Monday, November 24, 2014

‘Cats Win!!! Linfield plays for Moore in a 55-24 opening playoff victory over Chapman.

Gone but never forgotten. RIP Parker.

This past Saturday in the ‘Catdome there were tears of joy, tears of sadness, and at times, both were shed at the same time.  Saying it was an emotional day of football would be an understatement as your Linfield Wildcats honored their teammate, friend, and brother Parker Moore in a resounding 55-24 opening playoff win against the SCIAC Champions, Chapman University Panthers.  Linfield came out of the gates and left no doubt what the outcome of the day was going to be as Linfield used all three units to control contest and build a 38-3 first half lead. Linfield never looked back.

Chapman had a heck of year and did play Linfield close down in Orange to start the 2014 season.  Panther Head Coach Bob Owens, who has done a magnificent job in building Chapman up, stated in the week’s lead up that his Panthers probably caught Linfield a little by surprise in the ‘Cats 21-14 opening season game in Orange, Ca. “We were maybe a little better football team than (Linfield) thought.” Sure, there might have been a little of that, but I clearly remember thinking to myself after the season opener that Chapman was already playing to the ceiling of their potential while I thought this Linfield team had a great chance to grow into a national contender. This time around, Chapman got to experience what a fully realized Linfield team looks and feels like.

With the victory, Linfield gets the opportunity to move on in the playoffs and travel out to Belton, Texas to face the #2 ranked University of Mary Hardin-Baylor Crusaders.  When Linfield lost to Willamette in Week 7, I thought that if the ‘Cats could win out, and then win our opening playoff game, Linfield would be on the road to back Whitewater.  But the NCAA tapped Linfield on the shoulder and said “Sorry, not that beanstalk here but that beanstalk over there is the one you need to go climb.”  What I’m saying is that instead of one D3 giant I thought Linfield would face in the second round, we’re just getting another giant instead.  But once you get past the first round of the playoffs, everyone is a good football team so we might as well go play one of the VERY best there is.  Let’s go see if this Linfield team has something left in the tank.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Good

Being Ready To Play:  I wasn’t sure what to expect from the ‘Cats this weekend considering the week this program, college, and multiple communities have experienced with the death of Parker.  However, as soon as I stepped into the locker room, I knew that this team was ready to go. Their hearts were heavy but this group of young people were determined to honor their fallen friend the best way they knew how and that was to perform.

Put Chapman away early: The Panthers had no chance. Linfield buried Chapman in all three phases to build a 35-0 lead before the Panthers could scratch out a field goal towards the end of the half. I think it was critical for Linfield to get the game out of reach early and Linfield did just that.

1st Half Defense:  The Linfield defense forced 5 three-and-outs in the 1st half against Chapman. The ‘Cats were swamping anything the Panthers could throw at Linfield during the 1st half. The Linfield speed and physicality was just too much.  At the end of the half, the Panthers only collected 4 first downs and gained only 61 yards of offense.

Balanced Offensive Attack: I loved the way our offense attacked Chapman’s defense. 227 yards rushing (4.9 per carry) and 279 yards passing (12.7 per completion) for 506 total offensive yards. This Linfield offense is so dangerous when you combine a clicking Linfield passing attack with Payne, Willis, and Riddle rushing the ball for big chunks. Saturday’s offensive performance is what Coach Smith and his offensive staff had to envision before this season started.  The offense looked sharp.

Special Teams…again: I’ve been raving about the Linfield Special Teams unit and their second half of the season improvement and they continue to impress.  A huge 63 yard Jordan Giza punt return for TD, two field goals, great coverage, great punting (42.0 avg, three punts inside the 20), and more booming kickoffs. Another banner day by Coach Haze’s guys.

Pass Protection: A few times on Saturday, I thought that Sam Riddle was going to break out a PB&J and start eating it while in the pocket with all the time his offensive line was providing.   Riddle had a standout day throwing the ball (22 of 36, 279 yards and 4 TDs) and a big reason why was his big fellas giving up zero sacks on the day and minimal pressure. 

‘Cats Receivers Making Plays: The Wildcat receivers had to be itching to get after it after Linfield almost exclusively ran the ball against Pacific the week before. There were a number of acrobatic catches by Charlie Poppen and Evan Peterson who came up with play after play for the ‘Cats. It was a fantastic performance by the Linfield receivers.

A photo posted by catdomealumni (@catdomealumni) on
Bonus Good:

The Linfield Faithful and Students: The opening round of the playoffs falls on the start of the college’s fall break. That usually means that the student section is empty.  This game’s crowds are typically smaller but still vocal. This past Saturday a number of students stayed the extra day to show their support for their classmates and added some great energy to the ‘Catdome. I have to take my hat off to all of the ‘Cats that came out and showed their love and support to the Moore family and his Linfield teammates.  Go ‘Cats!

The Bad

3rd quarter lull: There was a drop in that 3rd quarter in energy and emotion from the ‘Cats and anybody could understand.  For many of our guys, this has probably one of the hardest weeks of their lives and I think a number of guys were running on empty in that 2nd half.  However, kudos to the Linfield roster for rallying and then snuffing out that mini-rally by Chapman to put the game on ice.

