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 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 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 E2 – Raising the Bar

Below is Episode 2, along with my voiceover recap of the second day of football activity at Algonquin, August 18th.  In case you missed it, Click here for Episode 1.

On Day 1, Coach Allen set the bar high for the team’s expectations. On Day 2 the team looked to improve upon the strong day 1 start.  One thing that helped was practicing outside.  Unlike Day 1, no portions of the practice were in the stuffy and cramped gym.

However, it was another very hot and humid day, which did make the practice even harder.  Plus, they faced their toughest challenge yet on Day 2, conditioning drills.

Without the threat of thunderstorms until later, the team spent their entire 2 hour practice outside on the practice field next to the game day field.  The team practiced more plays today which was easier to do on the field with cleats on the grass as opposed to the hard gym floor.

For this year the coaches decided that players would only need to pass the conditioning test once.  Today was the first time players had the chance to pass the test and it was done near the end of a hot and grueling practice.  Fortunately, players were not in full pads.  Instead it was helmets, burn the boat t-shirts, and shorts.  The conditioning times that they had to meet were very tough but it was clear that this group of players have worked hard all summer and would give it their all to pass on Day 1.  The test was an individual test but players were tested in positional groupings as the time thresholds were different based on position.

The energy and team building is already noticeable as I saw players rooting each other on, even moments after running the drill themselves.  The conditioning is key to make sure the players are ready for the season and Coach Allen sees it as a great way for teammates to have friendly competition and motivate each other to succeed.

It was not easy for the players to achieve their targeted times in the hot sun after nearly 2 hours of practice.  Not everyone met their goal on the first day of conditioning.

But being out in the hot sun just helps the team get used to the tough workload and motivates them to improve and be ready for the next practice and conditioning test on Monday.  I spoke with Junior and Center Ryan Carmody, Senior captain Sam Crain, along with coaches Taylor Allen and Tyrone Notice after practice (See the video for my interviews).

I also had the chance to speak with a few members of the freshman team about their practice in the heat.

The team takes a day off on Sunday, August 19, but they’ll be back at it on Monday.  There is still a lot of hard work ahead of them leading up to the regular season opener on September 7.   Coach Allen stayed after practice to shake hands with some of the players and recognize them for their efforts so far.   They are making progress every day and it’s been really exciting to watch this team come together.

 

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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).