Getting Back In The Race

Greetings From The Booth!

Let’s start by putting a bow on Shenandoah University basketball. The Hornet women saw their season end last week in the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament with a loss to Southern Virginia, but will look back on the most successful campaign in program history at 22-6. The core group of seniors were part of 58 wins, 2 ODAC titles, and 2 appearances in the “big dance.” Not to mention winners of 15 of their last 17 games this season. The Hornet women were a gritty bunch who didn’t always bring their “A” game, but found a way to win. They had that intangible called “chemistry” and were a joy to watch this past season.

As for the SU men, a sad farewell to Head Coach Adam Walsh, who resigned last week after a 5-year stint in his hometown. The James Wood grad compiled a 23-86 record while at Shenandoah, and yes, ultimately it’s about the “W’s” However, a look beyond the numbers will show you a class act, who, despite the defeats, was almost always positive in his outlook, cared about his players, and made sure they excelled in the classroom. In the end, Coach just couldn’t change the culture on the court, something that has to happen in order to fill seats at Wilkins Center. We wish Adam the very best in the next chapter of his life.

For area runners, it looks like it’s back to normal with full-fledged events this year, as opposed to the “virtual races” of the past several years. That includes Saturday’s Edward Jones 5k Race For Education in Front Royal. Always a great event, and benefits a number of worthy causes. If you’re reading this ahead of race day (March 12-8am), come on out, even if it’s just to cheer on the runners.

For me, it’ll be a return to area races for the first time since 2017. At the tail end of each year, we are asked to submit “wish lists” with professional as well as personal goals for the upcoming year. On my list was the goal of running a 5k in 2022, and I’m going to try to make that happen Saturday. At 62, the knees aren’t what they used to be, and I’m hoping there’s some truth to the phrase “slow and steady wins the race.”

At 62 and on bad wheels, I’m going to have to lower the bar a bit. I’m not 32, 42, even 52. I may be walking some of the EJ 5K on Saturday, but I’m slowly making peace with being that guy that 7 people cheer for as he struggles to the finish line as the race volunteers are tearing down (watch the movie “Brittany Runs A Marathon). I’m determined to finish.

If you want to know which runner is me on Saturday, I’m the guy waving bye-bye to Molasses, Christmas, and a Stop Light (all really slow things) as they blow by me on the Leach Run Parkway.

Until the next visit from The Booth…GO HORNETS!

RW

 

Sports Dogs: An SU Update With Scott Musa

It’s our monthly “State Of The Hornets” podcast with Scott Musa, Associate AD at Shenandoah University. It’s a great time to be a Hornet, as the Baseball team is nationally-ranked and off to a great start, and Women’s Basketball is still playing, as they get ready for their opening round NCAA playoff game. GO HORNETS!

RW

We Want Dallas!

Greetings from The Booth!

Let’s start with congrats to the Shenandoah University Men’s Basketball team, who are now 2-0 at the Wilkins Center after an 81-71 win against Ferrum last Saturday. In the last several seasons, wins for the guys have been few and far between, so it was nice to see them having fun and getting the “W.” I’m not sure what kind of springboard that victory will be, but on Saturday, something seemed to click. Kudos also to junior Jaylen Williams, who was named as the ODAC Player Of The Week, and is currently leading the league in scoring. Williams is fun to watch, and can score inside and outside. He is worth the price of admission. If anyone is deserving of some good fortune, it’s Head Coach Adam Walsh; let’s hope Santa brings him some the rest of the season.

Well, it’s Dallas Week for the Washington Football Team, as the Cowboys visit Fed-Ex Field this Sunday in an NFC East showdown. Dallas Week has lost a lot of it’s luster over the last 30 years as Dallas has just 3 playoff wins since winning their last Super Bowl in 1996, and Washington has just 3 post-season victories since their last Super Bowl win in 1992. Relevant games between the two teams have been scarce.

Sunday’s contest has some relevance. Washington, left for dead at 2-6, has reeled off 4 consecutive wins since their bye week and with a win against the Cowboys, would pull to within one game of the division lead, with control of their own destiny. A loss to Dallas, and The Football Team will probably have to set their sights on a Wild Card berth, still a very real possibility. So, with at least something to play for on Sunday, I thought I’d go back into the time machine for my top 3 memorable Washington-Dallas games. Enjoy, and feel free to send us yours.