The Ugly

Nothing at all. This is a great group of young men that have handled all of this with such grace in the face of incredible sadness. This isn’t going to go away just because the ‘Cats won a football game but I do believe this team will forge ahead with the full intention of staying together for as long as they can to honor Parker and to be able to play for each other.

Friday, November 21, 2014

ADvantage Friday Feature: Linfield Strong

Linfield Strong: a state of mind, faith, loyalty, friendship, compassion, empathy, support, strength…a state of love; all felt by the members of an incredibly special community.

Of course, those are mere words attempting to describe the power that has made its way through Linfield and beyond. Being Linfield Strong is so much more than those symbols typed on a computer screen; it’s being a united family that nothing can break.

“The notion of what happens when an immovable object meets an unstoppable force is used time and time again,” said sophomore Nathan Pellatz; a member of the Linfield golf team and a Resident Advisor. “But Linfield Strong shows us what happens when an immovable object is also an unstoppable force. Nobody can touch us when we band together and stand as one.” 

Parker Moore is every meaning of Linfield Strong. It takes an incredibly special human being to ignite the souls of an entire community in a way that Parker has. He is the Linfield Wildcat Family’s guardian angel; an angel who will be standing alongside every one of his teammates, as well as cheering along with every fan.

And that’s how we will remain, standing together, cheering on Coach Smith, the entire football staff and all of the young men who will be taking the field come Saturday.

“A tragedy like this, we are all just trying to get through it together, ” said Kristen Vroom, a junior on the Linfield softball team. “We are here to support friends and family, and our football team who will be carrying on into playoffs in Parker’s honor. It’s a heavy task to take on, but it’s something that the rest of the school will be here to support.”

“Here at a small D3 college, as athletes, we don’t get paid to play,” said sophomore Alexis Michael. “We play and spend countless hours training and practicing because we love the game. These athletes in the Catdome have incredible passion that is unlike anything I have ever seen.”

Michael, like Vroom, plays for the Linfield softball team. Catball and Catdome have a special bond that spreads much further than a shared coach. Coach Vaughn lends his time, expertise and passion to both the softball and football teams.

“Coach Vaughan has been a father figure and mentor to both Catball and Catdome,” said Michael. “He spends countless hours watching and reviewing film, and when you pass the HHPA, even at 12-1 AM, his lights light up his office.”

Members of the football team are often found lining the outfield of Del Smith Stadium during games. They shake the fence (adding K’s across the top for every strike pitchers dole out), climb the foul poles, join in on cheers and make up some of their own to chant.

“It’s very cool to see them support not only us but also Coach Vaughan,” agreed Vroom. “It just goes to show how close their program is, and how they support their coaches outside of football as well.” 

Last spring a large majority of football players even woke up to give a send off to the softball team on their way to super regionals.

That kind of support is the perfect summation of Linfield athletics. No matter the sport, no matter the weather, no matter the location (look at the group who followed the baseball team to Appleton, Wis.) there will always be purple and red in the stands.

“Being an athlete, fan support gets your adrenaline flowing,” said senior baseball player Jackson Ruckert. “You feed off of the energy that they bring to the stadium and use it in critical situations when you may be tiring or need a clutch result.”

Along with being a member of the national championship baseball team, Ruckert also played football for the Wildcats his freshman year. Now, after using his knowledge of the incredible tradition that the program has, he is one of the loudest fans on the south end of Maxwell Field.

“We are rowdy yet respectful and knowledgeable of the game,” sad Ruckert. “But we love winning.”

“Even though we’re a small school we have a big school spirit,” said Vroom. “Our boys work so hard on the field and they deserve to have loyal fans to support them.”

Support comes from both sides of the fence that surrounds the track at the football field. Whether it’s from one of the excited fans or from one of the players wearing purple jerseys, there’s an army behind the young men representing Linfield.

“Fingers could have been pointed after getting knocked off by Willamette and they could have folded,” said Ruckert. “Instead, they were humbled, realized they weren’t their best that day and came out and absolutely hammered Pacific for the conference title.”

Although that conference title was followed by heartbreak, nothing can take away the pride that the Linfield community feels for those young men and all they’ve accomplished.

“Linfield Strong, to me, shows that not only is it a time to be strong for yourself, but that us, the Linfield community, is strong,” said Pellatz.

That community has extended in the past week. Pictures, letters, banners and condolences came from conference rivals, Linfield alumni, friends, family and everyone in between. Even a sunset up in Seattle was streaked with the reassuring colors of purple and red; proving that everyone is a Linfield Wildcat.

“We do not get through tragic events without each other,” said Ruckert. “It’s been amazing to see how everyone who has a tie to Linfield, and even those who don’t, come together and show this community support.”

This community believes in the Catdome. And there we will remain, now and forever, cheering on our boys. LINFI3LD 5TRONG.

-Sara Miller
Photo Courtesy of Linfield Student Piikea Kailio

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

An Open Letter from Coach Smith on the death of Parker Moore.

