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PEOPLE LIKE US by scottbthompsonsr
Stories of Laurens County People
Apr 15, 2010 | 29913 views | 0 0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

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Green Bay Packers LB Erik Walden is unexpected playmaker
by scottbthompsonsr
Jan 03, 2011 | 2116 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Green Bay Packers LB Erik Walden is unexpected playmaker

@Green Bay Packers.com

 

By Eric Baranczyk and Cliff Christl • Press-Gazette correspondents • January 3, 2011

In a ferocious defensive battle between two teams with a storied history of playing hard-nosed defense and with lineups Sunday that included some of the best defenders in the NFL, a run-of-the-mill outside linebacker named Erik Walden made the most plays.

Walden, who had been unemployed for almost a month when the Green Bay Packers signed him in late October, registered a game-high 10 solo tackles and 11 in all, as well as two quarterback sacks and two tackles for losses in a 10-3 victory over the Chicago Bears.

But as is usually the case, there’s more to statistics than just the raw numbers.

The outside backers

In the first meeting this year between the teams, Jay Cutler scrambled for 37 yards. That no doubt was why the Packers often used Walden as a so-called spy on the Bears’ quarterback.

Walden would move into the center of the field five, six yards off the ball to make sure that Cutler wasn’t going to cut the Packers up on the ground. The plan obviously was to pressure Cutler, but also to keep him in the pocket.

In addition, the Bears seemed to be trying to take Clay Matthews out of the game by formation. They motioned tight ends to his side and forced Matthews to widen out, which meant he had a longer distance to go to get to the quarterback. The Bears kept tight ends in to block him and also did a lot of chip blocking on him. So Walden also was a beneficiary of the Bears’ game plan.

But take nothing away from Walden. He ran plays down in the running game. And he’s 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds. He has some strength behind him when he makes a tackle. He might be the fourth player the Packers have used at right outside linebacker this year, but he looks to be a better athlete than Frank Zombo and Brady Poppinga, and maybe Brad Jones as well.

Walden might be a little bit of a liability on the edge against runs coming at him, but he has more speed than those guys to run people down on the other side of the field.

After zeroing in on Matthews, it appears as though he’s getting away from what made him special. He seems to be jumping around more before the snap instead of just lining up and going. Maybe if he wasn’t trying so hard to get into the lineman’s head, he’d have a better burst off the ball

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Packer's Backups Step Up Big In Victory
by scottbthompsonsr
Jan 03, 2011 | 2098 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

@ Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel

Green Bay — For Exhibit A of what the Green Bay Packers are all about on defense, look no further than Erik Walden.

The third-year linebacker from Middle Tennessee State had stints with the Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins and was on the street when the Packers signed him Oct. 31, the same day starting right outside linebacker Brad Jones went on injured reserve.

But if Walden was a stop-gap, someone forgot to tell him.

Brought up to speed by position coach Kevin Greene and plugged into the defense by coordinator Dom Capers after yet another linebacker, Frank Zombo, went down, Walden was unleashed on the unsuspecting Chicago Bears on Sunday.

With a playoff berth on the line for the Packers, Walden might have been the best player on the field. He led the Packers with 11 tackles, sacked Bears quarterback Jay Cutler twice and helped limit tight end Greg Olsen to 29 receiving yards in Green Bay's 10-3 victory at Lambeau Field.

"He did a fantastic job," said bookend linebacker Clay Matthews. "He played a magnificent game. It's hard for a guy to come in halfway through the season, pick up the defense and make an impact. That's what he's doing."

Walden's contributions spoke volumes about the way the Packers operate. Decimated by injuries and challenged by a revolving door at several positions, the defense somehow got better as the season progressed.

Green Bay (10-6) now travels to Philadelphia (10-6) for an NFC wild-card game scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

"It's a combination of the guys upstairs bringing in good players and just being a team," said linebacker Desmond Bishop, who also got his chance because of injuries to players ahead of him. "Whoever gets plugged in there, they wear the same 'G' on their helmets as the rest of us. We approach the game as one."

Cornerback Charles Woodson pointed to Walden's performance as an example of what is expected of backups in Green Bay.

"A lot of guys, probably names you haven't heard this season, have come up big for us," Woodson said. "Walden had a huge day for us. You haven't heard his name a lot this year. He's a new guy on this team, but he stepped up big.

"That has had to happen with the amount of injuries we've had. We haven't had guys that have been out two weeks, three weeks. We've had guys on (injured reserve) who couldn't come back. Backups and practice squad guys who have been called up, they've had to play and play well in order for us to get into the playoffs."

The 25-year-old Walden was just grateful to get a chance.

"It's a blessing to have this opportunity and to be with a great organization and team like this," he said. "Great coaches. Great organization. Personnel. Players. They just welcomed me in and made the adjustment a lot easier."

The Packers finished the regular season with the No. 2 scoring defense in the NFL, behind only Pittsburgh. The Steelers allowed 232 points for a 14.5 per-game average; the Packers allowed 240 points for a 15.0 average.

