Ron Moshier - Sports

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Moshier: Smith's block good "no call"

When it happened, we heard very little, if anything, about the block thrown by Utica’s Will Smith in Super Bowl XLIV, the one that helped spring New Orleans Saints teammate Tracy Porter free on his 74-yard interception return. But in the days following the Saints’ 31-17 upset of the Indianapolis Colts, the legality of Smith’s block has been questioned by more than a few on TV, radio, and the Internet, including the talking heads on ESPN’s “First Take” and “Pardon the Interruption.”

 

NBC’s game day announcers Jim Nantz and Phil Simms never suggested Smith should have been flagged for an illegal block in the back on Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, and Porter (of course) later called it “a great block.”

 

Upon much further review, I’d say it was neither. To me, it looked like Manning saw Smith coming his way, turned his back, and ran for cover – so much so, that Smith’s “block” was more of a simple shove. And no replay shows Manning begging for a “block in the back” penalty.

 

Still, many have found it necessary to question whether or not Smith and the Saints benefited from a “no call” that should have been called, including NBCsports.com’s “PFT” or “Pro Football Talk.”

 

You can check it out for yourself, but (keeping in mind Will Smith is from Utica) here are some of the responses I agree with:

 

“Peyton was not even trying to make the tackle. … He was just flailing around, saving his behind from taking a big hit.”

 

“The blocking player’s helmet must be clearly BEHIND the blocked player, not on the side.”

 

“If it had been a foul, Manning would have let us know.”

 

“Manning went down and ducked his shoulder in front of Will Smith. Smith pushed him from the side, not the back, as Peyton was going down.”

 

“Didn’t see Manning complaining about it afterwards so I wonder how hard of a shove it really was.”

 

“The right call was no call.”

 

“Peyton overran the play and (Smith) shoved him in the direction his momentum was already taking him.”

 

“No flag, no penalty. Get over it. You lost.”

 

“It’s not a penalty. … I’m shocked they did not throw a flag, simply because it was the Colts and Peyton Manning.”

 

“Peyton turned when he realized Will Smith was going to pancake him and Will pulled up. …”

 

“And besides, do you really think Peyton would’ve actually made that tackle?”

 

“Smith gets his hands on Manning’s shoulder, turns him, and knocks him mostly on his side. He definitely didn’t blast Manning square in the back. …”

 

“What kind of league would this be if you could get a block in the back call by turning your back every time you see a blocker coming your way?”

 

That last entry may be my favorite. Of course, many other responses to the NBCsports.com question come from those who saw it differently, including a sarcastic, “Will Smith did get a great block, right between the one and the eight and right below the word Manning.”

 

Sour grapes? Maybe. You can make the call. We all can. I’m just glad the officials didn’t – not just for Will Smith’s sake, but because making no call was the right call.

 

 

Friday, February 5, 2010

Moshier: "Freak" sudden-death OT game remembered

That five-overtime game the Ilion and Mohawk boys basketball teams played last week sure brought back memories.

 

One of them was that Central Oneida League game between Utica Free Academy and Thomas R. Proctor High School played 36 years ago, another quintuple-overtime thriller that UFA won 70-68 at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.

 

All that reminiscing also reminded Notre Dame High School graduate Anthony Scalzo of another memorable COL matchup played Jan. 20, 1961 at Proctor that was most likely the area’s first (and hopefully the last) boys basketball game decided by a sudden death OT.

 

The 66-year-old Scalzo, an East Utica native now living in Muskego, Wisc., played on that very first Notre Dame team, and the unbeaten Jugglers – then coached by Chuck Stevesky -- were trailing Proctor 45-28 at halftime. Notre Dame center Steve Remis finally tied it with his only basket, a hook shot with two seconds left in regulation. Scalzo said a fight broke out in the stands late in the second overtime. That’s when the coaches and referees, concerned about the safety of players and fans, decided the game would end in sudden death, with the first team leading by two points getting the win.

 

“I think the refs proposed that and the coaches said OK,” Scalzo said. “The tension was just so high and there was such close quarters (in Proctor’s old gym). …”

 

Notre Dame junior Art “Butch” Williams, who later starred at Utica College and eventually was inducted into the Greater Utica Sports Hall of Fame, scored the game-winning points from the foul line as the Jugglers prevailed, 84-82. Williams made 8 of 8 free throws, converting four 1-and-1 chances, in the overtimes.

 

John Pendergast scored 28 points and Mike Brown had 21 for Notre Dame. Pomp DelMonte led Proctor with 33 points.

 

“It was a freak thing,” Scalzo said of the sudden-death ending. “They didn’t just want to stop the game. I don’t think there’s ever been another sudden-death overtime.”

 

Let’s hope not.

 

Friday, January 22, 2010

Moshier: Boys basketball scene blurry at best

It’s getting more and more difficult to figure out this boys basketball season.

Around these Section III parts, there are only a few sure things: Class D New York Mills and Class C West Canada Valley, unbeaten and ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the state, respectively, are for real, and Thomas R. Proctor High School’s Raiders remain one of the many Section III title contenders in a wide-open Class AA race.

After that, it’s hard to determine who’s up and who’s down. There were more examples of that over the past week or two.

