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20 posts from September 2007

September 25, 2007

LIVE Q&A until 8

Ask your questions for Andre and I.

We're both here until 8 to answer anything you've got.

Predictions can be dangerous

Before Boyd Anderson's visit to Lakeland last week, I sat down to write my prediction column.

The Miami Herald makes its prep writers, Andre C. Fernandez (Dade) and Bob Emanuel Jr. (Broward), publish our picks on the first day games are played on a given week.

I knew Lakeland returned just four starters and had seen Boyd Anderson defeat two very good teams. So, naturally, I went with the proven commodity (to me) over the unknown. I picked Boyd Anderson to win 26-24.

I got to Lakeland and saw the Dreadnaughts play. Wow. I was wrong. I ventured down to the sideline in the fourth quarter. The press box is on Lakeland's side of the field, so naturally that is where I went to take the stats for the conclusion of the game. Big mistake!

The Lakeland players read my prediction. Without them knowing who I was, they kept asking each other, "Where's Bob?" One of my media cohorts pointed me out. I had players from Lakeland coming up to me the remainder of the game. Most were good-natured about it. A sampling of the comments:

"Hey Bob. How's it going?"
"Hey Bob. Look at the scoreboard."
"Bob, think we're still going to lose?"
"Oh, you're Bob. Your prediction was a little off."
"Bob, what's up with us losing?"

I only had one player who took offense to my prediction. I think he desired to inflict some sort of physical harm on me until his teammates and aforementioned media cohort told him to buzz off.

Yes, predictions can be dangerous.

September 24, 2007

Booker T. QB could be out for season

Just got off the phone with Booker T. Washington coach Tim "Ice" Harris who told me the ACL injury sustained by quarterback Sancho McDonald could force his team, ranked No. 1 in Class 4A and in the top 20 nationally by all three major polls, to play the remainder of its season with a backup.

McDonald, a 2-star rated quarterback by Rivals, will get the results of an MRI later this afternoon according to Harris. But Harris didn't sound very optimistic about the injury. Torrance Moise, a junior, came in relief of McDonald in BTW's 47-0 win over Fort Lauderdale and was 4 for 4 for 96 yards and a touchdown. He'll start Friday when BTW (2-0) takes on Carol City at 7:30 p.m. at Traz Powell Stadium.

Harris said his son Brandon Harris, a 4-star receiver/cornerback, could potentially see some snaps at quarterback this season if needed. Stay tuned for an update later tonight.

- Manny Navarro

September 20, 2007

Football in Lakeland


i am completely impressed by the football operation here in Lakeland.

For those of you who have never venutred north to the land of the lakes, it is simply amazing. The football stadium rivals some small colleges. Lockhart may have a slight edge in seating and layout, but this place has a scoreboard with video. Yes, that's right. Video! The scoreboard has video. Top that Orange Bowl!

As far as a media standpoint, this may be one of the top media friendly organizations in the state. There were seats marked and laid out for local media and visiting media, programs complete with depth charts, food and drinks in the press box. They make you feel like a visiting dignitary here.

Amazing. Tonight will be a pleasure to work.

September 19, 2007

Broward Volleyball Rankings - Week 4

It's Wednesday, and as promised, here are the rankings for Browards volleyball teams.

1. Cardinal Gibbons, 2. St. Thomas Aquinas, 3. Cypress Bay, 4. Coral Springs Christian, 5. Nova, 6. Hollywood Hills, 7. Pine Crest, 8. Pines Charter, 9. Archbishop McCarthy, 10. Northeast.

So the top two stay the same, no surprises there. I was tempted to move Coral Springs Christian ahead of Cypress Bay. The Crusaders are undefeated and they've beaten every quality opponent they faced, but Cypress put together a good showing at the East Coast Challenge. Undefeated Nova is still fifth, and given the way Hills played against Aquinas, I could not drop them. I moved Northeast into the top ten after Calvary dropped two of their past three.

Just missing the cut - North Broward, Calvary, Highlands.

Next week the district schedule heats up with Northeast taking on St. Thomas and Hollywood Hills, and Pine Crest facing North Broward Prep, so there will likely be plenty of movement on the next rankings.

September 17, 2007

Let's try this again, LIVE prep sports blog Tuesday at 7 p.m.!

Let's try this one more time.

In light of the momentum from Northwestern's big victory and the tons of viewers Manny and I had on the blog this past week, we're hoping for some good participation on  tomorrow's live prep chat on this blog from  7 to 8 p.m.

