High School Football Kickoff

FB20130830-1137The High School football season kicked off last night in the #Poconos . I attended the Pleasant Valley v. Nazareth match up. Excitement was in the air well before the kickoff as fans drove and walked to the stadium, some bringing their back-supporting chairs for the bleachers. The bands’ music added to the excitement. The crowd was filled with excitement and enthusiasm for the first game of the season!

The above photo was printed in today’s Pocono Record, our local newspaper here in the #Poconos . I work as a stringer for the Pocono Record and enjoy photographing sports, which is one of my passions. There is something exhilarating about being on the field on a Friday night! It brings back many fond memories of my days of playing high school football and now I get to capture the action on the field with my cameras!

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The anticipation rose to a crescendo as the two teams were announced and ran onto the field through banners held by the cheerleaders. Then the players stood at attention as the Star Spangled Banner was played by the home band. The kickoff to open the game and the new season was greeted with cheers and the game was under way!

The Blue Eagles attacked first by putting up 6 points after a missed extra point. Then they struck again by tacking on another touchdown, this time with a successful extra point. The game was 13-0 going into halftime.

Nazareth's Marion Johnson receives a pass in the first half against PV.

The visiting band of Pleasant Valley took the field at halftime to put on a show that maintained the enthusiasm of the crowd on this opening night to the football season. The opposing band cheered loudly at times in support of the band on the field. Trumpets blared and drums kept steady beat as the band marched across the field.

Pleasant Valley v. Nazareth, 8/30/2013

The second half started with as much enthusiasm as the first. The teams rushed onto the field and the kickoff ensued. Nazareth received the kickoff this time and ran the field to score a TD on the opening play of the second half and went up by three touchdowns. PV could have rolled over. Instead, they put up 9 points of their own.

By the end of the game the players were showing some battle wounds and the final score was 31-9 in favor of Nazareth. Players and fans exited the stadium through the gates. The first game of the new season was complete!

PV's Austin Borre looks for daylight in the opener against Nazareth.

PV Wins a Thriller in the Rematch

It was a rematch from a week before–Pleasant Valley vs. Stroudsburg, and it was a thriller!

As sometimes happens, all the hard-fought battles came down to a few huge plays. A flea flicker, a field goal, and an interception were the big plays as PV fought to victory on Saturday night. It was a game for the ages!

The first big play of the game didn’t take long to develop. A flea flicker put the ball back in Leap’s hands and he threw a bomb to his receiver, Romeo. So began the rematch  and subsequent plays would not disappoint. PV scored three touchdowns in the 1st half, which was reminiscent of the previous week’s game when Stroudsburg did the same.

The battle was fought out in the trenches on the line of scrimmage. This is typical from two well-matched teams, but few fans ever notice the battles fought here. Most watch the quarterback, running backs, and receivers, as they focus on the ball. But without these battles being won, the big plays would never develop. Stroudsburg fought back twice to eventually tie the game at 21. PV’s kicker, Jordan Caffrey was called on to break the tie with a 28-yard field goal attempt. Here, in the photo below, all eyes were on that ball as it made its way toward the goal post. The kick was good and this would be the play that propelled PV to victory in this thrilling rematch!

Stroudsburg was not finished though. They put together a final drive with hopes of getting into field goal range before time ran out. But Romeo had other plans. Just as his big reception started off the scoring for the evening’s rematch, an interception late in the fourth quarter stopped the scoring and the final drive. It was then just a matter of running a few plays for PV as time ran out.

The scoreboard shows the vital statistics of a game, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. It does not, for example, show the preparation that goes into a game like this, nor does it show the hard work of each player on the line of scrimmage as they battle it out play after play. Still, the scoreboard does indicate the victor, and on this night PV would not be denied. The rematch was a thriller and lets PV continue playing deeper into the playoffs! You can view more photos of this game here.

The Ups and Downs of Coaching

All coaches, no matter what sport, know full-well the ups and downs involved in coaching. One moment might be an absolute high feeling of success and achievement, while the very next moment can be a feeling of emptiness and discouragement. Few people can truly appreciate the time, commitment, and widespread feelings coaches experience!

Coach Terwilliger and his coaching staff at Pleasant Valley know and live these ups and downs every day of the football season. The spotlight is obviously on them during games under the bright lights on Friday nights, but few can appreciate all that goes in to preparing for a game each week. Film is watched over and over, practices including calisthenics, drills, play execution,  and conditioning consume hour upon hour each day leading up to the big game. Coaching is not for the faint of heart! The reward is when all the hard work comes together as the team puts into practice all the effort, learning, and coaching of the previous week.

