Tuesday, July 22, 2014

PA state champion St. Joe's Prep to be seen on NFL Network


Courtesy of CBS3 Philly

Philadelphia, PA (CBS) — There is a standard now in area high school football that goes beyond the area, goes beyond the state and has now reached a national level—and that standard is St. Joseph’s Prep.
The Hawks will begin this season No. 1 in every area poll, and are already ranked nationally by MaxPreps at No. 18 in the country.

What’s more, the Hawks will be featured nationally next Tuesday on the NFL Network, when Melissa Starks and the NFL production trucks visit The Prep at Temple’s practice facility on Diamond Street.
There are a lot of expectations for the Hawks—and orchestrator, head coach Gabe Infante, is well aware.

“But the message is the same, believing in the process—it’s like putting a jigsaw puzzle together, you have new pieces, you have old pieces, but you have to make sure all of the pieces fit,” said Infante, whose team finished 12-3 overall last year and are the reigning PIAA Class AAAA state champions. “Every game we play is to be the best team we can possibly become. Not last year’s team—this year’s team.”

Then Infante paused for a moment … “People ask me about defending last year’s state championship, but you can’t defend something that you don’t possess. We don’t possess the 2014 state title—we possess the 2013 trophy. If someone comes into the school and tries to take the 2013 trophy, they’re going to have a problem on their hands. That one I plan on defending. The 2014 we don’t possess. But we have some advantages.”

The Hawks actually have a lot of advantages and it begins with Infante and the core group he’s built over the last three years, beginning with the Southeastern Pennsylvania’s best player, defensive back John Reid, and monster-in-waiting Jon Daniel Runyan, who’s now 6-foot-5, 285 pounds and played his best ever in Prep’s 35-10 thumping of Pittsburgh Central Catholic in the state title game.

Add in special tailbacks D’Andre Swift and Olamide Zaccheaus, who combined to rush for over 1,500 yards last year, returning defenders Shawn Harris. Jake Strain, Brandon Noga, and transfer Benny Walls, and it’s a team that will be awfully tough to beat.

But the Hawks are thinking a little beyond Catholic League or city titles. They’re thinking big picture, playing a national schedule.

“We have to follow the process week-by-week, day-by-day,” said Reid, who had four interceptions last year and is being recruited by Alabama, Penn State, Miami and a host of other national-caliber programs. “I have high expectations of myself—and this team. We all have bigger goals than just rankings. We want to become the best players and best team we can become. Just like any other team, we want to be the best team in the country.

“But we need to keep everything within our bubble and keep the focus on ourselves. We know everyone hates us. Since I’ve been here, no one has really liked us—and I kind of embrace that part. That doesn’t matter. We have a huge target on our backs and there is a lot to prove. We don’t really worry about it. We control what we can control.”

Flyers prominently featured on national broadcasts

To the absolute surprise of no one who can observe the intimate connection between Comcast, its ownership of the Philadelphia Flyers and its oversight of the NBC Sports Network, the Orange and Black will be featured quite a bit on the national TV schedule during the 2014-15 season.

A total of 16 games, in fact.

On Wednesday, the long-standing national network still trying to make a go at attracting a wider audience to the National Hockey League announced its full broadcast slate for the upcoming season. The following are the games and particular network the Flyers will be playing to living rooms beyond the Delaware Valley. Matchups of note are listed in bold print.

October 8 at Boston (NBCSN) Season Opener

October 21 at Chicago (NBCSN)

October 22 at Pittsburgh (NBCSN)

November 19 at NY Rangers (NBCSN)

November 26 at Detroit (NBCSN)

November 28 NY Rangers (NBC) Black Friday 1 PM

December 2 at San Jose (NBCSN)

January 14 at Washington (NBCSN)

January 20 Pittsburgh (NBCSN)

February 15 at Buffalo (NBCSN)

February 22 Washington (NBC) 12:30 PM

February 24 at Carolina (NBCSN)

February 28 NY Rangers (NBC) 8 PM

March 25 Chicago (NBCSN)

April 1 at Pittsburgh (NBCSN)

April 5 Pittsburgh (NBC) 12:30 PM

























































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Flyers All-Time Unlikeliest Hat Tricks

Last season, the Philadelphia Flyers rewarded their fans with only one instance of a host player scoring at least three times in one game.

Wayne Simmonds beat Henrik Lundqvist three times, helping the Orange and Black stay alive in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series back on April 29, igniting a 5- Game 6 victory.

That marked the first time any Flyer had lit the lamp three times in Philadelphia since the now departed Scott Hartnell (6 hat tricks) did so in a 6-5 shootout loss to the Bruins on January 22, 2012.

A significant number of the club's 195 trifectas were produced by the franchise's best shooters: MacLeish, Leach, Barber, Kerr, Poulin, Lindros, LeClair, Primeau, Gagne, Briere, Carter, Richards, Giroux and Voracek. However, there have been some rare occasions, both in the regular season and playoffs, where unheralded players have stepped up and embarrassed opposing goaltenders on career nights.

