Jaywalking: Suhl good
Greenfield native Ken Suhl just keeps collecting hardware.
The former Greenfield High School quarterback earned his seventh professional title on Oct. 6 when he helped lead the Triangle Razorbacks of the Danish American Football League to a 34-29 win over the Sollerod Gold Diggers during Mermaid Bowl XXIV in Vejle Stadium in Vejle, Denmark.
Suhl has been all over the place during his football career, which began at GHS, where he graduated in 1988. Suhl moved on to the University of New Haven from 1989-1992 and had a successful Division II collegiate career under coach Mark Whipple, who later went on to coach at UMass. As the starting New Haven QB, Suhl guided the team to a 30-13 record and still ranks among the school’s top all-time passers. Suhl helped the Chargers earn a 14-13 win over UConn and also led them to their first NCAA Division II postseason berth, which brought them to the semifinals, where they lost to eventual national champion Jacksonville State.
Suhl was inducted into the New Haven Hall of Fame along with Whipple this past spring.
After college, Suhl moved to Europe, where he began a long, illustrious professional career. He started in England, where he played for the Nottingham Hoods in 1993 and 1994 before moving on to the Aix-en-Provence Argonautes in France, where he stayed for three years. Suhl was named the French League Most Valuable Player in 1995 and helped lead his team to a national title that year for his first professional championship.
In 1996, Suhl was named the European MVP, leading the Argonautes to the Euro Championship final, which pits teams from all countries in Europe. He remained in France through the 1997 season but moved on to the third country of his professional career by signing with the Kronburg Knights out of Denmark. He stayed in Denmark for two seasons, then spent two more in Germany, where he played for the Munich Cowboys in 2000 and 2001.
Suhl returned to France to play for the Argonauts in 2002, when he helped lead the team to another French League title, his second. He remained with the Argonauts for four seasons and picked up his second French League MVP in 2004.
Suhl’s final move came prior to the 2006 season, when he returned to the Danish League to play for the Razorbacks. Suhl also served as coach during his time with the Razorbacks, and it became a stellar combination. His first year with the Razorbacks resulted in a Danish League MVP and ended when he beat his former team, the Kronberg Knights, 21-16, in the Mermaid Bowl for the first-ever championship in the team’s history.
It was the start of very good things to come for the Razorbacks and Suhl. The 2007 and 2008 seasons ended the exact same way as the ‘06 campaign had, with Suhl and the Razorbacks taking home the Mermaid Bowl championship. In 2007 the team defeated the Avedore Monarchs, 32-20, and in 2008 the Razorbacks knocked off the Gold Diggers, 55-24.
That 2008 game set off a five-year streak of Razorbacks vs. Gold Diggers Mermaid Bowls, which continued through this season. Suhl’s final season of playing came in 2009 and ended with Triangle falling, 10-0.
Suhl left the team and remained out of football entirely during the 2010 season to spend time with his wife, Sophie, and children Tristan (now 2) and Celilla (now 4). During his one-year hiatus, Triangle again went to the Mermaid Bowl but was again shut out by the Gold Diggers, 13-0.
Suhl returned as head coach of Triangle in 2011 and helped guide the team to its fourth Mermaid title, 35-34. In that game, the Razorbacks took the lead with just over one minute to play and then stopped Sollerod at the 4-yard line as time expired to seal the victory.
The story played out nearly the same this season. Sollerod held a 14-point halftime and remained out front by 13 at the start of the fourth quarter. The Razorbacks scored on their final four possessions, including the eventual game-winner with 50 seconds left, when former UConn football player Zack Frazier found Huskies teammate Alex Molina for a touchdown. The game was sealed when a desperation, last-ditch Sollerod pass sailed out of bounds.
Suhl’s five titles with the Razorbacks are the only championships the team has ever won, and tops in Danish history. The seven consecutive Mermaid Bowl appearances is also a record.
That gives Suhl a grand total of seven championships — two as a player, three as a player-coach, and two more as a coach. The coaching success just landed Suhl a two-year contract extension, so he’ll have at least two more seasons to try to add to his hardware collection.
And on top of that, Suhl has also had his number retired by both the Razorbacks and the Argonautes.
Not too bad for the pride of Greenfield.
Greenfield native Christopher Lesenski continues to perform well in the running circuit.
The 27-year-old finished 12th out of 1,008 runners overall in the Amica Marathon in Newport, R.I., on Oct. 14.
Lesenski, who currently lives in Quincy, finished the marathon in 3 hours, 5 minutes, 18 seconds.
Finally, there has been no shortage of Giants fans stopping me in recent weeks, wanting to talk about the team.
It’s been another quick start to the season for the defending Super Bowl champs. The defense has only been suspect but quarterback Eli Manning and the offense have looked as good as they ever have. Which leads me to this question. Right now, who would you rather have leading your offense, Tom Brady or Eli?
Five years ago this question would have seemed ridiculous, but the way both quarterbacks are playing right now, and given that Eli has been the most clutch quarterback in the league over the past year and a half, I believe it’s a legitimate question. Ever since Eli was asked if he belonged in the same category as Brady prior to last season, he has outperformed the Golden Boy, including a Super Bowl win over Brady.
It wasn’t even a question of “if” he would lead the Giants on a game-winning drive against the Redskins Sunday. Sure, Brady will go down as perhaps the best ever to play the position, but right now Eli is as “Eli-te” as they come.
Jason Butynski is a Greenfield native and Recorder sportswriter. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.