Teamwork among the coaching staff is critical. Each coach has his specialty on the team and in a combined and orchestrated effort, the coaching staff builds on one drill after another and one week after the next. Positive attitudes and a healthy degree of humility can go a long, long way as the coaching staff tries to implement its plan for the season. A sense of togetherness and give-and-take are both required throughout the season. When these elements break down it can be a long season for both the players and coaches. Even worse, one bad call by an official can not only threaten the outcome of a game but an entire season. Talk about pressure! Remaining calm and steady; not getting too high or too low, helps tremendously.

 

Sometimes it all comes together beautifully. Such was the case last Friday night when Pleasant Valley not only won an important game, but also witnessed their freshman running back break a school record! Austyn Borre broke the season rushing record and stands to add to this total in the upcoming weeks.

Coach Terwlliger and his coaching staff certainly experience the ups and downs of coaching, but they remain steady and confident as they play through this football season. It is fun to watch, especially because all the hard work is paying off in positive ways. Skills are increasing among the players, the team is growing closer together, and lessons learned on the football field will eventually be played out in the game of life. Coaches and their importance are often overlooked. We must remind ourselves that these guys are not only teaching boys how to play the game of football, but they are turning these boys into men both on and off the field.

Ball in the Action


Some of my favorite sports photographs include the ball in the action!

It is exciting to pony up to the challenge of capturing these shots and while it might take a great deal of effort and good timing, the success is rewarding! I always believe that every game has a story to tell and part of our job as photographers is to capture and tell the story through our lenses. I will take this even one step further: each and every play also has a story to tell! Think about it… a quarterback drops back to attempt a pass, the line is fighting off the pass rush and maybe even a corner blitz, the receivers are running their routes, and the defensive backs are defending their territories. Isn’t there a fascinating storyline in here?

One of the best ways I find to tell the story of a play is to include the ball in the image. Not only does this help tell a specific detail about the play, but it adds action to the photograph like nothing else can accomplish. All eyes are on the ball–both in the field and in the image! Now this might sound easy, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Just try to capture a sharp image of a moving ball on a Friday night under the lights! The challenge is still worth the effort, however. That’s why you will see me along the sidelines week after week trying to get to capture the ball in the action!

A Big Night for Pleasant Valley Football’s #28 – Austyn Borre

It was a big night for #28, Austyn Borre, on Friday. Borre broke the Pleasant Valley rushing record for the season as he hit 1,083 yards by the end of the game against Allen. Rain fell on the field at times, but it certainly did not rain on Austyn’s parade!

The running back’s banner night started with some impressively strong runs. He put together one hard, fast run after another and found the end zone a total of four times! In addition to quick moves and strong runs, Borre found the seams made my his offensive linemen and quickly darted through them to add to his yardage. It was a clinic for running backs and propelled the Bears to huge victory to remain undefeated in the Mountain Valley Conference.

The run which broke the season record was an impressive 91 yard run where broke away from defenders in a flash going untouched into the end zone. The previous school season record was 1,081 held by Rob Getz who now plays at Widener. Borre is a freshman and brings with him a lot of running back power toward PV’s current season run for the MVC Championship. He also brings much promise for the next three years!

Pleasant Valley kept the pressure on Allen all evening and Borre kept running and adding up yard after yard. The final score was 42-0. He ran the ball 14 times for a total of 185 yards, which averaged 13.2 yards per carry. Not bad for a freshman who is definitely making an impact for the Bears when they face their opponents. Coach Terwilliger must be very happy to have such a weapon on his offense as the team comes down the final stretch for the MVC Championship. Two upcoming games against East Stroudsburg North and Stroudsburg will cap the season and determine the champion.

Photographing this game was a great experience for me as I tried to highlight the rushing record and tell the story of the game. Photographing a high school football game under the lights can be a real challenge to say the least. However, great subjects like Austyn Borre with his incredible running talent and Coach Terwilliger’s passion for football and his players makes it all so much easier by creating great subject matter!

Part of the problem with night games is the lack of light for our cameras. High ISOs and fast shutter speeds are the name of the game for sports photographers at these venues. The falling rain added to the challenge, but photographing the record-breaking run and the coach handing the game ball to Borre made this an historic game within the game! Fans were treated to a big win and a season high rushing record to boot! Now who wouldn’t want to photograph that?

To view all the photographs from this game, click here.

The Importance of Perspective?

This photograph provides some perspective. It shows where on the diamond this play is taking place: home plate. There is no doubt where this is happening and it clearly provides information to the view about exactly what is happening: the catcher is tagging out a base runner at the plate. Perspective helps in many ways.

Without perspective I cannot tell a lot about where a photograph is taken. In life, without some perspective, I could jump to wrong conclusions or make assumptions that in the end prove to be incorrect. Perspective keeps me grounded and provides an anchor of sorts to keep me from sailing into choppy and dangerously uncharted waters. Yes, I definitely want to have more than a little perspective! Don’t you?