Bob Emanuel and I will  be taking your high school sports questions live.

Take advantage, 3-0-5 and 9-5-4.

You can even leave questions ahead of time as I will be posting another reminder early tomorrow.

In news, the new National Prep Football poll is out and NW is No. 1 as expected.

St. Xavier of Ohio is 2nd,  followed by Southlake Carroll at 3.

Pahokee and Booker T. are the only other ranked Florida teams at 13th and 15th respectively.

September 15, 2007

Game day blog: Bulls 29, Carroll 21 (F)

This is Manny. We're rolling here. Feel free to feed Andre and me some questions as the game goes on. As the game progresses, I will be providing live updates here from Gerald Ford Stadium in Dallas. The attendance is 31,896.

BULLS 12TH DRIVE (NW takes over 1st and 10 at the Bulls 40 with 3:52 left).
- On first down, Jones gainst 1-yard. On second down, Kendall Thompkins makes a nice catch and spins forward for 8 yards bringing on a measurement. Northwestern is short by about a foot.
- On third down at midfield, the Bulls are flagged for a false start when Barton Sears jumps. It is now 3rd and 6 at the Bulls 46. On the next play, Harris connects with Streeter for a first down to the SLC 41. Time is ticking away.
- On first down, Jones runs for three yards. The clock is stopped by SLC, which calls time out with 1:41 left to play. On second down, Robert Demps hauls in another first down pass to the SLC 29. On first down, Harris hands off to Jones who falls ahead for a five-yard gain. SLC calls its second timeout with 1:02 left.
- On second down, Harris connects with Aldarius Johnson for a first down to the SLC 16. He steps out of bounds. There are :57 seconds left.
- One last completion to Aldarius Johnson moves the ball to the 6. Harris takes a knee. Bulls players storm the field. Wait. Timeout called by SLC with 11 seconds left. Now the clock runs out. Game over. Bulls win!

DRAGONS 10TH DRIVE (1st and 10 at SLC 20, 11:45 left).
- Northwestern's Aldarius Johnson sends a punt bouncing toward the end zone. Referees debate over it for a few minutes before ruling it a touchback.
- On first down, Cantu takes a quick pass in the flat for a 6-yard gain. On second down, Ethan Cunningham hauls in a 8-yard gain and a first down to the 34.
- On first down, Tre Newton takes a handoff, but gets hit after a 1-yard gain. Forston walks off the field again for the Bulls. On second down, Riley Dodge throws a pin-point pass to Brainard, out of bounds at the Bulls 45.
- On first down, Newton takes a handoff and heads up field down to the Bulls 28. But there is a flag on the play, a block in the back on Carroll. It moves the ball back to the 40 and makes it a 1st and 5. On the next play, Marcus Forston hits Newton in the backfield for a 5-yard loss (Forston is limping). On second down, Dodge connects with Jeremy Gray downfield for a 25-yard gain and a first down to the Bulls 20.
- On first down at the NW 20, Dodge's pass to Gray is incomplete at the Bulls 12. On second down, Dodge runs up field on the option for two yards.
- It's third down and 8, Dodge throws for the end zone and Chris Brainard, but Bulls safety Keith Richburg breaks up the play and a touchdown with a big hit. It's fourth down and SLC is lining up to go for it. The Bulls call a timeout. They've only got one left. There is 8:52 left.
- Southlake is lining up for a field goal, a 35-yard attempt from the right hash mark. Cade Foster kicks it, but it falls short and hits the crossbar. Northwestern will take over with 8:48 left.

BULLS 10TH DRIVE (1st and 10 at NW 20, 8:48 left).
- Following a missed 35-yard field goal by Cade Foster, which hit the crossbar, the Bulls will take over at their 20. Can the Bulls' protect the ball and their lead?
- On first and 10, Danquan Hargrett gets stuffed at the line of scrimmage for no gain. On second down, Jacory Harris completes a quick 5-yard pass to the NW 25. It's third and 5 at the Bulls 25, Harris whizzes a pass between two receivers. Its incomplete with 8:02 left. They only took 46 seconds off the clock.
- Johnson lines up for a punt from the 25 and boots a 41-yard punt that Blake Cantu returns to the SLC 43. Dragons have the ball with 7:52 left, down 29-21.