The following is a non-exhaustive list of some of the most unlikely goal-drenching performances in Flyers history:

10. Alexandre Daigle -- March 14, 1998 Flyers 6, Red Wings 1: The Man from Hollywood managed just 12 goals in 68 games over parts of two seasons with Philadelphia in the late 90s, but he put together one week which briefly displayed the flashes of brilliance which enticed the Ottawa Senators to pick him first overall in the 1993 draft.

After failing to light the lamp in his first 15 games here, Daigle exploded during a long homestand. For starters, he tallied a highlight-reel goal in overtime to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in front of a national audience, added another goal against the Devils in a tie two nights later, and to end it,  punctured the defense and goaltending of the defending champion Detroit Red Wings on home ice in  Saturday matinee. Two of the goals were deflections and the third a one-timer from the left wing.

9. Sean Couturier -- April 13, 2012 Flyers 8, Penguins 5 Game 2 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals: Who could have thought that a 19-year-old kid, a raw rookie, would announce his arrival in the NHL during his second career playoff contest? Hard to think even Couturier himself would have dreamed up this scenario.

Leading 1-0 in the best-of-seven series, and facing another 3-1 in-game deficit, the Flyers rallied to win and steal the momentum against their cross-state rivals heading home with a second straight head-scratching victory. Every one of his goals were crucial, timely tallies. On the first, he remained deep in the Penguins zone and slammed home a rebound with less than three seconds to play in the second period, forging a 4-4 deadlock. Only 17 seconds after Pittsburgh moved ahead early in the third, he intercepted a pass and scored for a 5-5 game, then finished off a pass from Claude Giroux to make it 7-5 with 1:49 to go.

With that effort, Couturier joined Giroux and seven other members of the Orange and Black to record a playoff hat trick before getting one in the regular season.

8.  Andy Delmore -- May 7, 2000 Flyers 6, Penguins 3 Game 5 Eastern Conference Semifinals: What makes Delmore's feat all the more impressive, is that if it weren't for his OT winner in Game 3 at Pittsburgh five days earlier, the Flyers may not have progressed this far so he could unleash his One Shining Moment in front of the home crowd which gave the Orange and Black a 3-2 series edge.

A defenseman whose offensive upside superseded his defensive skills in an era where that wasn't welcome in Philadelphia or many other places, Delmore scored seven times and added 15 assists in 92 games over parts of three seasons here. Yet, in the 2000 playoffs, for a club which had to make do without Eric Lindros for all but two games, Delmore was one of a half-dozen heroes who stepped out of obscurity. He led all Philly defensemen that postseason with five goals -- all in the Pens series -- and posted the club's first and only playoff hat trick by a blueliner.

7.  Derrick Smith -- December 10, 1988 Flyers 6, Blackhawks 4: For a guy who once went half a season without an assist early in his pro career, and who tallied only 80 times in 494 appearances with the Flyers over seven seasons, it was quite a shock that Smith was the one who burned Chicago on this Saturday afternoon at the Spectrum.

In Blackhawks head coach Mike Keenan's first game against the Flyers since his firing the previous May, Smith gave the hosts leads of 2-0 and 3-1 in a five-goal second period, then hit the clincher behind Darren Pang with 1:34 left in regulation to stave off a late visitors' comeback. Prior to that game, Smith only posted a single multi-goal effort, and didn't repeat the feat again after that point. Unable to find playing time under Paul Holmgren, he was eventually claimed off waivers by the North Stars shortly into the 1991-92 season.

6.  Trent Klatt -- March 1, 1997 Flyers 5, Bruins 5: Acquired in December of 1995 from the Dallas Stars for the better-scoring Brent Fedyk, Klatt responded in typical grinder fashion, coming up with a paltry three goals in the remaining 49 games he played for Terry Murry the remainder of the season.

Once paired up with fellow Minnesotans Shjon Podein and Joel Otto on the best third line the franchise ever produced, he turned into a veritable scoring machine. With 17 goals in 58 games up to that point, and with the fate of a WIP caller's free dinner from midday yakker Mike Missanelli (who bet that Klatt wouldn't make it to 20 after hitting 15 in mid-February) hanging in the balance, Klatt decided to get 'em all in one try. He scored twice in a three-goal opening period, then capped his milestone first NHL hat trick on a short-handed goal with 8:44 left.

Lost in the afterglow, was that the Bruins scored twice in a 52-second span in the final 1:17 just to get to overtime. Klatt set a career-best with 24 goals in 1996-97, then dipped to 14 the next year, and only went as high as 17, in his final season, with Vancouver in 2003-04.

