Tuesday, June 26, 2012

'Cats 2011 Scoreboard Intro video takes home Gold.

Linfield's 2011 Scoreboard team Introduction video took home Gold at the National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators "Best of NACMA". Our video took top honors in the Group Three division which is made up of Division II, Division III, and NAIA members. The announcements came today at the NACMA Convention in Dallas, Texas as the 'Cats team introduction video bested efforts by Colorado College (Hockey) and Grand Valley State University (Football).

This is the 3rd time over the past 4 years in which our team intro video has placed at the "Best of NACMA" (Bronze in 2008 and Silver in 2009). I realize that not every DII, DIII, and NAIA program has a video board on their campus but that's not going to stop our efforts in trying to produce the best product we can for our student-athletes and fans of Linfield College Football. Our program deserves the best we can give.

There's a group of people that do a great job in helping out with these videos. Retired Linfield Communications Professor and long-time Linfield PA Announcer Craig Singletary (The Best in the Biz) has been volunteering his time and voice for these videos from the beginning and we're insanely lucky to have Craig do this for us.

 The Linfield football staff and players are vital in putting up with my never-ending requests. I pull Jackson Vaughan and Mack Farag away from their families for a full evening to help get the players equipped for the shoot and they're always willing.

 Linfield S.I.D. Kelly Bird has been supporting the scoreboard videos from beginning in accessing locations, archived photos, trophies, lighting, script feedback, and he's the one nice enough to nominate the videos each year.

Finally, I have to single out my wife (Mrs. 11) who 100% has my back with all these projects. She has a great eye for these videos and has provided value feedback and suggestions to help bring these videos home. I hope anybody reading this is lucky enough to have a wife/spouse that supports your passions as much as Mrs. 11 does mine.

 I'm very thankful to everyone in the 'Catdome that helps pull these together and hope we can continue this long into the future.

Linfield Sports: Linfield video is 'Best of NACMA'
NACDA.com: NACMA Announces 2011-12 Best of Award Winners
Catdomealumni.com: 2011 Scoreboard Video, 2009 Scoreboard Video, 2008 Scoreboard Video

Monday, June 25, 2012

Video of the week: 2012 Linfield Football Camp

Football Camp was once again action packed.
Your Catdomealumni.com video of the week is now on-line! This week we feature our annual highlight clip of Linfield's yearly summer football camp.  The 'Cats wrapped up their 25th annual camp.  Linfield hosted over 1,200 high school players over 2 sessions of camp that include over 4 days each of position technique breakdown, individual team time, controlled full contact scrimmages, and nightly team competition that feature a tug 'o war, sumo contest, and more.  Linfield's camp is regarded as one of the best camps in the Pacific Northwest.

VIDEO: 2012 Linfield Football Camp

Friday, June 15, 2012

Big Hits IV is just around the corner!

Monday is the day for 4 minutes of the 'Cats revving up the engins of the pain train. Until then here is Big Hits II from 2006. Also check out Big Hits III. I love the opening hit on that clip but ignore the stupid intro on that one (yikes!)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Big Hits IV...next Monday!

Wildcat11 has been in the lab tacking together our latest installment of our Big Hits Series that 1st started in 2006.  We published Big Hits II a few months after and our 3rd installment after the 2007 season.  I put the series on the shelf for a few years to build up the stockpile of bone rattling but this spring seemed like a good time to get number 4 in the books.  For the rest of the week, we'll post up clips I-III to whet your appetite for Monday's release.  Enjoy and look out!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Linfield's Paul Nishizaki continues his wild ride in Germany.

Defensive Tackle Paul Nishizaki helped Schwaebisch Hall capture their 1st GFL title.
Last time we checked in with former Linfield Wildcat DT Paul Nishizaki (2007-10) he was hosting up a championship cup over in Germany.  Nish and Linfield teammate Aaron Boehme (now the 'Cats QB Coach) were wrapping up a perfect season for the Schwaebisch Hall Unicorns of the German Football League.  The Unicorns were magical during 2011 in reeling off a 15-0 record and defeating the defending GFL champs, Kiel Hurricanes, in the GFL championship game.  