In light of the news coming out of Penn State University, I think many reporters, talk show hosts, and sports fans have lost a little perspective. Do not misinterpret me here. I know how heinous and despicable these allegations are and they are absolutely awful. No doubt about it. If my child was violated in this way I would be beyond angry.

The question in my mind comes down to what exactly did Joe Paterno know? If he knew all the details and only passed word about it up the chain of command, then he should be held accountable morally. Time will reveal the truth. So far we do know, that as far as Pennsylvania authorities reported, they are not charging Paterno of any crime. The moral question is a different matter. What should have Paterno done? Remember, this was ten years ago, too. What would have you done? Are you convinced you would have acted this way? Do you ever look the other way? What if the violator was a close friend? What if he was in a position of authority over you? Would this ever make a difference?

At least a little perspective is always needed. Matt Millen was quoted as saying, “The last time I checked we live in America where we are innocent until proven guilty.” Not only are many talk show hosts, reporters, and sports pundits already crucifying Sandusky, but they are making Joe Paterno sounding as bad or worse! Is this the right perspective?

Perspective teaches us that there is a bigger picture than many of us realize most of the time. As a visual example, look at this photograph.

What is this? Okay, yeah, it’s an animal’s eye. What kind of eye? Whose eye? When we focus too closely on something or too long on something, we lose perspective. Lose perspective and we can’t see all the details clearly and we certainly cannot see the big picture.

Tonight, the Board of Trustees made the decision to fire both Coach Paterno and the president of the university. Did they listen to the media frenzy before making their decision? According to them, they did not. I wonder about this, but I can see this decision being based on good business sense for the university. Certainly responsibility and accountability need to be placed in the appropriate places. There is no doubt about this. However, what do we know? Do we have all the facts? Do we have enough facts? The Board of Trustees did not give a specific reason for the firing of Coach Paterno. I find this interesting even though I can understand their difficult position and their ultimate decisions.

Sandusky will be held accountable by a court of law. Coach Paterno appears to be held accountable to popular opinion and the Board of Trusteees.

This is a sad week in the world of sports. Sad for the victims who suffered these awful acts. Sad for those who their parents, too. Sad for a football team that had nothing to do with these allegations. Sad for students who look up to coaches and adults. Sad for a coach who left an indelible legacy and devoted his life to coaching college football. Yes, it’s a sad week for many, many reason.

What is your perspective?

 

There’s Nothing Quite Like Friday Night Football

Honesdale Hornets vs. Pleasant Valley Bears. Sounds like a typical Friday night high school football game. But this game was anything but typical!

PV up by 13, then a tie score 20-20 at halftime. Interesting. Hornets up by 3 early in the second half, then up by 10. PV bounces back and goes up by 3. Then Honesdale scores again. Then PV scores again. Final Hornets 37, Bears 40, with the winning touchdown coming with 41 seconds remaining in the game. Wow, what a great game and a great way to spend a Friday night!

Here are some of the photos I captured at tonight’s game. The repeated theme was Rob Getz taking a handoff up the field, twisting and turning, weaving through defenders, and gaining yard and after yard. Getz is elusive to would-be tacklers and knows how to run the ball. He is a special running back to be sure!

Photographing football is great on a number of levels. Being on the sidelines is a special privilege and trying to capture the story of the game with a camera is an honor. Working and talking with fellow photographers is an added bonus. I know I can get better at this and dream of some better equipment in the not-so-distant future, but the thrill I had last night was simply amazing!

Here are six photos from Friday night’s game. You can see the complete gallery here.

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More Football

I photographed another football game last week but haven’t had time to include it here on my blog. The game hosted the 8th Grade teams of Stroudsburg and Pocono Mountain West. It was the last game of the season for these two teams and the last chance for off-season bragging rights! To add even more excitement to the game, Stroudsburg was vying for an undefeated season!

It was an exciting game to photograph! The game opened up with Pocono Mountain leading but Stroudsburg answered loudly and clearly. It was a game with hard-hitting, precision blocking, and great fundamental football. Both teams put it all out there on the field! It was a hard-fought game and in the end Stroudsburg prevailed with a solid win. Pocono Mountain made it interesting at the end, but it just wasn’t to be for them. Wow, what another exciting game!

Congratulations to Stroudsburg on their undefeated season!

An Added Bonus

A couple of weeks ago I was photographing a high school football game, which was the best high school game I’ve ever seen. But today my focus is not on the game, but on the band. That’s right! Before the game started the visiting team’s band took the field. They put on an impressive show, too!

This shot is of the one tuba player who I happen to know. He goes to our church, is a sophomore, has a variety of musical talents, is a Boy Scout, and is a great young man!

I liked this photo of him because it shows him putting all his effort into these notes. He body is in position to let it rip!