September 2007

Kanata, ON — Football fans were treated with a thrilling game in week 2 of the OFL season as the Irish Stout narrowly bested the French Foreign Legion 19-13 in the OFL’s first ever overtime game.

The Stout, playing with John Taylor (not the former San Francisco wide receiver), in place of plague-ridden Sean Hope and still without Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year Kirk Ireland, who was out with a sprained back incurred by hauling large bags of money to the bank, sputtered on offense and allowed their first points of the year on defense.

The Legion squad featured returning cannon-armed QB Louis Aubin and substituted injured defensive end Rami Al-Tayeche as needed.

The game started slowly, but on their second possession, speedy slotback Bogdan Nicolescu scored on a Peter Arseneau TD pass. He then hauled in the PAT to give the Legion a 7-0 lead. The Stout responded with a long hook-and-go TD from Paul McRae to Bevan Watkiss, who trotted into the endzone behind Legion defender Hongrui Dong. A McRae to Murdock PAT tied the contest at 7-7. Not to be denied this day, the Legion scored to take the lead in the late going, with Aubin hitting Peter Arseneau for the go ahead TD. The PAT failed, however, and the Legion led 13-7. The Stout bore down on defense and Watkiss recorded two interceptions, his third and fourth of the season, to stop Legion drives.

Uncharacteristically, the Stout failed to move the ball and on the penultimate possession of the game and the Legion drove the ball into Stout territory. Arseneau gathered in an Aubin pass and started for the endzone and the winning points, only to be stopped at the 1 yard line. Then, like King Arthur pulling Excalibur out of the Rock, McRae connected with Watkiss on the longest touchdown pass in OFL history, a 99-yard bomb that tied the game and left the crowd speechless. This may have been because the crowd was actually attending an Entrust BBQ, but nonetheless an exciting moment. Peter Arseneau, seemingly everywhere on defense, broke up the conversion pass to Murdock. Thus the stage was set for the first overtime game in OFL history.

After making up the rules on sidelines, the teams returned to the field. Under the newly minted rules (about 30 seconds old at this point), each team gets possession of the ball at midfield and 2 plays to score. If they score, they are allowed to try the conversion. Each team gets an equal number of possessions until one team gets ahead. The Legion lined up for the first possession and completed a short pass into Stout territory. On the next play, the Aubin pass to Arseneau was intercepted by Dan Murdock, snuffing out the drive. A hushed silence fell over the crowd, either in anticipation of the excitement to come or because they had run out of hot dogs. After McRae bounced a short pass to Murdock into the turf, the veteran QB calmly lined up and lofted a strike to Watkiss in the left corner of the endzone which Watkiss caught and held on to despite the best efforts of Arseneau to dislodge the ball. A jubilant Stout celebrated while defiant Legionnaire Bogdan Nicolescu made a Namath-like guarantee of victory next week.

September 20, 2007
Stout 19, Legion 13

Nicolescu    1 TD, 1 PAT
Arseneau     1 TD
Watkiss      3 TD
Murdock      1 PAT

McRae        3 TD, 1 PAT
Aubin        1 TD, 2 INT
Arseneau     1 TD, 1 PAT
Dong         1 INT
Watkiss      2 INT
Murdock      1 INT

Ben Roethlisberger vs the Buffalo Bills
Many could be considered more deserving, but I couldn’t resist doing Ben Roethlisberger in the Steeler’s Throwback uniform. Ben was 21 of 34 for 242 yards and a touchdown. He also threw his first interception of the season, but overall, it looks like Ben is back to his 2004-2005 form. If he can continue to convert on third down, the running game remains effective, and the defense exerts the kind of pressure it did on Sunday, this could be a special season for the Steelers.

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Kanata, ON — On a beautiful day for football at a packed Entrust Cryptography Field, the 2007 OFL season kicked off with a titanic showdown between the Irish Stout and French Foreign Legion. The defending league champion Stout had little trouble with the Legion, besting them 27-0 behind 4 Paul McRae touchdown passes.

Both teams retooled their lineups from last year. The Stout returned Bevan Watkiss, Dan Murdock, and Sean Hope, but were without All-OFL receiver and defensive back Kirk Ireland, who was busy pricing yachts. The Legion squad of Peter Arseneau, Hongrui Dong, Rami Al-Tayeche, and Bogdan Nicolescu featured three rookies that, as it turned out, were able to curse dropped passes and missed opportunities in at least six different languages.