Nishizaki's ride was so memorable that he decided to go back to the Hall and strap up the pads for one more season for the Unicorns.  I touched base with Nish this past weekend to see how the former Wildcat wrecking ball was holding up in his 2nd year in Germany.  From Nish's response it sounds like he's at home in the middle of the Schwaebisch Hall's defense.

Germany year zwei is pretty awesome. It’s good to be back in Schwaebisch Hall. It’s a special place and one that has always treated me right. The fan support and team support is amazing as it was cool to see the team again. I didn't know if I was going to come back for this next season, but I'm very happy that I did.

There are some differences between this year and last. Firstly, we’ve been waking up a lot earlier. Last season all the Americans were night owls and loved to stay up late, I attribute this to the time differences between America and Germany so that we could talk to family and friends back home. We would normally sleep in till 11 in the morning or even noon. This year is a bit different. We’re usually in the gym by 10-10:30 and then eat lunch shortly after. Also, there have been a lot more day trips to towns nearby Schwaebisch Hall. Simon (Pom) Brenner has been taking us on these trips. He’s an amazing guy and a national team linebacker. I would also like to thank him and his wife Bianca for having us over for dinner on several occasions. She’s an awesome cook.

Another difference has been that the Unicorns are playing in the Eurobowl. It’s kind of like the Champions League of European Football. Teams from all over Europe play each other and try to win it all. It also gave us the opportunity to play in other countries. Our first game, we traveled to play in Barcelona against the Badalona Dracs. The talent level between Germany and Spain is vastly different we beat them handily. Barcelona was a cool city but I wish I could have stayed longer. We also traveled to Vienna, Austria to play against the number one team in Europe, the Raifeisen Vikings. Former Unicorn and my teammate from last season Dusty Thornhill plays for Raifeisen. It was a hard game and the Vikings ended up winning 24-13. Alex and I stayed in Vienna with the Americans there for a couple of days. It’s a beautiful city.

The team is looking solid this year. We did have an early hiccup in the beginning of the season with an upset loss to rival Stuttgart. It was a defensive battle with Stuttgart coming out on top 10-6. We’ve used the loss as motivation and have won all our GFL games since. We also didn't have one of our Americans in the fold, Fritz Waldvogel.

Many Linfield fans remember him as an outstanding receiver/returner from St. Thomas. In Fritz's first game he had five touchdowns and had the Unicorns’ first punt return touchdown in a long time. Fritz just graduated from St. Thomas and got here about a month later. He’s going to be an explosive weapon for our offense and it’s always exciting to watch him play.

Nish was a 3 time All-NWC DT (twice 1st team) and all-region performer in 2010.
The other new Americans this year is our QB Jake Spitzlberger and DE Alex Wertheimer. Jake is from the University of Nebraska-Kerney (DII). Jake is a great QB. His style is different than Aaron’s (Boehme) and I'm not even going to compare them. Jake is also an amazing person, he comes from a big family and has very good values. And man he has some jukes. I've seen him make multiple defenders miss on multiple occasions. The other American and fellow d-linemen Alex Wertheimer is from Occidental College. Alex had a little trouble getting to Germany. He missed his flight and it took him about three days to get here. It was quite the adventure. Alex was a NFL prospect in college before he had a season ending knee injury his fifth year. He took a year off and rehabbed and contacted the Unicorns about playing in Schwaebisch Hall. With the addition of Alex our front seven is beastly. Along with Pom there is Thomas "Smoke" Rauch who lives with us in the Ami House. He is a national team D-end and consistently leads the GFL in sacks from year to year. Smoke and some other German guys visited me in America last year. We had a blast as I took them to a couple Linfield games. The last American guy we have is Brian Michitti. He played at Hanover (D3) in Ohio. “Bruno” as everyone calls him, led the GFL in INT's last season and is a savvy safety. He has been playing for the Unicorns on and off since 2006. Bruno works and lives in Cologne. He makes the journey to Schwaebisch Hall on Fridays for practice and for the games on the weekends.

