Overcoming Adversity

Greetings from The Booth!

First things first. It was great getting back in The Booth this past weekend as the Shenandoah University Hornet football team played it’s first Fall game since 2019 when they entertained former USA South rival Methodist. We’ll talk about that game later in the blog, but I was completely thrown off-guard as Saturday’s broadcast began, when my broadcast partner Scott Musa and public address announcer (and part-owner of WZRV) Mike O’Dell interrupted my carefully prepared opening to present me with a beautiful piece of crystal commemorating 200 Hornet football broadcasts, a milestone that I reached in the Spring season. The idea to do this was the brainchild of The River 95-3 owner, Andrew Shearer, and it completely caught me off guard. I couldn’t have been more surprised, and pleasantly so. Doing play-by-play for SU has been a labor of love for over 20 years, and it is always nice to be recognized by the folks who sign your paycheck. Thank you Andrew, Mike, Kathy, my teammates at The River 95-3, and at Shenandoah University.

Enough mushy stuff. The Hornets opened with a hard-fought 28-23 win over the Monarchs, as we welcomed almost 1800 back to Shentel Stadium. The Hornets did not beat the “Sisters Of the Poor.” Methodist was picked to finish third in the USA South in the pre-season coaches poll and were coming off an appearance in the conference title game in the Spring.

Hornet head coach Scott Yoder told me that the key to the Hornets taking that next step to the upper echelon of the ODAC is winning close games, and this contest was certainly one of those games. In so many ways, this win is better than a 53-0 opening win over a cupcake. After falling behind 14-0, SU clawed back, then had to hang on at the end, with the Monarchs at the Hornet 3-yard line. Shenandoah overcame adversity and found a way to win against a good team. That’s what 7-3, 8-2 teams do.

OK, here are my game balls and observations from Saturday’s win:

Hornet WR Ethan Bigbee. He was one of several seniors who stepped up with 5 catches for 176 yards, including 3 TDs. His performance earned him his first-ever ODAC Offensive Player Of The Week honor. On his game-winning 38-yard scoring grab, Bigbee left various unmentionable athletic garments of his defender strewn on the Sprint Field turf.

QB Zack Mathis. The senior signal-caller was ready when called on to replace struggling Freshman Steven Hugney. He could have sulked on the bench after not getting the start, but instead came on to throw for 229 yards and the 3 TDs to Bigbee. Mathis was the spark the Hornets needed after falling behind by 2 scores.

The Hornet Defense. That unit collectively bent but didn’t break, only giving up 7 points in the game’s final 45 minutes. The SU “D” made several key 4th down stops, including the aforementioned stop at the Hornet 3 yard line on the game’s final drive. That unit also overcame a targeting call on that drive. They could have folded but did not.

Special Teams Coach Kalvin Oliver. The Hornet Special Teams were big contributors to Saturday’s win, with 3 successful fake punts resulting in first downs. The first conversion did not result in points but was a big momentum changer in the game. Kudos to Oliver, the former SU player, who had ice water in his veins Saturday.

Next up for Shenandoah, a trip to Rocky Mount, NC, for a matchup with the Battling Bishops. This is a game the Hornets should win, but Wesleyan is always athletic if not disciplined. And it’s usually 100 degrees in the shade in rocky mount this time of year. A letdown will mean a long ride back to Winchester late Saturday afternoon. We’ll talk to you starting at 11:30 with the Hornet Pre-Game Show preceding the 12 noon kickoff.

Until the next visit from the Booth…GO HORNETS!

RW

SU Football Fall Preview With Coach Yoder

It’s a very special Sports Dogs Podcast this week, as we gathered on campus and previewed the 2021 Fall Football season with Shenandoah University Head Coach Scott Yoder, who is entering his 9th season as “Head Hornet.” Coach Yoder talks about the challenges of a quick turnaround from Spring to Fall, breaks down the offense, defense, and special teams of this year’s squad, and previews SU’s opening opponent, the Methodist Monarchs. Enjoy, and GO HORNETS! RW

SU Update With Scott Musa

In our latest SDPC, we touch base with Shenandoah University Associate Athletic Director Scott Musa for a “State of SU Athletics” update, and chat about some Hornet programs we don’t often talk about: Golf and Tennis to name a few. Of course, we catch up on the SU Baseball dynasty. And Scott weighs in on the groundbreaking football news at Shenandoah…

RW

Making “Herstory”

SU field oversight
SU field oversight
Winchester Printers
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Greetings From The Booth!

It looks like warmer weather has settled in and as we like to say, “death, taxes, and Shenandoah University Baseball.” As of this writing, Kevin Anderson’s little dynasty is 15th in the nation and rolling right along at 16-4. Let’s hope bigger things are ahead in May for SU Baseball!

