MIAA Tennis Finals: My Cousins Help Weston win D3 Boys & Girls

Due to bad weather taking place throughout most of the week, all of the MIAA’s Tennis Finals were moved to today.  The girls played at St. John’s High School in Shrewsbury, and the boys played about a mile away at Shrewsbury High School.

12 teams across 3 divisions played in the finals, but only two schools had both a boys team and a girls team in the finals.  Those schools?  Algonquin, my high school, and Weston, my cousins’ high school.

Algonquin, a division 1 school, lost both finals.  The boys team lost to Brookline 5 matches to 0.  The girls team, led by freshman Olivia Almy among others, came into these finals undefeated but fell to Acton-Boxborough 4-1.

Weston, on the other hand, is in Division 3.  They became the only high school in the state where both the boys team and the girls team won their respective divisions.  Both my cousins played on these teams.

My cousin, freshman Lola Philipkosky and the Weston girls played first, taking on Lee High School, who traveled all the way from the Berkshires.  In high school team tennis, 3 singles matches and 2 doubles matches are played.  Twins Kayla and Jayme Leschly won Weston two of the singles matches before the 2nd set of Lola’s doubles match even began.  Lola and her partner Livvy Lathrop had won the first set 6-2.  Starting the 2nd set, Lola and Livvy knew if they could win their match over Lee freshmen Caroline Maloney and Rachel Wendling, Weston would clinch the MIAA Championship.

Livvy and Lola worked well together and won several short points with powerful deep returns.  Their return game helped them break service games in both sets.  The senior-freshman 1st doubles pair also served very well and held most of their service games which helped them win both sets 6-2, 6-2 and clinch the championship for Weston.

Lola Philipkosky serving

I spoke with Lola and Livvy shortly after their match:

Lee won the final singles match and the final doubles match, but it didn’t matter after Lola and Livvy had won to give Weston the 3 wins they needed to be crowned MIAA champions.

Shortly before the Weston girls were given their MIAA trophy, my cousin, sophomore Michael Philipkosky, and the Weston boys took on Hopedale in the MIAA finals for the second straight year.  Last year, Michael did not get the opportunity to play in the finals.  This year, however, he worked his way up and ended up playing 3rd singles for Weston in the state finals.  All 5 matches were dominated by Weston, not losing a set.  Michael’s match was the 2nd to finish.  Michael watched the final three finish soon after and went to celebrate with his teammates.  Check out some highlights of their celebration as well as my interview with him after he received his medal:

It was a big day for the Weston Wildcats, as both teams and both my cousins became MIAA tennis champions.

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Dunkin’ Sends me to Cup Finals

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Back in April, I predicted the Bruins to go on a Stanley Cup run after gathering momentum in the final months of the regular season.  It’s amazing that now the Bruins are just 1 win away from winning the Cup.

I had really enjoyed watching the first first four games from home.  Playoff hockey, especially in the Stanley Cup Finals, is a different brand of hockey and watching your favorite team play is even more special.  Tickets to a game in the finals are so hard to get and I never expected the chance to watch a game at the TD Garden.  I had never even been to a playoff game for any professional sport.  I was in complete shock when I found out I would be going to Game 5 with my whole family thanks to Dunkin’ Boston.

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Even though the Bruins lost in a tight game with questionable calls, it was an amazing experience.  When I got home from school on game day, a package from Dunkin’ was waiting for me.  Inside?  Four tickets to the game along with a large assortment of Dunkin’ merchandise.

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Dunkin’ sent us in style in a Boston Chauffer SUV driven by Mark (pictured above).  Mark gave us a warm welcome, was very friendly, and even talked hockey with me and my family before the game.

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We arrived at TD Garden around 6:30, so we had time to grab a a quick burger and fries from Tasty Burger and then head to Fan Fest.  I had the perfect dessert treat, a bag full of free Dunkin’ Munchkins.  We also took pictures with some passionately dressed fans and in front of the NESN and NHL Network pregame shows as they were broadcasting.  I even had the chance to shoot a puck on a mini rink set up in the middle of Fan Fest.