All the players and people associated with the Unicorns are great people. They make you feel like you are a part of their family. I have made lifelong friends here in Germany and have been given the opportunity to see the world. I’m actually packing right now for a week-long trip to Rome and Florence. All the Ami's (American Players) are going on the trip and were all rather excited. I miss the Catdome and encourage all the current players to try to continue to play ball. There’s only so much time that you’re able to play football. I feel truly blessed that I was able to play football and travel Europe for the past two years. I'm going to have to enter the real world after this season. While it’s necessary, I don't envy finding a job when I get back home though. Ha!

Go 'Cats, Go Unicorns
Paul Nishizaki
‘Catdome Class of 2010

If you have any questions about playing football in Europe email me at paulnishiz@gmail.com more than happy to answer them.

Schwabish Hall Unicrons
German Football League

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

2012 Linfield Football Spring Review: Defensive Backs

Corner Brandon Funk will be a player to watch on the 'Cats 2012 defense.
165.  That's the total number of starts that Drew Fisher, Kole Kreiger, Nate Dixon, Kala'e Parish, Christian Hanna, and Taylor Skore accumulated during the 2008-2011 seasons.  That's a lot of football played by a flat out great defensive secondary.  Linfield was truly blessed to have a dynamic group that had a big part in Linfield football regaining their ground on the national stage.  During this past season, the defensive secondary was the heart of the 2011 Linfield Wildcats. With that said, graduating an entire secondary might leave most football programs scrambling in trying to figure out what to do next.  Good thing that Linfield isn't most programs.

Over the past two seasons a group of defensive backs have been waiting for their opportunity to display their talent and ability.  The 2012 season will be the stage these 'Cats will get to make their mark on Linfield Wildcat football.  Honestly, I can't wait to see what this group has to offer up. When the staff brought in this group over the past few seasons the coaching staff knew it was a potentially explosive group.  The thinking is they will have a chance to continue the 'Cats dominate secondary play from the previous 3 seasons.  If you think I'm just selling you a line of bull to make people feel better about 5 new starters in the secondary just take a look at what the 'Cats have done on special teams over the past two seasons.  A big chunk of those lights out hits, blocked punts, kick return TD's, and suffocating coverage came at the hands of the players listed below.  I'm a big believer that young guys that excel on special teams are going to wind up being strong contributors as they move along in the program.  If that theory holds water, then this should be a strong group of defensive backs.

With all of that strong praise also needs to come the reality check.  Linfield has a monster pre-season vs teams with talented and explosive offenses.  There will be no gimmes.  The 'Cats have proven returning talent in the first 2 levels of the Wildcat defense.  You can bet your bottom dollar that offensive coordinators are going to test this secondary early and often to just see if these 'Cats have the goods to stand up to the heat. 

Up and Coming:

*Kyle Wright, M, 6-0 195, Jr, Springfield, Ore.
*Michael Link, CB, 5-11 177, Jr, Portland, Ore.
*Brandon Funk, CB, 5-9 173, Jr, Millwood, Wash.
*Colin Forman, S, 5-11 187, Jr, Beaverton. Ore.
*Ian Zarosinski, CB, 6-0 185, Jr, Vancouver, Wash.
*Mike Nardoni, R, 5-10 185, So, Palos Verdes, Ca.
*Chad Coburn, CB, 5’11 190, Fr., Salem, Ore.
Jordan Giza, M, 5-10 185, So, Salem, Ore.
Adam Dondoyano, CB, 5-9 170, So., Issaquah, Wash.
Ryan Miller, CB, 5-8 170, Jr, Grants Pass, Ore.
Hoku Kama, S, 5-11 185, Jr, Wahiawa, Hawaii
Jeff Dillon, CB, 5-9 180, So., San Francisco,
Davonte McLin, CB 5-8, 160, So., Oceanside,Ca.
Erik Knapp, R, 5-11 190, Sr, Eugene, Ore.
Nick Pietrzyk, R, 6-0 212, Sr., Portland, Ore.