5.  Bill Lesuk -- January 9, 1972 Flyers 10, Golden Seals 3: A native of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Lesuk spent a season and a half with Philly in a time when goals were at an absolute premium. With such offensive-minded players like Gary Dornhoefer, Rick MacLeish and Bobby Clarke on the roster, it was the diminutive 25-year-old who set the pace. He recorded 24 goals over 123 games before being shipped to Los Angeles in a deal which netted Cowboy Flett and Ross Lonsberry, and didn't have too many highlight-level moments for a team struggling to remain in the playoff race.

California obliged, at least once. Lesuk's first goal gave the hosts a 5-2 lead late in the second period, and then he scored the club's eighth and landmark 10th goals of the contest in the final six minutes of the third. After 4 1/2 years in the NHL, the Flyers finally hit double digits on the scoreboard with 2:22 left in that contest. Nineteen days later, Lesuk was on his way to the West Coast. He only scored 20 more goals in the NHL over 215 appearances.

4.  Rosaire Paiement -- April 13, 1968 Flyers 6, Blues 1 Game 5 Quarterfinals: If hockey fans over the age of 35 recognize that last name, it is familiar. He's Wilf Paiement's older brother, and the man who holds the distinction of recording the Flyers franchise's first-ever playoff hat trick. Paiement's output against Hall-of-Fame goaltender Glenn Hall represented 75 percent of his entire regular-season totals with the expansion club (4 goals in 43 games over parts of three seasons).

Trailing 3-1 in the series and facing elimination on home ice, Paiement turned up the heat for the first and only time in his career. He gave the O&B a 2-0 lead at even strength in the first period, then sandwiched two more strikes in a 2:58 span in the third period around St. Louis' lone tally against Bernie Parent. What's even more bizarre, is that Paiement didn't even dress for the entire series, appearing in just three contests, the first of which was his career night, and the last of which was the series-ending 3-1 home loss in Game 7.

The best thing the club ever got from Paiement was his value in trade, to Boston in 1970 for MacLeish.

3.  Jiri Dopita -- January 8, 2002 Flyers 7, Thrashers 4: Who can forget "the best player in the world not in the NHL?" If not for his North American career-defining night at the First Union Center, we'd have done that already.

Armed with just two goals over 25 appearances in the Flying P, Dopita showed no signs of adjusting to a foreign land and a different type of game from the one which allowed him to be a 30-goal scorer in the Czech Extraliga. Yet, countryman Milan Hnilicka and Damian Rhodes felt the full brunt of Dopita's pent-up wrath in a victory which helped push Philadelphia into first place in the Atlantic Division.

His first strike gave the hosts a 3-1 edge after one period. The next two in the following stanza, in a stretch of 2:40 which extended the advantage to 5-2. The fourth was a power-play marker near the midway point of the third period, which vaulted the laconic 33-year-old into unique company. Dopita's head coach, Bill Barber, only registered as many as four goals once in a Hall-of-Fame career.

"I'm just happy to help," said a relieved Dopita after the game had finished. "It's been hard for me...It's different here than the European game. There are more checks here."

Dopita only hit the net five more times in his final 26 games with the Flyers, then spent the next season in Edmonton and scoring once in 21 games. 

2.  Tony Horacek -- December 30, 1989 Flyers 6, Kings 3: There's no doubt that this city's identity as far as a hockey team and its fans are concerned is built around the guys who battle in the corners for the puck and use their fists to keep the peace. Every once in a blue moon, those enforcers do something wonderful and unexpected.

Dave Schultz set a still-standing, and probably never-to-be-broken single-season record with 472 penalty minutes in 1975, but he also registered two hat tricks seven days apart, netted an overtime series-winning playoff marker and scored 20 goals once in his career. Ed Hospodar scored two goals in a game where the Flyers desperately tried to rally from a 5-1 deficit in an attempt to win a 14th straight game. Rick Tocchet defied the odds and extended his career by going from a scrapper to a scorer.

But Horacek, a 1985 seventh-round pick and fourth-line guy on one of the worst teams in club history, wasn't expected to do much of anything except protect the guys expected to put the puck in the net. He made his NHL debut on October 8, 1989 in a loss at Winnipeg, and scored two goals through 32 games while accruing 93 PIM until that fateful night at the Forum in Inglewood.

The rookie puncher put Wayne Gretzky and Luc Robitaille to shame, netting his first of the night just 1:42 on a one-timer in the slot off a Pelle Eklund pass. He two more in an 8 1/2-minute span in the second period, the last giving Philly a 5-1 advantage. Both were within 10 feet of the net, the last coming with Marty McSorley draped on his back.

The Vancouver native never came close to equaling the feat. He failed to score in the remaining 15 games of the 1989-90 season, then scored only four more times in 68 games until he was swapped to Chicago for Ryan McGill in February of '92. Horacek remains the last player in team history whose primary job was enforcement to score three times in one game.

