Gonk Knocks S2 E3 – Offense Leads the Way, Defense wins Games

In Episode 1, I showcased highlights from the pre-practice meeting on Day 1 that opened up the 2019 Algonquin Tomahawks preseason.  In Episodes 2 and 3, I focused on what happened out on the practice field.  Check out Episode 3 below:

After some defensive drills early in practice, it was time for some 7 on 7 football.

Today, most of everything clicked for the offense. All 3 QBs, senior Riley Greenwald, junior Jeff Valentine, and sophomore Coleman Hostage, had some big moments. Captain Rio Ferguson anchored the backfield with help from Ryan Connelly, Pedro Ribeiro, Ray Del Re, and others. Many receivers, both on the outside and in the slot, had great moments, including Nick Alessi, Tom Geoffrion, Jason Levin, and Derek Blanchard.

Last year, Blanchard was primarily a tight end, as he played in 2 TE sets with Chris Pacios, who has since transferred.

This year, he not only got work at tight end, but also as a wide receiver and defensive back.

Blanchard especially shined as a route runner and pass catcher.

Before practice, Blanchard was voted the third captain by his teammates.

Rafael Gutierrez also had a great catch.  As a sophomore, he has already stood out in the slot and made a name for himself, so his future with the team is bright.

As Coach said, this offense looked pretty good today. But the way to win football games is with good blocking, good tackling, and good defense, skills the team will continue to work at throughout camp.

I caught up with Coach Taylor Allen once more after practice.

It was a strong practice for the T-Hawks, but this is only the beginning. Tomorrow morning, the team will have to get there early for practice and team photos before a day of rest on Sunday.

Gonk Knocks: Training Camp with the Algonquin Tomahawks

Season 2

Upcoming Key Dates for the Tomahawks Football Team

  • Monday, 8/19 @ 6 p.m.: Varsity Football Preseason Practice #3
  • Tuesday, 8/20 @ 6 p.m.: Varsity Football Preseason Practice #4
  • Wednesday, 8/21 @ 1 p.m.: Varsity Football Preseason Practice #5
  • Thursday, 8/22 @ 4 p.m.: Varsity Football Preseason Practice #6 (First in full pads)
  • Friday, 8/23 @ 4 p.m.: Varsity Football Preseason Practice #7
  • Saturday, 8/24 @ 10 a.m.: Scrimmage #1 @Clinton High School vs. Clinton
  • Monday, 8/26 @ 4 p.m.: Varsity Football Preseason Practice #8
  • Friday, 8/30 @ 6 p.m.: Scrimmage #2 at Home vs. Franklin
  • Friday, 9/13 @ 7 p.m.: Regular Season Game #1 @Doherty
  • Friday, 9/20 @ 7 p.m.: Regular Season Game #2 at Home vs. Shepherd Hill
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Gonk Knocks S2 E2 – Our Season Starts Today

In Episode 1, I showcased highlights from the pre-practice meeting on Day 1 that opened up the 2019 Algonquin Tomahawks preseason.  In Episodes 2 and 3, I focused on what happened out on the practice field.  Check out Episode 2 below:

 

After an important meeting that got the whole team on the same page and gave them some knowledge about the modified playbook, it was time to get out on the practice field.

The team started practice all together, rotating between six stations with different basic drills.

After this, they split up into defensive positional groups, and the freshman team went off to the side for their own practice.

Today was the first time freshmen picked up an Algonquin Playbook, so it took time for them to learn the basic plays.

However, once they caught on, they looked pretty impressive.

Similarly, the defensive backs took time to succeed, as many people moved to the position as a result of Sam Crain’s departure and the slightly modified defense Algonquin’s implementing. With Crain leaving, there’s an important starting job open, and the next man up will have to earn it.

Another 2019 graduate, Jack Branson, showed up to practice to give the players a pep talk.

While the DBs kept working, the rest of the defense got together to practice some of the different blitzes in the playbook.

It wasn’t easy to get used to the different plays, but the linemen caught on quickly, and line coach Andy Brooks likes what he saw after returning to coaching for the first time in 3 years.

The linebackers shined in their own drills as well.

While the linemen stuck together, the team began some 7 on 7 plays.