Green Bay held six opponents to fewer than 10 points and three without a touchdown.

"We always feel like it's on us," Bishop said. "Even if the offense scores a lot of points, the only way to win is to stop them from scoring. That's our job, and we take a lot of pride in it."

Taking their best

The Bears, who already had clinched the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye, played their starters the entire way.

"I respect them for that," said nose tackle B.J. Raji. "Even though they had their spot clinched, it's a football game. And if you love the game of football, you're going to play regardless. They did that, and you've got to tip your hats to them."

The Packers didn't play perfect defense. They allowed Matt Forte to run for 91 yards, including gains of 25 and 21 on consecutive plays. But they harassed Cutler, sacked him six times and intercepted him twice.

"We've still got a bunch of things we can correct, and that's what's exciting," said safety Charlie Peprah, who had one of the interceptions. "As good as we're playing, we've still got tons of things we can do better."

Cutler, who spent much of the afternoon trying to dodge green jerseys, complimented the Packers.

"They kept us out of sync," he said. "We didn't change a lot from last game to this game, and I think they did a really good job of taking away some of our hot reads. They did some really good stuff to us."

When football fans list the top defenses in the league, the Packers aren't a fashionable pick. But maybe it's time for people to start paying attention.

"We should get respect because we've proved it week in and week out," said defensive end Howard Green, claimed on waivers the same day the Packers signed Walden.

"I guess we don't have a whole bunch of flashy guys. But this defense is great. It's a great defense. Great scheme. And it's great to play in. I love it."

Is it the best defense in the NFL?

"I'll leave that to somebody else, but I feel like we can stop any offense," Bishop said. "We've got real confidence. No matter what the other team brings, we're going to go out there and fight. I think we know how good we are."

Slowly but surely, others are finding out.

PLAYER OF THE GAME

You knew the Philadelphia Eagles were going to game plan for linebacker Clay Matthews this week. But now they have someone else to worry about: Erik Walden. The Packers signed the free-agent linebacker on Oct. 27, the same day Brad Jones went on injured reserve. Starting for the injured Frank Zombo at right outside linebacker against the Bears, Walden had a huge day. "He was a monster," said safety Charlie Peprah. Walden led the Packers with 11 tackles and sacked Bears quarterback Jay Cutler twice. He got two other hits on Cutler and also was solid in coverage, helping to limit tight end Greg Olsen to just 29 yards on five receptions (5.8 average). "It's just the beginning, man," Walden said. "It's just one game. I'm just doing my job."

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Erik Walden
by scottbthompsonsr
Jan 03, 2011 | 2242 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Packers' Walden plays like a Pro Bowler in huge win



GREEN BAY, Wis. — Brian Urlacher and Julius Peppers front Chicago’s defense.

The Ravens start with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. The Steelers with Troy Polamalu and James Harrison.

Erik Walden headlined the Packers on Sunday with 11 tackles, two sacks, two tackles for loss and two quarterback hurries — all team highs — in Green Bay’s 10-3 win over the Bears.

“That’s all-star material the way he played out there,” All-Pro cornerback Charles Woodson said.

Walden exemplifies this year’s playoff Packers as much as Urlacher, Lewis and Polamalu stand for the NFL’s three most-heralded defenses. Green Bay is the fourth team in three years for the former Middle Tennessee State linebacker. He had never started a game before the Packers picked him up in late October. He’s starting now only because three outside linebackers in front of him are hurt.

“We’ve had a difficult road we traveled this year, and we’ve met every challenge,” coach Mike McCarthy said.

That includes Chicago (11-5) surprisingly playing its starters the entire way despite being locked into the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs.

“Nothing has come easy for us, and we wouldn’t want it any other way,” McCarthy said.

As hard as it is on the Packers (10-6), who are without five injured defensive starters, their battered defense finds a way to make it even harder on their opponents. Sunday was the sixth time in nine games that Green Bay allowed one or zero touchdowns.

“We’ve done a good job of standing tall,” cornerback Tramon Williams said. “When you go back and talk about the great defenses, it’s always the 1980s Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens. They are not going to talk about the Green Bay Packers.”

They should. The Packers have allowed 240 points this year, second to Pittsburgh’s 232 (and 30 points ahead of the No. 3 Ravens). That’s their second-best defense since the NFL expanded to 16 games in 1978.

“I thought people thought we were pretty good,” Woodson said. “If they don’t, we’ll just keep riding with it.”

And riding the backs of super subs. Fill-in middle linebacker Desmond Bishop had six tackles and knocked down two passes. Charlie Peprah, who had one start in his previous four seasons, intercepted Jay Cutler in the end zone to keep Green Bay down only 3-0 in the third quarter.

“No matter who plugs in there, they wear the same G on their helmet as all of us,” Bishop said.

The avalanche of injuries hasn’t weakened the Packers’ defense. Somehow, it has made them even stronger.

“Someone told us, without adversity, you are not going anywhere,” Bishop said. “We faced a lot of adversity, and that showed us we are fighting for something.”

Sunday, they showed the Bears.