Before the game began, I also took a picture in front of the famous Bobby Orr statue.  While I was there, I ran into Joe McDonald, who I met in the Bruins press box back in 2015.  I also caught up with Blades on the way to our seats.

Blades

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After Fan Fest and getting our rally towels, we found our seats and the game began.  I’m especially thankful for the great seats from Dunkin’ in the Loge section behind the net in the Bruins offensive zone for the first and third periods.  Our view from the seats were perfect to see the action up close.

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The Bruins had control of the game in Period 1, but Blues goalie Jordan Binnington didn’t let up a single goal despite a Bruins power play.  This kept the game scoreless by the end of the period.

Despite going scoreless, I saw many great Bruins scoring opportunities and was thrilled to be at the Garden to cheer the B’s on along with the rest of the very loud and energetic crowd.  It felt surreal being at a Bruins game in June.  The exciting night continued when I visited the 98.5 the Sports Hub suite during intermission.  Adam Moscatel, a 98.5 employee, escorted us up to the 9th floor where the suite was, and I had the chance to catch up with Dan Alperin and Rob “Hardy” Poole of 98.5.

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But when I returned to my seat about a minute after intermission had ended, the score was 1-0 Blues.  St. Louis had gotten off to a quick start in the 2nd period, and I had just missed the Ryan O’Reilly goal that put St. Louis on the board first.

The rest of the period was dominated by St. Louis.  Even on a Boston power play, the Bruins failed to score, or even keep it in their offensive zone for more than a few seconds.  The Blues did not score any more goals thanks to strong goaltending by Tuukka Rask, but the Bruins no longer had momentum in their favor after this period.

During the 2nd intermission, my dad and I left our seats to buy some food, but on our way there, we ran into well-known sports reporter Sean McDonough and took pictures with him:

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Sean McDonough is the son of former Boston Globe writer Will McDonough, who the Sports Museum has named their Sports Writing Contest after.  I have received an honorable mention in that contest for two years in a row.  This year, I wrote about how I got into sports in the first place.  Last year, I won an honorable mention for my essay on the true meaning of Boston Strong based on my experience at the first Red Sox home game after the Boston Marathon bombings.  It was really cool to meet Will’s son Sean, who has also worked as a Boston sports reporter for many years.

We didn’t want to miss the 3rd period so we hurried back to our seats after grabbing a drink.  Early in the period, the Bruins were on a power play.  This time, they did keep control of the puck for the majority of the 2 minutes, but they once again failed to score their first goal.

With about 13 minutes left, Bruins right wing David Pastrnak shot in what looked to be a goal.  The play was reviewed, but in the end, it was not ruled a goal.  The call on the ice was no goal and even though the big screen replays looked to show the puck across the goal line, it was ruled no goal after the officials reviewed it.

The call that really angered the fans came when St. Louis scored their 2nd goal.  Before the Blues scored, their center, Tyler Bozak, blatantly tripped Noel Acciari just a few feet away from a referee on the ice.  However, with Acciari lying on the ice seemingly in pain from being upended from a leg whip from behind, no penalty was called.  Play continued and about 10 seconds later David Perron scored, as a quick pass intended for a wide open Bozak (with the B’s essentially down a man), bounced off the inside of Rask’s pads and in for a goal.  Fans all around the stadium began throwing their towels and water bottles in disgust over the non-call.  Game play was delayed several minutes as they swept up the ice to pick up all the thrown items as items were being thrown faster than the ice could be cleared.  The game eventually resumed, but with the Blues up 2-0 and with less than 10 minutes to go, a Bruins comeback seemed unlikely.  One could make an argument it should’ve still been 1-0 with the Bruins on a power play with hopes of tying the game.  Unbiased hockey fans would agree that the Blues 2nd goal should have never counted as the play should have been whistled dead for a tripping call.  Instead, they were down 2-0.

The Bruins did score one goal before the game ended, scored by Jake DeBrusk.  But the team ran out of time to tie the game and force overtime as Binnington shut them down with his best game of the series.  The Bruins ultimately came up short losing game 5 by a score of 2-1.

Even though they lost, the experience is one I will never forget as I had such an incredible time!