Dear Catdome Family,

The past few days have been the most difficult of my life, and certainly the most trying and painful period our program has experienced. It has ripped our hearts out. I believe the greatest strength of our program is its closeness. This truly is a family. It is pillar number 1. We say Family, we break huddles to Family, it’s written in the locker room; but it is more than words. We actually live Family. It is the single greatest characteristic that makes our program what it is. It’s Thor’s hammer; it’s Samson’s Hair.

It is also what has made this so painful for all of us. Not only is each member of our team hurting personally, but they have to see the hurt in their fellow teammate’s eyes and the pain is doubled. A former Wildcat just a few years out, wrote to me “I never had the pleasure of meeting Parker, but that doesn’t matter, once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat. If one is hurting, we all are hurting, if one of us is in need we pick each other up.”      

 I could not agree more. It has been very hard, but that very sentiment shared to me is helping our program process, embrace, and eventually grow from our loss of Parker.

The incredible outpouring of love and support from hundreds of former players, supporters, as well as so many people from the McMinnville community is overwhelming. Businesses and many churches in town have sent their support, many sending incredible letters and wishes. Driving home past the reader board at Walgreens last night, I had to pull over as I found that so powerful and impacting.  All of this outpouring is humbling and has truly helped our students and staff.  On behalf of our program I want to publically thank you all. 

I have to agree with sentiment that in the midst of tragedy is when you find out what you are made of.  Saturday night at that 7 Eleven I was able to witness first-hand the finest police officers and paramedics one could want, perform in their darkest moment. The way in which they handled the scene was impressive to me. They were professional and yet compassionate. I applaud them for what they do, and I am in their debt.   Thank you.  The officers and paramedics that tried to save Parker’s life on that floor, in the ambulance, and in the helicopter; thank you.  To the Mac PD officers that physically stood between Parker and evil, thank you for protecting ALL in that 7 Eleven.   You are heroic to me.

The way in which Linfield has come together to show solidarity and support has given me a renewed hope for this generation. Just when I think my kids can only live digitally, these young men and women showed so much compassion and insight that I was taken aback. I am so proud of our students here. The memorial fence is a testament to the caring and insight and yes, wisdom, that our young adults here possess. I am so proud of Linfield and our students.

The way that colleges all around the country have reached out and expressed their condolences, letting us know we are in their thoughts and prayers, has really helped our team. Many high schools throughout Oregon and the NW have reached out as well. Thank you.

The Northwest Conference has particularly struck a chord with our team, as the support from our fiercest competitors made a difference for us. Each program in our conference reached out to me personally, some even going further, such as Pacific’s image they posted, Lewis and Clark’s picture of their team honoring Parker, and Whitman’s candlelight vigil. Chapman specifically honored Parker, as is Wesley with a moment of silence planned for their playoff game. To all I say, “thank you”.

The way that Parker Moore lived his life is a testament to his faith and his upbringing. There is no doubt that the Moore family raised an incredible young man. The impact he has had on our campus is what has made his loss so unbearably great. He was a young man that transcended social barriers because of his genuine love and concern for others. In many ways Parker was the total package. I really do believe he embodied all that is good at Linfield, and all that we strive for men in our program to become. A consummate teammate. Team first at all cost.  A man of character, his word was his bond.  A man of action. He was a worker that loved the grind. Teddy Roosevelt was writing about Parker when he penned the “man in the arena”.  A true leader. Some people are born with a magnetic personality and strength of personality that draws people to them. Parker was that man. From a young age I know he exhibited that. What made him a true leader was his compassion and caring for people. His middle school math teacher, Ryan Adams, wrote a letter that portrays Parker EXACTLY as the image I have in my mind of what I believe Parker would have been like at that age.  A young man that cared more about others more than himself.  

Now besides being a man of action, Parker could talk. That is for sure, and he was funny. He had that gift of timely wit, and knowing when a nickname would stick, and ride it. Since he cared about people, he got people. He knew what would be funny, what would interest others, and would go with it. His positivity was contagious.  Our team will miss that smile and that positive humor and spirit more than I can write. Many have described Parker as a light on campus, and I sure agree with that.

Many around our campus have celebrated the well roundedness and compassion of Parker, and that is so true. However, make no mistake about it, Parker was a linebacker. When he sat in my office with his father contemplating colleges, he asked what we thought about him. I told him, “you are a football player Parker, and you are our kind of man. We want you.”  He was created to enjoy physical combat, it was in his DNA. Parker could run and hit. And he loved it. Parker loved to compete, especially if he could hit something while competing.  Parker embodied the compassionate warrior that so many of our players strive to be. He was STRONG in ALL the best ways.

Parker Moore is the young man that every father wants their son to grow up to be.   I am so proud of him. The example he has given this team, this college, and hopefully all who read about him, will live on in all the young men who come through this program.  As Lucas Jepson wrote to our team, “Parker Moore is not gone, he’s with us all every step we take.  He will be making sure we all represent that Linfield L to the fullest with every step and every moment we encounter.   It’s a chance to rise up and be leaders and change a life.”   I know that the young men on this team will use Parker as an example to live up to, and will be better men from having known him.   I know that will have a ripple effect in our communities and world, and Parker will have made a larger impact than he could imagine. Our coaches will ensure that every future player gets to know Parker and what he stood for.