Gonk Knocks: Training Camp with the Algonquin Tomahawks

Season 2

Upcoming Key Dates for the Tomahawks Football Team

  • Monday, 8/19 @ 6 p.m.: Varsity Football Preseason Practice #3
  • Tuesday, 8/20 @ 6 p.m.: Varsity Football Preseason Practice #4
  • Wednesday, 8/21 @ 1 p.m.: Varsity Football Preseason Practice #5
  • Thursday, 8/22 @ 4 p.m.: Varsity Football Preseason Practice #6 (First in full pads)
  • Friday, 8/23 @ 4 p.m.: Varsity Football Preseason Practice #7
  • Saturday, 8/24 @ 10 a.m.: Scrimmage #1 @Clinton High School vs. Clinton
  • Monday, 8/26 @ 4 p.m.: Varsity Football Preseason Practice #8
  • Friday, 8/30 @ 6 p.m.: Scrimmage #2 at Home vs. Franklin
  • Friday, 9/13 @ 7 p.m.: Regular Season Game #1 @Doherty
  • Friday, 9/20 @ 7 p.m.: Regular Season Game #2 at Home vs. Shepherd Hill

Gonk Knocks S2 E1 – We All We Got, We All We Need

I know, it’s been a while.  Since I last posted, I’ve received a variety of experiences thanks to John Rooke and the Dean College sportscasting camp, including an appearance on Patriots.com radio.  I was living the busy life of a sportscaster, so I didn’t have much time to post on here.  Last week, I was recovering from wisdom tooth surgery.  But now, I’m back, and so is Algonquin football.

It all began yesterday with a team meeting and the first official practice of the preseason.  Check out the best moments from the meeting and more in the first Season 2 episode of Gonk Knocks:

Football is back, and here at Algonquin, it all started today. The Algonquin Tomahawks had a busy day ahead of them, including team meetings and the first official practice of the 2019 preseason.

Before the meeting, I caught up with Head Coach Taylor Allen. He filled me in about some things to watch for at practice and the team’s goals and motto for the season.

Two of this year’s captains, senior slot receiver and strong safety Nick Alessi, and junior linebacker and full back Rio Ferguson, were selected in advance by Coach Allen. It’s rare to see a junior as the team captain, but Coach Allen trusts Rio, who’s been here since freshman year, to help lead the team.

Rio proved Coach Allen right, leading the way in blitzes and for the run game.

Alessi also shined in multiple roles. He had a great catch in 7 on 7s, beating out Eli Khasabo on his route as he played the slot. He also tried his hand at playing running back.

The final captain would be selected by the team before practice.

Coach Allen started off the meeting by making the team’s goals clear and uniting the team around these goals.

After this, he went over the offensive formula for success and philosophy.

Later on, he handed it over to his brother, DC Mark Allen for some defensive stats, values, and key plays.  Mark emphasizes controlled aggression when coaching.

After this, it was time to get to work.

Upcoming Key Dates for the Tomahawks Football Team

  • Monday, 8/19 @ 6 p.m.: Varsity Football Preseason Practice #3
  • Tuesday, 8/20 @ 6 p.m.: Varsity Football Preseason Practice #4
  • Wednesday, 8/21 @ 1 p.m.: Varsity Football Preseason Practice #5
  • Thursday, 8/22 @ 4 p.m.: Varsity Football Preseason Practice #6 (First in full pads)
  • Friday, 8/23 @ 4 p.m.: Varsity Football Preseason Practice #7
  • Saturday, 8/24 @ 10 a.m.: Scrimmage #1 @Clinton High School vs. Clinton
  • Monday, 8/26 @ 4 p.m.: Varsity Football Preseason Practice #8
  • Friday, 8/30 @ 6 p.m.: Scrimmage #2 at Home vs. Franklin
  • Friday, 9/13 @ 7 p.m.: Regular Season Game #1 @Doherty
  • Friday, 9/20 @ 7 p.m.: Regular Season Game #2 at Home vs. Shepherd Hill

 

Gonk Knocks Returning for 2nd Season This Weekend

Last year, as an incoming freshman at Algonquin, my high school, I produced a Hard Knocks-style series about the Algonquin Tomahawks, known as Gonk Knocks.  I attended several practices and scrimmages, covering the team throughout the preseason.  Now, as I head into my sophomore year, I will be bringing the series back for a 2nd straight year.

Feel free to check out all six episodes from last year:

Gonk Knocks: Training Camp with the Algonquin Tomahawks

Season 1

I also be added links for this year’s episodes as they came out:

Gonk Knocks: Training Camp with the Algonquin Tomahawks

Season 2

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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!

 

High School: Algonquin Softball looks to bright future from young players

My latest article in the Algonquin Harbinger is about the bright future that Algonquin softball is looking forward to.  I featured the freshmen that made the team this year.  Check out the article at the link below:

https://arhsharbinger.com/18822/sports/softball-looks-to-a-bright-future-from-young-players/