Courtesy of the Philadelphia Flyers
1.  Tom Bladon -- December 11, 1977 Flyers 11, Barons 1: Take inventory of the greatest offensive defensemen in NHL history: Bobby Orr, Paul Coffey, Mark Howe, Brian Leetch, Nick Lidstrom.

Only one of those (Coffey) ever reached the NHL record books with an eight-point night, and he had the added advantage of helping fuel the greatest offense in league history.

Bladon did manage to hit double digits in goals for five of his six seasons in Philadelphia, but he wasn't a puck-moving dynamo like the man who succeeded him on the blueline, Bob Dailey, or sure-handed in his own end of the ice. He'd only recorded one multi-goal effort in his career prior to the night in question.

If you had to pick a team where a random Flyer could test the limits of history, the Cleveland Barons would be a great guess. The former Seals obliged, letting Philadelphia tie a season high for goals scored and accumulate a plus-34 shot differential. Bladon simply had an out-of-body experience as far as statistics were concerned. He scored on three slapshots and a wrister, and set up four more Flyer goals to break Orr's then-record for points by a defenseman, and do something at the time which only Rocket Richard, Darryl Sittler and Bert Olmstead accomplished.

As it stands, Bladon is the only Flyers defenseman to record four goals in one outing, and one of just three franchise backliners to record a hat trick either in the regular season or the playoffs (Steve Duchesne, December 1991, Delmore listed above).

Monday, July 21, 2014


Kennedy & Steve Cunningham
Photo Courtesy of:
The Cunningham Family


Philadelphia (July 21, 2014)-- America was introduced to Kennedy Cunningham when her father first fought on NBC back in December of 2012 when he faced Tomasz Adamek in that epic battle, we learned that she suffered from a severed heart condition called HLHS.

 
In April when Steve fought Amir Mansour on NBC Sports, the family had just received heart breaking news when they we told that Kennedy was not a candidate for heart transplant as they had hoped.
 
She had her first open heart surgery at 2 days old and the second six months later. She was hospitalized for the first year of her life and suffered many set backs along the way, including a stroke, many blood infections and also required a trach and vent for several years when she was younger. The doctors that cared for her back then all say that she is a miracle, they saw everything she went through and never thought she would live to be 8 years old! Now, almost 9 years later she continues to show us how tough she is!
Most children with HLHS undergo a third repair which can allow them to live into adulthood, however it was determined that Kennedy was not a candidate due to the anatomy of her heart and the extent of its defects (small pulmonary arteries and tricuspid valve regurgitation). It was then that we were advised that she would have to have a heart transplant. She went through the entire transplant evaluation in our hometown of Philadelphia at the Children's Hospital there and in March our world was shattered when we were told by the Heart Failure team at CHOP that Kennedy was not a candidate for transplant or any other surgery. We were told, "no matter what, Kennedy is going to die far to soon". They told Steve and his wife Livvy that the best they could do was give her medicine to help her heart function but that there would come a time when her heart would give out and there would be nothing they could do.

"I was so completely heart broken the day her doctor sat me down and gave me the news," said Livvy.  "My world collapsed.  I cried for 3 days straight while I tried to wrap my head around the news and tried to figure out how to live without the hope of a beautiful future for our beautiful daughter, tried to picture our lives without her.  I just couldn't, it was impossible"

The Cunninghams are a faithful, fighting family and decided 'they were not going to give up on their daughter and just watch her fade away. They chose to seek a second opinion. The Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh agreed to evaluate her and on June 25th, 2014, Kennedy was accepted into their program and listed for a heart transplant! Receiving a heart transplant is giving her a fighting chance to live the full, energy filled life that every child deserves.

"I'll never forget the day I got the call from my wife with the news, I broke down like never before, I lost it.  I was in the middle of my training camp for a must win fight.  People close to me told me I should pull out of the fight, that it was too much for me.  But I knew that I had to fight for Kennedy, she has been through so many battles in her life and has never once given up and I was not going to let her see her father quit.  I turned my sadness and fear into determination and on fight night, I had to dig deep but it was that determination that got me up off the canvas twice to win.  We will never give up on Kennedy and are so blessed and excited that The Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh has agreed to take her on and list her", said Steve Cunningham

Now that Kennedy is listed in Pittsburgh, The Cunninghams' have to travel there 1-2 times per month for appointments and  have to be ready at any time to jump on the road when they get "the call" that she has her new heart waiting for her. Once that call comes in, they will have 4 hours to get her to Pittsburgh and right now, they live 4.5 hours away. Additionally, They will have to remain in the Pittsburgh area for at least 6 months post-op so housing must also be arranged.

After Steve's thrilling win on April 4, fans and the boxing community reached out to Steve and Livvy asking how they could help.

The Cunningham's have set up a fund where donations will help this  family cover the out of pocket expenses that come along with this amazing opportunity. Traveling to and from Pittsburgh as well as securing and maintaining a "home away from home" while Kennedy awaits her new heart and recovers from surgery.