I know Parker loved our football field, and it was clearly a favorite place of his.   Parker was a strong man of faith.  As hundreds stood on the L in the middle of our field last night at our student led candlelight vigil, I could not help but realize our Parker was at his new favorite place, watching down on his school brought together as one.  I know he has heard the words “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

I love you, Parker.

Coach Smith

2014 NCAA Division III Round One Playoff Game: Linfield (8-1) vs Chapman (8-1)

Playoff football in the 'Catdome?  Yes please!
After coming off a tremendous 59-0 victory over the Pacific Boxers, your Linfield Wildcats received the right to represent the NWC in the 2014 Division III Playoffs and the honor to host a game in the 1st round. I love playoff football in the ‘Catdome and I’ve never taken these weekends for granted. You never know when you’re going to get another opportunity to host and while the thanksgiving break playoff crowds are small, the passion of the core Linfield fans attending these first round games is fierce.  After Linfield wrapped up Pacific everyone and their cousin knew that it was going to be Chapman in the first round.  The ‘Cats barely escaped Orange, California back in September as Linfield had to mount a 2nd half comeback to overcome a very talented Chapman squad 21-14. I’m fully expecting another closely contested and hard found game in McMinnville this weekend. 

The 2014 Chapman Panthers might be the best team the SCIAC has produced since the 2004 Occidental Tigers who advanced to that year’s quarterfinals of the playoffs. So don’t assume and make the mistake that just because Linfield’s offense has shown significant growth since the season opener that this game is in the bag for Linfield. The assuming and dismissing is what lead to an unconceivable loss to Willamette in week 7 and Chapman ain’t Willamette. Chapman is a damn good football team who feels like they match up with Linfield’s speed and athletic ability.  A flight up to the PNW isn’t going to shake Chapman as this is their 2nd time up in this area in 2014 as the Panthers when to Spokane and smacked Whitworth before heading into SCIAC play and rolling over their conference schedule.  Chapman has stated that they’re ready to show the division III nation what Southern California football is all about and knocking off Linfield in the ‘Catdome would be a heck of an introduction.

Obviously this has been an unthinkable week for the Linfield College community and this football program. The death of Parker Moore has shook everyone associated with Linfield and this community is deeply grieving Pakrer being ripped from our lives.  Preparing for a football game seems like a trivial matter compared to the gravity of all of this, but at the same time, Parker’s teammates and closest friends are getting the opportunity to be together in the face of this tragedy, grieve together,  and pay tribute to their fallen friend. I know the community and staff has been terrific in keeping these young men together and the staff has been working so hard to prepare them for Saturday. Who knows what Saturday will hold for the Wildcats but I have a feeling this group is going to respond with a great effort in the ‘Catdome.  No matter what the final results will hold, I’ve never been more proud to be a Linfield Wildcat. I truly love and respect what this College and Football program is all about…..Family.

Get To Know A Wildcat

#62 Eric Pitassi, Offensive Guard, Junior
Hometown: West Linn, Or. High School: West Linn High School

Favorite place to eat in Mac: Tequila Grill

Favorite Movie: Heavy Weights

Favorite Music: Anything

Favorite TV show: The Newsroom

Favorite Book: A Song of Ice and Fire Series (Game of Thrones) (WC11 note: as a fellow ASOIAF nerd...I approve)

Class I Most Look Forward to:
Athletic Training Professional Experience

iPhone or Android: iPhone

CPU Homepage: Google

Personal Mantra: "Be what you want, If you want to be a shoe shiner then be a shoe shiner, but you be the best shoe shiner there ever was" - My Dad

Social Media of choice: Facebook

Car or Truck: Truck

Xbox, PS3, or Wii: Xbox

What first inspired you to play football: I didn't like playing soccer, mostly because I wasn't good at it, so I switched to football and been hooked since.

Favorite Coach Smith Saying: "You don't know, what you don't know, you just don't."

Favorite part of playing at Linfield: Everyone on the team is your brother, and you would do anything for your fellow brothers. (RIP Parker, I'm honored I was able to call you my brother).

Post Linfield aspirations: Physical Therapy School

Wildcat11’s Keys To Victory

Come Together, Play Together:  Saturday is a day for this team and these players to come together and focus solely on playing for one each other and putting out their very best effort.  They’re going to be in for a heck of a battle and it’s going to take our ‘Cats playing their best for four quarters.

Limit the Chapman Run Game: The Panther offense is built on running the football and they do it very well.  The Panther’s average 202.2 rushing yards per game and have punched in 29 rushing TDs on the season.  Linfield didn’t see much of Jeremiah McKibbins in their first game of the year but the senior RB is healthy and tearing it up for 99.1 rush yards per game (6.6 per carry) and 16 TDs. You would think the ‘Cats defense is going to see a whole lot of McKibbins this upcoming Saturday. When you mix in the explosive Cody Chapple (58.6 per game/5 TDs), Kean Stancil (38.3 rush yards per game) and QB Michael Lahey (41.2 per game/3 TDs) the Panthers seeming have unlimited options running the ball. 

Effective Linfield Rushing Attack: Linfield struggled running the football against Chapman in September (74 rushing yards/3.4 per carry) and for good reason. The Panther defense is a fast and athletic group that’s only surrendering 129.2 rushing yards per game and only gives up an impressive 19.9 points per game. This Linfield offense is at their best when they are running the ball well and we’re going to need that dynamic run offense on Saturday.

