Thank You Seniors!

Greetings from The Booth!

I did a little double duty Saturday at Shenandoah as we now have a little football-basketball overlap for a couple of weeks. First, the football. The Hornets assured themselves of a winning record with a 35-16 win over Apprentice in a game that went as expected and was a microcosm of the Builders’ season. Apprentice, as they had done most of the season, hung in with their opposition, but costly mistakes at the absolute wrong time did them in. Don’t get me wrong, SU played well, rolling up 474 total yards and led 21-0 , but then seemed to lose interest for a while, before pulling away. At 6-3, the Hornets now have a chance to finish 7-3 if they can beat ODAC Champs Washington & Lee on Saturday at home. More on that in a bit.

After the football game, which I think might be still going on, I made the short walk across the Buzzy Plaza to the Wilkins Center to do the public address duties for SU Women’s Basketball. The ladies were impressive in their 2021-22 season debut, routing Goucher 75-43, with 13 of the 14 Hornets who played scoring at least one point. In addition to a very deep bench, SU boasts one of the most exciting players in the ODAC in senior Sierra St. Cyr, who led the “good gals in white” with 13 points. Please get out to a game or two and cheer them on this season.

Back to football. With the ODAC title wrapped up, one would think that W&L might take it easy Saturday and focus on their NCAA tournament game the following week. My broadcast partner, DeShon Foxx, who was once the passing game coordinator for the Lexington school, assures me that will not be the case. The Generals want the outright title, and with a loss to SU Saturday combined with a Randolph-Macon win against Hampden-Sydney in “The Game,” both W&L and RMC would finish with identical 5-1 ODAC records. The Generals would still be the league representative in the NCAA, but would be called “co-champs.”

To win Saturday, the Hornets will have to stop the Generals’ running attack, led by Josh Breece, who is finally a senior. It seems like the talented running back from Lorton, Va., has been at W&L for 10 years, and it will be a tough order to stop him. Still, W&L has looked human this year, and if not for a last second miracle against HSC and a comeback win at home last week against Ferrum, the Generals would be watching Randolph-Macon celebrate a league championship. The Hornets probably need to play just a little better than they did against the Builders, but there’s every reason to think they can beat W&L if they bring their “A” game to Shentel on Senior Day.

Senior Day will be an emotional one for a number of Hornets who will put the uniform on for the last time. Bonds have been formed on the gridiron that will last well beyond football for these SU seniors, who will move on to the game of life once the clock reads zero late Saturday afternoon. The task at hand will be to keep the emotions at bay during the game, and focus on beating the Generals. A win for Shenandoah would mean a 7-3 season, the best since the NCAA playoff year of 2004. What a way to say goodbye!

Don’t forget to catch the buzz Saturday starting at 12:30 with the Hornet pre-game show. Until then, thank you seniors and…GO HORNETS!

RW

Sports Dogs Podcast: Meet DeShon Foxx

In this week’s SDPC, it’s a conversation with my SU Football broadcast partner, DeShon Foxx, who shares his NFL experience as it relates to money management and life beyond football, talks about being a first-generation college student, and weighs in on the Hornets. Enjoy! RW

Sports Dogs Podcast
Sports Dogs Podcast
Sports Dogs Podcast: Meet DeShon Foxx
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Getting The Job Done

Greetings from The Booth!

Don’t look now, but Shenandoah University Football is 4-1, and 2-1 in the ODAC, after a decisive 52-25 blowout at Guilford this past Saturday in Greensboro. If my broadcast partner Scott Musa is reading this, he will be happy to know that yours truly and my current sidekick DeShon Foxx (Scott is focusing on becoming a new Dad these days) kept a Hornet broadcast travel tradition alive with our usual stop at Mac N Bob’s in Salem on the way to North Carolina, and on the way home we enjoyed some Italian cuisine at Frank’s Pizza And Subs, where the calzone is the size of a starship. In between, the accommodations were first-class at the Sheraton Four Seasons. This play-by-play life is pretty good!

The trip was made all the better with a nice win by the Hornets in what was the classic “trap game.” The Quakers have had their challenges this season, having 2 games canceled due to COVID protocols, and doing the eye-test, SU was clearly the better team. That being said, Shenandoah was coming off an emotional Homecoming win against Bridgewater, and very well could have suffered a letdown.

