General Manager Notes: Another season, another solid start
Apparently we've won four straight season openers, including today's beating of the Gothenburg Giants. But unlike the smoort sailing in the previous two seasons against the French teams, the Giants came to our place with more ammo. The final score of 34-13 sounds much more like a trashing than it actually was, aside from their time running out final drive that boosted their overall numbers.
The first quarter was clearly the Giants'. they scored first with a 45-yard field goal and their next drive ended wit a 47-yard touchdown run. Yeah, defense, not so impressive on that play. But before the first quarter was over, our shiny pieces f our offense had woken up: Clarence Gore with a 19-yard reception, Theo with a 12-yard catch and Thong' with a 12-yard run.
We started the second quarter with a 28-yard field goal to make it 10-3 Giants, then needed unsportsmanlike conduct to have a goal line stand to force a 21-yard field goal. Down 13-3, and after back and forth three and outs, Branden Sandlin paid back the confidence I have in him with a 61-yard catch for a touchdown. The Giants missed a 50-yard field goal, which Moe Sheldon rubbed them in with a 34-yard pass to Thong', followed by a 22-yard touchdown to George Stuckey, another kid that got my blessing. Just like that, we were leading 17-13 just at half time.
Third quarter, they quickly got into out half, but the run defense and a Tony Whiting hurry force them to punt from our 36-yard line. Sheldon to Gore for 22 yards, Francisco Patter for 15 yards, Sheldon to Branden Sandlin for 11 yards, that was our way to set up a 33-yard field goal for a 20-13 lead. The run defense continued to stuff Jason Crane and just as we thought we were driving to make it a two score game, Sheldon got picked off. The run defense was huge again and a defended pass is sufficient to make them punt and the turnover just keep us from scoring, not set them up to do so.
Fourth quarter and Moe Sheldon actually connected with Theo for a third down conversion! An offside penalty then made it easier on the next third down play, which Sheldon followed up with short passes to Theo to march into field goal range. Until Francisco Patter got tackled for an unprecedented 7-yard loss on a run that forced us to punt. The defense continued to be a force and only a penalty could give the Giants a first down. Pinned at our own 5-yard line, Moe Sheldon and the crew were unmoved. Sheldon found Theo for another third down conversion, saw Patter run for a 15-yard gain to make our punt count. A sack from Darien Fletcher in their own red zone then helped force them to punt and help get us the ball back inside their turf. Our offense was ruthless: 15-yard pass from Sheldon to Sandlin, handoff to Thong' for 16 yards and another for 15 yards and a touchdown. The Giants then turned into all or nothing, driving downfield, but Jessie McNeil (once again pleased I didn't cut him seasons ago) makes the tremendous game winning 70-yard pick six. Maassluis 34, Gothenburg 13. Welcome to '92.
Sheldon completed 20 of 31 for 276 yards, 2 scores, 1 interception. Theo had 7 catches for 53 yards, Gore 5 catches for 61 yards. Sandlin and Stuckey had the crucial touchdown catches. Thong' ran for 84 yards on 10 carries, Patter for just 54 yards.
1. Paris 1-0
2. Maassluis 1-0
3. Gothenburg 0-1
4. Bordeaux 0-1
That's one game in the books, but there's 18 or 19 more to go. Second one will be a game of the week at the Outer Banks Ospreys. They saw quarterback Will Philips return home after 10 seasons in the Deep South with Houston and Fort Wayne. He's got a 7-2 record against us, but his main job will be handing off to Aston Moore, the best running back in the league right now. Their defense looks good, but with our cohesive bunches on all ends, we stand a chance in against any team. Confidence is something we need to keep showing. '91 was a good to great season, let's make '92 the best!
* 2005 Golden Scribe winner for best FOF Dynasty about IHOF's Maassluis Merchantmen
* Former GM of GEFL's Houston Oilers and WOOF's Curacao Cocktail