Keeping Score: Generals on display

Published: 12/2/2022 7:09:50 PM
Modified: 12/2/2022 7:09:37 PM

Good morning!
The UMass-Army game at McGuirk Alumni Stadium on Thanksgiving weekend was a rare opportunity to see an iconic program on a sunny, mild day in late autumn. Granted there wouldn’t be the same energy as the Army-Notre Dame game at sold out Yankee Stadium in 1946, but the meager turnout of 10,119 was a sad testament to another one-win season.

The Black Knights needed a win to remain bowl eligible, and coach Jeff Monken’s players were further motivated by the sight of generals standing on the sideline — real generals, with silver stars on their garrison caps.

An hour earlier, one of them was admiring the UMass marching band about to go onto the field. “This is something, all this,” he said.

I agreed and thanked him for his service. He returned the thanks, removed his glove and we shook hands. “Mark Quander,” he said.

“Are you a colonel?” I asked, revealing my ignorance.

“First general officer,” he politely replied.

Later I learned he was Brigadier General Mark C. Quander, the 79th Commandant of Cadets of the U.S. Military Academy. He said he drove from West Point to meet the team at the Springfield Sheraton, and the next morning they arrived in Amherst in four buses escorted by two New York State Police cars.

The team suited up in the same locker room that UMass used until the new performance center opened. Dressed in white uniforms with black lettering, they followed two cadets out from behind the darkened doorway one holding a U.S. flag and the other a black “Army Football” flag with skull and crossbones. Their cleats crunched on the pebbled pavement. “Hit ’em in the mouth,” one of them muttered.

Dave Lorenz and I had planned on this game since the schedule was released. We took Rte. 116 to North Maple Street onto Rocky Hill Road past the South Loop which was closed tighter than a Russian border crossing. Longtime fans don’t like paying $20 to park where it used to be free, and although Dave had a parking pass we walked from the Big Y out of principle.

Lorenz is a retired Army major, and he filled me in on military jargon.  “West Point has a lot of generals,” he said. “Some are professors, others come to lecture about intel, infantry, field training… 

 “Who’s that behind him?” I asked.

“His aide, every general has one. He’s probably a captain for a three star.”

They wore what Lorenz said were Class B uniforms. “They’ve changed the color and design since I was in.”

UMass scored the first touchdown but Army dominated the rest of the game and won, 44-7. We left after the first half when the score was 28-7 and listened to the rest on satellite radio. In the third quarter Army play-by-play announcer Rich DiMarco said, “Am I the only one who just wants it to end right now?”

Sorry, Rich, but as every UMass fan knows by now, there’s no mercy rules in the FBS. 

PIGSKIN DEBRIEFING: One of the few positives from another 1-11 season was that the average score of 31-13 was down from 42-16 last year. … UMass drew 53,999 fans in five games compared to 53,957 in six games last season, an average of 1,786 more per game. … According to the team’s stats page, place kicker Cameron Carson was a perfect 13-for-13 on PATs and 13-of-18 on field goals. … Punter CJ Kolodziey averaged 33.04 yards per kick; last year George Georgopoulos averaged 44.6 yards and transferred to Miss. State. … UMass was flagged 91 times for 794 yards compared to 75 times for 734 yards last season. … According to fbsschedules.com, the 2023 season kicks off with road games against New Mexico State on August 26 and Auburn on Sept. 2, followed by the home opener on Sept. 9 against Miami of Ohio. Other home games will be against New Mexico, Toledo, Ark. State and Merrimack. Road games will be at Eastern Michigan, Penn State, Army and Liberty. … The game against UConn will be in a “City TBA”  but hopefully not Foxborough.

TIS THE SEASON: High school stats man Mike Cadran reports that western Mass. teams accounted for five of 39 state titles this fall. They were Frontier (D-5 volleyball); Lenox (D-3 boys cross country); Longmeadow (D-2 field hockey) and South Hadley (D-3 soccer). 

Longmeadow’s Ryan Downes won the MIAA’s individual state golf title by carding a 3-under 69 at the Renaissance Golf Club in Haverhill. Downes has committed to Vanderbilt.

A sixth possible title looms today at Gillette Stadium where Springfield Central plays St. John’s Prep in the Division I Super Bowl at 12:30 p.m.

FRESHMAN PHENOM: The UMass hockey team has a star in the making. At the Friendship Four in Dublin, freshman Kenny Connors received an Irish lid (cap) for scoring both goals in the 2-1 win against UMass-Lowell. All told, the 19-year-old Pennsylvanian has seven goals and nine assists in 14 games.

“Connors is a legit NHL prospect,” said UMass coach Greg Carvel. “He’s as good a forward prospect as we’ve had since I’ve been at UMass.”

Kudos to Carvel for coaching the Minutemen away from the brink with a road win at UNH and a win and a tie in Dublin against two higher ranked opponents.

SQUIBBERS:  UMass basketball coach Frank Martin needs to twist Ryan Bamford’s arm into scheduling a game against UConn. The last home tilt was 18 years ago this Friday, when Rashaun Freeman’s layup beat the seventh-ranked Huskies in front of 9,037 fans who stormed the court. …    Despite his NFL pedigree, Ed McCaffrey turned out to be a terrible college coach and was fired by Northern Colorado after two years and a 6-16 record. One of his kids was a quarterback and the other an assistant coach, leading Buffzone.com to report that players accused him of “favoritism, nepotism, and a lack of proper preparation.” … For those wondering what the big contraption was behind the north end zone at McGuirk last week, it’s a $38,000 Magcam, short for 3D Magnetic field camera. … Undefeated Holy Cross (11-0) hosts UNH (9-3) at noon today in an FCS second round game at Fitton Field in Worcester … Looking for work? NYC is seeking a Director of Rodent Mitigation for $120K. …. PFT’s Mike Florio played a sound clip of Patrick Peterson’s podcast where he said his of his former teammate the Az. Cardinal quarterback: “Kyler Murray don’t care about nobody but Kyler Murray.” …. Thirteen of the first 40 World Cup soccer matches ended in scores of 0-0 or 1-0. The Babylon Bee suggested that to make it more watchable put an enraged bull on the field, or whenever players pass ten times without shooting, the ball detonates. … Gaylord Perry, who died Thursday, beat the Red Sox twice in one week his final season. He won 314 games and never denied throwing the spitball, exemplified by this quote in his New York Times obituary:  “I reckon I tried everything on the old apple but salt and pepper and chocolate sauce topping.”

Chip Ainsworth is an award-winning columnist who has penned his observations about sports for four decades in the Pioneer Valley. He can be reached at chipjet715@icloud.com 


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