away from the junior offense and sent it in the other direction. Ironic that the juniors came out to that music Gatorade used in those totally awesome “League of Clutch” ads (by the way, sweet intros by both teams. I was worried about the senior entrance until the Drowning Pool song came on. It had me pumped after that), because within the game it was the seniors keeping their heads on a swivel (I would say something about a vicious cock-fight here, but somehow I do not think that is very appropriate).
   Now, 2013, never fear your little heads, because you see quite a bit from the booth, and while 2012 might protest, I have some thoughts that you might take with you into next year:

1.       Keep it on the Ground: In Powder Puff, it is tough to throw the ball. Teams with strong, consistent rushing attacks have largely come out on top. Case in point, Rachel Schaeffer single-handedly won the game for the sophomores Tuesday night, and she did this with her legs (I would compare her to one Nick Miller myself). Stephanie “Sapp Tap” Sapp was a good decision at quarterback in the second half, but I personally questioned the downfield passes called in from the sidelines. If you want to pass, those throws to the flat worked out very well. However, keeping it on the ground wears out the opposing defense and gives your own defense some rest.

2.      Misdirection: Remember how great it was when Tess “Nuclear Warfare” McPherson torched you on that reverse for the 30-yard gain? Well, I sure do (Oh, too soon? Za-zing!). It takes a long time for any football team to be able to recognize misdirection in the backfield, and if you can pull it off cleanly you will have eleven clueless-looking juniors watching you score next year (Also, it helps to have an intimidating player grinding it out. Nuclear Warfare is very good at this. That is a compliment, Tess).

3.      For the Love of all that is Good and Holy, Forget the Freaking Whiteboards: A good idea in theory, I can give you that. But it took two guys to carry the thing, and football teams excel on efficiency. Having two members of your coaching staff lugging around an obnoxious whiteboard like a couple of guys from U-Haul is a better idea for practice. Halftime is around five minutes. Think about it.

   The juniors came close to pulling off one of the great upsets in Powder Puff history, but what held them back were some very untimely mistakes and somewhat of a delay in establishing a rhythm on offense (Hey, the Dirty D will do that to you. Did I mention this article would be biased?). I liked the halftime adjustments, and I think 2014 has a huge task ahead of them. As was said Tuesday, all that is left is to iron out the wrinkles (Of course, none of you would know that Nolan and I said anything of the sort. This is just great).
   Of course, the Powder Puff program as a whole needs to make some changes of its own. Most notably: the overtime rules. Someone needs to score, or we are going to get a bunch of whiners pulling that funny-junk up there. I propose an overtime where both teams get the ball on the 10-yard line, and have three downs to score. If one team scores and the other does not, you have a winner. If neither team scores or if they both score, you repeat the process until the first scenario occurs. That is a moaning-proof system for you.
   Also, the announcing booth needs to somehow re-enter the stands. This year, it simply did not work. All of the players could here Mr. Bidese and I loud and clear, but they all know what is going on anyway. The fans are more important, and while I was told that the location we used was the only one possible, we have seen commentary done in the stands before. Maybe it was a planning thing, but either way, there were at least two disappointed people leaving the soccer field that night (Oh wait, forgot about the entire junior class. Double zing! Ok, that was cold. I will stop now).
   By the way, how did we forget to bring out the drum line? Missed opportunities . . .
   Finally, the two MVP awards of the varsity Powder Puff game go to Krissy “Killer K” Kelly of the Class of 2012 and Stephanie “Sapp Tap” Sapp of the Class of 2013. Killer K made some huge plays in the backfield, taking down numerous runs for losses. Sapp emerged as the quarterback for the juniors in the second half, and played a key part in coaxing those offensive gears to turn against the Dirty D. Props to you guys; I wish I had a medal for you. Really.
   Powder Puff this year was an interesting one to say the least. For the record, I still think the right team came out on top. The officiating was solid (I stopped my badgering after learning that one Steve Porianda has been an actual referee. Plus it is pretty hard to argue with Mr. Prelock when he wears his zebra-hat like a thug), the players were intense, and the conclusion, while a little weak due to the weird rules, was exciting. Good game ladies.
   And best nickname? This one was a real tie, between Jill “The Messiah” Littleton and “Paige Against the Machine” Lindgren (Hey juniors, at least you won something! Triple zing! Wow, am I going to lose some readers).

