Recently, the Southwestern Athletic Conference selected its 2011 South Division All-Conference Football team. Hartford was represented well on the All-Conference team, with ten Varsity Indians earning All-Conference honors!
Below is the entire list of All-Conference players from the South Division All-Conference team for 2011. HartfordFootball.com congratulates all of the All-Conference Football Team members on a great season!
1st Team Offense
QB: Stephen Botti (Decatur), Jake Cowsert (Watervliet)
OL: Jeff Grandstaff (Decatur), Rico Reyna (Lawton), Noey Lopez (Hartford), Jaxon DeHaven (Watervliet), Brad Thomas (Watervliet)
WR: Kurt St. Clair (Lawton), Travis Bolin (Watervliet)
RB: Chris Withrow (Lawton), Marcus Pompey (Marcellus)
P: Gareth MacMillan (Hartford)
1st Team Defense
DL: Nate Gerhold (Decatur), Eric Perez (Hartford), Jaxon DeHaven (Watervliet)
DE: Kyle Miller (Lawton), Brett Thumm (Watervliet)
DB: Josh Hamilton (Lawton)
LB: Kaleb Kolberg (Decatur), Rico Reyna (Lawton), Colton Callaway (Lawton), Jared Meachum (Hartford), Brad Thomas (Watervliet), Kevin Dembinski (Watervliet)
K: Juan Perez (Hartford)
2nd Team Offense
QB: Trent Sauer (Lawton)
OL: Tom Glynn (Decatur), Jake Reuter (Marcellus), Adan Barajas (Hartford), R.J. Rudel (Watervliet), Jared Frank (Lawrence)
WR: Max Drenth (Decatur), Kyle Roberts (Watervliet), Josh Gendron (Lawrence)
RB: Brandon St. Clair (Lawton), David Mireles (Hartford)
2nd Team Defense
DL: Seth Robinson (Marcellus), Cory McCabe (Lawrence), Anthonie Mattimore (Decatur)
DE: Kaleb Munro (Lawton), Kevin Bryant (Watervliet), Zach McAndrew (Lawrence)
DB: Theodore Rufo (Decatur), Jared Jones (Marcellus), Travis Bolin (Watervliet)
LB: John Scherer (Hartford)
Honorable Mention Offense
OL: Tony Kucharski (Hartford), Kevin Hall (Decatur), Mike Ellis (Marcellus)
RB: Colton Callaway (Lawton), Salvador Rocha (Lawrence)
WR: Matt Cammire (Lawrence)
Honorable Mention Defense
DL: Andrew Garcia (Hartford), Alec Terry (Lawton), Kyle Hemenway (Decatur), Nick Steinke (Watervliet)
DB: Daniel Isbrecht (Watervliet)
LB: Eric Reed (Marcellus)
Well, Indian fans. Just like that, it is over. We played hard and put up a great fight, but in the end, we fell seven points short in Constantine on Saturday, losing to the Falcons, 28-21. It was a game full of twists and turns and we hope that, as a crowd, you were happy with the performance that we put on for you. Even though it was a loss on the scoreboard, it was a win in other ways!
Even though the season is over, this Blog will continue to be updated with the latest postseason news and information, as well as my picks for the upcoming playoff games. I will also have Varsity and Junior Varsity recaps coming, as well as a recap of the areas best players of 2011 and the top area upcoming players for 2012.
Hope my Blog has given you some great insight this year. And look forward to the Blog growing and getting more informative for 2012! See you next season, Indian fans! Thanks for checking out the web site, the Blog and thanks for the enormous support in the stands this season! You are the GREATEST fans in High School Football!
It is now playoff time, which means I’ll be picking local playoff games for the next five weeks (well, I hope to). After the second round of the playoffs, I will begin making picks on ALL the games in the state. Until then, games posted will be within my seven county window (Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Cass, Kalamazoo, Saint Joseph and Van Buren) and will cover ALL games. For the playoffs, the games are in order by Division and District order.
