Daily Noontime (Thursday, October 16, 2020)

 

By Matt Noonan

Welcome to Thursday, everyone! 

It’s quite chilly outside this morning. In fact, I almost ordered a hot coffee from Starbucks but chose a cold brew instead. Was that a bad decision? 

Let’s get to some news from the sports world, beginning with a recent update from the National Football League (NFL): The Atlanta Falcons are shutting down their facility due to “multiple positive tests.” 

What exactly does this mean? We’re unsure, but as of now, the Falcons are scheduled to meet the Minnesota Vikings this weekend, but that game could be postponed or canceled, so stay tuned. 

I am sorry to share not-so-good news (again!), but Nick Saban, who is the head coach of the University of Alabama‘s football team, has tested positive for the coronavirus. Additionally, Greg Byrne, who is the school’s athletic director, also tested positive, which means this weekend’s conference clash between the Tide and the University of Georgia could be postponed, but who knows? 

As we noted yesterday on our mid-afternoon ‘Daily Noontime,’ two Southeastern Conference (SEC) football games for this weekend have been postponed. According to this week’s schedule from ESPN.com (as of 9 a.m. this morning), three college football games have been postponed this week. Could we see a few more due to a recent uptick in coronavirus cases?  

Staying in the college athletic world, the NCAA‘s Division I Council voted yesterday to provide student-athletes that compete during the wintertime an extra year of eligibility. And according to Nicole Auerbach of The Athletic, those that play basketball or hockey would be able to return to campus next year even if they play one or two contests. 

The NCAA also unveiled 450 host sites for upcoming championships, including lacrosse, which will return to Gillette Stadium in 2025 and 2026

Here are some more news and links from the world wide web: 

NCAA Lacrosse Championships To Return To Gillette Stadium

Gillette Stadium will be the site for four NCAA Championships in 2025 and 2026. (Photo Credit: Matt Noonan for NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan 

The NCAA unveiled future sites for future championships over the next few years earlier today, including lacrosse, which is scheduled to return to Gillette Stadium in 2025 and 2026. 

All three men’s championships – D-I, D-II, and D-III – will take place both years at the home of the New England Patriots while the D-I women’s title games will occur each year, as well. 

Gillette Stadium has been the host site for all three men’s lacrosse championships five times, including in 2018 when Yale University captured its first-ever national title by defeating Duke University by a score of 13-11. 

One year earlier – 2017, to be exact! – Maryland defeated Boston College in Foxborough, Massachusetts in the first championship game held in Foxborough, Massachusetts by a score of 16-13. 

Noontime’s NFL Power Rankings: Week Six (Oct. 14, 2020)

By NoontimeSports.com 

Five weeks of professional football are in the books, but it wasn’t easy. 

Also, what did you think about Tuesday Night Football? Did you know the last Tuesday evening game was played ten years ago between the Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles? Well, now you know! 

Alright, enough jibber-jabber, let’s unveil this week’s Noontime Power Rankings for the sixth week of the 2020 National Football League (NFL).

As usual, make sure to stay connected with Noontime Sports on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and YouTube – have a great day, everyone!  


Noontime’s Week Six Power Rankings (Oct. 14, 2020)

1. Seattle Seahawks (5-0, LW: No. 2): Somehow, the Seahawks pulled out a win on Sunday evening against the Minnesota Vikings. 

2. Kansas City Chiefs (4-1, LW: No. 1): The Chiefs suffered their first setback since last November, which seems or sounds crazy, right? Maybe the loss was exactly what coach Andy Reid and his team needed. 

3. Green Bay Packers (4-0, LW: No. 3): The Packers were idle this past weekend, but they have looked pretty good through four weeks. This week, Green Bay will visit Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in what should be a decent matchup. 

4. Baltimore Ravens (4-1, LW: No. 4): Baltimore’s defense shined against Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, but the offense seems to be inconsistent. 

5. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-0, LW: No. 6): The Steelers are really good at drafting receivers. 

6. Tennessee Titans (4-0, LW: No. 7): The Titans returned to the gridiron last night for the first time in a few weeks and looked really good. And we mean, really good! 

7. Buffalo Bills (4-1, LW: No. 5): Did the Bills come down to earth last night or are they still pretty good? 

8. Cleveland Browns (4-1, LW: No. 14): Something is different about this Browns team than previous years. Maybe this is finally the year the Browns officially turn the corner and establish a winning culture? 

9. New England Patriots (2-2, LW: No. 8): It’s been a chaotic past few days for the Patriots, but let’s hope things start going in the right direction, especially with today’s news about Cam Newton returning to the practice field tomorrow. 