4-0 is 4-0, hater.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

NDP vs. Chaparral Football Dev Diary--Thoughts of a Home Viewer

   Look, I should just tell you guys right now: this thing is really, really long. Whether you scrolled down or not to confirm this statement, you are here. So thanks for showing up.
   Now, given what happened at the Notre Dame-Chaparral football game, I bet the prospect of a long article about it worries you. Never fear, friend, because this is a dev diary. These things are easy reads.
   Alright, now try not to freak out on me. This is not the kind of diary where I sit here and spill my thoughts about how Cindy in gym class does not know I am alive. Thankfully, a dev diary keeps the inner wishes of my heart masked and instead shares my thoughts in a minute-by-minute fashion. In the case of the football game, things like huge hits and cool nicknames come to mind, and not how those crazy eyes of Cindy What’s-Her-Name have never met mine.
   And if you are wondering why I was not physically at the game, I was grounded. My mother is freaking out that I will not finish my Eagle Scout paperwork, so I am under house arrest until it is all done. So far, it has been surprisingly efficient.
   But I digress. We cover the game here from start to finish, so how about we cut the chatter and get moving? In writing, two and a half hours is a long time.

5:01—ESPN commentators Tom Luginbill and Justin Kutcher (they seem cool, so we will call them Tom and Justin from now on) open the coverage with a word about Coach Bemis, and what he means for NDP. That is classy of them. It just shows how much he has established himself as a part of this community.

                Did you know Coach Bemis had a 57-23 record while he was here? That is over a 10-year career with NDP. When you think about all of the sub-par years we had too at the beginning of the school, that .713 win percentage is even more impressive.

5:02—Praise for the NDP spirit (You like the way that sounds? Me too.) does not last long as the commentators turn to the “stars” of the game in Connor Brewer and Davonte Neal. I played Pop Warner football with Connor Brewer, and he, myself, Dugan Dwyer, and Brooks Brennan all won a state title together back in 2003. Times they are a-changin’, right?
                In case you are new to the high school football scene, Brewer is ranked by ESPN as the number three quarterback in the country. His number one receiver is Davonte Neal, who is ranked the number two athlete in the country by ESPN.
                You think these numbers are going to be run into the ground by the end of the evening? You are horribly, horribly right.

5:05—Kevin Sullivan, more commonly known as K-Sull, kicks off to Chap to start the game. Get after it boys!

You can hear the Dog Pound behind the camera. Hell yeah.

5:07—Tom and Justin literally have not stopped talking about Brewer. Literally.

5:08—Josh Roeckner (Jarsh/Wrecking Crew, for those who need to be caught up on nicknames) and the NDP front row stuff Neal on his first carry. Solid.
The same series, Phil Caniglia pastes Brewer. A philosophy I learned during those Pop Warner days was to find the other team’s best player and literally break his will by laying him to the turf each and every play. It worked. It worked well. Props to Caniglia for setting the tone.

5:10—Our friend Tom arrogantly says, “Now, I know what you’re thinking, Notre Dame’s the Irish. Nope, the Saints.” Thanks bud.
                By the way, that pass interference call on Mo White? Total crap.

5:11—I am already sick of that option-stretch play Chap keeps running, the linebackers need to try and adjust. This is usually the point in games where my father and I begin talking game analysis. For some reason my mother is just not the same when it comes to football talk.

5:12—If they freaking say Davonte Neal is the #2 athlete in his class one more time . . .

5:13—Dylan Audsley is the Chap kicker. Traitor.
The “Bird Cage” looks weak after that score. C’mon dog pound, show ‘em up.

5:15—Coming back from a commercial, ESPN shows some pep rally footage from eighth-grade day. Nic Orlando’s dance moves are considered impressive by Tom and Justin. The latter says Tom has similar skills. Think again, J-Man.

5:16—Jordan Gehrke and the Saints’ offense take the field. Time to answer the call. This is our house, after all.

5:17—Grant Martinez gets some face time after being targeted deep on Jordan’s first pass. I always liked him, the dude is practically un-coverable. Tom and Justin like him too. Good feedback on the Saints so far by our friends in the booth.

                My mother joins me, telling the Saints to “Run it, run it, run it!” Facepalm.

5:18—After a shaky first series, CJ Harvey (“the people’s punter”) comes on to kick it away. My mom comments, “Chap’s going to be tough. Notre Dame has to freaking settle down.” Mom. Hush.

5:21—Cody Ippolito runs the ball for Chaparral; what a moose.

5:22—Pete Greene, offensive tackle on Chap, has his name called. I swam with that kid on club. Unbelieveable.
Hey, did you guys know that Davonte Neal is the number two athlete in his class? News to me! I want to throw the laptop at the television.

5:23—A big return by Jordan Schlueter is spoiled by Audsley. What a tool.

5:26—Gehrke tries another deep ball to Grant. Nice to see them throwing to him. My dad, who I probably consider a full-on Martinez fan, would be very pleased.

                Mom tells Gehrke to settle down again. Mom. Hush.