I’d like to thank Amy Righter & Dunkin’ Boston, Mark of Boston Chauffer, and the entire staff at 98.5 the Sports Hub for making my Stanley Cup experience very unique and incredibly memorable.

Fortunately the Bruins won Game 6, taking down the Blues 5-1 to force a Game 7.  The one remaining game to decide the Cup winner will be played in Boston with a crowd likely even more pumped up than the crowd from game 5.

The Blues are far from an easy opponent which is probably why this series has gone 7 games.  In fact, they might be the toughest opponent Boston has faced in for the entire 2019 playoffs.  Anything can happen and I think this game will be a close one.  But as they did against Toronto during this playoff run, the B’s can come back to win a series they trailed 3-2 after 5 games.

What do you think?  Will the Blues get revenge for the 1970 loss to the Bruins led by Bobby Orr to win their first ever Stanley Cup or will the Bruins hoist the Cup once again and parade around Boston this week for the 3rd Boston pro sports Championship in 12 months?

I can’t wait to watch and find out.  Go Bruins!

 

Tomahawks Football Recap Featured in Algonquin Harbinger

The Algonquin Tomahawks won their first game over the Worcester North Polar Bears, 32-0, on September 7, 2018.  I was at the game, doing play-by-play and writing a recap for the school newspaper.  My article was featured on the Harbinger’s website, so check it out at the link below:

Running Backs Lead Way as T-Hawks Dominate Opener

Gonk Knocks S1 E6: Gearing up for Gameday

Below is Episode 6 along with some upcoming key dates, links to previous episodes, and my voiceover recap of the day.  You can find all Gonk Knocks coverage here.

Full Episode:

Full Interviews from Episode:

Upcoming Key Dates for the Tomahawks Football Team

  • Friday, 9/7 @ 7 p.m.: Regular Season Game #1 at Home vs. Worcester North
  • Friday, 9/14 @ 7 p.m: Regular Season Game #2 at Marlborough
  • Friday, 9/21 @ 7 p.m.: Regular Season Game #3 at Home vs. Wachusett
  • Friday, 9/21: Homecoming
  • Saturday, 9/29 @ 7 p.m.: Regular Season Game #4 at Shepherd Hill

Gonk Knocks: Training Camp with the Algonquin Tomahawks

The Algonquin football team had just arrived at Clinton High School, and they were warming up and stretching before taking on the Clinton Gaels and Bartlett Indians in their first scrimmage of the season.

The team broke up into Positional groups for a little while before the scrimmage.  At first, they had QBs and WRs in one area, linemen in one area, and RBs in another.

The QBs and WRs played catch, the RBs handed off the ball to each other, and the linemen practiced blocking against each other.

I got the chance to interview Head Coach Taylor Allen before the game.

After prompting from Coach Allen, the captains delivered the pregame speech to the team.

And with that, the scrimmage was on.  I cannot show any game footage, but I can tell you that we saw a lot of good run plays by all three teams.  For Algonquin, the run game looked sharp for the second consecutive day, and both tight ends continued to shine, making this tight end decision more and more difficult.

Defensively, Algonquin was a little overwhelmed by the opposing running backs at first.  But they caught on as they went along and had success stuffing the run as the scrimmage progressed.

Check out some postgame interviews and a live report from after the game.  I interviewed TE Chris Pacios, QB Brendan Hermanspan, defensive coordinator Mark Allen, and head coach Taylor Allen.

More Gonk Knocks coming soon!

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Gonk Knocks S1 E5 – The Real Deal

Below is Episode 5 along with some upcoming key dates, links to previous episodes, and my voiceover recap of the day.  You can find all Gonk Knocks coverage here.

Full Episode:

Full Interviews from Episode:

Upcoming Key Dates for the Tomahawks Football Team

  • Monday, 8/27 @ 4 p.m.: Varsity Football Preseason Practice #8
  • Tuesday, 8/28 @ 3 p.m.: Varsity Football Preseason Practice #9
  • Wednesday, 8/29 @ 7:20 a.m.: Players Return to School
  • Friday, 8/31 @ 6 p.m.: Scrimmage #2 @Franklin High School vs. Franklin
  • Friday, 9/7 @ 7 p.m.: Regular Season Game #1 at Home vs. Worcester North

Gonk Knocks: Training Camp with the Algonquin Tomahawks

More Gonk Knocks coming soon!

