Five Guys Linemen for Life, all of stellar character

April 24, 2020

Linemen for Life - A Five Guys file popped onto my Facebook timeline last week and I first thought, “Ground round, let’s pound the football, and whatever happened to local DJ Cheeseburger?” The football five offensive linemen from the 2014 season averaged 260 pounds, and they were all quick and smart and high-character kids. I remember coach Bill Collick saying to me, “If we coaches can’t make football players out of them, there is something wrong with us.” The crew from left to right are Tyre Maull, Julius Tyler, Devin Miller, Brandon Nixon and Shamar Moore. All graduated in 2015, except Nixon, class of 2016.  Tracking them down, I found that Tyre Maull played at Stevenson University and has a semester left to graduate. Julius Tyler is gainfully employed in the workforce. Devin Miller played at Wesley, graduated, and is heading to Palmer Chiropractic in Florida in the fall. Brandon Nixon played football at UD and will graduate this spring with a degree in applied mathematics, then pursue a master’s degree in the fall. Shamar Moore works for a company called Delaware Mentor; he is a smart and compassionate personality, perfectly suited to help others. By the way, the 2014 Cape football team went 8-2, losing to Sussex Tech and Sussex Central. Battle of Route 9 downstate in the house!  

Great performances - In the past, a specific sports team would often vote an all-opponent team after the season, which I think is the most legitimate of all teams selected. Looking back when Cape football lost at home to Sussex Tech in 2014, Kani Kane had six touchdowns. In 2010, Desmond Sivels scored five touchdowns in a 48-27 win over Cape. In that game, he had a 98-yard kickoff return, which was answered by a 98-yard return by Sammy Mohr of Cape, who also had a 9-yard and a 67-yard touchdown run from scrimmage. There was Dover 10th-grader Nick Spadifino in 2011, a linebacker who stepped in at quarterback for injured starter Ian Gory and threw four touchdown passes as the Senators beat Cape in overtime 55-54. Cape’s Jerome Johnson ran for four touchdowns in that game. 

Right call/wrong call - Talking to hyper-focused football coaches on the field after a loss is always dangerous ground. Back in 2000, Cape scored in overtime to trail Dover by a point. Coach Brian Donahue weighed his options and decided on Tykee Perry out wide with room to run instead of battering fullback Mark Moore up the middle. There was penetration along the line of scrimmage and Perry was tackled in the backfield. Afterward, Coach D asked me, “Do you think that was the right call?” I said, “Let’s say you are Plato and I am Aristotle. I ask you to ponder your question with a question of my own, ‘Did it work?’” Late in 2011 in overtime, trailing by a point to Dover 55-54, Cape coordinator Herky Billings called a tight end pass to Jake Dmiterchik to the back of the end zone that was batted down. Jake was open, then he wasn’t; the ball was batted down by a player on the wrong assignment. Second-guessers were asking ,“Why didn’t he give the ball to Jerome Johnson?” I asked coach Herky if the post-game second-guessing got under his skin. He calmly said, “No, not at all, that is the football I grew up with, but if I go downtown and someone makes fun of my shoes, I’ll want to punch them in their damn mouth.” I looked down at Herky’s feet. I decided not to take the joke. 

Snippets - “I never will remember what I never did forget.” - John Prine. Marcus Gooch scored 35 points in a 57-49 state tournament win over Salesianum on March 5, 2009. It was the last basketball game played at the Little Big House. Marcus had 31 points in the second half. I wrote, “Marcus was on them like Ernest Gooch on an ambulance run.” Ernest was his great-grandfather who drove for Beebe Hospital. The extended Cape community has a rich Afro-American history that is still happening. “Refuse to lose” is a sports cliché that sounds nice, but sometimes in sports and in life you can refuse all you want; you are still destined to take a loss. Rolling around the countryside unmasked during an active pandemic is like playing football without a helmet. You may be a bad hombre for a while, but when your egg gets cracked, it’s no yolk, you are going down.  Get out there and contribute to herd immunity. I’ll be sheltered at home watching “Ozark.” Go on now, git!    

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