5:27—Geico shows that commercial with that little kid dunking for probably the millionth time. It stopped being funny the second time.

                My mother sees what I’m writing about her. This does not help my grounded situation.

5:29—Nic Orlando saves the touchdown off of a Chap flea-flicker. It would be a cool play if the people running it were not wearing red and white. Just sayin’.

                My mother curses for the first time.

5:30—The second time comes not long after.

                Brewer starts hollering at a teammate after a broken play. Sorry your perfect world fell apart, man. I noticed recently that I become progressively more sarcastic the more I watch sports. This game is not helping.

5:31—Caniglia and Parker Zellers sack Brewer, and Chap runs Wildcat the next play. The announcers wonder if he needed a break. You bet he did.

5:32—The announcers talk about how the NDP crowd is starting to make some noise. Screw you, buddy. We’re always loud.

                Chap  is celebrating. I have decided I hate that school. My dad threatens me with a transfer to that place whenever I screw up really badly. This is very appropriate, when put into perspective.

5:35—Did our football team get new pants? Slick.

5:41—ESPN does a little thing on a high school 7-on-7 tourney. My mother is surprised that Brewer went. I want my father to come home badly. Screw the pizza, just give me some good conversation.

                The Dog Pound gets on camera, and is still shouting strong. That is awesome, but all the parents look like they are moping. Buck up, for crying out loud.

5:43—A graphic is shown with head shots of Brewer and Neal. My mother wonders aloud why no one smiles in football photos. What a noob.

5:46—My mother says something about how things are not looking good. I think about saying she is not looking good, but I figure that is pretty mean.

5:48—A Marines commercial comes on. It occurs to me that their slogan is very applicable to the NDP drum line. The few. The proud.

5:50—A screen from Jordan to Nick Cole goes for a first down. Hell yeah.

5:53—Grant blows my mind with an incredible one-handed grab. Our friends in the booth are pumped about the Gehrke-Grant combination. They say its top play material. I am jealous. To be on Sportscenter’s Top Plays? That is pretty awesome.

5:54—Martinez is shown scrapping with Davonte Neal. Good job kid.

5:57—My mom swears for the third time.  She then uses the phrase “settle down” for probably the eighth time. Mom. Hush.

6:00—It only took them an hour to specify that Chap is in the white and NDP is in the purple. Thanks guys.

6:05—Neal has a drop, so he throws the ball across the field in frustration. Classy.
                Chap WR Josh Aganon gets a first down. The announcers say he is a huge Adele fan. They do not blame him, either. They talk about that 21 album for a while. Unbelievable.

6:08—Will “Schoolyard” Scola gets his name called. He is the X Factor, plain and simple.
Can we block one of Audsley’s extra points, please? I will be satisfied if we can at least pull that off. Come on, special teams.

6:13—I think it would help if each player on Chaparral actually had the physique of teenagers and not twenty-five year-olds. Just sayin’.

6:14—Davonte lets a punt go that he could have returned. After it rolls out of bounds, you can hear him say the f-word. I love mics.

6:16—Brewer celebrates on what he thought was a big completion. The ball turned out to be incomplete. But hey, he is perfect and all, so Tom and Justin say he was celebrating the guy’s effort. What a bunch of suck-ups. Pathetic.

6:18—Zellers absolutely crushes Brewer. Good kid.
I think my mother is at like nine swear words right now.

6:19—Want to read about how Neal and Brewer have a desire to win? Go to Sick of hearing about Neal and Brewer every fifteen freaking seconds? Go to Haters gonna hate.

6:21—A little stat is shown that say Chap averages 51.9 points a game. Mr. Luginbill says it is too bad they could not average 52. It is also too bad the Dog Pound could not be in the booth with you to tape your filthy mouth shut, Tom.

6:23—Auds lines up for a long field goal. My mother says something about how she wishes he would make it, for the sake of the accomplishment. I tell her he went to NDP. Suddenly, she hopes he gets a face full of turf. I have trained her well.
                The brown-nosing ESPN halftime guy jokes how it sure is a relief Chap was able to tack on that field goal. He should be relieved that he is far, far, far away from Scottsdale too. ESPN high school is losing a viewer, thank you very much.

6:28—Justin finds a pinprick of light in the dark depths of his soul to say that, despite the score, anything can happen. Truer words never spoken, you jerkwad.

6:34—Halftime show. Do you feel like Lou Pinella is the kind of guy who spits whenever he talks? Yeah, like a freaking light rain on your face. Gross.

6:45—Our good friends Tom and Justin are back. They launch into more Connor Brewer kissie-kissie suckie-suckie. My mother is beginning to get angry with these schmucks for yapping about the “big two” over in Chap. More swear words inbound.

