Captains are team leaders by example who keep clowns in check

Demographic change reflected in school populations
September 1, 2023

Cape captains - Seniors Maurki James, Brenn Scott and Saul Garcia-Carrasco are captains of the 2023 Cape football team. All three are high-performance tough guys who don’t say much that doesn't need to be said. A day before the game-day practice ahead of the opening game of the season, the trio of captains stayed a few hours after practice and cleaned the locker room. They didn’t rock their captain's cards and get freshmen to do it; they did it themselves. Respected team captains serve as a bridge between coaches and players. They are gladiators who are also mediators and arbitrators. Captains also keep the clowns in check, and – oddly enough – in a collision sport like football, you need team clowns to take off the pressure, but the book on clowns is that most don’t know when to quit. 

Captains and clowns - It was the Temple football locker room pregame at UConn in 1965 – the Owls were a talented 1-4 team. The coaches selected captains for the week they thought would right the ship. And just before the game, the locker room was cleared of coaches, leaving the captains to speak to the team. Joe Petro, a quarterback and well-respected person, said some great things that provoked stone-cold silence. Then Tommy Bazis, a 5-foot-5 linebacker out of West Catholic, spoke and went right to the heart of clown country. “I know some of you guys think everything is a joke: Pyne, Fonash, Frederick.” Eddie Pyne, a contagious character whose talents included making people laugh when they were supposed to be serious, responded, “Shut up, you little weasel.” The locker room erupted in laughter at the serious moment. We all hit the field laughing and beat Connecticut 12-11 (Ed Pyne missed both conversion kicks) and the next week beat Delaware 31-22.  We rocked and rolled to a 5-5 season (Bazis’ height), the twilight zone between winning and losing. 

Blown save - Souls turned away at the gates of heaven are blown saves; the closer’s rationalization is always, “You can’t save them all; all you can do is try.” Craig Kimbrel gave up three runs in the top of the ninth inning as the Phillies fell to the Angels 10-8. Bryce Harper had hit his 300th home run in the bottom of the eighth to put Philly in the lead 8-7. Harper's first home run was against Tim Stauffer of the Padres. Tim is the nephew of Lewes lawyer Bill Schab. Tim was a No. 4 pick in the 2003 MLB Draft coming out of Richmond.    

Demographics - I am a storehouse of Cape stories – I can tell it, but not sell it. I don’t have a photographic memory. It's more like time traveling. I’m back there because time stands still and moves simultaneously. I see and sense it down to details. It's frightening and nostalgic and also sentimental and scary. I took photos of the 2023 Cape cross country team in the same parking lot in which my 1977 Cape team wouldn't get out of the van to warm up, saying they could run the course once, but not twice. The top eight runners were Lance White, Glen Smith, Nick Miller, Phil Wilson, Linwood Downing, Jeff Jones, David Lewis and Charles Parker. They would go on to win the school's first state title in cross country because they were race-time fresh and grossly undertrained. Glen and Nick have since passed away. Five of the eight runners on that 1977 team were Black, including Lance, Glen, Linwood, David and Charles. Nick Miller had Nanticoke connections (lifetime powwow pass), while Phil and Jeff were of northern latitudes lineage. And so what is different in 2023? Am I a demographer? Well, kind of. A social anthropologist? Sort of. Why no Rabbit’s Ferry runners? Only one Black runner, Mattox Rineer, a multitalented performer who sings the national anthem and fronting the band, sings, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody" at a football game. Now with more than 2,000 kids at Cape High, fewer than 800 in 1977, the cliché, “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” is as true now as it never was. Marvin Gaye wants to know, "What's going on?"

Snippets - Ryan Baker is a freshman on the roster of the Lehigh University cross country team. The Mountain Hawks open competition this weekend. Up until 1995, the Lehigh athletic teams were known as the Engineers. Sommer Dorman (Cape) is a second-year field hockey player at Loch Haven. The Bald Eagles opened the season with a 7-0 win over Queens of Charlotte, N.C. I am the Rainman of mascots. I tend to remember most that crossed my desktop. A favorite is Sammy the Banana Slug of the University of California Santa Cruz, voted by students as a protest against fiercely contested sports. The University of California at Irvine chose Peter the Anteater in 1965. A total of 92,000 fans attended a University of Nebraska volleyball game played outside in the football stadium. Google and read all about it, then show up in person at a Cape game. Go on now, git!  


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