Today was the Real Deal as for this practice on August 23rd, the team put on full pads for the first time.  The players participated in their first full contact drills.  Over the next two days, practice will be like a “dress rehearsal” for their first scrimmage on Saturday, August 25th in Clinton.

Maintaining health is still a top priority and full contact makes it more challenging.

Coaches had players in some head to head match-ups that was as physical as real game action.

Like the last several practices, the team broke into defensive positional groups for drills in each of the first two full pad practices.  The defensive lineman and linebackers worked on blocking, faced off in head-to-head physical match-ups, and simulated blitzing.  They did this by attaching a football to a hockey stick and pretending it was the quarterback.  One of the coaches would move the hockey stick and the players would chase it.

The defensive backs practiced man coverage and tackling.  In their first day in full pads, the defensive backs flourished, especially captain Sam Crain, and junior Will Ji.  With a new defensive scheme this year, can some of the early success with the CBs be related to DB Coach Tyrone Notice’s unique drills?

The defense overall was strong on both Thursday and Friday.  DE and senior captain Chris Santana was one player who shined on defense.

Chris Santana and the other three captains are embracing their roles as leaders on the team and it shows.  Another emerging leader on the team is junior and starting center Ryan Carmody. His energy remains high and he continues to help and encourage his teammates.  He even taught another center on the team how to improve their snap.

On the field, RB Thiago Filadelfo had an amazing day Friday.  Thiago, a Junior, is really fast and his running style complements the rest of talented running back unit.  At the start of the day Thiago had a very physical matchup against Sophomore Pedro Ribeiro.  Thiago had a lot of great running plays throughout the day.  But Thiago wasn’t the only running back with a strong day.

There are several running backs fighting for playing time on Friday nights, and the entire Algonquin RB corps shined throughout the day Friday.

While the running backs dominated in 11 on 11, the wide receivers went into some positional drills.

The competition with tight ends Derek Blanchard and Chris Pacios and is heating up and it shows as both have worked hard and are improving every day.  I captured some really good TE action, first with Derek at TE and then with Chris at TE.

The first two days in pads was a success for the team and it was great to see some very competitive 11 on 11 drills as they prepared for their scrimmage on Saturday.  The coach opted not to hold the conditioning test in either of the first two full pad practices, but the team did some extra conditioning.  On Friday, they alternated between push-ups and running.

Check out my interviews from throughout practice the last two days.  I interviewed Head Coach Taylor Allen, defensive backs coach Tyrone Notice, senior captain and WR/DB Sam Crain, senior captain and DE Chris Santana, senior WR/DB Logan Picard, Junior G John Fontecchio, and Sophomore LB/FB Rio Ferguson.  (Interviews are in the 2nd video).

The team takes on the Clinton Gaels and Bartlett Indians in their scrimmage at Clinton High School tomorrow, August 25.  Stay tuned for the next episode of Gonk Knocks where I report on the scimmage.

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Gonk Knocks S1 E4 – Step it Up

Below is Episode 4 along with some upcoming key dates, links to previous episodes, and my voiceover recap of the day.  You can find all Gonk Knocks coverage here.

Full Episode:

Full Interviews from Episode:

Upcoming Key Dates for the Tomahawks Football Team

  • Friday, 8/24 @ 4 p.m.: Varsity Football Preseason Practice #7
  • Saturday, 8/25 @ 10 a.m.: Scrimmage #1 @Clinton High School vs. Clinton & Bartlett
  • Monday, 8/27 @ 4 p.m.: Varsity Football Preseason Practice #8
  • Tuesday, 8/28 @ 3 p.m.: Varsity Football Preseason Practice #9
  • Wednesday, 8/29 @ 7:20 a.m.: Players Return to School
  • Friday, 8/31 @ 6 p.m.: Scrimmage #2 @Franklin High School vs. Franklin
  • Friday, 9/7 @ 7 p.m.: Regular Season Game #1 at Home vs. Worcester North

Gonk Knocks: Training Camp with the Algonquin Tomahawks

More Gonk Knocks coming soon!