Pressure: The Chapman coaching staff is going to be very aware of the Linfield pass rush as the ‘Cats ability to sack and harass Michael Lahey was critical in Linfield’s victory. I’m sure Champan is looking at ways to better protect Lahey this time around but it’s paramount for the ‘Cats to be able to get to the Chapman QB early and often.

Making plays in the passing game:  Sam Riddle and the Linfield WR corps are going to have to make plays in the passing game this weekend. Yeah, weather conditions are not going to be ideal but that can’t be a deterrent from keeping Chapman honest and stretching the field.  Linfield is going to have to make some plays in the passing game.

Execution of assignments and playing smart:  Obviously, when you’re executing you’re going to put yourself in a position to have success and the ‘Cats are incredibly tough when each player on the field is getting their job done and playing a smart brand of football. Chapman is a sharp and smart football team as well and I’m sure they’ll have an excellent game plan for the ‘Cats.

Great Tackling: Linfield is going to have to be a fantastic tackling team against Chapman. The Panther offensive scheme is so darn tough to defend as they’ll get their RB’s and QB in open space so Linfield has to be fundamentally sound tacklers to help limit damage and not allow the Panthers to break off the big one.

Special Teams Coming To Play: The Linfield Special Teams unit has grown tremendously over the 2014 season and will need a great performance against Champan to help the ‘Cats win the field position game. We need our coverage units sharp and make sure that Linfield puts their return personnel in positions to succeed.  The special teams groups could have a major say in this game’s outcome.

Take care of that football: Not a whole lot to say here but make sure we have great security on the football and make good decisions with it.


‘Cats by 7. Chapman is a hell of a club that has a ton of belief and ability. Somehow, the ‘Cats are going find a way to have a great week of practice in order to be ready to perform on Saturday.  The Panthers are coming to win and our ‘Cats need to be ready to strap it up against this worthy opponent. In my heart, I know this group is going to rally and be ready to play Linfield football for each other and for Parker.  Go ‘Cats!

Monday, November 17, 2014

‘Cats Win!!! Linfield dominates Pacific in a 59-0 victory in the ‘Catdome.

Wildcat11 Note: I’ve been wrestling in my mind and heart on what this should week should be about on the ADvantage. Should I press on and try to dive into our routine of game reviews, video, preview, etc? Is that insensitive to the magnitude of the events that have shook so many people and communities connected to Parker? I’m not sure if there’s a right answer but in my heart I’m going to honor Parker on this little blog by pressing on to the best of my ability. Parker has spent the past two seasons of his life pouring himself into Linfield Football. He’s put in the work, time, effort, and heart to the success of this program over these past two year and I’m going to celebrate that in the way I know how.  Parker believed in this program and his teammates. He believed in his friends. So I’m going to try to honor that for the remainder of the season. Rest in Peace, Parker.

#7 Eli Biondine and the 'Cats defense stonewalled the Boxers this past Saturday.
Photo Courtesy of Brad Thompson: Purchase Brad's Photos here.
Saturday was a tremendous performance from your Linfield College Wildcats. The ‘Cats were sharp, focused, and ready to play to the best of this team’s ability. And when this team plays to that potential, and to their high end of talent, there are very few teams across this country that can match that level. Pacific had the chance to experience firsthand what most everyone that’s played Linfield in 2014 has, and that’s when Linfield is rolling, the ‘Cats are extraordinarily tough to handle.

For Pacific, I poured the honey on pretty thick last week in the game preview and for good reason. The Boxers’ growth over 5 years has been tremendous and should be applauded. After starting 0-2 this season, the Boxers showed resolve and growth and earned their part of the NWC title. That’s something to be proud of. However, I think some part Pacific might have fallen into the score comparison trap with the Willamette results and that was a mistake. Saturday, the Boxers saw the Linfield team that the ‘Catdome has witnessed for the great majority of 2014 season. And when you add in the fact that the Boxers dumped Gatorade on their coach after beating Willamette, put out a hype video the night before the game, having a send off ralley, etc. I think many of the Linfield players felt like Pacific was treating Saturday’s game as a coronation rather than a showdown for all the NWC marbles. So, the ‘Cats were determined to show the Boxers what Linfield’s best looked like.

With the victory, the ‘Cats have assured themselves the NWC automatic bid and the ‘Cats 6th consecutive Northwest Conference title and 12th NWC crown over the past 15 years.  The playoff brackets came out on Sunday and to nobody’s surprise it will be a NWC/SCIAC match up as the Chapman Panthers will be making their way up to McMinnville for the 1st round.  This is a rematch of the season opener as Linfield was able to escape Chapman with a tight 21-14 victory. Both teams have had significant growth since week one and I’m sure each staff is hard at work in trying to figure out the best ways to attack each other in this rematch. Obviously, Linfield is going to have a very difficult week in trying to come together and prepare for a football game while grieving Parker’s death. At this point, I don’t know what to expect come Saturday. I know the staff and communities will take care of our young men and honor Parker by trying their best to prepare and represent him to the utmost of their ability. Chapman is a fantastic opponent and I know Linfield will do their best to stick together and put out a worthy effort on the field.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Good

Focused and Ready to Play: You could feel it walking into the locker room that this group of guys were ready and at that right tension. The intensity was bubbling right below the surface. Every guy has their own thing going on during pregame. Some get in their own world with their headphones on. Others can’t stop talking and cutting it up with their teammates. But no matter how each player was gearing up for the game you could feel that sense of readiness. When Coach Smith finished his pregame talk and said “Today...let's pick up that hammer.” there was an explosion of energy in the locker room. This team was ready to play.