“That’s the way you want to get into the playoffs, beating a rivalry team,” said Nick Collins, who made a game-clinching interception at Green Bay’s 11 in the final 20 seconds. “They played their best and we played our best and we came out on top.

“I’m just glad it’s over. We got our ticket to the dance. Let’s go.”

It’s not over. It’s just beginning; the playoffs start next week in Philadelphia for Green Bay.

“Now the real work begins,” linebacker A.J. Hawk said.

And now the real defenses rise.

The Packers think it’s their's.

“We’re a very dangerous team,” Collins said.

Especially for a No. 6 seed.

“We’re one of the teams that are feared in this whole thing,” Tramon Williams said.

Even the guys who were out of football entirely in mid-October.

“I don’t see why,” Walden said, “we can’t be great and make this run.”

Why not. Erik Walden made an even more unlikely run just to become a Packer.

Assistant sports editor Matt Trowbridge can be reached at 815-987-1383 or mtrowbridge@rrstar.com.
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Erik Walden
by scottbthompsonsr
Jan 03, 2011 | 2146 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Walden Is Hall Of Fame's Featured Player Of The Week

@ Green Bay Packers

Posted 4 hours ago

Attraction Features Exhibit, Drawing For Autographed Ball

Green Bay Packers linebacker Erik Walden finished with a team-high 11 tackles and his first two career sacks en route to the team’s 10-3 win over the Chicago Bears, earning selection as the Packers Hall of Fame Featured Player of the Week. The exhibit contains memorabilia from the game, including a game ball autographed by Walden.

Walden’s first sack came late in the second quarter with Chicago facing third-and-goal from the 4-yard line. After beating left tackle Frank Omiyale around the edge, Walden made the sack on Jay Cutler for an 8-yard loss, forcing a field goal. Late in the third quarter Walden broke through the middle on a delayed blitz to take down Cutler for an 11-yard loss, forcing Chicago to punt.

Walden’s two sacks contributed to the defense’s six total in the game, tying the Packers’ season high. His performance Sunday topped the career-high nine stops he recorded at New England. 

Each week, new items from the previous weekend’s game will be placed in the display to be viewed by visitors to the Hall. Included among the items will be the autographed game ball, which at the end of the week will be awarded randomly to a Hall of Fame visitor who signed up for the free drawing.

Also in the exhibit will be the featured player’s jersey, as well as other potential items such as a face mask, shoes, gloves and other equipment.

The winners of game balls thus far have been Kimberly Ruffolo, Lake In The Hills, Ill. (Week 1, Clay Matthews). Stan Martin, Avondale, Ariz. (Week 2, Jermichael Finley); Amy Johnson, St. Peters, Mo. (Week 3, Aaron Rodgers); Emma Jeffers, Manitowoc, Wis. (Week 4, Charles Woodson); Randy Kraft, Devils Lake, N.D. (Week 5, Brandon Jackson); David Morris, Clifton Forge, Va. (Week 6, Greg Jennings); Brian Schaible, Roanoke, Texas (Week 7, Desmond Bishop); Rebecca Tester, Indian Head, Md. (Week 8, Tramon Williams); Dan Wade, Baraboo, Wis. (Week 9, James Jones); John Burrows, Hinsdale, Mass. (Week 11, Greg Jennings); Dustin Phillips, Glasgow, Kent. (Week 12, Aaron Rodgers); Caleb Bradish, Candler, NC (Week 13, Donald Driver); Brian Kempke, West Bend, Wis. (Week 14, Charlie Peprah); Sally Hanson, Anaheim, Calif. (Week 15, Matt Flynn); and Mark Hauptman, Omaha, Neb. (Week 16, Aaron Rodgers).

The exhibit will continue through the season. Hall of Fame admission is required to see the exhibit, and visitors are able to fill out a raffle form for a chance to win the ball. One raffle ticket will be distributed per each paid admission. Raffle winners will be selected at close of business Saturday and be notified on or before the following Monday. 

The featured player will be selected after each game and Packers.com will feature a photo of the display at the beginning of each week. 

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Unheralded Walden Makes Big Plays for Packers
by scottbthompsonsr
Jan 03, 2011 | 1874 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

For Green Bay Packers newcomer Erik Walden, it was just like old times on Sunday.

The unheralded Walden, making just his second NFL start, helped spark another big defensive effort by the Packers as they clinched a playoff berth with a 10-3 win over Chicago.

Walden had two of Green Bay's six sacks of Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.

"It felt good because I hit him a couple times in college," Walden said.



Walden was a defensive end with small-school Middle Tennessee State when it scored an upset victory on the road against Cutler and Vanderbilt of the mighty Southeastern Conference in 2005.

The Packers had the upper hand on Cutler in Sunday's game, as their constant pressure led to a season-high six sacks for Green Bay and two key interceptions.

"He's a great player, but we knew we had to get to him if we were going to have any success and winning the game today," Walden said.

Packers safety Charlie Peprah picked off an errant pass by Cutler on third-and-long in the end zone with Chicago in position to build on a 3-0 halftime lead.

