SportzBuzz - October 2014
There’s always special electricity in the air when St. Thomas High School and Strake Jesuit face off on the football field, and this year’s matchup was certainly no exception – with one of the most dramatic finishes of this tradition-rich rivalry.
St. Thomas pulled out the victory in somewhat miraculous fashion when quarterback Michael Keating connected with Landon Malouf on a 47-yard touchdown pass with only four seconds left in the game. “After he caught the ball, we were actually screaming at Michael to go down to set up a field goal, but he broke several tackles and then got great blocks from Drew Guidroz and William Heck to get the touchdown,” said Eagles head coach Tim Fitzpatrick.
“It was a great win for our kids. A lot of the kids from St. Thomas and Strake went to school together when they were younger. They know each other, and there was a lot of emotion out there.”
The victory for St. Thomas followed a big win a week earlier over a Kinkaid Falcons team that had gone undefeated last season and was ranked among the top private schools in the state. St. Thomas has now won 22 of 25 games since Fitzpatrick became head coach in 2012.
“It’s all about hard work and expectations, as well as holding kids accountable,” said Fitzpatrick. “Our administration has been great, and a real key is that we’re getting kids involved in the program when they’re freshmen. In essence, we have good players, good kids and good coaches that really know the game.”
On the topic of big-rivalry wins, the Memorial Mustangs rallied for a thrilling 21-17 victory over the Stratford Spartans to start the season. Quarterback Matthew Jordan connected on a 45-yard pass to Morgan Whatley late in the game to set up Colton Taylor’s game-winning touchdown run.
“It’s huge because I went to middle school with most of the guys on their team,” said Memorial linebacker John Tucker. “I’m lining up against my buddies, and we’re talking some smack against each other. It’s all really cool stuff, and beating them is awesome. It gives us bragging rights.”
One player who had plenty to brag about was Whatley, who hauled down five passes for 179 yards and one touchdown in the victory. “A lot of people think of us as a running team, but we’re capable of coming up with big plays through the air,” said the senior wide receiver. “Fortunately, a lot of those long passes came my way.”
Before the start of the football season, it was the West University Senior League baseball team that was making headlines, defeating Curacao 7-4 to win the Senior League World Series in Bangor, Maine. Joe Gobillot was the winning pitcher in the championship final, with Jimmy Winston pitching in relief late in the game to get the save. John Doxakis, who was the winner pitcher in the semifinals, had a key two-run double in the victory.
“It’s a remarkable accomplishment,” said West U Seniors assistant coach Cape Bell. “I think the most amazing thing is that we’ve been to the World Series in four of the last six years. Winning it all is especially impressive when you’re facing teams from across Latin America who are groomed to play baseball. To beat kids of that caliber is significant.”
“Just about every kid on our team contributed to our championship,” said Bell. “Twin brothers Julian and Aaron Cranfield, who are also two of our captains, did a tremendous job. Jacob Millender had a big run-scoring single in the final. I could go on and on about this lineup.”
The championship was very much a family affair for current West U players Turner Gant, William James and Michael Strietmann, who all had siblings that played on former West U teams that advanced to the Senior League World Series. Gant has two brothers (Travis and Turner) who are World Series alumni, as does James (Harrison and Phillip). Strietmann’s older brother John played on the 2010 World Series team. Travis Gant and Harrison James were part of the 2009 team that also won the World Series Championship.
“We’ve got a great coaching staff and amazingly talented kids in the West U program,” said Bell. “To get beyond state and regionals year after year is a major achievement.”
Editor’s Note: Todd Freed is the Emmy Award-winning co-host and producer of the KUBE SportsZone, which airs Saturday and Sunday at 6 p.m. on Channel 57-KUBE. To submit high school sports news for possible inclusion in SportzBuzz, please email email@example.com.
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