Last Week: 33-6 (.846)
Season: 277-70 (.798)
Muskegon 30, @ Mattawan 20: Mattawan, quite possibly, is the “local” favorite in this game, but slightly. But they aren’t. Why? Muskegon has been here quite a few times, Mattawan, not so much. Muskegon isn’t the team they were when they dominated back a few years ago, so Mattawan’s Wing-T power and home field advantage could lead to a win. However, the Big Reds step up playoff time, despite the records. They win a key road game.
@ Stevensville Lakeshore 28, Holland 20: Two 7-2′s battle each other in Stevensville this week. Match up favors the Lancers, because well, they are used to football in early November. The Dutch? They are usually looking to a long, snowy winter on the Lake Michigan shoreline. The Dutch did beat East Grand Rapids, but face it, EGR is not EGR this year.
@ Zeeland East 31, Saint Joseph 10: Saint Joseph’s season has been far from solid and has been full of twists and turns. Zeeland East’s only loss was to Zeeland West, whose only 9-0. If not for a toe being out in the end zone last season in the state quarterfinals, this might be Saint Joseph versus the defending Division Three State Champions. Zeeland East wins at home.
@ Battle Creek Harper Creek 38, Hastings 20: The SMAC champs in the East Division, Harper Creek; at 9-0, takes on 7-2 Hastings this week. Hastings rolls in having won four straight games, that’s a plus. Bad news? Their league isn’t the class of the SMAC, period. Besides, a team that beat Sturgis and Stevensville Lakeshore in close games, is clutch. Where are those two teams at? In the playoffs. Harper Creek wins.
@ Mason 31, Sturgis 17: Powerhouse Ingham County team takes on upstart Sturgis, 7-2 and second place in the SMAC East this year. Sturgis made the playoffs, thanks in a large part, to defense. They’ve only allowed 14 points this week. But Mason is a big step up from Battle Creek Lakeview, Coldwater and Marshall; besides, Mason rolls in winners of eight straight. Can’t stop a rolling train with just a bullet.
@ Edwardsburg 42, Plainwell 13: Edwardsburg’s road to Ford Field doesn’t begin easy, but it should be rather benign. Edwardsburg being 8-0 and knocking off fellow-unbeaten Petoskey last Friday, makes them an obvious favorite in this game and especially at home. Great rebound season for Plainwell, however, from 0-9 to 6-3.
@ Paw Paw 20, Otsego 14: Conference foes playing for a second time this season. Paw Paw took the regular season game, 23-20, on the road at Otsego and now, at home where they are 4-1 this season, they will put Otsego out in the first round in another classic.
@ Battle Creek Pennfield 41, Vicksburg 7: The Kalamazoo Valley Association strikes again, this time in 9-0 Pennfield, who ripped through the KVA this year to their unbeaten season. Vicksburg may have the passing and kicking game, but Pennfield just has it all. Watch for a long playoff run by Pennfield and it starts Friday.
@ Dowagiac 31, Parchment 21: It’s beat em’ up versus beat em’ up this week in Dowagiac. Both these teams have bruising offenses that can chew up clock. Parchment’s biggest issue: passing the ball. I don’t think the Wing-T affords big deficits and Dowagiac wins because they will score early–and often.
@ Berrien Springs 31, Hopkins 17: Berrien Springs “Home Field” advantage and End of the Year Strength of Schedule (final two games were Edwardsburg and Mendon, both losses) give them a slight edge over Hopkins (0-3 in Non-Conference games).
@ Constantine 21, Hartford 14: Third time in five years the Falcons and Indians square off. And I see no different outcome. Why? Hartford has shown vulnerability before in stopping the Wing-T offense. While Hartford should remain close and score at least twice, one or two missed tackles sets up Constantine for touchdowns. And a rematch seems possible between Cosntantine and Schoolcraft next week.
@ Schoolcraft 22, Cassopolis 14: Game that is opposite Hartford / Constantine in the district is between the two 6-3 teams in this game. Even though Cassopolis finished 6-3, their losses all came to Lakeland Conference foes. And the depth of that conference is no-match for the Kalamazoo Valley Association on paper–or the field.
@ Watervliet 38, Decatur 20: Another rematch of two conference foes in the same place it happened in week seven. Watervliet beat Decatur then, 50-22. Decatur got up 16-0 in the game, just to give up 43 straight points. This game will be closer, because Decatur will have learned from that game and eat up clock. Despite that, Watervliet will eat up points on the board–and move on.