DRAGONS 11TH DRIVE (SLC takes over at its 43 with 7:52 to play)
- On first down, Riley Dodge's pass sails out of bounds. Linebacker Quavon Taylor is cramping again.
- After a break, the Dragons come back on second down, Tre Newton takes a shuffle pass downfield for a 13-yard gain to the Bulls 44.
- On first down, Dodge connects with Cunningham for an 8-yard pass, but the ball is sprung by a Sean Spence hit, leading to Levonte David's recovery at the Bulls 35.

BULLS 11th DRIVE (NW takes over at its 35)
- On the first play, the Bulls nearly give it right back when he fumbles a handoff. But he falls back on it at the 30. On the next play, he gains 3. On third and 12 from the Bulls 33, SLC sacks Jacory Harris back the Bulls 29. Northwestern will have to punt. They call their last time out with 5:32 to play.
- On the punt, SLC takes over at its 42 with 5:22 to play.

DRAGONS 12TH DRIVE (SLC begins at its 42 with 5:22 left)
- On first down, Newton takes a handfoff for a 2-yard gain. On second down, Dodge scrambles and slips down at the SLC 31. Forston gets credit for the sack. It's going to be 3rd and 23 at the SLC 31, Dodge tries to go deep to Cunningham. But Tevin McCaskill steps in front of the pass and intercepts it at the NW 40 with 3:50 left to play.

BULLS' 7TH DRIVE (1st and 10 at NW 24)
- On first down, Hargrett runs for 1 yard. On second down, Hargrett runs for two yards. On third down and 7 at the Bulls 27, Jacory completes a short pass to Robert Demps for four yards.
- On fourth and three, Northwestern's offense stays on the field and tries to draw the Dragons offsides. But the Bulls have to blow a timeout.
- Aldarius Johnson comes in to punt and gets off a 32-yarder that gets downed at the SLC 37.

DRAGONS' 8TH DRIVE (1st and 10 at SLC 37)
- On first down, Tre Newton runs to the left and picks up 8 yards to the 45. On second down, Dodge takes a direct snap and gets leveled in the backfield for a four-yard loss. Dodge takes himself out of the game. It forces backup Kyle Padron into the game on 3rd and 5, Padron completes a quick 6-yard pass for a first down to Ethan Cunningham.
- On first down at the SLC 48, Newton runs for 2 yards to midfield. On second down, Padron throws a strike that falls off the hands of Cunningham, incomplete. On third and 8, Padron runs for a first down out to the 42. Linebacker Quavon Taylor gets flagged for a late hit on the play, tacking on 15 to the NW 27.
- On first down, Newton runs inside for about a 3-yard gain. On second down, Padron throws the ball behind Chris Brainard on what would have been a touchdown pass. On 3rd down and 7 from the 24, Khalid Marshall intercepts the ball in the endzone, touchback. NW takes over with 6:16 left in the quarter.

BULLS' 8TH DRIVE (1st and 10 at NW 20)
- Are the Bulls going to make some adjustments now that Carroll has?
- On first and 10 at the 20, the Dragons get flagged for defensive pass interference giving NW a first down at the Bulls 25.
- On the next play, Harris finds Tommy Streeter wide open down the sideline for a 75-yard touchdown pass. But the ensuing extra point is missed when Robert Demps pushes it right. 2 plays, 80 yards. BULLS 27, DRAGONS 21.

DRAGONS 9TH DRIVE (1st and at SLC 21 with 5:49 left)
- On first down, Dodge rolls out and completes 6-yard pass out to Cantu. Defensive tackle Marcus Forston limps off the field following the hit. On second down, Newton gets yanked down by Quavon Taylor at the SLC 29. Linebacker Quavon Taylor is the next player helped of the field. On third and 2, Dodge tries to go long, but the pass falls incomplete and almost intercepted. Southlake will punt.
- On the punt, the ball is snapped over the head punter Loarn Hinkle. He kicks out the back of the end zone for a safety. BULLS 29, CARROLL 21.

BULLS' 9TH DRIVE (1st and 10 at NW 17 with 4:34 left)
- Following the safety the Bulls, are driven back on a strong kickoff. Offsetting penalties though cause a rekick. On the next play, the ball goes over the Bulls returners again. Return man Corwin Lamb gets dropped at the Bulls 17.
- On first and 10, Hargrett runs for 2 yards. On second down, Jacory Harris scrambles and falls forward to the 19 for no gain. On third and 8, Harris finds Kendall Thompkins for 16 yard gain and a first down out to the 35.
- On first down, Hargrett makes a nice run, eluding three tackles down to the SLC 45 for 20-yard gain.
- On first down, Hargrett gains two. On the next play, Harris scrambles for no gain. On third and 7, Derek Tomlin sacks Jacory Harris back at the SLC 48. Northwestern is forced to punt. END OF THE THIRD QUARTER.

