Gridiron Season Approaches

19 08 2010

August 18, 2010

It’s that time of year again, despite baseball season still being in full swing everybody is itching for football season.  I’m a self-proclaimed baseball nut but even I’m anxious for some pigskin action.

It’s been very encouraging to see success in the NFL preseason by players who were suiting up for the University of Montana just a year ago.  In his first game for the Titans (against Seattle on Sunday, August 15) Marc Mariani hauled in 3 catches for 21 yards, caught a 2-point conversion, and returned several punts and kicks… his spot on the roster = solidified.  Meanwhile Stephen Pfahler had a 16-yard reception himself for Tennessee.  Shann Schillinger also made headlines over with the Falcons, with a tackle and interception (returned 29 yards) in his first professional game.

As great as it is to see those guys continue their success… there remain several questions about the immediate future the current Montana Grizzly team will have.  I was at their first scrimmage of the season on Sunday.  The vigor of our young tailbacks such as Peter Nguyen and Jordan Canada was good to see.  Both ran hard and took several attempted tackles to bring down.  Obviously the starting job in the ground game is still Chase Reynolds without question but any and all offensive weapons are good to see.  On the defensive side, it was all about a sure-handed secondary of safeties grabbing four picks on the afternoon.  Returning starter Erik Stoll made a great interception along the sideline, Mike McCord had a 99-yard touchdown return on his pick (albeit an easy play on a terrible ball thrown by Chase Reynolds), and junior transfer Andrew Badger caught two interceptions himself (one if which he returned 17 yards for a score, brilliantly navigating through a slew of attempted tackles).

I have yet to place my faith on the passing game, the scrimmage saw lots of minimal success screens and dump-out passes… we’ll just have to wait until the season fires up to see if we have a chance to advance to a third straight national championship game under our new coach in Robin Plugrad.

Of course I haven’t given up on baseball by any degree… and the Missoula Osprey are looking the best they have since the season began.  The team sits just one game back of first-place Helena in the current 2nd half season standings, despite being two games under .500 at 7-9.  Adam Eaton continues to tear up the Pioneer League as he leads the league in hitting (.374), slugging (.563), on-base-percentage (.507), OPS (1.070) and even ranks second in steals with 17.  However if the team pitching doesn’t find it’s magic slipper soon it will remain an ugly pumpkin that will keep the O’s from finding a playoff berth (the team ranks last in ERA at 5.09).

On one light-hearted note, Kayla and I had a ton of fun doing a story on Matt Helm and Bobby Stone anchoring the corners of the infield… and doing so fashionably with a mullet each.  To view the story click here: Mullet Magic.


Summer Days

7 07 2010

July 6, 2010

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything I know… there’s no real excuse for the huge absence of over a month… although my computer was out of commission for the past several weeks.

Anyhow, I have been staying quite busy with the world of sports journalism.  As a whole the local sports world has cut-down tremendously with the end of the high school and collegiate sports seasons; however I have stayed busy with Legion Baseball, Missoula Osprey minor league baseball, as well as other odds and ends.

One of those more interesting odds and ends took place this past weekend as Missoula hosted this year’s 2010 U.S. Freestyle Kayaking National Championships.  I spent three days covering the event and had a great time.  The atmosphere of fans and participants was a unique glimpse of the world of alternate and Olympic sports.  The best kayakers in the nation competed at the event and I had the opportunity to meet and interview the entire Jackson family (Eric Jackson being a former world champion, daughter Emily Jackson being a defending national champion, and son Dane Jackson tearing it up over the weekend and qualifying for next year’s Kayaking World Cup in Germany in multiple events).  I learned the differences of freestyle moves such as the space godzilla, lunar orbit, air screw, mcnasty, and others.

In the more mainstream sporting world, the Missoula Osprey season is over a couple weeks underway.  I’ve had the pleasure to attend this past four game series, which the split against the Helena Brewers.  The team is off to a rocky start (6-10) but shows plenty of promise to turn it around.

I had the pleasure to interview two Osprey players today on their individual starts to the season as well as the team’s start.  They happened to be the pitcher-catcher brother combination of Robby and Richie Rowland.  Richie has had a hot bat with 3 home runs in his last four games along with a 13-game hit streak and a batting average of .451, tops in the Pioneer League.  Robby meanwhile had a strong outing on the mound Monday night, going 3 innings and giving up just one run on two hits.   The two were great guys to talk to and both were very optimistic about the team improving over the next few weeks… they’ll have their work cut out for them as they now embark on a 6-game road-trip against Billings and then Great Falls.