Gobles 31, @ Lawton 24: Rematch of week three in SAC play, as Lawton and Gobles square off. Gobles beat Lawton, 40-33, handing Lawton one of only two losses in the campaign. As in the first game, I think Adam Vosburg takes over the game. Possibly the best back in the SAC, he will lift Gobles to victory. However, this game is one or two plays away from a Lawton victory. Defense is key–period.
@ Mendon 41, Saint Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic 10: These two teams met in the regular season and it was a 52-0 Mendon win in week two. Outside of nearly two months later and seven games difference, no change is seen. Mendon still wins and is a Division Eight favorite.
@ Muskegon Catholic Central 31, Saugatuck 24: This game has huge implications on possible state finalists in Division Eight, as both are more than capable of winning. Saugatuck will be without a key player Friday and Muskegon Catholic Central has held their own in big games in 2011. Look at their playoff points to see why.
@ Climax-Scotts 48, Bellevue 20: Rematch of SCAA foes commences in Climax-Scotts this week, with the Bronchos and Panthers. Climax-Scotts took a 40-24 win in their week three match up. No difference here too, because Climax-Scotts comes to play come playoff time. They could make a run, however, MCC, Saugatuck and Mendon stand in the way of that. The Panthers will, however, go one more round.
This week, due to the Playoffs, I will not be posting my “Three Stars” and “Not-So Top Three Stars”. Sorry for the inconvenience this may cause.
However, below are my FINAL Top 10 “Class B” (Big School) and Top 10 “Class C-D” (Small School) rankings for the year. Remember, the rankings are based on Class B, C and D teams in my seven county area: Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Cass, Kalamazoo, Saint Joseph and Van Buren counties.
Top 10 BIG SCHOOL Rankings
1. Edwardsburg (8-0)
2. Stevensville Lakeshore (8-1)
3. Dowagiac (8-1)
4. Paw Paw (8-1)
5. Berrien Springs (7-2)
6. Otsego (7-2)
7. Hastings (7-2)
8. Sturgis (7-2)
9. Saint Joseph (7-2)
10. Hopkins (6-3)
Honorable Mentions: Plainwell (6-3), Vicksburg (6-3)
Top 10 LITTLE SCHOOL Rankings
1. Mendon (9-0)
2. Saugatuck (9-0)
3. Watervliet (8-1)
4. Gobles (8-1)
5. Climax-Scotts (8-1)
6. Constantine (7-2)
7. Lawton (7-2)
8. Schoolcraft (6-3)
9. Saint Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic (7-2)
10. Decatur (6-3)
Honorable Mentions: Hartford (6-3), Bridgman (5-4), Eau Claire (5-4), New Buffalo (5-4)
As you know, on Sunday, the Hartford Indians (6-3) were drawn into the 256-team 2011 Michigan High School Athletic Association Football Playoff field. You also know that they have drawn the Constantine Falcons (7-2) in the first round of playoff play. Below is some information that may be helpful as you prepare for the “BIG” game.
The game will kick off at 1:00 PM on Saturday, October 29th at Sweetland Stadium in Constantine. We have played at Sweetland Stadium twice before, in 2007 and 2008.
Tickets will be $5/person at the gate at Sweetland Stadium. NO PASSES WILL BE ACCEPTED, NO EXCEPTIONS! Also, Hartford Public Schools and the Hartford Athletic Department are NOT pre-selling tickets at Central Office, nor the Athletic Office. You must purchase your tickets on-site in Constantine. We will be sitting in the bleachers on the far side of the field, nearest to Constantine Middle School.
Sweetland Stadium is located centrally in downtown Constantine. The field is located at the corner of 6th Street and Falcon Drive behind the Constantine Middle School.
Easy Directions: I-94 East to Exit 74A (US-131 South towards Three Rivers). Continue on US-131 through Schoolcraft and Three Rivers. Where US-131 and M-60 meet south of Three Rivers, stay in the left lane and veer left. Follow to Constantine. At stoplight in Constantine, turn left on US-131 (South Washington Street) and stay in left lane (right lane turns into right turn lane). Go to first stoplight (6th Street) and turn right. School is on your left a short way down the road. Parking will be in the Constantine High School parking lot on Falcon Drive.