Northwestern -- Passing: Jacory Harris 12 for 18, 129 yards, 3 TDs. Rushing: Danquan Hargrett 5-39, Tyreese Jones, 6-29. Receiving: Tommy Streeter 2-51, 2 TDs; Aldarius Johnson 6-33, 1 TD; Kendall Thompkins 3-27, Brandon Drayton 1-18. Turnovers: 3.
Southlake Carroll -- Passing: Riley Dodge 15 for 18, 174 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT. Rushing: Tre Newton 5-26, Dodge 6-28. Receiving: Blake Cantu 6-46, 1 TD, Chris Brainard 6-88, 1 TD. Turnovers: 2.

DRAGON'S THIRD DRIVE (1st and 10 at SLC 33).
- On the first play, Dodge tries to run, gets hit from behind and fumbles. But SLC recovers. END OF THE FIRST QUARTER.
- SLC gets forced into a third down when Northwestern linebacker Sean Spence steps in front of a Riley Dodge pass for an interception. He returns it to the SLC 19.

BULLS 4th DRIVE (1st and 10 at SLC 19)
- Bulls take over after a Sean Spence interception return.
- On the second play from scrimmage, Harris scrambles and finds Tommy Streeter for a 19-yard touchdown pass. Streeter made a tough catch. It's now 14-14 with 11:10 left in the half. BULLS 14, DRAGONS 14.

DRAGONS 4th DRIVE (1st and 10 at SLC 26, 11:03 left)
- Dodge has a quick outlet pass to Brainard for a 4-yard gain to start the drive. On the next play, Tre Newton gets for a 2-yard gain by Spence and Quevon Taylor. On third down and 4, Dodge scrambles for his life, Todd Chandler sacks him for a 1-yard loss.
- Brandon Brathen returns Loarn Hinkle's 41-yard punt, 14 yards out to the NW 42. There is 9:10 left in the half.

BULLS' 5TH DRIVE (NW starts at its own 42)
- Tyreese Jones runs for five yards on first down. On the next play, Jones gets stuffed at the line of scrimmage, a 1-yard gain. On third and 4, Aldarius Johnson goes up and brings down a quick pass for a first down at the SLC 46.
- On first down, Jones picks up 9 yards down to the 38. NW is eating up SLC on the ground. On second down and two, Jones runs right for 5 yards and a first down at the SLC 33.
- On first down, Brandon Drayton catches a short outlet pass and heads up field for an 18-yard gain. NW is at the SLC 15.
- On first down, Jones loses a yard to the 16 when David Stoltzman hits him in the backfield. On second down, Harris floates a ball to Tommy Streeter, but he gets leveled by safety Luke Anderson and the ball is separated. The pass is incomplete.
- On third down and 11, Jacory Harris connects on a beautiful pass to Aldarius Johnson in the corner of the end zone for a score. The Bulls take their first lead fo the game with 4:48 left. The drive is 9 plays, 58 yards. BULLS 21, DRAGONS 14.

CARROLL'S 5TH DRIVE (1st and 10 at SLC 24 with 4:41 left in the half)
- On first down, Bulls' defensive tackle Todd Chandler hits Tre Newton for a 2-yard loss. On second down, Dodge completes an 8-yard pass to Blake Cantu. But it is nullified by an ineligible man down field penalty. On second and 17 at the SLC 17, Dodge escapes from a sack and scrambles to the 28. But he is tackled by his own receiver Ethan Cunning ham.
- On third and 6, Dodge is forced out of the pocket. He throws the ball into the sidelines. It's ruled intentional grounding at his own 6. SLC will now have to punt from their own 6.
- On the punt, Drayton fumbles the ball at the SLC 45. The Dragons take over when Cole Wicklund recovers.