6:47—Mo White’s obnoxious orange mouthpiece looks even bigger on national television.

6:48—The first play of the second half sees a Notre Dame first down—Gehrke to Brooks Brennan, the Dog Pound can still be heard. Good stuff.
                Brooks is “Johnny on the spot” with a fumble. Way to keep your head on a swivel, kid.

6:50—Did you know Tim Hawes always eats the cookie before reading the fortune? I do, thanks to his first down catch from Gerhke. Where did they get this information? I bet Tim has had girlfriends that did not even know that.

6:53—Davonte Neal sure likes it when he gets flags, that is for sure. Am I allowed to judge people through what I see on national television? Of course I am. Do not like him.

6:55—The official NDP enrollment—882. The secret is out, I guess.

                Backup Chap QB comes in. Brad Schencker. His favorite athlete is Jay Cutler. Ironic, because his first pass is an interception. Now that is funny.

6:58—The ref does not realize his mic is on. He has third down, in case you were interested. Does he know that you do not have to yell when you are wearing a mic? Nic Cole has a “FIRST DOWN!!”

6:59—Grant makes the Chap cornerback look silly with a catch around the guy’s helmet. He has officially lowered my athletic self-esteem.

7:01—TOUCHDOWN NOTRE DAME! The Dog Pound faithful show their support, and Touchdown Jesus gets some face time with the camera. Another nice play from Jordan to Grant, good adjustment after that drop.

7:05—Avery Korth looks like he is getting ready to go in on defense. Still think he had a missed opportunity with picking number 48. How could he miss out on going one less and being AK-47?! How?!

7:08—The refs have been throwing more flags as of late, I think they honestly just want something to do. It has been a clean game so far, except the Grant scuffle with Davonte. I will be honest, I wanted a fight. I would take Grant in that one.

7:11—Davonte Neal shouts out to his homeboys or someone like that while the camera finds him on the sideline. I wonder if he is ever going to read this. I hope not.

7:17—Brewer throws the camera some hook-em horns, a little shout out to Texas, where he has verbally committed. Man, in Pop Warner he was not that good. How is this possible?

7:21—Your favorite back-up Chap QB Brad Schencker moans at the ref after he is tackled for the first time tonight. He is called for unsportsmanlike conduct. What a gentleman. ESPN said that was one of Chap’s keys to the second-half: “Keep it classy”. What is this, Rhett Johnston’s afternoon announcements?

7:23—Apparently, Tom Archer’s favorite food is “anything with meat”. I am not sure what I have to say about this. Tom and Justin liked it.

7:25—Dylan Audsley punts. Our announcer friends worry about him pulling a hamstring. Somehow, I do not share their concern.

7:26—Nick Duckworth is in the game. He hands the ball off on his first snap to Tyler Mascaro. The announcers are doing a better job with his name than Mrs. Stanley. She calls him “Marasco”. Every single time.

7:28—Apparently, Duck is a “big kid”. I had no idea.

7:31—Why do we need to see a shot of Davonte Neal filling up his Gatorade bottle?

7:32—Andrew Bills is given the prestigious honor of having the best nickname Tom and Justin have ever heard of in all of their coverage: Dolla-Dolla. What a gem.

7:34—My dad is home. There are five minutes to go. Thanks, pop.

7:36—The ref forgets to silence his mic again. Another FIRST DOWN!

7:38—My Dad lightens the mood by telling us all that one of our favorite dogs who had frequented (our family business) BellyRubz was put to sleep today. Did not need that. At all.

7:41—The laptop dies, so my mother brings me the power cord. She wanted me to thank her. Thanks mom.

 7:43—Time is taken to talk about Coach Bemis. Pretty neat of Tom and Justin to give him some credit. Coach Gregory is praised for filling in.

Joey Prather is shown with his purple cross. In Len We Trust. Thanks for sticking it out guys.

7:45—Ball game.

   Oh well guys. We played hard against a good team. When the camera flashed to the Dog Pound at the end there, it was neat to see how many Saints fans were still there. So we will keep getting after it. We will keep cheering and yelling and jumping around. If you are worried about making Coach Bemis proud, I would put your mind at ease. What he wants to see more than anything else is maximum effort out of his players and maximum spirit out of his fans. Are there things we can all do better? Sure. But we can improve, no problem. What matters now is that we continue putting our best foot forward. What we are doing now is already miles ahead of where we were, so keep coming out and supporting your Saints. I guarantee it means a lot to the players on the field and the folks watching at home.
   But try not to go and get yourself grounded like I did. Because two hours and forty-five minutes of football with your mother is less than appealing.