GPS: If you are using a GPS device, set the address to One Falcon Drive–that address will get you to the drive at Constantine High School.
Coverage will be multi fold for Indian fans on Saturday! We will be covering the game LIVE using our usual Facebook Page and Twitter Feed. Also, WBET-FM 99.3 Sturgis will be streaming the game LIVE online. Radio announcers Mike Stiles and Alex Manga will bring you LIVE coverage of the game beginning at 12:30 PM.
HARTFORD VERSUS CONSTANTINE HISTORY:
Hartford and Constantine have met twice before in this round at this very location. Constantine is 2-0 against the Indians. In 2007, Constantine defeated Hartford in a battle of 8-1′s by a 33-28 score. Then, in 2008, Constantine defeated unbeaten Hartford, 27-14 on home turf.
CONSTANTINE SEASON RECAP:
Constantine comes in to Saturday’s game at 7-2 overall. They were also 7-2 in the Kalamazoo Valley Association (ten league teams–each team plays each other once).
Here is a recap of how the 2011 season has gone down for Constantine:
8/26: Vermontville Maple Valley–Game played @ WMU (W 48-15)
9/2: @ Battle Creek Pennfield (L 0-34)
9/9: @ Olivet (L 14-31)
9/16: Kalamazoo Hackett (W 42-21)
9/23: @ Parchment (W 24-8)
9/30: Galesburg-Augusta (W 41-12)
10/7: Kalamazoo Christian (W 49-21)
10/14: Delton Kellogg (W 55-20)
10/21: @ Schoolcraft (W 28-21)
The weather looks cold and mainly dry for Saturday’s game. With it being a day game on Saturday, the temperature shouldn’t move much on the thermometer. Partly Sunny skies are expected with temperatures around 50 for the game. It might be best to bring a jacket or a blanket to stay warm. There is a slight chance of rain, around 20 percent, as well.
UPDATE: Hartford will get Constantine in round one. Day and time will be announced tomorrow. We will have full coverage on the Blog beginning tomorrow. I will be posting a Blog about my favorites for the postseason, my thoughts on local games and other information FOLLOWING the selection show.
Tune into Fox Sports Detroit beginning at 7 PM for the “Selection Sunday” show. It will be an hour long show, so check it out not only for pairings, but for some great football stories of teams across the state! (HINT: If you are looking for Hartford, tune in during Division Six)
UPDATED WEEK NINE (FINAL):
To See the Final Playoff Field with all 256 teams listed in order by Division and Enrollment, click the link here.
(Note: The file is in Microsoft Excel format. To view the document you must have Microsoft Excel installed on your computer OR you may download the Microsoft Excel Viewer by clicking here.)
To See Playoff Maps and the Possible Pairings (not definite until 7 PM tonight), you may check out Snooze2You’s 2011 “Mapetology” by clicking here and clicking on “Week Nine” and clicking the “Show Projections” button.
Every week on this Blog, I will be making my selections on local games and trying to pick the winners of those games each week. The games posted will be within my seven county window (Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Cass, Kalamazoo, Saint Joseph and Van Buren) and will cover ALL games. Game predicted below are not in any specific order, just by order of the school alphabetically by county.
Last Week: 29-7 (.805)
Season: 244-64 (.792)
Top Three Games of the Week
1. Mendon 41, @ Berrien Springs 21: This will be a good game for a while, but in the end, the 8-0 Hornets will wear down the 7-1 Shamrocks. Both these teams will have solid runs in the playoffs, the Hornets are a plausible candidate for a state title. While Berrien has some solid guns on both sides of the ball, Mendon is a stronghold — in the same positions.
2. Dowagiac 28, @ Paw Paw 24: The battle for the Wolverine “B” Conference title comes down to the final game of the season between Paw Paw and Dowagiac, both solid teams at 8-0 (Paw Paw) and 7-1 (Dowagiac), respectively. However, Paw Paw has the slight advantage at home, but Dowagiac isn’t a team to look over. Look at their win last week in Otsego. A total defensive effort will overcome that home field advantage and Dowagiac will win.
