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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Gonk Knocks S1 E1 – Burn the Boats

This year, I am starting high school at the Algonquin Regional High School,  and I am going to be covering school sports including football.  I plan on contributing to the school newspaper (the Harbinger), sometimes publishing my newspaper articles on my blog.  I also plan to learn a lot from the Northborough Cable Access TV station (NCAT), which is headquartered at the high school.

This summer, I started working with the varsity football head coach, Taylor Allen, on video coverage of the football team, starting with a “Hard Knocks” style series on the team and eventually gameday coverage.  We have decided to call it Gonk Knocks (Gonk being short for Algonquin).  Below is Episode 1, along with my voiceover recap of the first day of football activity at Algonquin, August 17th.  Since this is the series premiere, I have decided to release two episodes at once.  Click here for Episode 2.

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Note: This episode exceeded the free YouTube limit of 15 minutes, so it has been split into 2 parts.

Part 1:

Part 2:

The Algonquin Tomahawks are the football team for my school, the Algonquin Regional High School of Northborough and Southborough, Massachusetts.

After a long summer, football is finally back, and for the T-Hawks, it all started today, August 17.

Today’s practice focused on fundamentals, conditioning, and cadence, skills that will be practiced in individual drills, 11 on 11 drills, and a unique running drill.

Last year was challenging for the T-Hawks, but head coach Taylor Allen and his brother and assistant head coach, Mark Allen, are optimistic that this year will be a good year.  The coaching staff has noticed a new dynamic in the locker room and plenty of enthusiasm from the players.  They have also implemented a new defense and made several other changes that they hope will make a difference.

The Allen brothers like to think of this year’s team as one big family, as their coaching staff is made up of guys that all know each other well.   Head Coach Allen said at the parent-player info night, it’s all about the players having fun.  He will hold the players to high standards but during this preseason he also wants them to build friendships and support each other.

This year the T-Hawks have a new motto that is written on the back of their practice jerseys, “Burn the Boats”.

It all originated from the story of Spanish explorer and conquerer Hernan Cortes.

The T-Hawks set the expectations for their players by presenting offensive and defensive goals to shoot for.  After the meeting, the team was ready to get working.

The practice was scheduled to be held outside, but due to passing thunderstorms, they brought the team into the gym midway through practice.  They still had plenty of work to do, and had an indoor plan knowing that the weather might not hold up.

Outside, they had worked on individual and positional drills.  But once the team made their way inside, they began to practice their new playbook and cadence in 11 on 11 drills.

While it wasn’t perfect … it was a good day and the team accomplished a lot.

The 1st day had a focus on fundamentals.

This was only the first day of practice.  The team did not even have their pads on. Yet this first practice was far from easy.  The entire team put in a tremendous effort, and on Day 1, the coaching staff was already working the team hard setting the bar high for days to come.

On top of the hard work in 11 on 11 Drills, the players had to run up and down the gym at the end of practice while practicing their cadence and formation.

One major goal for the team this year was avoiding mental mistakes.

The team did see improvement, but Coach Allen made the whole team drop down for push-ups after a mental mistake during the running drills, sticking with the “Burn the Boats” philosophy.

After practice, the coaches had a few more things to say.

They also named four hard-working seniors the team captains: S and WR Sam Crain, LB and FB Burke Dion, DE Chris Santana, and QB Brendan Hermanspan.

I had the chance to speak with a couple of the captains (check out the interviews in the video above).