TO DONATE TO THE KENNEDY CUNNINGHAM TRANSPLANT FUNDRAISER, PLEASE CLICK ON heartbyfaith.com






Stone comes looking for Kluwe's glass house

PHILADELPHIA - FX unveiled its anticipated new comedy series "You're the Worst" last week.

To my surprise, however, the show evidently had nothing to do with Minnesota
Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer or his favorite ex-employee,
Chris Kluwe.

In the race for who's the worst, though, it might come down to the now-
admitted homophobe and his incredibly hypocritical former punter.

Priefer was slapped with a three-game suspension that could be shortened to
two games for making a homophobic comment to Kluwe, a high-profile advocate
for gay marriage.

The results of a nearly six-month "independent" investigation started by the
team over claims Kluwe made in an online article titled, "I was an NFL player
until I was fired by two cowards and a bigot (referring to then-coach Leslie
Frazier, general manager Rick Spielman and Priefer)," were strategically
released by the Vikings in a Friday news dump in order to limit as much media
attention as possible.

According to a 29-page memo, the investigation turned up evidence Priefer did
indeed make a homophobic statement to Kluwe, something the coach denied at
first, but not the many the former punter alleged in his first-person account
earlier this year.

"As we sat down in our chairs, Mike Priefer, in one of the meanest voices I
can ever recall hearing, said: "We should round up all the gays, send them to
an island, and then nuke it until it glows," Kluwe accused.

The only real practical football matter is all this nonsense was also cleared
up, although it really didn't need to be. The report concludes there is
no evidence that supported Kluwe's claim that he was released by the Vikings
in May 2013 because of his activism.

Investigators hired former Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo and
former Pro Bowl punter Craig Hentrich to analyze Kluwe's 2012 season amid his
claims he was released for non-performance reasons. Based on the analysis, the
investigators concluded Kluwe was released "for football performance reasons
and not his views on marriage equality."

It should have ended there but Kluwe tweeted Friday that he was still pursuing
a lawsuit against the Vikings and would seek "max damages" that he would
donate to LBGT charities.

"This is not about the money for me," Kluwe wrote. "This is about doing what's
right."

Really?

Because the report also took aim at Kluwe's own imperfections.

Kluwe was accused of making fun of the Jerry Sandusky/Penn State child
molestation controversy  at the expense of the Vikings' then strength and
conditioning coach Tom Kanavy, an alumnus and former coach at Penn State.

In his interview with investigators, Kanavy explained that Kluwe cut the seat
out of his pants and then put them on to imitate a victim of the Penn State
child-abuse scandal. According to Kanavy, Kluwe said that he was a "Penn State
victim" and to "stay away" from him while his buttocks were exposed.

But forget the moral equivalency here, at least according to Kluwe, who
cautioned us all on Twitter.

"People, please remember that I choose my words very carefully," the elitist
with the perfect verbal SAT score Tweeted on Friday. "Assumptions are your
enemy."

Duly warned but I'll put on my amateur psychologist hat and try to tackle
Kluwe's apparent need to fight the injustices of the world, at least the ones
he finds worthy of his activism.

Kluwe wasn't choosing his words carefully on Twitter when he accused "two very
well known Vikings were once caught in a compromising situation with an
underage girl."

That not only intimated that the organization somehow covered that up, it also
exposes Kluwe as the moral crusader who couldn't stand Priefer's lip
service toward gays but kept sexual assault of an underage girl in his hip
pocket as ammunition for a potential legal fight.

Talk about losing the moral high ground.

Kluwe is your textbook parvenu, though, a man who has gained influence and at
least a certain degree of celebrity by championing issues that the normal
knuckle-draggers who populate pro football locker rooms like Priefer are not
refined enough to understand.

In fact, Kluwe is a man who hates intolerance so much that he has become the
very thing he despises -- intolerant.

There is no room for opposition in Kluwe's world. Anyone who doesn't
fall in line with his way of thinking is either naive, misinformed or obtuse.

If you question him, you are written off as an apologist or as someone steeped
in fanaticism trying to somehow protect the Vikings.

Yet, Kluwe is the one far more intellectually dishonest than all the
sycophants supposedly hiding the dark underbelly of the NFL. After all, he is
smart enough to know he's been doing exactly that his whole life, whether it
was in Minnesota or locker rooms in Los Alamitos, Westwood and Oakland.

Do even the staunchest Kluwe apologists really think Priefer's repulsive gay
bashing was the first untoward thing Kluwe has heard in a locker room over the
past 17 or so years?

Let's all stop pretending here.

Kluwe had an ax to grind with his old boss and he cloaked it in his support of
gay marriage.

His irrational insistence in calling himself the best punter in franchise
history was an oversimplification, using the bloated gross punting numbers of
today's players. Kluwe was released because he was an average punter set to
make $1.45 million in 2013.

