These are for the players who cannot read them through the social networking sites, where I tend to post them on Fridays or Saturdays. Starting with the newest one, I will start posting them here when freshly written. Enjoy.
• 11/8: The nail-biters continued this week at SOFA as, for the second week in a row, it all came down to the final play.
Nov. 8 brought out 12 players and two fans for a fine afternoon of action. Among them, three new players, two of which we hope will return (Dustin, you’re too fast).
Six-Cylinder (Dustin, Stephanie, Chad, Jerome, Kenny, Sam) beat Sixth String (Nathan, Joe, Ian, Emily, Jack, Aaron) 48-47. But that isn’t such an achievement when you consider that the Cylinders once had a 30-point lead. There’s a lesson to be learned there, kids. And the message is this: you should never be complacent even when life hands you a 30-point cushion. But you’ll probably win anyway.
Nathan, a newcomer to SOFA but in no way a stranger to the gridiron, scored a touchdown on the very first play of the game. That would set the Strings’ pace in the second half. Unfortunately, there was a first half first.
Dustin, a new guy nobody knew about, came in and lit up the field. He was so fast...(how fast was he?) he was so fast, even Ian couldn’t catch him. (That’s fast! And humbling too!) Dustin amassed two touchdowns in the first half, and Joe bat .500 on field goals to make the score a surprisingly sparse 18-9 at the half for the Cylinders.
It gets a little fuzzy after that. But soon enough, the score was 42-12. Jerome was undoubtedly involved. This much is clear: the Strings got burned playing man-to-man defense.
But then two momentous things happened: Stephanie had to leave. And the Strings went to a zone defense, rotating out a player in every series. SOFA teams who rotate players are 767-2 all-time, so this seemed like a safe bet.
Tide, consider yourself turned.
From there, 42-12 turned into 48-27. Then 48-33. Then 48-41. On the final drive, the Strings scored one more TD to make it 48-47. One final PAT would decide it all.
The two-point conversion failed.
I’m sure it involved some heroics on someone’s part. But I don’t remember who. And they don’t write these things anyway. So there! Good game to you. Or should I say, good first half of the second half.
Inspirational comeback of the game: Ian. While trying (and succeeding) to get open during a failed point-after, Ian’s much-maligned right ankle caught a divot, sending him to the turf. Jack and Nathan had to all but carry him off the field, and he sat on the sidelines for the next series. But then the pain went away as quickly as it arrived, and Ian swiped a pass right out of Jerome’s intercepty hands for a long TD, making the score 48-39.
Best completion taken out of Jerome’s hands for pay dirt: See above.
Best newcomer: We’re all winners here. But Dustin...damn. Two first-half TDs that I recollect, many runs I don’t because it’s hard to see things at warp speed. Nathan and Aaron also came through in the clutch with important runs and stops.
Best distraction for the Strings: The music. Jack took time out of an offensive drive to blast the radio station to which Ian’s boombox was set. Specifically, the song playing was “Lucky Star” by Madonna. Ian was quick to point out that the station played Springfield’s widest variety of music, and even they don’t know what they’re going to play next. So stay tuned! When “My Sharona” by The Knack came on, Jack relented. Wouldn’t we all?
Luckiest drive for the Strings defense: Sam caught a pass and ran nearly full-field and nearly to the house. But Ian didn’t give up and ripped his flag about 10 yards from the end zone. The defense then held on downs to avert a score.
Luckiest drive for the Cylinders defense: Anything in the first half of the second half (tie).
• 11/1: Last Sunday’s SOFA matchup was a thrilling game that came down to the wire. Depending on who you ask, though, that wire could have swung either way. Or whatever it is wires do when they flip-flop. I just woke up.
The official version is this: Down 59-54 on the final drive, deep in their own territory, Team We Won (Tyree, Ian, Jack, part-time Stephanie) led a quick, nail-biting, long-bomb drive down the field with mere seconds to spare. This led to a last, Hail Mary toss from Jack to a double-covered Tyree in the end zone, which Tyree turned into a touchdown and a 60-59 victory.