After Green Bay scored 10 straight points to take the lead, the Bears mounted a final drive that started at their 2-yard line with less than 5 minutes left.

Chicago reached the Packers' 32 in the closing seconds before Cutler overthrew receiver Devin Hester down the field for a game-clinching interception by safety Nick Collins.

"We knew it was a do-or-die situation for the team, and I think that's the way everybody played," Packers cornerback Charles Woodson said. "They played with that mentality today and played down to the wire and made a lot of big plays. A lot of guys, probably names you haven't heard all season, came up big for us today."

Woodson singled out the performance by Walden, calling it "all-star material the way he played out there today."

The Packers signed Walden off the street at midseason, and the former sixth-round draft pick by Dallas in 2008 has been needed down the stretch with Green Bay's injury-decimated defense. He is one of four players who have started at right outside linebacker this season.

"We've done a very good job getting players ready to play in a short period of time," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.

------

STINGY DEFENSE: Despite having a league-high 15 players on injured reserve, including three defensive starters, Green Bay allowed only 240 points, or an average of 15 points per game. The Packers ranked second in the league, behind Pittsburgh's average of 14.5.

"It's not beyond belief," Woodson said. "I think it says a lot about who Ted (Thompson, general manager) has brought in here as far as free agents, guys who have been brought in for practice-squad purposes who have had to play. A lot of that plays into the scouting -- knowing what guys can bring to the table if they have to play -- and we have had a lot of those guys who have had to play because of all the injuries we've had. Give credit to the coaching staff."

The only other season the Packers allowed fewer points since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978 was their Super Bowl-winning season in 1996, when they had a league-leading average of 13.1 points allowed.

------

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KENNY MARTIN
by scottbthompsonsr
Oct 02, 2010 | 2127 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

KENNY MARTIN

Building a Better World



 There's a new governor in this state.  You may know him as the pool guy or the father of some pretty good athletes.  Now and for the next year, you will know him as the Governor of the Georgia District of Civitan International.   He is as old as life and as young as the rainbow, as endless as time.  His hands reach out in service to others.  His ears hear the cry of children.  His heart beats for every friend and bleeds for every injury to humanity.  He is a Civitan. And, his name is Kenny Martin.

 Kenny was born to be a Civitan.  Actually, he was born before the Dublin Club was founded in 1955.  His father, Hubert Martin, was the club's fifth president and a Lt. Governor of the South Georgia District.  Kenny grew up in East Dublin and went to school in Dublin before returning to the Rams of East Laurens High School.  It was on the East side where Kenny got his first taste of leadership.  He served as his senior class president and helped to facilitate the integration of East Laurens and B.D. Perry High School.    Just three years out of high school, Martin made his first venture into politics, winning a seat on the East Dublin City Council, a feat which made him the youngest city council member in the history of the county.  That record didn't last long.  Clifton Wilkinson set the record two years later when he was elected to the Dublin council at the age of 20.

 Kenny devoted most of his time to build a life and home for his family, but found time to serve others as a Mason and a Shriner.  When his law enforcement career ended,  Kenny began to look for other ways of serving.  He didn't look far, remembering  all the times that his father and Elbert Mullis, known to many as the "grandfather of all Civitans in the South Georgia District," would meet together at his house working on Civitan matters.  Kenny also remembered going with his father and other Civitans out to the old Brewton School to salvage some unused chalk boards which the county donated to the School of Hope in Dublin behind Saxon Street School.  The school, whose first teacher was Mrs. Shirley Miller, was sponsored by the Civitans to help educate disabled children.

 "Most people are asked to join the Civitan club. It was different with me. I wanted to get in,"  Martin fondly recalled.  Fellow deputy Vernon DeLoach and Kenny's  Civitan role model Elbert Mullis helped him to join the club in 1988.  

 To Martin, being a Civitan means a chance to give back to his community.  "We have a strong club with a good mix of ages with members from their twenties to their eighties," Martin observed.   In fact, the Dublin club, in a constant seesaw contest with Warner Robins club, is now the largest in Georgia.  Kenny feels a sense of fulfillment when he and club members build a wheel chair ramp for the disabled, host an Easter egg hunt for special needs children, or host a fair, the club's biggest fund raiser, all in the name of helping children, who cannot help themselves.

 Speaking of the Fall Fair, which will be held on October 19-23, Kenny Martin has headed the fair committee for the last sixteen years, going back to the old days when it was held in the rear of the Ag Center.  It was a role groomed for him by Mullis.  "Robert Drew helps get the building and grounds set up every year and I handle the business end of it," said Martin, who can always rely on fifty-plus year member James Hudson to handle the ticket booths, Treasurer John Simpson to count the proceeds,  Wick Cochran to stock the concession stand with donated products, and every other member to step up and help where needed.