10. Los Angeles Rams (4-1, LW: No. 11): The Rams returned to their original form from earlier this season with a runaway win over the Washington Football Team this past weekend. Their early season success should continue against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night. 

11. New Orleans Saints (3-2, LW: No. 10): The Los Angeles Chargers did not make things easy for Drew Brees and the Saints on Monday in Louisiana.   

12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-2, LW: No. 9): Can someone please tell Tom Brady that there are four downs in football, not five! 

13. Carolina Panthers (3-2, LW: No. 16): After starting the season with back-to-back losses, the Panthers have bounced back with three-straight wins. Is it time to consider them a contender for the NFC South? 

14. Las Vegas Raiders (3-2, LW: No. 19): Whatever the Raiders did this past weekend against the Chiefs, they must do going forward. 

15. Chicago Bears (4-1, LW: No. 15): Did you know the Bears have won four of five contests this season? Are they flying under the radar with Nick Foles

16. San Francisco 49ers (2-3, LW: No. 13): Injuries are piling up and the 49ers are looking like a one-hit-wonder (in our minds!). 

17. Dallas Cowboys (2-3, LW: No. 17): The Cowboys secured the top spot in the NFC East last week with a much-needed divisional win over the New York Giants, but did lose Dak Prescott to a season-ending injury. Ouch! 

18. Indianapolis Colts (3-2, LW: No. 12): Maybe the three-game winning streak from the earlier this season was a fluke? 

19. Arizona Cardinals (3-2, LW: No. 18): The Cardinals have beaten the following teams: San Francisco 49ers, New York Jets, and the Washington Football Team. And they have suffered setbacks to these teams: Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers. So, how good is this team? 

20. Miami Dolphins (2-3, LW: NR): The Dolphins came close to beating the Seahawks two weeks ago, but did score a much-needed win over the 49ers on Sunday. Is something cooking in South Beach that we don’t know about? 

On the Rise: Los Angeles Chargers and Philadelphia Eagles


Noontime’s Preseason Rankings (Aug. 4, 2020) 

Noontime’s Week One Power Rankings (Sept. 8, 2020) 

Noontime’s Week Two Power Rankings (Sept. 15, 2020) 

Noontime’s Week Four Power Rankings (Sept. 29, 2020) 

Daily Noontime (Wednesday, October 14, 2020)

By Matt Noonan 

Happy Wednesday, everyone! 

Yes, I know we’re posting a bit later, but after you read the ‘Daily Noontime’ for Wednesday, October 14, make sure to listen to a brand new Noontime Sports podcast with KC Chhipwadia, who is the chief executive offer and founder of Athlete Foundry. You will really enjoy this podcast – I came away very inspired by Chhipwadia’s story. 

Let’s begin this afternoon’s (and yes, today’s) ‘Daily Noontime’ with some good news: the New England Patriots are “reportedly” heading back to the practice field today. However, Jim McBride of the Boston Globe tweeted last night that the Patriots would just be at Gillette Stadium for “workouts,” not practice, so does anyone know what’s going on? 

One thing we know is that Massachusetts native Meghan Duggan, who led Team USA to a gold medal in the 2018 Olympics, announced she is retiring yesterday on Twitter

Duggan, who is from Danvers, played high school hockey locally at Cushing Academy before extending her career to the University of Wisconsin. She also played professionally for the Boston Pride of the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) and led the boycott ahead of the World Championships so the women’s national team would receive “increased pay and comparable accommodations to the men’s team.”

Staying locally, the high school soccer world has had to adapt due to the coronavirus pandemic, which included some new rules that one student-athlete considers “crazy.” This is a BAD look for high school soccer officials in the Bay State. 

Here are more links and news from the world wide web: 

  • The Southeastern Conference (SEC) has canceled not one, but two games for this upcoming weekend, including Florida vs. LSU. Uh oh! 
  • The 2020 National Basketball Association‘s (NBA) Finals ratings were not good. In fact, they were the “lowest-rated” series on ABC since the station began airing the championship contests 50 years ago. 
  • Is the youth sports world facing a crisis due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic? Maybe, according to the New York Times

Finally, Noontime Sports unveiled our first-ever ‘Noontime Original’ last night – we’re telling a story of a fictional high school football team in the Berkshires. Hopefully, you’ll read our first chapter

A Season With The West Stockbridge Rangers (Chapter One)

By Matt Noonan 

With great excitement, I am proud to unveil some new content for Noontime Sports this evening – this is the first chapter of our first-ever fictional web series called “A Season With The West Stockbridge Rangers.”