3. @ Schoolcraft 34, Constantine 32: As it is in the Southwestern Athletic Conference this week, it is also rivalry week in the Kalamazoo Valley Association. That means Schoolcraft and Constantine will hook up. Both teams are in the playoffs, so this game is more about pride. While Constantine has won five in a row, home field advantage and a heart-wrenching loss to Olivet last week give Schoolcraft a slight-edge in this one way or another game.
Allegan 41, @ South Haven 17
@ Fennville 38, Martin 12
@ Zeeland East 48, Hamilton 21
Hudsonville Unity Christian 34, @ Holland Christian 17
Hopkins 21, @ Allendale 20
@ Otsego 17, Plainwell 15
@ Saugatuck 49, Bloomingdale 20
Caledonia 41, @ Wayland Union 14
Battle Creek Pennfield 41, @ Delton-Kellogg 10
@ Hastings 48, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Eastern 30
Grand Rapids South Christian 28, @ Middleville Thornapple-Kellogg 10
Stevensville Lakeshore 49, @ Benton Harbor 7
@ Bridgman 37, Saint Joseph Michigan Lutheran 21
@ Cadillac 31, Buchanan 20
Shelby 51, @ Coloma 6
@ Eau Claire 2, Covert 0 (FORFEIT)
New Buffalo 38, @ Saint Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic 34
Portage Central 31, @ Niles 21
Niles Brandywine 41, @ Three Oaks River Valley 30
Saint Joseph 31, @ Kalamazoo Central 28
@ Watervliet 38, Hartford 28
Cassopolis 38, @ White Pigeon 28
@ Petoskey 38, Edwardsburg 32
Marcellus 28, @ Lawrence 14
Climax-Scotts 41, @ Battle Creek Saint Philip 7
@ Richland Gull Lake 31, Comstock 28
Parchment 48, @ Galesburg-Augusta 12
Kalamazoo Hackett 32, @ Kalamazoo Christian 30
Kalamazoo Loy Norrix 41, @ Marshall 20
Mattawan 41, @ Portage Northern 14
Vicksburg 38, @ Three Rivers 14
@ Union City 48, Colon 10
Sturgis 41, @ Coldwater 31
@ Gobles 45, Bangor 17
@ Lawton 31, Decatur 27
@ La Porte LaLumiere (Ind.) 31, Centreville 21
Every week in the HartfordFootball.com Blog, I will be posting a Blog on the previous weeks three stars (standout performances by team and/or players), three not-so top three stars (poor performances by teams and/or players) and be posting my Top 10 “Class B” (Big School) and Top 10 “Class C-D” (Small School) rankings for the week. Remember, the rankings are based on Class B, C and D teams in my seven county area: Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Cass, Kalamazoo, Saint Joseph and Van Buren counties.
1. Portage Central Mustangs: Talk about a victory of playoff proportions for the 2-6 Mustangs last week. Despite being up against the wall, they played hard and beat rival Portage Northern 24-21, effectively ending the hopes of Portage Northern making the playoffs. The Mustangs jumped out to a 17-0 second quarter lead and out gained Northern 343-231 in total yards.
2. Comstock Colts: Comstock joined the list of teams joining the win column last week, defeating Three Rivers, who scored their first win in week seven by a 33-14 score. The Colts won the game in the second quarter by outscoring the Wildcats 20-0 in the frame. The Colts out gained the Wildcats 421-169 in total yards, led by Sawyer Heffner with three rushing touchdowns (runs of 65, 5 and 22).
3. Cooper Mojsiejenko, Bridgman: This kid came from a kicking family and it showed it in the game for the Bees against New Buffalo. The son of former NFL kicker Ralf Mojsiejenko, the Bee junior kicked a 20 yard field goal in the last second (literally) to lift the Bees to a home victory over New Buffalo, 22-21. He also set up the field goal with a big 45 yard reception in the last minute of the game, too.
Three Not-So Top Stars
1. Gobles / Saugatuck Game: The reason for this being a not-so three star? Because the game was a game of two 7-0′s and ended — with a blowout. Saugatuck man-handled Gobles to the tone of 539 total yards and 56 points last week in a 56-6 road win at Gobles. That win gives Saugatuck, most likely, the SAC North Division title. Holding Gobles, a team scoring over 40 points a game, to six, helped, too.
