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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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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