In the end, this is just an old story with a modern-day twist, a guy who hated
his boss and wants revenge.

Mike Priefer may be bad but Chris Kluwe is the worst.

Soul keep playoff hopes alive, dominate SaberCats

PHILADELPHIA  – The Philadelphia Soul (9-8) used defense and capitalized on turnovers as they defeated the San Jose SaberCats, 42-20, in front of 10,471 fans on Sunday night at the Wells Fargo Center. 

In the victory, the Soul set a regular-season mark for fewest points allowed in a game (20) and it keeps the Soul’s playoff hopes alive heading into the final week of the regular season.

“This is playoff football,” said Soul head coach Clint Dolezel.  “We really brought our ‘A Game’ tonight, especially on the defensive side.  We need to continue to keep up this level of play the rest of the way.”

Philadelphia’s offense was led by Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game, Derrick Ross, who had 109 all-purpose yards (63 rushing and 46 receiving) and three rushing touchdowns.  J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game, Markee White finished with seven receptions for 71 yards and two touchdowns. Emery Sammons also helped the Soul by putting up eight receptions for 82 yards.  Tiger Jones finished with four catches for 41 yards, while Ross added two receptions for 46 yards.

Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh finished the evening by completing 21-of-36 passes for 240 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.

Defensively the Soul was led by Riddell Defensive player of the Game Rayshaun Kizer, who had 9.0 total tackles, two interceptions and three pass breakups.  Also for Philadelphia, Calvin Fance had 4.0 total tackles, while Kent Richardson had 3.0 total tackles and an interception.  Padric Scott added a sack.

San Jose’s (12-5) offense was led by Jason Willis with five receptions for 45 yards.  Reggie Gray had four catches for 62 yards, while Dominique Curry added four receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown.  Quarterback Nathan Stanley completed 17-of-40 passes for 192 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.

SaberCats defense was led by Simeon Castile with 7.0 total tackles.  Francis Maka tallied 6.5 total tackles, while Ken Fontenette finished with 5.0 total tackles and a pass breakup.

The first quarter kicked off with a SaberCats touchdown, and a missed extra point.  Armstrong ran in a six yard touchdown with 4:33 remaining.  Pertuit missed the extra point, leaving the SaberCats ahead by six. The Soul were unable to return with a touchdown, and the first quarter ended with the Soul trailing 6-0.

The Soul started the second quarter off strong with Ross’ four-yard touchdown with 13:06 remaining. Carlos Martinez followed through with the kick to give the Soul the lead, 7-6. Soul defense remained strong, leaving the SaberCats unable to respond with a touchdown. A strong pass from Raudabaugh to Markee White ended in a 27-yard touchdown for the Soul with 7:01 remaining in the half.  SaberCats’ ball resulted in a pass by Stanley that was intercepted by Kent Richardson with six minutes remaining in the half.  To keep the momentum going, Ross barreled through defenders for a 32 yard touchdown in the last 40 seconds of the half.  A 6-yard pass from Stanley to Curry resulted in a SaberCat touchdown, with a completed extra point from Pertuit with 16 seconds remaining.  Martinez attempted a field goal in the final five seconds but was unable to make the kick, so the half ended with the Soul leading 21-13.

The third quarter started off slow for Philadelphia, with an interception for Raudabaugh.  San Jose’s Armstrong had another touchdown, with the kick by Pertuit completed.  The Soul’s offense responded strong with another 7-yard rushing touchdown by Derrick Ross, Martinez’s kick good.  With 2:50 remaining in the third quarter, the Soul led the SaberCats 28-20.  A pass by Stanley resulted in another SaberCat interception by Rayshaun Kizer. The third quarter ended with the Soul leading 28-20.

Markee White completed another 10-yard pass from Raudabaugh for a Soul TD within the first minute of the final quarter.  The SaberCats’ final three drives ended with two interceptions by Kizer and a turnover on downs.  The final score of the game came when Ross plunged in from three yards out to make the final score, 42-20.

In Week 20, the Soul travel to play the Pittsburgh Power in the final week of the regular season.  The game will kick off Saturday, July 26 at 5 p.m. at the Consol Energy Center.

Russell Athletic Offensive Player: Philadelphia’s Derrick Ross

Riddell Defensive Player: Philadelphia’s Rayshaun Kizer

J Lewis Small AFL Playmaker: Philadelphia’s Markee White

Cutter’s Catch of the Game:  Markee White’s 10-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Spalding Highlight of the Game: Derrick Ross’ 32-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter.

Le Toux, Union salvage draw against Chicago

Bridgeview, Ill. –  Sebastien Le Toux converted a penalty kick in the 90th minute as the Union salvaged a much-needed point by securing a 1-1 draw against the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park.

Le Toux's marker was his eighth of the season in MLS play and the veteran striker is now a perfect 12-for-12 for Philadelphia on PKs.