DRAGONS' 6TH DRIVE (1st and 10 at SLC 45, 2:49 left in half)
- Northwestern was set to take over following a punt. But on the play Drayton fumbled the ball at the SLC 45. The Dragons took over when Cole Wicklund recovered.
- Dodge gets sacked. But Northwestern gets flagged for unnecessary roughness, giving SLC a first down at the NW 49.
- On first and 10 from the Bulls 49, Dodge's pass is incomplete. On second down, Cantu picks up 4 on a short pass. On third and 6, Dodge completes 14-yard pass to Jared Freeman for a first down to keep the drive alive. Northwestern calls timeout with 1:47 left in the half.
- On the next play, Tre Newton runs forward, but fumbles. It rolls out of bounds. SLC keeps possession at the SLC 26. On second down at the NW 26, Riley Dodge connects with Blake Cantu down the sideline for a 26-yard touchdown pass with 1:32 left in the half. The drive is 5 plays, 55 yards, 1:17. BULLS 21, DRAGONS 21.

BULLS' 6TH DRIVE (Bulls take over at their own 20, 1:32 left)
- On first down and 10, Jacory Harris' errant pass falls incomplete. On second down, the Bulls draw a defensive pass interference call on SLC giving them a 1st down at their own 35. On second down, Jones runs the draw for a hard 11 yards, breaking tackles on his way to the SLC 46.
- On first down, Jacory Harris fakes a hand off and eventually is forced out of bounds for no gain. On second down, Harris completes an 11-yard pass to Tevin McCaskill. McCaskill fumbles, but is ruled down. Replays show he was. Northwestern calls timeout with :35 seconds left.
- On the next play, a high snap hits Harris in the nafs and falls to the floord where Brayden Burnnett recovers at the SLC 47 with :31 seconds left.

DRAGONS' 7TH DRIVE (Dragons take over at their own 47, :35 left)
- SLC recovers a Northwestern fumble at their own 47 when quarterback Jacory Harris fumbles a snap.
- On first down, Riley Dodge escapes the pocket and rumbles for 23 yards to the Bulls 29. On the next play, Tre Newton catches a screen pass and appears headed for the end zone when he gets hit and fumbles. Quavon Taylor recovers for Northwestern. There are 9 seconds left in the half.
- Jacory Harris takes a knee and the half ends.

- Northwestern kicks off. Robert Demps tees it off and sends it to the Carroll 5 where Josh Rake returns it out to the 14. Nice tackle for the Bulls. Quarterback Riley Dodge and the Carroll offense sets to take the field at their own 14.

- Riley Dodge's first pass is caught out of bounds.
- Dodge completes a 7-yard pass to Blake Cantu for 7 yards out to the 22. On the next play, Dodge completes a short pass for a first down to Chris Brainard out at the NW 27.
- On third and 8 from the NW 29, Dodge makes his first nice pass of the game downfield to the Bulls 43. Brainard made the catch between 3 NW defenders.
- Dodge connects on a 35-yard scoring strike to Chris Brainard down the Northwestern sideline. Senior Bradley Holt had the coverage. Scoring drive is 9 plays, 2:30, 86 yards. DRAGONS 7, BULLS 0.

- Bulls start at it their own 29 yard line. Quarterback Jacory Harris completes a 9-yard pass to Kendall Thompkins on the first play. Danquan Hargrett picks up a first down on a 2-yard run to the 40 on the next play.
- Harris completes a short pass out to Thompkins out to the NW 47. On third and 3 from the NW 47, Harris hands the ball to Hargrett who breaks a tackle for a first down to the SLC 49.
- Aldarius Johnson makes back-to-back catches of gains of 7 and 5 yards. Northwestern has a first and 10 at the SLC 38.
- Hargrett runs for 11 yards down to the SLC 27. On the next play, Northwestern draws a false start. But right after that, Jacory Harris hooks up with Tommy Streeter for a 32-yard touchown strike down the middle of the field. The drive: 71 yards, 9 plays, 4:38 left. DRAGONS 7, BULLS 7.

- The Dragons take over at their own 21. Dodge connects on a quick 10-yard slant for a first down to Brainard.
- On the next play, Tre Newton busts his first long run of the game, a 23-yard gain. Five yards are added for a face mask. SLC has the ball on the NW 41.
- After two short passes, the Dragons fans their second third down of the game at the NW 41. Dodgets sacked by Marcus Forston and Todd Chandler a the Bulls 44. Dodge pooches it to the NW 31. A 13-yard punt. Northwestern takes over with 1:38 left.

BULLS' SECOND DRIVE (Bulls take over at their own 31 with 1:38 left in the 1st quarter)
- Crowd is really filling in now. There are people sitting in the grass out behind the south end zone.
- Northwestern's first play turns disastrous when Aldarius Johnon gets stripped on swing pass, SLC linebacker Derek Tomlin picks it up and returns 32 yards for a touchdown. DRAGONS 14, BULLS 7.