The story takes place in a fictional town in the Berkshire – West Stockbridge, to be exact! – and is about a high school football team that has not won a state championship let alone a county title in 30 years. But with a new coach in town, perhaps their chances of winning a state title could change, right? 

We’ll have to wait and find out, but here is the initial chapter of our first-ever fictional high school football web series – please let us know what you think by leaving a comment below or engaging with us on social media!


 Chapter One: Welcome to West Stockbridge Football 

For nearly three decades, the West Stockbridge high school football team was an afterthought. 

No one feared the Rangers like many did during the 1970s and 1980s when West Stockbridge would barrel over its local opponents, capture multiple Berkshire County championships and then head east to tangle with some of the best high school football teams in Massachusetts with a state title on the line. 

West Stockbridge was not just the team to beat or watch in the Berkshires during both decades, but also a program that every young man in the county aspired to join when they entered their freshman year of high school. Being a member of the West Stockbridge football program provided the players with some sense of what it must have felt like to stroll down Hollywood Boulevard. 

No matter who you were or what position you played, if you walked around West Stockbridge with a royal blue and white letterman jacket, then people would stop and ask you for your autograph, as well as a photo, too.  

But after the team’s 1989 season concluded with its eighth state championship, the long-time and local coach, Roger Collins, would make an announcement that would impact the future of the Rangers’ football program.  

“I’m retiring,” he said with a big grin on his face after the Rangers trounced Norwood on a cold and windy afternoon in December in the D-6 state championship, which was held at Bentley University.  

The word “retiring” sent shockwaves across the state, but mainly throughout Berkshire county – how could one of the state’s winningest coaches call it quits when there were more state championships to be won? 

While no one really knew why Collins was ready to call it quits, rumors began to circulate weeks later throughout town that the legendary coach was being considered to start a new program with East Stockbridge high school, which was scheduled to open its doors next summer. 

The rumors – and yes, the various murmurs at the local diner and coffee shop – were indeed true when members of the town saw a picture of Collins smiling on the front page of the Berkshire Herald  weeks later below a headline that read the following: “Local Legend Leaves West for East.” 

Members of the community on the western side of town were furious – how could Coach Collins do this to us? 

While many were outraged over Collins’ decision to leave a program that he had once competed in, they were amazed at how he was able to continue his winning ways with a new and no-name program that would eventually become the best team in the county in less than five years. 

With Collins on the sidelines, the Eagles of East Stockbridge would go on to win five state championships in 15 years while his former team struggled to muster at least one, maybe two wins per season. West Stockbridge would hire five new coaches during that particular stretch and none of them were able to beat Collins’ Eagles, especially when the two schools would meet on Thanksgiving Day. 

In 2005, Collins would again announce his retirement, handing over his headset to his assistant coach Brian Murphy, who played for the legendary sideline boss during the team’s initial season in 1990. But unlike his last retirement, Collins would never return to the sidelines again. However, his winning ways somehow continued for the Eagles while the Rangers became what many coaches in the area deemed the laughing stock of Berkshire County. 

Murphy and the Eagles would win three more state championships over the next ten years while the Rangers of West Stockbridge tallied just seven victories. 

Some people in town felt Collins cursed his former team – they’ll never win another state championship in our lifetime! – but on a warm and humid afternoon in July of 2019, the Rangers’ program was about to begin an improbable turnaround when a two-time New York High School Football Coach of the Year honoree by the name of Steve Cohen walked through the dusty hallways of West Stockbridge high school. 

Cohen, who had just moved to the area from Albany, New York, was accompanied on this particular morning by his wife Melissa and two daughters, Maddie and Caroline. Upon entering the school’s gymnasium,  the family was greeted by two members of the town’s school committee, Principal Danica Jones, and Arthur Moskowitz, who was the athletic director. 

“Good to see you,” Jones and Moskowitz said in unison. 

Cohen smiled at both Danica and Arthur. “It’s a pleasure to see you both.”

“If you are still interested, Steve,” said Arthur, “we would like to offer you the opportunity to coach the Rangers’ football team.” 

Cohen smiled again. He would eventually respond to Arthur’s offer but needed a moment to glance around the gymnasium – he couldn’t help but marvel at what Coach Collins and the Rangers had accomplished from 1964 to 1989. Maybe one day one his team would have a banner hanging in the same gymnasium, too, along with a team photo next to the 1989 state championship squad – man, wouldn’t that be special, Cohen thought. 

“Arthur,” said Cohen, “It would be an honor to lead the Rangers on Friday night.”