After winning the toss, the Legion elected to defer, thus assuring themselves of the last possession of the game. Uncharacteristically, McRae missed his first 3 throws and the Stout punted. “Why that’s two more incompletions than I threw the entire preseason,” he quipped. Legion QB Arseneau, feeling gutsy, threw into the teeth of the Stout defense and was intercepted by giant hominid Bevan Watkiss, who lumbered into Legion territory like something out of the Patterson-Gimlin film. From there, McRae hit veteran wideout Sean Hope with a touchdown in the left corner of the end zone and followed this with a conversion pass to Watkiss for a 7-0 lead.

On their next possession, the Legion were again victimized by Watkiss as he picked off an errant Arseneau throw. McRae quickly hit Hope for another touchdown and Murdock with the conversion. The Stout lead swelled to 14-0.

The pesky Legion, however, did not wilt, driving to the Stout 2 yard line but were unable to convert. The Stout returned the favor as McRae threw an interception to Dong deep in Legion territory. The Legion could not convert on their good fortune and the Stout scored twice again missing one conversion.

Trailing 27-0, the Legion changed quarterbacks on their final drive but Dong was unable to penetrate the Stout defense, the march being snuffed out by a Hope interception.

A raw but athletic squad, the Legion is sure to improve as the season goes on but now, as last year, the Stout stand atop the OFL ziggurat.

September 14, 2007
Stout 27, Legion 0

Hope         2 TD, 1 PAT
Watkiss      1 TD, 1 PAT
Murdock      1 TD, 1 PAT

McRae      4 TD, 1 INT
Arseneau   3 INT
Dong       1 INT

Watkiss    3 INT
Hope       1 INT
Dong       1 INT 

Sports Illustrated recently ran a bit on The Five Most Confusing Football Rules. As usual, I feel compelled to reply:

1. Illegal Touching

If a player touches the goal line or goes in the end zone, he is not allowed to touch the ball on a punt. If he does, it is Illegal Touching as if the ball went in the end zone.

2. Illegal Block

Blocking from behind is illegal, simple as that. A lower block behind the back is called clipping. If the player’s shoulder pads are in front of the player he is hitting, the block is considered legal.

3. Illegal substitution

The offense sends out 11 players to the huddle. The defense is then allowed to substitute. However, neither the offense or defense are allowed to have more than 11 players in the huddle in an effort to disguise their intentions.

4. The Tuck Rule

This is a pretty tired one. If the QB starts to pass and then pulls the ball into his body, it is still considered a pass and no fumble can occur. However, if the QB successfully ‘tucks’ the ball into his body and continues to have possession of it, if he loses the ball it is considered a fumble. The Patriots love this rule.

5. Eligible Receivers

There are only 5 possible eligible receivers on offense, 6 if the QB is in the shotgun. The other 5 lineman are not eligible. That’s just the way it is. Normally this is clearly designated by the player numbers (O-linemen are numbers 50-79). Sometimes, the offense might want to use an 6th or 7th offensive lineman as an extra blocker. Technically, this player is lining up as an eligible receiver and this fact must be communicated to the defense.

The offense must have at least 7 players on the line of scrimmage. Of these 7, only the two players on the outside ends are eligible receivers. If the offense lines up with more than 7 players on the line, they are giving up the right to throw to the players not positioned at either end of the line. The receivers “covering the tackles” has become confusing because the actual names for the receivers have fallen into disuse. As mentioned, there are five lineman. You must have an eligible receiver “covering” the lineman on each side. Normally, the “tight end” lines up right next to one of the tackles and a wide receiver (which used to commonly known as the “split end” would line up on the line of scrimmage, but far away from the tackle. All other eligible receivers can NOT be on the line of scrimmage. The wide receiver on the side of the tight end is a yard off the line and called the “flanker”. Any receiver than lines up a yard off the line between the tackle and the split end is usually called the “slot” receiver. If the slot receiver accidentally lines up on the line of scrimmage, that player is ineligible to catch a pass.

Now for my pet peeve. “The ground can’t cause a fumble”. Not true! The actual interpretation of this rule is that when a player is in possession of the ball, gets tackled and hits the ground, if the ball comes loose it is not a fumble. Not because the ground can’t cause a fumble but because the split second that player hit the ground, he is considered down. If the player is not touched by an opposing player and falls and the ball comes loose, that IS considered a fumble.

Randy Moss

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Randy Moss takes the honors this week with his 9 catches for 183 yards and a touchdown. Tom Brady and Randy Moss look to make a lot of NFL defenses worry this season. Of course, how long is it going to take before Moss starts to cause trouble in the locker room? Maybe he has finally found an organization where he understands that he is part of a team and the emphasis is on winning, not his personal agenda. Randy is one of the best pure athletes ever to suit up in the NFL and it would be great to see him change his attitude and become part of a successful franchise.

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