Talking Ball with Defensive Back Coach Neil Fendall
Coach Fendall will be leading his Defensive Backs in his 7th season with Linfield.
(Wildcat11) Coach Fendall, you just came off of three seasons with the same starting defensive backfield and a number of veteran contributors. That was a special group of guys and I know your relationship with them was very tight. Obviously they're a tough group of guys to replace, but with that said, it’s not like you have a group of rookies that you’re scrambling to fill the void. Can you give us a peak in what your mindset is going into the 2012 season? 

(Neil Fendall) My mindset is to get better. Everybody talks about the last group because of the amount of games they played/started, but what they don’t talk about is where we’ve had weaknesses as a position group…and there were some weaknesses. I love the guys who graduated, but I’m not sitting around here missing ‘em. They’ll get a picture in my office but we are moving on. This group coming up can play! We will play the ball and play fast. My job is to get better at coaching and their job is to get better as players.

(WC11) With Spring Football wrapping up a few weeks ago what are the positives you walked away with and what are the main areas of improvement you’re continuing to stress to this group? 

(NF) I saw many positives. My feeling was we might not know what we’re doing all the time but when that ball is in the air, we’re going after it! I like how aggressive we were. The first week, we had to pull the reins a little because we were so aggressive, we let a few deep ones fly. But I liked how the guys adjusted to that as we went on. Areas of improvement is just our depth. Everybody will talk about experience being a weakness because that’s how it looks on paper. However, these guys have been on the field quite a bit already. Last time everybody said we lacked experience, we lead the nation in interceptions. I hope offenses see us as a group to attack…that’s just more opportunities to play the ball!

(WC11) Everything is wide open right now. How do you go about creating unity within the position group while still maintaining that competitive environment where you want guys to battle for time in the rotation? 

(NF) I’m not sure I see it as wide open. I feel like we’ve had a plan in place for this year for a while now. These guys have been developing and working into their roles for 2-3 years and now its just a matter of their names being called in the starting lineup.

I don’t create unity, the players do. They have been doing that since the day they arrived. That’s too big a part of our overall program to miss. It’s been a competitive environment the whole time. That’s just how it is. I’m competing, they’re competing. We’re all here because we love to do that. Shoot, Coach Hazenberg and I would compete for air-time in our own meetings the last few years. Now that he’s coaching WR’s, we’re competing against each other even more. But there’s a great relationship and love there and he nor I wouldn’t want it any other way! I might even lay him out a couple times in practice during the year! Head on a swivel Coach Haze!

(WC11) A big bulk of these guys put in some incredible work on special teams over the past two seasons for the program and did see some significant reps during the 2011 season. Just how valuable was that experience for this group and what is the importance of the young guys making a contribution to special teams early in their careers? 

(NF) I think they saw significant reps for the last 2 years. If you go back and watch every special team rep (which I have) and watch these guys play, you won’t be worried about them getting it done. Take Kyle Wright for example. That guy is dominant at times on special teams. He flat gets after you. Now he’s just doing that from the Monster position. Yeah, there will be mistakes but returning starters make a lot of mistakes too. I look at some of the top programs in the country and how valuable their special teams are. People watch Oregon on TV all the time (they’ve been okay lately). Watch their starting receivers and running backs on punt team. Watch them cover kickoffs. Watch their DB’s return punts and kicks. Starters! I support special teams to a fault sometimes, but I truly believe that’s your audition in making plays. A lot of guys look good in drills and getting lined up, but we need the guys who make plays.

(WC11) Looking up and down the list of defensive backs you have talented football players. What can the fans of Linfield football expect out of this group next season in terms of their style of play and personality? 

(NF) They can expect our style to continue to support our overall defensive philosophy. We will ATTACK, be VERSATILE, DISGUISE coverages, and play as a TEAM!

I can’t wait to get out on the field this fall. We’ve got another group of frosh coming in that will impress as well. They will support the position group with depth and desire to play. I’ll bet in 2 years, I could write these same things about them. We plan to prepare like no other group and continue to play fast and smile. Let’s just get to August and see what happens! We’ll see what it looks like. I have learned over the years that the enemy of experience is complacency and the benefit of youth is enthusiasm. We’ll go to work with great enthusiasm. CAN’T WAIT!