But they didn’t. In their most prolific offensive output of the year, SU rolled to a 24-0 lead and never looked back. The Hornets piled up nearly 600 yards on the afternoon, and except for a very brief nervous stretch in the third period, dominated from wire-to-wire. Freshman quarterback Steven Hugney continues to impress as he matures, and was named ODAC Offensive Player Of The Week following his 5 TD performance (4 passing, 1 rushing). Rashadeen Byrd showed that he is one of the top backs in the ODAC with a 143-yard rushing day, and Wide Receiver Brandt Butler–oh, nothing. Just 5 catches for 143 yards and 2 scores. To put it simply, the Hornets took a business trip, and took care of business.

This week promises to be a little tougher, as SU heads back in the same direction on I-81 and US 220 to try and spoil the Homecoming Day of Ferrum. The Panthers will be a “tough out” for Shenandoah, and like SU, are 4-1 overall, their only loss to league power Randolph-Macon. Ferrum’s stats aren’t gaudy (they give up 25 points a game, while scoring about 24 per game) and all of their wins have been tight contests. As always, the Panthers have athletes who are capable of having big days, like dual threat quarterback Titus Jones. Jones should be a major focus of the Hornet defense this week.

I would expect nothing less than a very close contest this week in the hinterland of Virginia. The Homecoming atmosphere will be something that SU will have to deal with, and as with any even matchup on paper, turnovers will play a big part in determining a winner on Saturday. The second half of the season gets much tougher for Shenandoah, with W&L and Randolph-Macon, along with D-2 Emory & Henry looming on the schedule. So, Shenandoah cannot afford to take it’s eye off the ball this week, and I don’t think they will. In a tight contest, SU comes out on top 28-24 to go 5-1 and 3-1 and stay in the ODAC hunt.

Air time is 12:30 Saturday with the Winchester Printers Hornet Pre-Game Show. Enjoy the game, and GO HORNETS!

RW

The Name Game

Winchester Printers
https://winchesterprinters.com

Greetings From the Booth!

Don’t look now, but area high school football is just over a week away and a week later, a full-fledged Fall season of Shenandoah University begins (knock on wood), as the Hornets entertain Methodist on September 4th. Hopefully the Delta variant of the coronavirus won’t trip us up.

In addition to working once again on SU football broadcasts with my longtime broadcast partner Scott Musa, this season I will also be sharing the Booth with DeShon Foxx. Foxx is the Assistant AD for Student Success, Inclusion, and Equity at Shenandoah, and also played football for the University of Connecticut. Upon his graduation from UConn, DeShon spent a couple of years in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks and New York Jets. I look forward to his unique perspective as we bring you Hornet football this Fall!

Well, according to multiple sources (NBC Sports Washington and The Washington Post), the Washington Football Team has narrowed it’s list of potential team nicknames to 3. If you follow “Making The Brand” on the team’s website and YouTube channel, you’ll see WFT president Jason Wright tell head coach Ron Rivera and GM Martin Mayhew that 3 possibilities remain. This was confirmed by the above 2 sources and reported by Yahoo Sports.

For those who long for a return to the past, the former team name is not one of the 3 finalists. There are many who want to keep the Washington Football Team name, saying it has a cool “European football” feel to it. For me, one who writes a sports report for on-air and the website each morning, it’s clunky, and I’ve often (mistakenly) juxtaposed the F and the T when using the abbreviation. OK, sometimes not mistakenly…

I do hope the team decides to hold on to some of it’s past by keeping the burgundy and gold colors. I’ve not heard anything that would suggest otherwise. That would make for a seamless transition from past-to present-to future. As a longtime fan, I’m not ready for a radical color scheme change.

For me, I would like to see a name that does give fans a link to the past in a way that honors Native American culture. Ever since the subject of the name change reared it’s head several years ago, I’ve though that Warriors would be a great team name. I’m sure someone could tell me what’s wrong with that idea, but in my humble opinion, “Warriors” conjures up images of honor, strength, and pride. Again, I’m not ready for radical change. And I don’t like “generic,” unless it refers to paying less at the store for the same product.

Ultimately, no matter what name is chosen for the DC NFL football franchise, being successful on the field will soothe most fans who don’t like it.

As the late Al Davis famously said, “just win Baby!”

Until the next visit from the Booth, Go (fill in the blank)! GO HORNETS!

RW