2. Still Win Less: One game remains for three local teams in my area to get off the “0″ number in the win column. Martin, Galesburg-Augusta and Lawrence are the three teams this week. 48 minutes remains between them and either 1-8 or 0-9 marks on the season. This game this week is a state final for them.
3. Weather Delays: The weather last week was atrocious for teams to play in, because some, didn’t even play in it. The lightning and rain delays are becoming more of a nuisance then a help. The old saying is “if you can hear thunder, you can be close enough to be struck by lightning”. In some cases, that was right this week. But others had 30-45 minute delays, just to come back and next play, lightning strikes. Could we let up on the length of delays a hair?
Top 10 BIG SCHOOL Rankings
1. Edwardsburg (7-0)
2. Stevensville Lakeshore (7-1)
3. Paw Paw (8-0)
4. Dowagiac (7-1)
5. Berrien Springs (7-1)
6. Plainwell (6-2)
7. Hastings (6-2)
8. Otsego (6-2)
9. Sturgis (6-2)
10. Saint Joseph (6-2)
Honorable Mentions: Hopkins (5-3), Vicksburg (5-3), Buchanan (4-3)
Top 10 LITTLE SCHOOL Rankings
1. Mendon (8-0)
2. Saugatuck (8-0)
3. Watervliet (7-1)
4. Gobles (7-1)
5. Climax-Scotts (7-1)
6. Schoolcraft (6-2)
7. Constantine (6-2)
8. Lawton (6-2)
9. Decatur (6-2)
10. Hartford (6-2)
Honorable Mentions: Saint Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic (6-2), New Buffalo (5-3), Bridgman (4-4)
I realize that this is a Football Blog. But something happened yesterday in the racing world that has impacted millions of people, some of those being close personal friends of the Administrator of this web site. I feel I have to address the situation accordingly and show you my feelings about this topic. Bear with me, as I change the subject from Football to Racing for this one post.
Some say Football games in Hartford are “life and death”, that winning and losing are more important than the fun and educational purpose that High School Sports are supposed to serve. In Racing, “life and death” take on a more purposeful meaning, because anytime a race car driver straps into his or her race car, they really do put their lives on the line to serve a purpose: to give the fans a show and live out their dreams. When they go out and race, they never know when it may be the last time they’ll ever race.
Unfortunately yesterday in Las Vegas, that statement came true. On Lap 12 of the IZOD IndyCar Series finale at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a car slid up the track at close to 220 MPH. That car was in the middle of a pack, racing three-wide with two other cars. Two cars touched wheels and spun out, causing the others in the pack to attempt to check up and get around the accident. Some drivers were able to. But, at 220 MPH, other drivers simply could not. In the end, thirteen other cars were caught up in a horrific melee.Two cars went flying through the air. Fourteen drivers survived with scratched pride, hurt feelings and minor injuries. One driver, sadly, did not survive.
Remember what I said about “life and death”? In this case, death came before life.
Dan Wheldon was a two-time Indianapolis 500 champion. He won the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” in 2005 and, most recently won in May of this year, when the leader of the race in the final turn passed a lapped car, a slower car, on the outside. He got caught in the “marbles” (part of the track where drivers don’t usually race and the track becomes “dirty” with no grip) and crashed within shouting distance of racings greatest finish line. Wheldon was nearly five seconds back when the incident occurred.
In the end, Wheldon got by the car of rookie J.R. Hildebrand that day and somehow, magically, led that final lap to win his second Indianapolis 500 mile race. It was the only lap that the Brit led that Memorial Day Sunday. On that day, Wheldon, who was without a full-time ride and leaned on former teammate Bryan Herta to earn a ride for the race, won. That day, he was not a favorite to win the race or even contend. He was the underdog. He proved that no matter how fast the car was or the team that he was driving for wasn’t the best, that talent can somehow overwhelm even the best in sport.
Wheldon had enormous experience and talent every time he stepped into an IndyCar. He was a natural.