But others dispute this official account. Namely, Team No, WE Won (Joe, Jerome, Emily, Kenny). According to Joe, a two-point conversion by Jerome on one of their final TD drives actually had them up by seven points, not five, and thus WW should have gone for the points after.
This is possible because the actual score was mostly lost in the tumultuous final few minutes of the game. However, Ian kept track of the deficit, which both he and Jack (in separate recollections) remembered being five at the end. Going back to the last concrete score I remember, it was 47-40, then 53-40, then 59-47, then 59-54, then We Won won 60-59 on the last play.
But if Joe is correct about “a two-point extra conversion with Jerome bobbling it on the ground, but finally brought it in,” then the score after Tyree’s TD was, in fact, 61-60 NWW, and a two-point conversion was in order. You know WW would have gotten it, though.
Game notebook: Remind me to bring the notebook tomorrow. I forgot it last week, and the only note I had was the halftime score I had to scrawl on a leaf. 34-23, if I’m reading the leaf correctly.
And his Joey Porter...and T.J. Houshmandzadeh...and Chad Ochocinco... Both during and after the game, Tyree said that he “was getting his Michael Crabtree on.” He excelled at all positions on the field Sunday, and especially wanted his pal Gerald to know this. Gerald, like Tyree a former MSU football player, has played with SOFA in the past. “I can pass, I can catch, I throw field goals...I’m a complete player. Gerald isn’t. He couldn’t throw those passes like I could.” Sounds like a challenge, Gerald.
• 10/25: After this week’s SOFA game, Ian met with Jack to watch the Saints-Dolphins game. After a brutal 24-3 thrashing for most of the first half, the Saints found their groove and won 46-34. “Hmm,” Ian thought (as did Jack, in between cries of “NOOOO!!”), “Where have I seen that score before?”
As further proof that SOFA has a cosmic foothold on the universe (as if you needed any more evidence), 46-34 was also the tally of Sunday’s game! True, it was nothing like the Saints’ inspiring comeback, because the outcome was almost never in doubt. Also, unlike with the Saints game, the wrong team won at Kickapoo High. Also, I lost my knit cap, which I have yet to do at a Saints game. Really, the only thing that was the same was the score.
JErK (Jack, Erin, Kenny) beat Sam’s Club (Sam, Stephanie, Ian) and made it look easy. At least that was true at the beginning, when Erin drew first blood with a long TD. Sam immediately responded with a kickoff return for pay dirt. This would the last time SC responded immediately to anything.
After a futile series of turnovers on downs and a pick by Kenny against the Ian-led SC offense, Kenny scored a pair of unanswered touchdowns for JErK. This made the score 22-6. JErKs.
Ian sort-of redeemed himself not long after by intercepting a Jack pass batted by Sam in the end zone, running it the distance for the score. That would been even sweeter if anyone had chased him. But apparently he was too fast or something. Yeah.
Of course, this game being the case of embezzlement that it was (one for you, two for me), the JErKs scored two more touchdowns (and a Jack field goal) to make the score 39-12 at the half.
Sam’s Club, not content with scoring only on kickoffs and defense (occasionally), decided to shake up Ian’s patented Bend But Don’t Score offense by giving Sam some snaps. This opened up the game a bit, as both Sam and Ian were able to find targets. Stephanie made several key catches, and Ian was able to find Sam in the end zone (and vice versa). Still, the effort was too little, too late.
But then again, somebody had to be the Dolphins on Sunday.
Player of the game: Kenny. Nearly invincible, Kenny consistently evaded coverage on his way to scoring numerous touchdowns. He also had an impressive day on defense. Way to go, Kenny. No, really.
Incriminating phone message of the game: Pete. Once a SOFA mainstay, Pete has been on Whipped Reserve since getting a girlfriend (admittedly, a very long list). During the game, he drove past the field and called Ian, but only to get Tyree’s number. Pete has not been suspended, but he’ll probably serve it out anyway. Come back, Pete!!
Speaking of Saints-Dolphins... During one SC red-zone drive, Jack crept up on Ian. Jack was wearing a Dolphins cap. As Ian ran his route, he said, "Get that ugly thing out of my sight!" to which Jack replied, "It's beautiful!" Ian reacted to that by catching the touchdown pass from Sam. Now THAT was beautiful.