Hornet Football is not quite in the rear view mirror, with an historic announcement recently. Fauquier County’s Haley Van Voorhis has committed to ply football for SU as a wide receiver or defensive back . While there have been female kickers at the college level, Haley will be the first female non-kicker to play football at an NCAA school.

A little background on Van Voorhis: This is not a whim. She played in a boy’s league in Fauquier County before playing football for the Kettle Run JV team. She then transferred to Christchurch near Richmond, where she played for 2 years. She comes to Shenandoah with a ringing endorsement from her coach, Ed Homer, who told the Washington Post, “she’s not afraid of anything.” Haley has also been working out with a professional women’s football team in DC, so she is no stranger to organized tackle football.

Hornets’ Head Football Coach Scott Yoder says that this is not some publicity stunt or attempt to make history, and if you know Scott Yoder, you can take that to the bank. He, along with SU defensive backs coach Byron Mitchell, who watched Van Voorhis perform at a combine in late 2020, are better talent evaluators than you or me. They insist that this is strictly a football decision, and offered her a spot based on ability and athletic skill.

At 5-6 and 150 pounds, Haley is not the prototypical wide receiver (or DB). And, like any 150-pounder at this level, there will be safety concerns. Even at the D-3 level, this is still college football, and ODAC defenders will only see an opponent as they cross the middle on a pass pattern. I think she probably wants it that way. The Hornets are deep at receiver and defensive back, so it remains to be seen how much playing time Van Voorhis will get. We shall see come September, when SU returns to the Sprint Field of Shentel Stadium.

There will be plenty of skeptics for sure. But sometimes, all someone needs is to be told they can’t do something as a springboard to success. Good luck Haley, and welcome aboard!

Until the next visit from The Booth…GO HORNETS!

Hornets-Eagles III

SU field oversight
SU field oversight
Winchester Printers
https://winchesterprinters.com

Greetings from The Booth!

There is a lot going on in the sports world right now. We’re down to the Final Four in college hoop, this week is Opening Day in MLB, and golf’s first major of the year, The Masters, is on the horizon. Although fan attendance is still limited at most sporting events, compare that to a year ago, when we were relegated to watching cornhole and ultimate frisbee on ESPN 8, The Ocho.

The ODAC Spring football season winds down this weekend with league-wide “playoff” games to determine where teams will finish in the standings. For the third time in five games, the Shenandoah Hornets will take on I-81 rival Bridgewater at Shentel Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

BC won the first of these matchups in February 27-21, while SU won a 19-18 thriller last week. By now, both teams know each other pretty well. If familiarity breeds contempt, there should be no love lost on Saturday afternoon on the Sprint Field.

As a footnote, this will be the last game for Bridgewater head Coach Mike Clark, who is retiring at the end of Saturday’s game. In his illustrious career, he has taken his BC team to the Stagg Bowl, and a National Semifinal, as well as being a thorn in our side year after year. Good luck, Coach, in your future endeavors (but not so much this weekend)!!!

And speaking of coaches, I had the chance this week to chat with SU Coach Scott Yoder, as he previews the Spring finale. Here is the entire interview. Catch our radio call Saturday starting at 4:30 on The River 95-3, and until next visit from The Booth…GO HORNETS!

Coach Yoder: Looking back At HSC, and Previewing The Jackets

SU field oversight
SU field oversight
Winchester Printers

Greetings From The Booth!

Welcome to one of the great weeks in sports, the opening round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament! In a normal year, buzzer beaters and upsets reign supreme in the opening round games before the cream starts rising to the top. When you throw COVID into the mix, it’s anyone’s guess who will cut down the nets in a few weeks. Good luck with your bracket (for entertainment purposes only)!

Changing gears, the Shenandoah University football team took one on the chin a couple of Fridays ago, when the played their Spring opener against Hampden-Sydney. The Tigers posted their second shutout in as many games with a 26-0 win over the Hornets at Shentel. I had a chance to speak with SU Head Coach Scott Yoder this week, as he looks back at the loss against HSC, and looks ahead to another tough opponent this week in Randolph-Macon.

Here is that conversation on this week’s VFB. Enjoy the basketball, and GO HORNETS!

RW

Talkin’ SU Football With Coach Yoder

In this week’s Sports Dogs Podcast, it’s a special visit with Shenandoah University Football Head Coach Scott Yoder, who looks back on the past 15 months of challenges, and looks ahead to the abbreviated Spring season, and beyond. Plus a scouting report on this week’s opponent, the Tigers of Hampden-Sydney. Enjoy, and GO HORNETS! RW