Talks with Hawks – Episode 11: Memories of Bizarre Plays (A Coach’s Compendium)

 

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For this episode’s edition, I asked a number of coaches on the Hawks staff to briefly relay to me the most bizarre play that they have ever been involved in. For me, it was a semifinal game in 2003 for a high school team I coached. We trailed 14 to 13 with 1 second left. We had used about 4 or 5 kickers that year and the guy who debuted as our kicker the previous week was actually one of our starting linebackers. During the game, he had missed two easy field goals and there was a botched extra point that wasn’t his fault. Now, it was down to the last play of the game and an attempt from about 30 yards. The field goal attempt was wide. The other team punted the ball out to avoid giving up a single point which would have tied the game. Our guy, future University of Western & CFL lineman Chris Greaves caught it and was immediately tackled. Game over right?  WRONG!  A no yards penalty was called. So, our kicker got a 2nd try from closer. The exact same thing happened again! On his 3rd attempt, the kicker was successful.  He was 1 for 5 on the day and he ended up being the hero!

(Gary Jefferies – Head Coach, 2002-2012): Ronnie Pfeffer had a punt one game where the wind was blowing so hard the ball actually went up, blew backwards over his head, and into our end zone.  Also, Bryon Hickey making a key catch in the 2005 Vanier Cup.  A defender is all over him with his back to the ball, Hickey reaches over him and makes a one handed catch. No way that ball should have ever been caught. Tremendous catch made even more so by the timing and significance of the play.

(Michael Faulds – Head Coach, 2013-Present): It was the Homecoming game in 2013 which was my first season as the Head Coach. We lost in overtime to Windsor.  Late in regulation and trailing by 3, QB James Fracas found WR Anthony Pizzuti, who was double covered, in the back corner of the endzone for the go ahead touchdown. The crowd went crazy, our coaches in the booth were yelling and cheering, our sideline erupted, but then everyone was deflated when the referee ruled that Pizutti came down out of bounds. As a result, we had to settle for a field goal to tie the game. We ended up losing in overtime. We had a field goal blocked and they had a single point on a horribly missed field goal that was a mile wide. After the game, we had our photographers and videographers show me the still shots and the video proving that Pizutti did in fact come down in bounds. Later in the week, the officials and the league apologized for the blown call.

(Ron Van Moerkerke – Associate Head Coach, Defensive Coordinator), Todd Galloway (Offensive Coordinator) & Steve Frake (WR Coach): In a 2003 WLU semifinal at Queens in overtime, we scored a TD but the snap was botched so the convert was no good. Queens scored a TD to tie us. A successful convert would have won the game. The Queen’s kicker did something I have never seen before.  The kick cleared the line of scrimmage and got over all the outstretched arms trying to block it, but it somehow also went UNDER the crossbar! I didn’t even think that was possible.  We then went on to win the game.

(Go to 1:16:40 mark to view the play)

Jesse Alexander (Special Teams Coordinator & LB Coach) & Matt Fischer (Equipment Manager): It would have to be the Windsor night game at home in 2011. So many bizarre things happened! One was a pass the Windsor QB threw that hit our DB Luke Thompson in the back, but it bounced into a Windsor receiver’s hands for key 1st down. But the end of the game was the craziest. It was tied 40 to 40. They punted the ball into the end zone on the last play of the game to try to win it on a punt single. We punted it out. Then, they punted it back in to win the game.

(Go to the 0:42 and 2:54 marks to see those 2 plays)

Austin Reusch (Assistant DB Coach): It was the 2012 Homecoming game vs Guelph when I was on the team. I believe it was in the 3rd quarter and Guelph punted. We were running a return to the wide side of the field which would have been our sideline. I think the punt returner was Alex Anthony. He was running a long way horizontally across the field, trying to turn the corner near our sideline. He had a couple of lead blockers in front of him, when all of a sudden, a shirtless guy in a skirt runs on the field and he is right there in the middle of the play. One of the Guelph cover guys make ‘easy work’ of him, shedding him and sending him tumbling to the turf.

Zach Scotto (OL Coach): Last summer, my Cambridge Lions team was playing the powerhouse London Junior Mustangs. It was a close game and we hadn’t been kicking the ball well that day so we went for it on a 3rd and short situation deep in their territory. We lined up with 2 TEs, 2 FBs, and 1 receiver split wide. They left him completely uncovered. We had a run play called to the field and the WR was in the boundary. We were screaming on the sideline to make the QB aware of how open the WR was. Should he lob it up? Should he throw a quick hitch screen? We weren’t prepared for this possibility. Luckily, the QB and WR worked it out just fine and the QB simply threw the ball to the open receiver caught it and just jogged the final few yards into the endzone.

Phil Edworthy (LB Coach): When I was coaching at Cameron Heights, we ran the read option as part of our offensive package. The QB was really adept at faking the handoff to the running back, and pulling it at the last second. In one game, the fake handoff was so good, the running back got tackled and our QB was running down the open field for a long touchdown run but the refs blew the whistle because they thought the running back had the ball when we was tackled.

Vince Flammia (Recruiting Coordinator, DB Coach): I am going to go with a game I saw in Detroit. I am a huge Green Bay Packer fan. It was a Monday night game. On the last play of the game, Aaron Rodgers threw a 61 yard ‘Hail Mary’ to Richard Rodgers to win the game. An angry Lions fan poured a beer on my head and called me a cheesehead.

Nick Rockell (Assistant RB Coach): About 25 years ago while coaching a group of teenagers in the UK, we took our squad to a U.S. army base to play a team there. Only 13 of our players showed up. We played well in the first half, but of course fatigue set in during the 2nd half. It was time to be inventive. One of our players, a young lad named Dave had mainly played WR that year for us. He had minimal ability but he loved contact. So, we lined him up at nose tackle! We then had 7 linebackers at depth, a high safety, and 2 corners. The other team’s offensive line was confused. On first down, Dave broke through he O Line and tackled the runner for a loss. On second down, he did the same thing. On third down, he was the only player rushing the passer and he still got a sack. To this day, I’ve never really figured out how he managed to do it, but I was so happy for him. On the next series, he asked to play NT again. Three triple teams later, he asked for a rest.

Kerry Martin (Video Coordinator): It had to be a play involving Mike Montoya, a former RB at Laurier. After receiving a handoff, he somersaulted over the pile and nothing other than his feet actually hit the ground, so he of course kept on running all the way down the field for a touchdown. Virtually everyone thought he was down, but he wasn’t.

Chris Keller (Special Assistant): One time in a high school game I was coaching, a touchdown was scored by one of our players but none of us on the sideline saw it and neither did the refs! It was a fake HB dive with a FB lead with the TE then coming around and taking a handoff from the QB. The fake was executed so well and the ball then hidden so well by the QB that nobody saw the exchange with the TE and nobody even watched the TE run down the field for the score.

Jennifer Martins (Head Athletic Therapist): In a playoff game a few years ago, one of our defenders delivered a very hard hit on an opposing receiver near their  sideline. The player was down a very long time. I went over to help the other team’s athletic therapist. That is the type of thing we do with serious injuries. We help each other. All of a sudden, the other team’s head coach comes over and starts screaming in my face telling me to get away from his player. Even the referee tried to get him away from me.

Talks with Hawks will return soon with Episode 12: Hough Lawson

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