It was also Le Toux who earned the penalty for the Union, as his shot inside the box was broken up by the hand of Fire defender Gonzalo Segares.

“To be able to score for the team [in a situation like that] it feels good,” Le Toux told reporters postgame. “In this case I was just trying to hit a ball on target and it ended up hitting [Segares’] elbow. First instinct is to raise your hand to alert the referee; fortunately he saw it and I got my chance.”

This was a game that became a war of attrition after end-to-end play saw point teams head into the locker room at the half scoreless. Statistically, the needle pointed to Chicago who held edge in possession and chances created in the first half. Thankfully, two halves are played in soccer and in the second, despite the Fire getting on the scoreboard first following a set piece goal from captain Jeff Larentowicz in the 60th minute, the Union continued to show fight using the width of Toyota Park to get balls in the box.

That resilience paid off with Le Toux goal as the Union improve to (5-8-8, 23 points) in MLS play and now sit in a three way tie on points for the fifth and final playoff spot in MLS’ Eastern Conference.

“I was happy with the team defensively, but I thought us too, created enough chances to get a result out of this one,” said Union interim manager Jim Curtin.

This match marked a return to Chicago for the first time as manager for Curtin, who played seven seasons for the Fire and was an MLS All-Star in that time. In a return to the field that defined his career as a player, Curtin was also able to secure a positive night as a coach.

“Anytime you get a goal in the 89th minute you are happy with that,” Curtin continued. “You take the point and you move on. Again, I will say that I am disappointed that we gave up a goal, because in the run of play I didn’t think we gave up a whole lot of chances. So that’s something we’ll need to correct.”

Another first was the debut of Union forward Brian Brown, who entered the match in the 69th minute for midfielder Amobi Okugo. Brown’s speed did create chances in the box, and the Jamaican forward nearly found fellow forward Conor Casey on a pass across Chicago’s 18-yard-box, but it was broken up by the stingy defense of the Fire.

The Union now get a weeklong break from MLS action before a trip to take on defending MLS champions in Sporting Kansas City (8 p.m., NBC Sports) in a nationally televised match on Aug. 1. In the meantime, the Union will test its mettle this upcoming week against English Premier League side Crystal Palace FC on Friday, July 25 (7 p.m., purchase tickets) at PPL Park.

“I am proud of our guys,” Curtin said. “It was the third game in a week and it’s a good result on the road…we are on a good run, it’s been very positive and the guys in the locker room are happy. We’re excited to keep this going and hoping it takes us to where we want to be at the end of the season.”

 BOX SCORE

Philadelphia Union 1, Chicago Fire 1

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Ill.

SCORING SUMMARY

CHI: Larentowicz (Shipp) 60’
PHI: Le Toux (penalty kick) 90’

DISCIPLINARY SUMMARY

PHL: Okugo (foul) 22’
CHI: Alex (foul) 26’

PHILADELPHIA UNION STARTING XI

MacMath, Gaddis (Brown 81’), White, Edu, Williams, Cruz (Wenger 61’), Okugo (Fred 69’), Lahoud, Nogueira, Le Toux, Casey

Unused Subs: Blake, Fabinho, Carroll, Wheeler

CHICAGO FIRE STARTING XI

Johnson, Palmer, Segares, Soumare, Kennedy Hurtado, Alex, Watson, Larentowicz, Shipp (Ward 75’), Magee, Amarikwa (Fondy 78’)

Unused Subs: Reynish, Cochrane, Franco, Ianni, Ritter

Friday, July 18, 2014

Eagles training camp capsule

REPORT DATE: July 25

SITE: NovaCare Complex, Philadelphia, PA

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: "In Chip we trust" might be the mantra surrounding Philadelphia football in 2014.

Eagles second-year coach Chip Kelly gave up on one of the game's best, pure home-run hitters who was coming off a career year in DeSean Jackson because "Jaccpot" didn't "buy in" to Kelly's way of doing things.

Hindsight will ultimately prove that to be incredible hubris on Kelly's part or provide further proof that the former Oregon mentor is indeed one of the great offensive minds of this generation.

Jeremy Maclin, who is returning from a torn ACL, and the lengthy Riley Cooper will start at receiver for the Birds with rookie second-round pick Jordan Matthews hoping to mix in frequently. None possesses the pure, gamebreaking ability of Jackson, though, so the spacing Kelly craves figures to be a bit more difficult to create this time around.

A second major issue propped up late in June when reports surfaced that second-year right tackle Lane Johnson tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug and is set to be suspended by the NFL for the first four games of the upcoming season.

Johnson will be able to practice during camp but the Eagles also have to get veteran Allen Barbre ready to fill-in.

KEY OFFENSIVE ACQUISITION: Matthews is a completely different receiver than Jackson, offering a big body in the slot for the bubble screen Kelly likes so much. The 6-foot-3 Matthews needs to be more consistent catching the ball but early returns have been favorable and the Eagles think they really have
something with the second-round pick out of Vanderbilt.