3. Houston Corrals Garrison. Coming off their very first Super Bowl appearance in the 1972 season, the then-Redskins met the hated Cowboys on Monday Night Football October 8th, 1973 at RFK Stadium. The ‘Boys were 3-0, while the ‘Skins were 2-1, so it was a must win for the “Over The Hill Gang” in the nationally-televised affair. In a tight defensive battle, Dallas held a 7-0 lead well into the 4th quarter. I remember going to bed (there was school the next day) and listening to the radio broadcast, hoping against hope that Washington could find a way. Late in the contest, Sonny Jurgensen threw a short TD pass to tie things at 7, and on the next Dallas possession, Brig Owens sent the RFK crowd into a frenzy with a pick-6 touchdown for a 14-7 lead. Dallas was not finished as they drove deep into ‘Skins territory. On a 4th and goal, Dallas running back Walt Garrison caught a pass and headed for the tying score, when Washington’s Ken Houston grabbed Garrison and held him inches from the goal line to preserve the win. Sleep deprivation never felt so good!

2. December 31, 1972. George Allen’s Redskins, the aforementioned “Over The Hill Gang,” a collection of aging veterans and castoffs from other teams, finished the regular season 11-3, and after beating the Packers in the opening round of the playoffs, found themselves hosting the Cowboys for the NFC Championship in front of 55-thousand rabid fans as 1972 came to a close. After an early Dallas field goal, Washington QB Billy Kilmer found Charley Taylor for 2 touchdown passes, and kicker Kurt Knight booted 4 field goals, while the ‘Skins defense held Roger Staubach and the Cowboys offense to just 169 yards on the day in a dominating 26-3 win. I remember it like it was yesterday. George Allen would later say “that was our Super Bowl,” and indeed Washington would suffer a huge letdown in Super Bowl VII, falling to the Dolphins 14-7.

1.We Want Dallas! In the waning moments of a playoff win against Minnesota in January of 1983, the RFK crowd started a chant of “We Want Dallas,” a chant that increased in intensity until the very stands of the old venue were literally moving. Indeed, Washington would have a chance to avenge their only loss of that 1982 campaign the following week in the NFC Championship Game. The ‘Skins took an early 7-3 lead and had momentum on their side until Dallas backup QB Gary Hogeboom brought the Cowboys to within 7 at 24-17. With the game in the balance, Washington’s Dexter Manley tipped a Hogeboom pass, and Darryl Grant picked it out of the air and rambled into the end zone for the score that put the game away. In a moment of non-clarity, my friend Kevin and I decided that we were going to drive to DC and celebrate. The few remaining brain cells we had left prevailed, and we decided to go to Shepherdstown instead, where, as I remember, we did a 2-man “Fun Bunch” in the street. This time, the ‘Skins would not let down, and went on to beat the Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII. Good times…good times.

I’m not sure Sunday’s game will provide any memorable moments. The Fed-Ex stands probably won’t be rocking, there is no longer a fight song to sing, and there will surely be as many Dallas fans in attendance as there are Washington fans. Such is life as a WFT fan in 2021. But we can dream, and maybe, just maybe be able to muster up one more Fun Bunch celebration for old times sake…

Enjoy the game, and until next time from The Booth, HTTWFT, and GO HORNETS!

RW

Sports Dogs Podcast: SU Hoops Preview With Coach Walsh

It’s almost time to come indoors, and the latest SDPC is a chat with Shenandoah University Men’s Basketball Head Coach Adam Walsh, who previews the 2021-22 squad, talks about his team’s recent academic honor, and they style of play you can expect from the young Hornets. Enjoy, and GO HORNETS!

R-Dog

SU Men’s B-Ball Preview

In this week’s Sports Dogs Podcast, I’m joined by Shenandoah University Men’s Basketball coach Adam Walsh, who talks about the challenges of 2020, the new recruiting class, and his expectations for the shortened Winter season, which begins tonight (1-20) against Mary Baldwin. Our thanks to Rotz Pharmacy in Winchester for sponsoring this edition!

RW