After four increasingly challenging practices, on Wednesday August 22nd, the Tomahawks had their 5th preseason practice which was their second straight practice in “uppers” which is shoulder pads and helmets with shorts and practice jerseys.  After a lot of hard work so far, some players were feeling a bit sore.  But the team appeared in good shape after 4 practices.

Performance-wise, today was arguably Algonquin’s best practice so far .  The team has worked hard to stay healthy.  The coaches worked with the players on physical conditioning and had everyone perform stretches and and various warmups at the start of practice.

With the upper pads on, the players had physical contact and it is expected to intensify in full pads tomorrow through Saturday when they have a scrimmage at Clinton High School at 10 AM when family and friends are welcome to come watch.  After warmups and head to head physical match-ups,  the team broke up into defensive positional groups: d-linemen, linebackers, and defensive backs.

Each group ran their own unique drills.  The defensive backs were simulating interceptions.  The coaches intentionally threw the ball to them and they would catch it and run it back.  The defensive lineman were practicing their blocking through various methods.  I was especially intrigued by the linebacker drills.  The linebackers practiced strip sacks and tackles.

A couple of the team captains, Burke Dion and Brendan Hermanspan were absent on the field for part of practice but they cheered on their teammates throughout practice when they were on the sidelines.  They were also having fun hanging out with offensive coordinator Bill Griffin’s 7-year old son, Joey, who was watching practice from the sidelines with his dad.

Meanwhile, the team wrapped up defensive positional drills and began some 11 on 11 Drills.  The team did pull some receivers and QBs aside for some positional drills of their own for a little while as well.  While the receivers and QBs worked, the rest of the offense did too by conducting some running plays.

Throughout the day, tight ends Chris Pacios, a sophomore and Derek Blanchard, a junior were playing well.  Both were getting good feedback which sparked an added boost of motivation and energy at the very competitive position.  This should be a real close battle for the starting tight end job but with both playing so well the team may use dual tight end formations.

Coach Allen decided to have the team to skip conditioning tests for the day.  However, they still did one extra conditioning drill.  This extra conditioning was far from easy.  The team puts on full pads tomorrow as they continue to step it up each day, and they are hyped.

Check out the the full interviews from the day as some were partially used throughout today’s episode.  I had the chance to interview head coach Taylor Allen, defensive coordinator Mark Allen, Sophomore tight end Chris Pacios, and Sophomore Tackle Cole Brooks.

This coach started this year aiming to lead this team to new heights and from what I have seen so far, the team, culture, and program are definitely on a continuing upswing as you can see it and hear it from the players and coaches.  It’s been great to watch up close because you can feel the energy and passion the players are bringing every day.  Stay tuned for more Gonk Knocks including post game interviews after the scrimmage on Saturday at 10AM at Clinton High School.

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Gonk Knocks S1 E3 – Coach’s Update #1 (After Day 4)

After the first day of practice in shoulder pads, varsity football Head Coach Taylor Allen gives an update on the team.  Watch Episode 3 below to hear what he has to say.  You can find all Gonk Knocks coverage here.

Upcoming Key Dates for the Tomahawks Football Team

  • Wednesday, 8/22 @ 5 p.m.: Varsity Football Preseason Practice #5
  • Thursday, 8/23 @ 4 p.m.: Varsity Football Preseason Practice #6 (First in full pads)
  • Friday, 8/24 @ 4 p.m.: Varsity Football Preseason Practice #7
  • Saturday, 8/25 @ 10 a.m.: Scrimmage #1 @Clinton High School vs. Clinton & Bartlett
  • Friday, 8/31 @ 6 p.m.: Scrimmage #2 @Franklin High School vs. Franklin
  • Friday, 9/7 @ 7 p.m.: Regular Season Game #1 at Home vs. Worcester North

Gonk Knocks: Training Camp with the Algonquin Tomahawks

More Gonk Knocks coming soon!

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