 Martin served his first year as President of the Dublin club in 1997, but two years ago when a president-elect took another job and the club needed a replacement with experience, Kenny Martin couldn't say no.  Old cries for him to run for District Governor by long time leaders of the old South Georgia District were heaped on him.    With all of his children out of school, Martin succumbed to the pleas and threw his hat in the ring.  "At the time, I didn't know I would have any opposition, there is usually not any," Martin recalled.  But, at the 2009 annual convention, Kenny Martin was elected Governor of the Georgia District. He is the first Dublin member to attain that honor, although three former members have served as Governor of the South Georgia District. 

 Kenny took office on October 1st.  In the six weeks leading up to his taking office, Martin has been busy, very busy.  He attended and helped manage the district convention, only two weeks before traveling to the International Convention in Cancun, Mexico.  Since  returning home, Kenny has spent  the last three weeks traveling all over the state attending and speaking at officer installation banquets.

 This year, 2010-2011, the International Civitan Club's motto is "Pay it Forward."  "Every civic club's mission is to pay it forward," Martin contended.  It is Martin's goal and the club's goal to encourage every single member, there's 1150 of these public servants in Georgia, to "pay it forward"  on an individual basis to help even more people in our community and around the world, including children in the International Civitan Research Hospital Center in Birmingham.

 One of the Dublin club's goals for the upcoming year is the revitalization of the Special Olympics programs in Laurens County.  Citing that the Olympics were once the club's most important event, Martin would like the games and community support rejuvenated.

 "There are plenty of opportunities to help people out.  There are a lot of people hurting with the economy and the shape it is in.  You always think you have it bad until you look around and find somebody else who has it worse than you do," Martin remarked.  "You don't have to look far to find somebody in need," he concluded. 

 So, if you would like to help disabled children and do unto others as you would have them do  unto you, find a Civitan and ask for a membership application.  Then, you too can help build a better world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BARNEY HESTER
by scottbthompsonsr
Sep 25, 2010 | 2455 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Hester reaches milestone with blowout win

- mlough@macon.com
@The Macon Telegraph
 



 
Barney Hester has watched his team dismantle many opponents through the years.

And Tattnall Square turned in a very familiar performance in rolling past Dominion Christian 41-8 on Friday night to give Hester his 300th career win.

The suspense was over early on as to whether the Trojans would deliver the milestone win as well as satisfy the homecoming crowd.

Hester had somewhat successfully downplayed talk of the accomplishment, until gameday and The Telegraph hit the driveway with a big feature on the impending milestone.

“I hadn’t talked a lot about it, because I don’t deal with that stuff,” he said. “Then a big, big article comes out, you get up on Friday morning and see your dang mug shot on the page, it kind of brought it to light.

“I got several messages (Friday) and that’s the one thing I said, Let’s get this thing over with and just win.”

As the final seconds ticked off on the humid night, Tattnall’s coaches congratulated Hester, and the Trojans surrounded their coach as he tried to make his way to the handshake line.

At midfield, while thanking all of his former players and their parents, Hester was given a shiny pennant that had been produced with a picture of him and a listing of his accomplishments. He introduced his family and got a kiss from Mom, his mother Shirley coming up from Dublin for the first time in three or four years. And as that postgame huddle broke, an odd sight for a Friday night — a cake.

“Coach Ratliff asked me this week what I wanted to do about it,” Hester said of athletics director and assistant coach Jeff Ratliff during his talk to players and fans. “I said, ‘Coach, do what you got to do.’ But this is pretty neat.”

Equally neat for Hester and the Trojans was the ease with which they disposed of Dominion Christian, which Hester said was down a few starters because of injury.

“They scored 33 points on Stratford,” Hester said of his rival’s 55-33 win last week over the Knights, who were within 20-18 after a quarter. “It was close for a while.”

The Trojans went 43 yards on 8 plays to score on their first possession, Andrew Layson going in from 2. Tattnall fumbled on its second possession, sent Dominion Christian backwards 22 yards, then scored on a 4-play, 30-yard drive that took less than 90 seconds, Andrew Parker getting the honors from the 2.

The Knights gave the ball back two plays later deep, and John Rader kept from 10 yards out on the first play.

Dominion Christian followed its initial first down with an interception by Gahrett Gaylord on the second play, and Rader rolled left and dumped it to Ryan Mosley, who got a block from Lance Manning and finished off the 69-yard touchdown for a 27-0 lead on the final play of the first quarter.

Big junior Arthur Williams, a 5-foot-10, 227-pounder listed as a noseguard and wearing No. 62, followed a 3-yard gain with a rumbling, tackle-breaking 41-yard score to finish a 5-play, 68-yard drive.

Tattnall followed another three-and-out with a three-play drive, Hunter Lanier and Williams getting 56 yards on the first two plays and Conner Alford going in from the 1 for a 41-0 lead with 5:48 remaining in the first half.

Dominion Christian lost 65 yards on 13 rushes while Tattnall had 27 carries for 246 yards in the first 24 minutes. The Knights finished with minus-13 rushing and the Trojans had 324 yards on the ground.

“I thought we took control of the line of scrimmage,” Hester said. “We probably could have thrown it more. All these folks would like me to throw it more, but we win pretty good without throwing it a lot.”

