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Sports Columns

On the Trail: Animal instinct

A strange, busy week it’s been, spiced by interesting visits, some physical, others mental, maybe even a tad esoteric. We’ll begin with a light little deer caper anyone can get their head around — an unusual encounter that, due to its rarity, will not be soon forgotten — then see if there’s room for anything else. My wildlife encounter occurred on a splendid Monday morning, one of two such bright, crisp fall-like days bookending a gray Tuesday, the day of a visit by the man 0

Jaywalking: Bye Scott

For the first time since 1997, Greenfield High School boys’ basketball is searching for a coach. Scott Thayer officially stepped down last week after 16 years at the helm of Green Wave hoops. It was a decision Thayer said came to him rather suddenly, and he decided it was time step down. “It’s just time for a change,” he said. “I think the program needs a new voice. It’s just time. You just kind of know sometimes. I didn’t really decide until a couple of 0

Keeping Score: So long, sport

Good morning! Jet Blue Flight 2016 from Worcester to Fort Lauderdale landed at 10 a.m. last Sunday with a solid contingent of Patriot fans on board. The airport was a mere 20-minute drive from Dolphins Stadium, but I wasn’t there for the game. On Sept. 5 my 75-year-old friend Jimmy Johnson had passed away at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Palm Beach. I met Jimmy in 1999 at a drug and alcohol treatment center in West Palm Beach called Hanley-Hazelden (now the Hanley Center). He 0

On the Trail: Guinea Gulch is Calling

An interesting crosstown trip to the feed store after my morning walk, a behemoth faraway bear, many familiar people, my ears buzzing with swarms of feedback about this and that, all of it pertaining to recent topics aired out right here in this space. Why not a little ramble? No, no, no! Fear not. I’ll keep to the out of doors, sort of, which is about as confined as I prefer to be, no razor-wire fences, no foreboding “Keep Out!” warnings, please. So let’s begin 0

Jaywalking: Welcome to the real world

Hello Patriots’ fans. Oh, have we been waiting for you. Welcome back to the club of “fans who actually worry about their NFL team.” I know it’s been a good long time since you were part of this popular club. You left for about 15 years to move on to an elite society reserved for fans of teams so dominant that fans of every other team in the league turn ill. That’s what the Patriots have been for nearly 15 years. The Pats just don’t 0

Keeping Score: Same ol’ song

Good morning! The sun angling downward past the three-quarter marker on Monday portended the beginning of high school football, and Kevin Hollister claims the game of the year will be Mohawk versus Tech on Oct. 11. “They hate each other,” said Hollister, a West County native who works at Tech. “Tech’s two captains transferred from Mohawk.” Informed of Hollister’s remarks, Mohawk coach Doug McCloud’s eyes widened a bit, then he smiled and laughed. “Sure go ahead, pour gas on the fire!” It’ll put excitement where 0

On the Trail: Transitions

Don’t let this hot summer weather deceive you. Fall is slipping in. I have felt it for a while now, seen it in the swamps, the sumacs. Just this week I spotted a nice, full, bitter but tasty triangular bunch of blue wild grapes, and the sight and scent immediately transported me back some 30 years to an old Williamsburg haunt that was, before the Audubon Society took over, my favorite partridge covert, also a productive spot to hunt turkeys and deer. I knew the 0

Jaywalking: Family fun

Perhaps you could say that two area teens are making the sport of BMX racing a little more “funky.” Maybe that’s just a bad play on words, but the fact is that Aimee and Grayson Funk both captured state championships during the USA BMX Massachusetts State Championships over the weekend at Whip City BMX in Westfield. Winning state titles is nothing new to the brother-sister pairing from Greenfield. This marked the fourth consecutive season Aimee had won a state title, while Grayson took home his 0

Keeping Score: Whipple effect

Good morning! The Mark Whipple Show debuts today at Gillette Stadium, where the UMass Minutemen are 17-point underdogs against Boston College. UMass athletic director John McCutcheon took his mulligan the day after Christmas when he fired Charley Molnar with three years and $836,000 remaining on his contract. “There wasn’t the sense we were where we needed to be,” said McCutcheon, who two years earlier had hired Molnar because his “... background clearly separated him from an outstanding pool of applicants.” It’s hard to imagine any 0

On the Trail: Old & eager

The swamps are sporting their royal, invasive purple, yellows are lining the edges, rose of Sharon’s in bloom, mud-splattered acorns are scattered underfoot, my favorite sweet-16 side-by-side is in the shop for repairs and — ah! — life is good. Yet, still, I find myself pondering the mortality of Lily, a dynamo gundog whose age hit double digits on my 35th wedding anniversary in April. Of aristocratic springer spaniel pedigree, Lily is looking frisky these days, free-wheeling, a bounce in her step, fully recovered from 0