Defensive Effort: My goodness that was an old fashioned busting out the salt truck Linfield defensive performance. The Linfield defense controlled all aspects of the Pacific offensive attack.  The ‘Cats only yielded 144 yards of total offense (2.6 per play) with 62 of those yards coming in the Boxers' last drive of the game. The ‘Cats defense forced seven 3-and-outs, forced two turnovers on fumbles (both resulting in Linfield touchdowns), allowed only 46 net rush yards (1.5 per), and limited the Boxers' starting QB to only 38 passing yards on 8 completed passes on 17 attempts.

Rushing Attack: A former Boxer football player fresh out of school commented to a close friend of mine in the north end zone before kickoff that Linfield doesn’t have a run game and Pacific only needs to worry about the pass. 316 rushing yards (5.7 per carry) and 7 rushing touchdowns later by Linfield and I wonder if that sentiment would be the same. The ‘Cats rushing attack was so dynamic in being able to go side-to-side or line up and push the Boxers downhill as well.

Red Zone Offense: The Linfield Red Zone offense went 8 for 8 with all 8 conversions being by way of touchdowns. Pacific came into this past Saturday in only allowing 55% of opposition red zone scores being TD’s so that just continues to speak towards the absolute domination by the ‘Cats.
#9 Evan Peterson hauled in this 2nd quarter TD to extend Linfield's lead to 31-0.
Photo Courtesy of Brad Thompson: Purchase Brad's Photos here.

Special Teams Play: Major shout out to the ‘Cats special teams unit. The group has grown so much over the season. Honestly, the special teams coverage and return units at the beginning of the season were shaky and that’s putting it nicely. However, Coach Hazenberg kept shaping this group and they have become a weapon for Linfield in the 2nd half of the season.  Saturday, this group once again caused a big turnover, pinned the opposition all game long, and came up with play after play.

Physicality: There wasn’t a single doubt once the game started just who was the more physical team. Linfield at every point of attack was the aggressors and just broke Pacific’s will as the game developed. Physicality doesn’t always just come from size and speed but it comes from want and desire. The Wildcats had the want and the desire this past Saturday.

Owning 3rd down (4th down as well): We talked about in our game preview how the 3rd down conversion stat would speak to the game’s outcome. Pacific came into the game 8th in the country in 3rd down conversion at over 51% and Linfield’s defense held them to 4 of 15 on the day.  And when you add to the fact that the Wildcat offense goes 9 of 17 on 3rd down and then 4 of 4 on 4th down…….lights out. That is just great execution by the Linfield defense and offense.

Pressure: The Boxers’ Warner Shaw has some nice scrambling ability and he needed it as he was under constant fire by the ‘Cats defensive front.  The ‘Cats were so darn aggressive and fast and the Boxers offense had no counter punch to slow down the heat Linfield was applying.

The Bad

You just smacked the NWC Co-Champs by 59 points with all three phases chipping in with an "A" level effort. Nothing bad there.

A photo posted by catdomealumni (@catdomealumni) on
The Ugly

Nothing: It was a cold but beautiful day in the ‘Catdome and a great performance put on by our ‘Cats. It was a tremendous way to end the regular season by an incredible group of young men. Go ‘Cats!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The death of Linfield student and football player, Parker Moore.

Where do you even being? In running this blog over the years, I’ve had the honor of covering a wonderful group of coaches, volunteers, and countless waves of downright great young men on their journey through the ‘Catdome.  As fans, we’ve all experienced highs and lows that athletics exposes you to but nothing can prepare you as a person to deal with such a tragedy.  Last night, Linfield student and Linebacker Parker Moore, age 20, was fatally stabbed at the 7-Eleven across the street from Linfield in an evil and random act of violence. Like every other person that woke up this morning, I couldn’t believe what I was reading. It doesn’t seem real that one of our own has been taken away from us so suddenly and at such a young age.

This type of things should never happen anywhere and is incredibly unfair for Parker’s family, friends, his former teammates at Woodinville High School (Wa.) and his current teammates at Linfield. This is a tragic event that will leave a lasting impact on all of those people that have been touched by Parker over the course of his life.

Parker Moore was a great young man. He is loved deeply by his close friends, hardworking, selfless, a man of action.  Parker Moore is everything you would want as a son, a friend, and a Linfield Wildcat. He is going to be deeply missed by all that loved Parker and will never be forgotten.

Parker’s death was a senseless act, and like so many people, I’m struggling with wrapping my mind around why and how this could happen. As a parent, as much as I’ve tried there is nothing I can do to understand the level of pain and grief the Moore family is currently experiencing.

