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 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 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).