Cape connections across the generations at The Big House
Mackenzie Irelan - A Cape senior wrestling manager and all-around stellar student, a bonnie lass who looks like a Mackenzie. She received a principal nomination from U.S. Sen. Chris Coons to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. In Mackenzie’s own words: “Just as any service academy, a congressional nomination or service-related nomination is needed in order to receive an appointment to attend the school. Receiving the principal nomination is essentially a golden ticket. He is able to give one principal nomination for each academy. As long as I am deemed qualified academically, medically and physically, I will be officially appointed and will be attending West Point.” Don and April Irelan are her grandparents. Chris is her dad and Patrick is her uncle. You all can fill in the rest of the kinship matrix on your own time.
Full boat wrestling - Beacon wrestling defeated Mariner 51-31 Dec. 18 at the Cape Big House. Both teams had all 16 weight classes filled and there were 10 exhibition matches. In just one bout at 145 pounds, Nai’Darion Dore of Beacon defeated Connor Kugelmann of Mariner. Connor’s dad Brian played football and lacrosse for Cape, and was a hard-charging, lovable knucklehead from Milton who was fast friends with my twin sons Tom and Jack. My wife gave Brian my late son Tom’s Saint Christopher medal to watch over him. I watched Brian watching over his son Connor offering enthusiastic support, then consoling him after a disappointing loss. Every bout is its own drama and storyline. I watch the mat and also the stands to see the interactions of athletes and family members. It’s the tough moments where real bonding occurs.
Flashbacks - Cape football defeated Milford 24-6 Oct. 8, 1993, the homecoming game, under coaches George Glenn and Brian Donahue to raise their season record to 4-0. Keavney Watson had 100 yards rushing and another 90 through the air. Eduardo Saez returned a blocked punt 35 yards for a touchdown. Tom Frederick threw touchdown passes to Watson and Chris Pagano. And Patrick Irelan was Homecoming King, while Keavney Watson was first runner-up.
Jumbo jock and caramel wrappers - Frank Layden, president of the Utah Jazz who grew up in Brooklyn, was the keynote speaker at the Slam Dunk Tip-Off Banquet at the Dewey Beach Baycenter in December 1993. Layden pulled a giant jockstrap from his left pocket and put it on his head, saying, “This is a little tight on me.” Then he pulled a miniature jock from his right pocket and said, “This belongs to Bobby Jacobs, it’s a little loose on him.” Eighteen teams of players and coaches were on the floor laughing. Layden said when he was head coach at Niagara University, he required a caramel test before admission. “If you took the wrapper off before eating it, you got an academic scholarship. If you left the wrapper on, you got a football scholarship.” Political correctness has pretty much killed banquet humor. It’s no wonder there’s so much ADD; everyone is looking someplace else in case anything interesting happens. Frank Layden is now 87 years old and lives in Salt Lake with his wife Barbara.
Tradition of mislabeling - If I survive long enough to retire from writing while still having a clue what planet I’m spinning on, I’m going to host my own banquet of sports celebrities, and those misidentified will get in free, but they’ll have to wear a name tag of the person whose identity they stole or were reassigned. Reading a column from 2008, I saw Shane Draper was identified as Shane Abbott and Andre Fonville was identified as Andre Bonville. The late Steve Hoenigmann, former sports editor of the Sussex Post who worked at the Cape Gazette putting the sports pages together, changed Draper to Abbott, while I messed up Andre’s name on my own. At least I taught his mom in high school, so she understood I was witty but also wifty. Once a young Adam Smith won a 5K in Rehoboth and Steve Hoenigmann changed his name to Adam Scott, later defending his error by barking at me, “Who the hell is Adam Smith?” (Answer: famous economist.) Adam Smith’s grandfather was so proud of his grandson, but he couldn’t share the story because Adam Scott messed it up and he wasn’t even there.
Beast of the East - Most high school grapplers go into the two-day Big East Tournament at the University of Delaware and don’t make it to Sunday morning, freeing up their time for church service. The best guys in the tough Henlopen Conference will all be at the Beast. Go to www.trackwrestling.com, an incredible website, to track the tournament. It’s the next best thing to being there; in many ways it’s better if comfort is what you’re after.
Snippets - Dallas at Philly for a Sunday afternoon game allows three more hours for tailgating and produces more drunks. Philly is a place where you can go to court without leaving the stadium. There are no sobriety checkpoints on the way out, just 69,000 fans released onto I-95. You have to be an idiot to be drunk at a pro football game, but Dallas at Philly always produces scary sidebars and regular bars. Dallas has the better personnel groupings. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where they go belly-up in this game, but the Eagles have a shot, maybe even a shot and a beer? Go on now, git!