Wheldon also drove in his career for three other IndyCar standout teams. He drove most recently full-time for Panther Racing and before Panther, he raced for Chip Ganassi Racing and Andretti Autosport. His most successful season came with Andretti Autosport, where he won the 2005 IZOD IndyCar Series championship. During the 2005 season, he won a record six races that season, including the Indy 500. He had a successful IndyCar career. In 133 career races, he won 5 poles, 16 race victories, made 27 podium appearances and 50 top-10 finishes. He was also a successful driver in the pre-Indy ranks, racing in the USF2000 series, Toyota Atlantic series and the Indy Lights series.
Unfortunately, after yesterday, Dan Wheldon’s talents here on this Earth have been put to rest. And sadly, for future generations of aspiring IndyCar racers, they will not be able to learn from his passion and class he raced everyday of his life with.
Sadly, this accident reminds me of many racing accidents of the past. This reminds me of Dale Earnhardt’s last-lap accident at Daytona in February, 2001. In IndyCar terms, it reminds me of the fatal accidents of Greg Moore in the Fall of 1999 in California or Tony Renna during a tire test at Indianapolis in October, 2003 or even the accident of Paul Dana, which was the most recent IndyCar fatality in Homestead in March, 2006. I remember all three like yesterday. It is hard to forget seeing racers, people you grew up watching and idolizing, being killed. You never, ever forget it.
You can all say that racing is a silly sport, because they go around in circles. Or you can blame the lack of safety in the IndyCar Series for what happened to Dan Wheldon. And you can be “right” on both fronts. Yes, racing does go around in circles and open wheel drivers are at the mercy of horrific injuries when an accident like yesterday does occur.
But unless you are a driver, team owner, team management, staff or the hardcore fan, you will never understand why racers do what they do. They race, not because of money or the popularity, but because they have a passion; a drive to race. They love the feel of speed and the excitement racing gives that other sports simply don’t give.
Racers of today were given their love of the sport because maybe a Grandfather, Father or even a Mother was a racer. Some familes of racers today are second, third, even fourth generation racers. Others got into racing because they saw it on TV, simply wanted to try racing and came to love it. Racing isn’t cheap or easy and some drivers families have sacrified homes, cars, even mortgages so that their sons or daughters and, even themselves, can race.
Racers know the dangers that exist everytime they strap into a race car. It’s always in the back of a racers mind that something like what happened yesterday can happen. But you also have to realize things like this happen in other sports, too. We’ve had deaths in football and basketball, too. It’s just sometimes, those deaths aren’t publicized and scrutinized as much as racing deaths during the race itself are. Why do we love football and other sports in this country? Because we have a passion for them. Other haves the same passion. Racing is no different.
Remember the moral of this story, “life and death”? Maybe in death comes NEW life. From this point on, it’s more of a personal letter to my racing friends and I encourage them to read this and hopefully, understand where I am coming from.
So, to all my friends who race, have raced and will race into the future, let’s have a personal talk about this.
I know the pain you are feeling right now. It’s deeply unbearable and it hurts deep. Some, if not most of you, knew Dan personally. Whether it was through a personal friendship, helping him with his go-karting or just had the opportunity to interact with him and learn from him, I understand you’ve lost a good colleague, friend and brother. It is a hole in the heart and mind that may take a long time to heal, if ever. I know, personally. I’ve lost six family members since 2005 and that pain runs deep, so I’ve experienced your situation and heartbreak.
But ask yourself a question. Even though he has passed on, would he want you to give up your dreams of racing in NASCAR or IndyCar just because of what happened to him?
This answer seems simple. NO, he would not. Because he died doing what he loved doing: racing. Everytime he looked you in the eyes and talked to you, he passed on a little piece of himself. He passed on his charisma, his personality, his class, his flair. Each of you still has a piece of Dan inside of you that no one can ever take from you. You each are Dan Wheldon in so many other ways.
So, in a way, you would disappoint him by giving up and quitting racing, because you all know he wouldn’t want you all to quit on your dreams. He would and wants everyone to move on and race like nothing ever happened. Each and every single one of you can be the next Dan Wheldon. Maybe you can’t be the man himself, but you all learned from the best out there and know what you can do to honor his memory. And that’s racing, racing was Dan’s passion and I’m sure it is your passion, too.