A well-rested Parker — the starters didn’t break a sweat in the second half, at least not from playing — was naturally happy to be part of a team that handed Hester yet another milestone.

“It really wasn’t that big a discussion out on the field,” he said. “But in the locker room, we all talked about it, making sure that we got it for him. We wanted to be the class that got it.”

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MICHAEL HALL
by scottbthompsonsr
Sep 25, 2010 | 2360 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

GSU safety Michael Hall enjoys second chance at game

By Ken Sugiura

 

@ The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Photos @ Georgia State University

 

 

Michael Hall arrived at Georgia State to learn to heal injuries, not inflict them.

 

Serious and bright, Hall enrolled in the fall of 2007, when a football team at the school was merely an idea. Hall had helped his high school claim a state championship as a senior, but he put the game in his past. He wanted to become a doctor.

 

But football called, and Hall eventually answered. Four autumns removed from his previous football season, Georgia State's aspiring physical therapist also is a punishing member of the special teams.

 

Looking back to when he first learned GSU would have a team, Hall said, "It never occurred to me that I'd be in this situation today, actually on the team."

 

Hall likely will be on the field plenty for the Panthers' game Saturday at Campbell, the team's fourth game in school history. He plays on three of the four special-teams units and plays safety on some passing-down packages.

 

 

"He's a great tackler, and he can play," safety Brandon Jones said. Also, "He uses a lot of medical terms and a lot of big words."

 

Hall arrived at Georgia State from Dublin intent on experiencing college life. The first person in his immediate family to attend a four-year college, he pledged a fraternity and joined a variety of student organizations. He worked part-time jobs and volunteered. And while he cried while watching football as a freshman, his football days were behind him. He had helped Dublin High to a share of the 2006 Class AA championship -- the Irish tied with Charlton County High in the final -- but even when Georgia State announced in April 2008 that it would field a team, he wasn't interested.

 

Hall, the younger of two children of a single mother who had joined the Army to support her family, was determined to follow the path he had laid out for himself.

 

"He has always been shooting for the stars from day one," said Hall's mother, Debra Cooper.

 

But the more he learned about the team, the more he became interested. He had known about coach Bill Curry, for example, because Hall was an Alabama fan, and Curry had coached there.

 

Last fall, Hall went to an open tryout and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds despite having hardly exercised since coming to college. He was offered a spot on the team, and later Curry offered him a half-scholarship.

 

"For the most part, I did feel like I was reneging on what I came here for, I really did," Hall said. "But I love the game, so it's kind of like, what do you say?"

 

Hall has been surprised by football's time demands, but it hasn't stopped him from taking 18 hours and also helping charter a campus group that seeks to support exercise-science students. Hall, who holds a 3.3 GPA as an exercise-science major, compensates by typically getting about five hours of sleep.

 

He is on track to graduate by the end of next summer and plans to apply to Emory and Georgia State's physical-therapy schools and Emory's nutrition program for his doctorate. He is a junior and has a season remaining, but is keeping quiet about playing next year.

 

Hall has relished the laughing and joking with teammates and the chance to showcase his hard work in front of thousands. On Georgia State's first kickoff in the opener -- Hall's first play in four years -- he outran teammates to make the first tackle in school history. He calls playing football again "a blessing."

 

Some decisions, it would seem, are worth reversing.

 

"I'm not old or anything, but to sit out of something for that long, you would think that you would think that you wouldn't be able to bounce back, but I bounced back," Hall said. "I'm surprised."

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DEMARYIUS THOMAS
by scottbthompsonsr
Sep 20, 2010 | 2183 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Demaryius Thomas, The NFL's Best Kept Secret

By

(Senior Writer) on September 17, 2010
03demaryius_crop_340x234 Demaryius Thomas was the first wide receiver selected in the 2010 NFL Draft

Being overshadowed by Marshall is understandable enough, but I doubt people would really know without looking it up that Thomas was actually drafted ahead of both Bryant and Tebow back in April.

When the Broncos traded back multiple times in April's draft, I thought for sure they would snag Oklahoma State product Dez Bryant with the 23rd pick.  After all, head coach Josh McDaniels had nothing but good things to say about Bryant in a pre-draft interview, and it appeared as though he would be a steal with the pick the Broncos had. 

When they jumped in front of the Ravens and traded picks with the Patriots, I knew something was up.

When I read the Tweet saying the pick was Demaryius Thomas, I was stunned, to put it lightly.  Why would the Broncos take Thomas over Bryant at this point in the draft?  Bryant would have been an absolute bargain, and Thomas had been injured leading all the way up to the draft.

I went back to my draft evaluations, pondering the pick. 

I looked at scouting reports of the two players, and tried to determine why the Broncos had taken the lesser known Thomas over the big name. It became very clear why Denver made Thomas the top receiver selected in the 2010 NFL Draft, and he's turned into one of the best kept secrets in the NFL.

83612835_crop_358x243 Thomas made a ton of big plays in his time at Georgia Tech

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

At Georgia Tech, Thomas had a career year in his junior season, catching 46 passes for 1,154 yards and eight touchdowns.  For those not in the know, that's an average of over 25 yards per reception.  What makes Thomas' production last year at Georgia Tech even more amazing? 