In the Tri Valley League: East Division leader Notre Dame lost its first league game of the season to Whitesboro (59-56), Camden ended an 83-game TVL losing streak with a win over Clinton (53-51), and then Clinton turned around and beat New Hartford (52-48).

In the Center State Conference: Little Falls’ Mounties may be last in the Division I standings and 0-14 overall, but in their last three CSC I games they have lost to Frankfort-Schuyler 74-72 in overtime, lost to league-leading Dolgeville 59-55, and lost to 13-1 Mohawk 54-50 in overtime.

And two CSC rematches I thought would be worth watching turned out to be mismatches: Division II leader Mount Markham avenged a 56-53 loss with a 65-50 romp over Sauquoit Valley that wasn’t nearly as close as that final score might indicate and Division III leader West Canada Valley cruised to a 63-37 win over Westmoreland, whose Bulldogs had won nine straight and were hoping to avenge their only loss.

What does all of this parity (some might say, mediocrity) mean? It means that New York Mills and West Canada Valley are the only area teams you can really count on playing for a Section III title when the Utica Memorial Auditorium hosts the boys’ championships March 5-7.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Moshier: NY Mills boys basketball No. 1 in the state

Defending Section III Class D boys basketball champion New York Mills (11-0) is the new No. 1 in the New York State Sports Writers Association’s weekly state rankings.

 

Coach Mike Adey’s Marauders had been ranked second behind defending state champion South Kortright of Section IV, but the Rams’ 33-game winning streak was snapped last week when Davenport beat them 55-52.

 

Davenport (8-0) is ranked second this week, followed by South Kortright and Maple Grove. Watertown’s Immaculate Heart Central (9-1) of Section III is No. 7 and Sackets Harbor is No. 12.

 

Thomas R. Proctor High School’s boys, meanwhile, haves cracked the Class AA state rankings for the first time this season. Coach Norm Stamboly’s Raiders, 9-1 and riding a nine-game winning streak, and ranked No. 24 in this week’s Top 25 poll. Proctor is the only Section III team ranked in Class AA. Cicero-North Syracuse, Fayetteville-Manlius, Liverpool, Syracuse’s Christian Brothers Academy, and Corcoran are honorable mentions.

 

Proctor, a 64-34 winner over visiting Rome Free Academy on Tuesday, has three tough road games coming up, including Friday’s trip to Liverpool and visits to Henninger and Cicero-North Syracuse next week.

 

Two-time defending state champion Jamesville-DeWitt remains No. 1 in the Class A poll, with Utica’s Notre Dame High School moving up three spots to No. 10. Westhill is No. 10 and Bishop Grimes is No. 13 in Class B.

 

Unbeaten West Canada Valley has climbed to No. 3 in the Class C rankings, behind Marion of Section V and Buffalo Middle College of Section VI. Tully is ranked 14th in Class C.

 

Moshier: Randall's Spartans impress

Win or lose, you have to be impressed with the job New Hartford High School head coach John Randall has done with his boys basketball team this year.

 

Despite losing starting point guard Trevor Callahan (broken wrist) for the season, and despite another injury to guard Robert Broccoli, Randall and assistant coach Andy Goodelle have their Spartans playing hard and playing well.

 

Led by sophomore Derek German, seniors Ammar Kaashmiri and A.J. Wolfanger, and juniors Vinny Servadio and Ben Zalewski, New Hartford – just 6-15 last season – is a surprising 8-3 overall. The Spartans improved to 6-2 in the Tri Valley League on Tuesday night, Wolfanger scoring 19 points and German adding 14 en route to a 60-56 victory over TVL West Division leader Oneida. The Spartans made 11 3-pointers, with Wolfanger, German and Kaashmiri finishing with three apiece.

 

Last Friday night, New Hartford led TVL East rival Whitesboro by 10 in the third quarter, but the Warriors scored the game-winner with two seconds left and won 52-50.

 

Don’t be surprised if Randall’s Spartans put TVL East leader Notre Dame to the test next Friday when they host the state-ranked Jugglers.

 

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Moshier: McGwire not Hall worthy

Mark McGwire wasn’t Hall of Fame worthy before this week’s admission.

 

Before coming “clean,” he was a one-dimensional, .260 hitter. Now, he’s a one-dimensional, .260 hitter who cheated.

 

That should be more than enough to keep him out of Cooperstown. Let’s hope so.

 

Moshier: "Moore" class by Holland Patent coach

Notre Dame High School senior Pat Moore, a class act on and off the basketball court, became the Jugglers’ all-time scoring leader when he scored 27 points in Tuesday night’s 79-70 Tri Valley League win at Holland Patent.

 

Opposing coach Jon Snyder of Holland Patent showed a lot of class, too, when he used a full timeout to stop the game in the third quarter to pay special tribute to Moore and his record-breaking accomplishment. Snyder later presented Moore with the game ball.

 

“I didn’t want to make a huge production out of it, but rarely do we have this opportunity to note something like this,” Snyder said after the game. “Pat’s a great kid and a tough competitor. I just wanted to recognize that.”

 

What Pat Moore has done at Notre Dame, no doubt, deserves to be recognized. So does Snyder’s class act. In a close game, on a night when Class C Holland Patent has a shot at upsetting state-ranked, Class A power Notre Dame, he did the right thing.

 

For that, Jon Snyder should be commended.