• 10/18: Put another nail-biter into the SOFA almanac.
Heat Wave (Jerome, Emily, Ian, Leann) weathered a shootout to top the Chad Sacks (Chad, Sam, Stephanie, Joe) 44-42 in a game that came down to the final point-after.
Chad had particular impetus to bring his A-game, as his family was in town for a visit (they came down from Michigan just for the game). He didn’t disappoint, scoring three touchdowns, two of them long bombs, and having a consistently solid game on both sides of the ball.
He also unwittingly helped Emily nab a crucial interception, after a pass by Joe intended for Stephanie bopped off the top of Chad’s head straight into Emily’s hands. Oh, it was pretty. Chad helped everybody today. Such a good reporter, showing no bias on the field like that. If only all of us were so selfless.
Ian handled most of the quarterbacking duties for Heat Wave, finding Jerome, Emily and Leann nearly equally. Hey, when you have weapons, fire ’em. Football-wise, I mean, not literally.
The score at the half was close, 28-22. This in large part was due to Ian being somewhat absorbed in the Saints-Giants game playing out on the radio he had brought. So he didn’t get to score all the touchdowns that he normally does. Yeah, that’s the ticket.
Not long into the second half, Sam turned up in a big way for CS, taking a deep pass from Jerome intended for Ian and turning it into a nearly field-length pick-six. In a related development, Sam’s name is now Darren. Official SOFA directive.
The final drive of the game was Chad Sacks’ chance to tie it up and force overtime. Sure enough, they found the end zone, and went for two (as common sense dictates). However, Chad was unable to secure the pass due to strong coverage by Emily, Jerome and Leann, and the game was over. Heat Wave win.
Afterwards, Joe asked Ian if the Saints game was over, but really, it was over at halftime.
Player of the game: Chad. Three touchdowns and a lot of hustle on defense.
Most memorable first down: Stephanie, because it was the only first down important enough to make it into my notebook.
Hands of the week: Emily. Several consecutive catches down the middle helped Team A score on a critical drive near the end of the game.
Hamstrings of the week: Joe and Leann (tie) for staying relatively unhurt.
• 10/11: Another game, another hamstring pull. The Oct. 11 game saw Joe go down in agony after a snappy interception and swift return. His play set up a touchdown from Ian to Kenny on the very next play. Other than that, there wasn't much hope in the second half for Half Fast (Ian, Kenny, Emily, Joe), as Tyree and Three Other Guys (Tyree, Chad, Jack, Blue?) Tyreed their way to an 85-58 rout.
The first half of the game saw two very balanced teams with a lot of hustle. Kenny, in particular, deserves defensive kudos for breaking up more passes than were possibly even thrown. Emily notched several sacks and a key interception as well. Yes, it seems ironic to tout the defensive exploits of a team that got shellacked 85-58, but sometimes history ISN'T written by the winners. Hah!
All members of HF scored touchdowns as well, including a late mini-surge. So what happened? Tyree. That's not to take away from solid play by Chad and Jack, both of whom put many yards and points on the board (Jack had a key interception on HF's goal line). But Tyree was just ridiculous. He gained a key first down on 4th and 18 to keep one drive alive. He was also Ian's top receiver at quarterback, notching about 94 pick-sixes. Tyree called that amount "lies, lies." And it was. But not by much.
• 10/4: Team Talent (Jerome, Sam, Joe, Emily, Stephanie) beat Talented at Other Things (Leann, Ian, Jack, Trey, Chad) 46-27.
The game got off to a controversial start even before it started, when Ian pumped up the football, rendering it uncatchable to those used to catching an underinflated ball (all of us).
Dropped passes made the difference after a close, low-scoring first half (14-7 TT) yielded to a mutual score-fest. Jerome was unstoppable for TT, taking advantage of his previous bye week to recover from a performance in which an unusually capable Ian shut him down. Stephanie also made phenomenal catches and scores for TT.
TOT, however, went down fighting. A comeback effort in the second half fell short, not helped by Leann's hamstring scare that forced her to sit out the rest of the game. Trey, a SOFA newcomer, said he "felt out of shape," which made us all feel a little older inside. He turned 20 two days later.