The Yellow Jackets run the triple option as their offensive set. 

It is heavily reliant upon having a running quarterback as well as a powerful running back.  Wide receivers are most certainly not supposed to be productive in this type of offense.

As we saw with Calvin Johnson, Demaryius Thomas is simply a special player, and he made the most of his opportunities.  Despite Tech averaging over 300 yards rushing per game, he was still able to put together a 1,000 yard season at the wide receiver position, and that is nothing short of stunning.

Still, there were questions surrounding Thomas.  Would his foot be able to stay healthy?  Would he be able to learn how to run NFL routes?

Some assets that Thomas possesses, coaches simply cannot teach at this level. 

The first asset Thomas has that not many receivers have coming out of college is his fantastic blocking ability.  Coming out of the triple option offense, Thomas was asked to block a lot, and he's well versed in that regard already, and that's one less thing coaches have to worry about. 

98633844_crop_358x243 Thomas realized a life long dream when he was drafted by the Denver Broncos

Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Instead of coaching blocking, the Broncos can focus on making him a better receiver.

Another asset is his intelligence, and I'll tag humility along with it.  To say Thomas grew up in a bad situation is putting it lightly.  At the age of 13, Thomas' grandmother was sentenced to 40 years in jail for drug dealing, and his mother was sentenced 20 for being involved with it financially.  Demaryius moved around with some of his relatives, first with his grandmother's youngest daughter.  He finally settled in with his grandmother's oldest daughter and her husband who is a preacher.

Thomas said when he made the final move, he decided to start living his life the right way, and said that he became a Christian and vowed to always stick to his word.  He said one of the things he told his mother was that someday, he would go pro in some professional sport, whether it was basketball or football.  That promise was fulfilled when the Broncos selected Thomas with the 22nd pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.

I say Thomas has intelligence, and that is backed up with facts.  Thomas had the 10th highest wonderlic score of any player at the NFL scouting combine with a score of 34, which is well above the average for a wide receiver.  His humility is very easily detected in his demeanor.  He is a quiet player who lets his play do the talking. 

Another thing coaches can't teach?  Speed. 

02demaryius_crop_358x243 Broncos fans are excited to see Thomas on the field for the first time since Training Camp

Thomas reportedly was running a 40 yard dash in the 4.36-4.38 range prior to his foot injury.  At 6'3" 229 pounds, the only other receivers in the NFL who might possess that kind of size/speed ratio are Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Calvin Johnson.  It's almost unheard of.

Certainly, Thomas is an interesting athletic specimen, but he's having trouble staying on the field.  He missed quite a bit of the Broncos' OTA's this offseason, and when he finally got to camp, he re-injured his foot at the Invesco Field practice (on a touchdown catch, no less). 

When Thomas finally came back from that minor tweak, he tweaked his foot again in practice and was held out not just the entire preseason, but he was inactive for the Broncos' week one matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Thomas is again getting healthy, and hopefully the Broncos have allowed enough time this time around for his foot to fully heal.  He has been a full participant in practice this week, but he admitted earlier on that he still might be a couple of weeks away.  Head coach Josh McDaniels was more optimistic about Thomas' return, giving hope that the rookie could possibly suit up for his first game this weekend when the Broncos host the Seattle Seahawks.

Whatever the outcome, the Broncos simply need to wait until Thomas is at 100 percent. 

He is going to be an asset to this team when he is fully healthy, and outside of his broken foot in the offseason, Thomas had absolutely no trouble staying healthy at Georgia Tech and is not by any means an injury prone receiver, and hopefully it doesn't become that way either.

What the Broncos lost in Brandon Marshall, they gained back and then some in the talent of Demaryius Thomas.  He was absolutely dominant for the most part at camp, and caught two touchdown passes in scrimmage action at the Invesco Field practice before he re-aggravated the foot injury. 

Still, nobody in the NFL seems to be talking about him. 

That's good news for the Broncos, who would just as soon keep Thomas one of the NFL's best kept secrets and unleash him at the expense of an unexpecting opponent.

Thomas was the first receiver selected for a reason.  This week might be the first that NFL fans get to experience exactly why.

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DEMARYIUS THOMAS
by scottbthompsonsr
Sep 20, 2010 | 2478 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Demaryius Thomas, The NFL's Best Kept Secret

By

(Senior Writer) on September 17, 2010
03demaryius_crop_340x234 Demaryius Thomas was the first wide receiver selected in the 2010 NFL Draft

Being overshadowed by Marshall is understandable enough, but I doubt people would really know without looking it up that Thomas was actually drafted ahead of both Bryant and Tebow back in April.

When the Broncos traded back multiple times in April's draft, I thought for sure they would snag Oklahoma State product Dez Bryant with the 23rd pick.  After all, head coach Josh McDaniels had nothing but good things to say about Bryant in a pre-draft interview, and it appeared as though he would be a steal with the pick the Broncos had. 

When they jumped in front of the Ravens and traded picks with the Patriots, I knew something was up.