For the players and staff of the Linfield College Football team, this is nothing you could prepare for. These young men and coaches are leveled at the news of Parker’s death.  Linfield College and the staff will do everything they can to make sure that Parker’s teammates and friends have outlets to grieve the loss of one of their own.

There will be information coming out shortly regarding how Linfield College and Linfield Football will be memorializing and celebrating Parker’s life. If you are in the McMinnville or surrounding areas and are looking for ways to help the Linfield community, I’ll do my best to provide you with details when I can.

Linfield is a strong family built on a solid foundation of trust and love. If you have a way to do something to help the people of Linfield, McMinnville, or Woodinville, do it. Parker was a person who put others in front of himself and we should honor him by exercising that same quality for those that are currently in need of love and support.

Friday, November 14, 2014

ADvantage Feature Friday: Kickin' it, in the 'Catdome.

The 'Cats kicking corp has been a huge weapon for Linfield in 2014.
In a sea of jerseys names like ‘Wilson’ and ‘Sherman’ are abundant at Century Link Field. ‘Hauschka,’ on the other hand, is a different story. Being a kicker has never been one of those flashy positions.

Think back to Kyle Brotzman of Boise State, missing two late-game field goal attempts in 2010 against Nevada Wolf Pack resulting in a Broncos loss.  Or, more recently, in 2013 when Adam Griffith of nationally ranked Alabama missed a 57-yard field goal only to have Auburn’s Chris Davis run back 109-yard touchdown to win the game.  Neither kicker’s team had the chance to play for a national championship that year.

Moral of the story: It takes a lot more than a good foot to be a kicker.

“You need to have a tough skin, no one really likes kickers,” said Cayman Conley, a sophomore kicker for the Wildcats. “It’s one of those positions that if you make it people like you, but if you miss, they don’t.”

“Linfield has a lot of pride in the special team’s play,” said sophomore Kevin McClean. “You have to be able to put in the work and handle the pressure.”

Every athlete understands the pressure of their sport. Whether it’s making a free throw, shooting a penalty kick, striking out the final batter or catching that Hail Mary. Pressure makes an athlete; and mastering that pressure makes a champion.

“It takes confidence to be a Linfield kicker,” said junior Michael Metter.

“Special teams is taken very seriously here,” said sophomore Theo Petropoulos. “We make a huge impact on the game and you need to be committed to help the team in any way you can, whether it’s warming up, spotting the ball for offense or helping Mack with equipment.”

Thanks to the Cat’s lethal offense, kickers at Linfield don’t get as many opportunities as they would in other programs for field goals or punting on fourth downs; meaning they need to make every play count and lean on one another when things go wrong.

“When someone gets down and makes a bad play, it doesn’t linger long at all because he knows there is a whole team behind him picking him up,” said McClean. “Our culture and our pillars help us come together and play for one another.”

Conley, McClean, Metter and Petropoulos bring a diverse background to the Cats special team with Metter and McClean hailing from Oregon (Portland and Beaverton, respectively), Petropoulos from Cheney, Wash. and Conley from Honolulu, Hawaii.

Luckily for the Cats, they all ended up at Linfield for different reasons. Conley wanted to try something new by coming to Oregon while Metter and McClean wanted to be a part of the Linfield legacy.

“I knew Linfield had a good football team that would challenge me to be better,” said Metter.

“I chose Linfield because I knew they had a tradition of winning,” said McClean. “I saw how close the team was and the level of character the guys had when I visited. I came because I want to win a national championship, just like everyone else that comes here.”

As for Petropoulos, purple and red runs in the family.

“Both of my parents attended Linfield,” said Petropoulos. “When I visited the school I loved the campus, and I really liked the coaches and players I met. I wanted to play football in college, and to play for such an elite program is an unbelievable opportunity.”

In order to get to that coveted national championship game, Linfield needs to walk away with a win this weekend. The Cats are playing Pacific who, despite two preseason losses, is undefeated in conference play.

“Pacific is a good team so we have to work hard,” said Metter. “We need to win so we can have another week with our teammates in the playoffs.”

 “This weekend’s game is the biggest one of the year by far,” said McClean. “We are fighting for our playoff future from week to week and for us to achieve our one goal of a national championship, we need to perform every game.”

Performance week in and week out is crucial. Although Stephen Hauschka missed only two field goals last year, he was still the highest scorer for the Seahawks, and look where he ended up: with a ring.

“I think I speak for the whole team when I say that we are all ready to show the conference and the nation that we are a powerhouse school that should never be counted out, that we have the potential to be the best team in the Nation” said McClean.

“We want to win,” said Conley. “We kind of have to win so we can stay in this thing for a little bit longer.”

This game may come down to a last minute field goal to win it. And if that’s the case, who knows, everyone might really love kickers.

-Sara Miller

Thursday, November 13, 2014

2014 NWC Pick ‘Em Contest: Week 11

Gonna need all four quarters this Saturday!