KEY DEFENSIVE ACQUISITION: Philadelphia has struggled at safety since former six-time All-Pro Brian Dawkins walked in free agency after the 2008 season. The Eagles feel they finally have a solid presence on the back end after signing former Saints first-round pick Malcolm Jenkins in free agency.

"He had the specific skill set that we were looking for," Kelly said. "So he was the No. 1 guy we were looking for in free agency."

That skill set Kelly is speaking of is coverage skills, a necessity for a defense which ranked last in the NFL last season defending the pass, allowing an average of 289.8 yards per game.

"It's just about making the calls and eliminating the dumb mistakes to where you (limit) big plays or blown coverages," Jenkins said. "That's where I come in, as far as knowing the defense, making the right calls, and getting everybody lined up so then we can go play fast."


PRESEASON SCHEDULE (All Times Eastern):

Aug 8 - at Chicago, 8:00 PM
Aug 15 - at New England, 7:30 PM
Aug 21 - vs. Pittsburgh, 7:30 PM
Aug 28 - vs. NY Jets, 7:00 PM

NFL takes the draft off-Broadway

PHILADELPHIA - The NFL Draft is going off-Broadway and
putting New York City's famed Radio City Musical Hall in its rear-view mirror,
at least for now.

The draft is officially moving out of the Big Apple for the first time since
1965, according to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who confirmed that the 2015
selection process will take place in either Los Angeles or Chicago.

"We're focusing solely on Los Angeles and Chicago now," Goodell told reporters
in the City of Angels following a media gathering at the Beverly Hilton on
Thursday.

The decision to take the league's most popular offseason television vehicle on
the road makes sense from a pure business standpoint.

A long-term philosophy of moving the event from city to city each spring could
spark a mini Super Bowl-like bidding process which will only create interest
and excitement from the local jurisdictions in play along with a significant
new revenue stream for the league.

The NFL heard from 12 cities this time when they simply broached the idea of
moving the draft out of Manhattan and away from Radio City for the first time
since 2006 because of the venue's crowded spring schedule and lack of
availability on certain dates.

The mechanism for all of this was put into place this year when Radio City
booked a multi-day Easter show (which was actually canceled due to lack of
interest), pushing the 2014 draft back from late April to May 8-10.

Radio City is indeed booked again for the two windows the league was looking
at in 2015 for what could be the first four-day draft -- April 22-25
and April 29-May 2.

"We had 12 cities that were interested," Goodell said. "We felt the best thing
to do was to focus on the three cities (the finalists and NYC), because they
had such a tremendous interest. There are very attractive aspects to each of
those cities. Because we don't have the appropriate dates in May (at Radio
City) our focus is completely on Los Angeles and Chicago."

That narrative here is really only plausible deniability for the league in an
effort to let NYC down easily. In fact the NFL never really seriously explored
other options outside of Radio City despite the fact that there are plenty of
alternatives in and around Midtown.

The Madison Square Garden Company, which operates Radio City, could have
offered up the Theater at Madison Square Garden, which can seat up to 5,600,
a similar capacity to Radio City. The Javits Convention Center, meanwhile,
actually hosted the draft in 2005 after MSG management opposed a new stadium
for the New York Jets so there is a history there.

And if the league is intent on moving the draft to a basketball-sized arena,
the NYC market can offer three world-class options, MSG itself, as well as
Brooklyn's Barclays Center and Newark's Prudential Center, which are all a
stone's throw from Rockefeller Center and Radio City, something the NFL
dismissed because of potential conflicts with basketball and hockey.

A cynic might suggest those same conflicts could be in play for Los Angeles'
Staples Center or Chicago's United Center and the backups in those cities are
not nearly as plentiful, meaning smaller venues would have to be booked.

That said, on the surface, the only real downsides of taking the event on the
road are tradition, media exposure and the overall environment and aesthetics
Radio City offers, which are extremely appealing on television and simply
can't be duplicated by other locales.

"There is no question that New York provides a level of media exposure that
would be hard to replicate elsewhere," an NFL source told the New York Daily
News. "At the same time, there is a question whether Radio City can remain a
long-term host for the event because they are developing new shows and new
things all the time."

The bigger question, though, is whether the league would want Radio City to
remain the long-term host. Once the additional revenue starts rolling in, it's
going to be very hard to pump the brakes and return to the old format even if
Radio City acquiesces and clears its calendar each and every spring.

And if you read the tea leaves, Goodell has already moved on and embraced a
new NFL Draft reality.

"We're talking about different concepts," the commish said, "primarily how to
strengthen the last day and whether we should maybe push that back to the
clubs a little bit more and allow the clubs to have a little bit more freedom
as more of a club day.

"Maybe they would announce the picks from there (homes). We're looking at
everything under the sun because there's a great interest in it and we want to
do something that's more responsive to our fans."