When I read the Tweet saying the pick was Demaryius Thomas, I was stunned, to put it lightly.  Why would the Broncos take Thomas over Bryant at this point in the draft?  Bryant would have been an absolute bargain, and Thomas had been injured leading all the way up to the draft.

I went back to my draft evaluations, pondering the pick. 

I looked at scouting reports of the two players, and tried to determine why the Broncos had taken the lesser known Thomas over the big name. It became very clear why Denver made Thomas the top receiver selected in the 2010 NFL Draft, and he's turned into one of the best kept secrets in the NFL.

83612835_crop_358x243 Thomas made a ton of big plays in his time at Georgia Tech

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

At Georgia Tech, Thomas had a career year in his junior season, catching 46 passes for 1,154 yards and eight touchdowns.  For those not in the know, that's an average of over 25 yards per reception.  What makes Thomas' production last year at Georgia Tech even more amazing? 

The Yellow Jackets run the triple option as their offensive set. 

It is heavily reliant upon having a running quarterback as well as a powerful running back.  Wide receivers are most certainly not supposed to be productive in this type of offense.

As we saw with Calvin Johnson, Demaryius Thomas is simply a special player, and he made the most of his opportunities.  Despite Tech averaging over 300 yards rushing per game, he was still able to put together a 1,000 yard season at the wide receiver position, and that is nothing short of stunning.

Still, there were questions surrounding Thomas.  Would his foot be able to stay healthy?  Would he be able to learn how to run NFL routes?

Some assets that Thomas possesses, coaches simply cannot teach at this level. 

The first asset Thomas has that not many receivers have coming out of college is his fantastic blocking ability.  Coming out of the triple option offense, Thomas was asked to block a lot, and he's well versed in that regard already, and that's one less thing coaches have to worry about. 

98633844_crop_358x243 Thomas realized a life long dream when he was drafted by the Denver Broncos

Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Instead of coaching blocking, the Broncos can focus on making him a better receiver.

Another asset is his intelligence, and I'll tag humility along with it.  To say Thomas grew up in a bad situation is putting it lightly.  At the age of 13, Thomas' grandmother was sentenced to 40 years in jail for drug dealing, and his mother was sentenced 20 for being involved with it financially.  Demaryius moved around with some of his relatives, first with his grandmother's youngest daughter.  He finally settled in with his grandmother's oldest daughter and her husband who is a preacher.

Thomas said when he made the final move, he decided to start living his life the right way, and said that he became a Christian and vowed to always stick to his word.  He said one of the things he told his mother was that someday, he would go pro in some professional sport, whether it was basketball or football.  That promise was fulfilled when the Broncos selected Thomas with the 22nd pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.

I say Thomas has intelligence, and that is backed up with facts.  Thomas had the 10th highest wonderlic score of any player at the NFL scouting combine with a score of 34, which is well above the average for a wide receiver.  His humility is very easily detected in his demeanor.  He is a quiet player who lets his play do the talking. 

Another thing coaches can't teach?  Speed. 

02demaryius_crop_358x243 Broncos fans are excited to see Thomas on the field for the first time since Training Camp

Thomas reportedly was running a 40 yard dash in the 4.36-4.38 range prior to his foot injury.  At 6'3" 229 pounds, the only other receivers in the NFL who might possess that kind of size/speed ratio are Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Calvin Johnson.  It's almost unheard of.

Certainly, Thomas is an interesting athletic specimen, but he's having trouble staying on the field.  He missed quite a bit of the Broncos' OTA's this offseason, and when he finally got to camp, he re-injured his foot at the Invesco Field practice (on a touchdown catch, no less). 

When Thomas finally came back from that minor tweak, he tweaked his foot again in practice and was held out not just the entire preseason, but he was inactive for the Broncos' week one matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Thomas is again getting healthy, and hopefully the Broncos have allowed enough time this time around for his foot to fully heal.  He has been a full participant in practice this week, but he admitted earlier on that he still might be a couple of weeks away.  Head coach Josh McDaniels was more optimistic about Thomas' return, giving hope that the rookie could possibly suit up for his first game this weekend when the Broncos host the Seattle Seahawks.

Whatever the outcome, the Broncos simply need to wait until Thomas is at 100 percent. 

He is going to be an asset to this team when he is fully healthy, and outside of his broken foot in the offseason, Thomas had absolutely no trouble staying healthy at Georgia Tech and is not by any means an injury prone receiver, and hopefully it doesn't become that way either.

What the Broncos lost in Brandon Marshall, they gained back and then some in the talent of Demaryius Thomas.  He was absolutely dominant for the most part at camp, and caught two touchdown passes in scrimmage action at the Invesco Field practice before he re-aggravated the foot injury. 

Still, nobody in the NFL seems to be talking about him. 

That's good news for the Broncos, who would just as soon keep Thomas one of the NFL's best kept secrets and unleash him at the expense of an unexpecting opponent.

Thomas was the first receiver selected for a reason.  This week might be the first that NFL fans get to experience exactly why.

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