It’s the end of the road for another year of the pick ‘em posts.  First, it was another fun ride to talk games with you all. There are a small segment of our readers that have mentioned they enjoy this post the most during week. I think that’s because of (509)Rat’s ability to tick off everyone in the NWC, Linfield fans included. We’ll be back next year, at least I hope so. I’d like to thank (509) for pitching in each week and being a non-Linfield voice on the blog.  He’s probably the only Whitworth guy that I’ve ever met that I liked and that’s probably because I’ve never actually have met him face-to-face. For all I know he could be Manti Te'o’s girlfriend this whole time.  However, I know he must really be a true Whitworth fan due to his passionate dislike in the past for Tully Ball.  All kidding aside, (509)Rat is a bright guy and knows this conference inside and out.  I’ve enjoy the heck out of having him take part of this.  Thanks Rat!

Onto the non Linfield/Pacific action this week. Lewis & Clark and Whitworth are done for the season a week early. L&C started the offseason with a bang as Chris Sulages resigned yesterday as the Pio’s head coach. I can’t really blame him. He brought that program back from almost folding in 2005 to a banner season in 2011 (7-2, 2nd place in the NWC).  However, the non-existent support for football at Lewis & Clark caught up to his program and there is no light at the end of that tunnel for whoever takes that job next. Whitworth got off to a solid start for the Sandberg era in going 6-4. I’m not looking forward to seeing what he does with Whitworth moving forward as the Rats are going to be a motherbear to deal with. We get to see how UPS responds after getting smacked by Linfield against a Willamette teams that has dealt with some big highs and lows this conference season. Fox will visit PLU and to me that’s the biggest NWC question mark headed into this upcoming offseason. Where does PLU go from here after losing so much of their firepower and talent this offseason?

As for our year to date totals? Who cares? We stunk it up this year so take what we have to say below with a grain of salt.

Northwest Conference Games of the Week:

Willamette (5-3) over Puget Sound (3-5) (at Willamette): I’m very curious to see how this one plays out in Salem. Puget Sound has been competitive in every game this year (sans Linfield) and the Loggers’ offensive strength goes against Willamette’s biggest weakness (WU’s pass defense). Willamette’s mindset this game should be something to watch but in the end I think the Bearcats will be able to pull it together and ride Dylan Jones to victory.

(509)Rat Says Willamette:Willamette blew it last week. Statistically you would have thought they won. But when you give your opponent short fields (Pacific had scoring drives of 57,3,26,36,5, 55, and 31 yds) you lose football games. Jones will run wild on UPS and I don't think Willamette has to worry as much about this Logger team capitalizing on the inevitable mistakes. Another win for the home team on Senior day.

Pacific Lutheran (6-2) over George Fox (1-7) (at PLU): This should be Fox’s last spanking of the season as you know that Scotty W. is going to want to let his huge group of Seniors go out in style. I’m sure he’s going to let that group get extended minutes and the outcome is going to be a big lopsided score by the end. Fox should have marked improvement in 2015 but boy did their offense stink this year….even for a first year program.

(509)Rat Says PLU: PLU has had a disappointing season based on a standard set by teams that came before them. It will be interesting to see if Scott lets the senior starters play in this one, their last game, even when the Lutes are up by 50-60 points.

West Region Game of the Week

Illinois College (7-2) over Macalester (8-1) (at IC): Wow. Silm pickings this week in the west region. This is the for the conference title in MAC and the right to get slaughtered in the 1st round against either St. John’s or Wartburg. My old buddy One Armed Scot is gonna be ticked that I didn’t take Macalester but I think the Blueboys of IC are going to have too much in the tank.

(509)Rat Says Illinois College: Macalester comes in playing their best football from what I can tell. It has been a great season for Macalester and now they are playing against a team who is used to being up near the top of the league in recent years. The defenses have been very comparable during conference play and Illinois College has had a slightly better offense, statistically speaking. I'm trying to sound like I actually know something about these two teams in case I still have anyone fooled into thinking I'm semi-knowledgeable about a random MWC game. Blueboys at home in a nail biter.

National Games of the Week

Mt. Union (9-0) over John Carroll (9-0) (at Mount): There are a few things in life that are as certain as Death and Taxes but one of those certainties is Mt. Union beating the opposition in the OAC.  Look, John Carroll is having another GREAT season with a wrecking ball defense but they did the same thing last year and then got smoked by Mt. Union in the 2013 season finale. More of the same here as the Purple Raiders roll in their weak conference and then get another golden path to the NCAA national semifinals.

(509)Rat says Mount Union: I would love to see John Carroll win this game. It ain't happening though. Mount is Mount and until they actually lose a conference game, I won't be the guy picking against them. If you look at common opponents (and scores), you might think this would be a close game. I am not of that opinion. It won't be over by the end of the first quarter like every other game the Purple Raiders have played this year, but they still win comfortably. 3 TD victory, an OAC championship, and then a bunch of playoff cupcakes till the semi's (per usual).

Widener (9-0) over Del Valley (8-0) (at Widener): For the first time in the 36 meetings between these two teams, both will be a perfect 9-0 with the Middle Atlantic Conference title on the line. Both teams feature high powered offenses (Widener hasn’t trailed all season long) and I think the Pride’s defense will be the difference maker here. 

(509)Rat Says Widener: I'm ending this horrid pick'em season with one of my favorite cliches: Defense wins championships...and Widener's is better. It's been real. Until next year, cheers.