You can also honor his memory by doing what he did and that is passing on your passion to the next generation of racers. I ask all of you, in his memory, to do what Dan did and that is teach. Find a young driver out there, approach him or her and be their mentor. Teach them not just how to drive a kart or a car, but teach them how to race with charisma, flair and class. Teach them how to interact with the public with those same characteristics. Sometimes the best way to honor a persons memory is to spread what they taught you to others. Therefore, his memory will not be of how he died, but more about how he lived.
You guys are the future of racing. You can’t let racing die because of the death of one driver. You carry on the torch that has been lit for you by racings past and present. Sometimes, racing comes at a cost. But you have an undying passion for something you love. My hope for you all is that as we go through the future and whether its win or lose, that you treat racing like your passion. You don’t need to win every race or every championship to make your impact like Dan did. Whether it’s a win, a championship or even a revolution to make racing better or safer; that is an impact far beyond a race win or championship.
You can even honor his memory in a personal way, by being great people and great citizens. You don’t need to be a great race car driver to honor him. You can be a great person by being great with the fans and great with the media, because fans drive the sport forward. And more personally, you can be great like him by being a great Father or Mother; Brother or Sister; family member and friend. That, also, will honor his memory in a fantastic way.
You guys mean a lot to me and I felt like I needed to get that message to you to never quit and carry his legacy on and create your own legacy. You will make him so very proud of you by doing just that! He will always be with you, in heart, mind and spirit. Never let his legacy and spirit die. That is the victory that you seek when the sun rises and eluminates the darkness you see and feel now. The sun will rise on a better day.
In final, I believe someone up above whispered to J.R. Hildebrand to crash that car in the final turn of the Indy 500 this year. He must have told him he had many more chances to win that race. I believe that same person also knew Dan’s time was coming to come home to his creator and wanted to give him that final special gift of winning that race before he called him home so tragically. In a way, don’t you think that is a little epic? That we were all blessed to see that moment? We still do not know and may never know why Dan was called home with his creator, but there is always reason we just can’t grasp or see. Isn’t it special he is with that same creator that gave him life and so many other gifts? Not just racing gifts, but his wife, two children and other family. Dan was a special gift to everyone he knew.
Remember, the whole story about “life and death”? It has now come full circle. That despite the death of one of your own, you can breed new life, carry on and enjoy a passion.
We realize life is special. Cherish everyday you have with one another. Because you never know, like Dan and all my relatives and friends who have passed on before us, when your time will come to go home.
UPDATED WEEK EIGHT:
To See Current Teams in the Playoff Field (currently 185 teams), click the link here.
(Note: The file is in Microsoft Excel format. To view the document you must have Microsoft Excel installed on your computer OR you may download the Microsoft Excel Viewer by clicking here.)
To See Playoff Maps and Possible Pairings (not definite), you may check out Snooze2You’s 2011 “Mapetology” by clicking here.
After last nights 62-0 victory over Lawrence on Homecoming, the Hartford Indian Varsity Football team claimed their sixth win of the season. With that victory, that clinches them a spot in the 256 team field for the 2011 MHSAA Football playoffs!
The Indians do have one more regular season game to play, a road contest next Friday night in Watervliet. The Indians will either finish 7-2 or 6-3 on the season. The game with the rival Panthers could be a major deciding factor on whether the Indians will host a first-round game or be on the road in week one.
The Indians, finally, will find out their playoff opponent on Sunday, October 23rd at 7:00 PM during the MHSAA Selection Sunday show on Fox Sports Detroit. The hour-long selection show will show the pairings of all playoff teams in the eight 32-team divisions and where those games will be played.
Shortly after the selection show, the pairings will be shown on the official MHSAA web site at http://www.mhsaa.com. The dates and times of the games will not be available initially, so check back to this blog and the MHSAA web site for the date and time announcements early that week.
Of course, HartfordFootball.com will have comprehensive coverage of the playoffs, starting with the pre-district round all the way to the State Finals on Thanksgiving weekend in Detroit!
Thank you Indians Fans for your support this season! See you all during the Playoffs!