BULLS' THIRD DRIVE (Northwestern will start at the 11 with 1:26 left in the quarter)
- Danquan Hargrett takes the carry and runs for a 12-yard gain out to the Northwestern 22.
- Hargrett runs again and picks up 11 yards to the Bulls 33.
- On first and 10, Harris overthrows a wide open Aldarius Johnson down the middle of the field. His first incompletion of the game. On the next play, Robert Demps catches a ball with a foot out of bounds. It would have been about a 10-yard gain.
- On third and 10 from the Bulls 33, Harris is almost intercepted by Mike Troop. The Bulls are forced to punt. Aldarius Johnson sends a line drive punt ot the SLC 33. It's a 34-yard punt.

PREGAME: Northwestern fans have shown up in force considering Miami and Dallas are more than 1,000 miles apart. Andre and I just took a walk around the stadium and saw about a crowd of 2,000 Bulls fans behind the Northwestern bench. The best sign brought a Bulls fan: "This is the free lunch section." It's an obvious jab at the USA Today article which pointed out 67 percent of students Northwestern at The 'West receive free lunches.

Northwestern is debuting its new all-black Nike uniforms. Got to say they look awful sweet. Southlake Carroll is wearing all white. For those of you who would like to listen into the game, a local radio station is broadcasting it live (follow the link on our high school sports page). It's the Southlake Carroll radio station. But I'll be here to along with Andre who will answer questions below. I'll provide my input here. Enjoy the game folks. We will.

- Teams are meeting at midfield for the coin toss. Southlake wins the toss and will receive.
- FYI, a few rules are a bit different in this game. Kickoffs into the end zone are allowed to be returned. Blocking below the waist is allowed. 25 second-play clock (normally 35 back home).
- Excitement is really building now. The entire Northwestern sideline is jumping up and down, listening to their band.
- Still before kickoff. Carroll cheerleaders, which have 80 members, are holding up a sign that reads: Don't Mess with Texas.

Three hours away from kickoff for NW-SLC and it is a madhouse outside

For the faithful in Dade County, the scene here looks like 3 or 4 hours before a UM game at the OB....which sadly will soon be only a memory...but I digress.

There are SLC tailgaters as far down as five blocks from the stadium and everywhere you look green jerseys. I even  saw one guy wearing a Lebron James high school jersey just to match SLC's green. As Manny and I drove up to the stadium, we saw a garage full of parked trucks and one had one of those inflatable 10-foot tall football players of the Dragons.

The Northwestern team buses just pulled up.

tick, tock, tick tock.

2 hours, 10 minutes and counting until kickoff.

Live blog during the Northwestern-Southlake Carroll football game

Manny Navarro and I will be conducting a live blog tonight during the big game between Northwestern and Southlake Carroll at SMU Stadium in Dallas.

For those of you who aren't able to watch the game, check it out and get live comments about the game as it happens. It will begin around kickoff time, which is 7 pm eastern time.

September 14, 2007

Traveling with the Bulls football team, Day 2

To sum up the day before the big game for Northwestern, I'd have to say certain elements have fired this team up.
For starters, they found magazines in each of their rooms with Southlake Carroll QB Riley Dodge on the cover.

Then they read the USA Today article about the game that pointed out the economic differences between the two schools.

As you can read in my article for tomorrow, NW players are fired up and ready to prove they are better than the image that has been portrayed of them. As Marcus Forston said, it has only added fuel to the fire.

After breakfast, the team visited the JFK 6th floor museum in Dallas. The kids appeared really enthralled with the exhibits that included a tour of the book depository from where Lee Harvey Oswald fired the shots. Several players were asking questions to the tour guides and were genuinely interested in learning more about JFK and the historical account of his assassination.

Following the tour, they visited Texas Stadium and the Cotton Bowl, before leaving to Ford Stadium for their walk-through.

Since the team did not practice Thursday, the walk-through went on for nearly two hours as the Bulls worked mainly on special teams. Kicker Robert Demps worked on field goals, while Aldarius Johnson consistently boomed punts of over 40 yards.

NW players stayed loose, cracking jokes with each other. But they also seemed to have a focused intensity that I don't think I even saw last year in the state title game.

The team is scheduled to go to a movie as a team, but I heard they were trying to figure out a way of attending a local football game to stay in the football frame of mind right up until kickoff.

They want this bad, especially in light of certain agitants that they have taken as a slap in the face. We'll see how they focus their aggression tonight.

-- Dre