Football Friday Notebook: Welcome Back Football!

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By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports 

Welcome back, football (and yes, we are officially back, too – no more vacations, folks!).

A brand new NFL season has officially begun with all 32 teams in action as of today.

Per the Washington Post, the Arizona Cardinals Denver BroncosLos Angeles Chargers and Minnesota Vikings kick-off their respective training camps today – these are the final four teams to report to camp after the Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears commenced their respective seasons earlier this month. Both Baltimore and Chicago will compete in the Hall of Fame Game next Saturday, August 4th.

The New England Patriots began their preparations for the upcoming season yesterday at Gillette Stadium. Here are a few stories you should read from the first day of camp:

Let’s switch gears to some local college and high school news from the six New England states:

That concludes a new edition of the ‘Football Friday Notebook’ – vacation time is over, so get excited for loads of football content to come for the next six months!

Stay connected with Noontime Sports’ football coverage on Twitter by following @Noontime_FB

Football Friday Notebook: Edelman Facing Four-Game Suspension, Six-Man Football To Return To South Dakota in 2019

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By NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports) 

Happy Friday, everyone!

Let’s kick-off the second Friday of the month with some news and links from football world, starting with Julian Edelman of the New England Patriots.

Edelman – has you probably learned yesterday – is fighting a four-game suspension for PED use. But as Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe writes in today’s column, “it was a big win for head coach Bill Belichick.”

The Obnoxious Sports Fan of the Boston Herald doesn’t seem too concerned about losing Edelman for the first four games – again, pending he is suspended for the team’s first four games. He is already predicting a monster game against the Indianapolis Colts.

MLive.com highlighted 11 high school football players that have verbally committed to play for the Michigan Wolverines in 2019.

As noted on Pro Football TalkPresident Donald Trump is asking NFL players to recommend people for pardons.

The great Terrell Owens apparently made a statement yesterday about not attending this summer’s Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement in Canton, Ohio. Owens’ decision seem unprecedented, according to a story from NFL.com.

Per various reports, six-man football has been added in South Dakota – it will officially begin next school year (2019). What is six-man football: it allows teams to play six players instead of the traditional 11.

Finally, who has the toughest non-conference schedule in NCAA Football? Let’s go with the Pittsburg Panthers, per a breakdown from ESPN.com.

Stay connected with Noontime Football on Twitter by tossing us a follow to @Noontime_FB

Noontime Sports The Podcast: Episode 10 (Erik Frenz | Bill Belichick vs. the NFL: The Case for the NFL’s Greatest Coach)

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By NoontimeSports.com 

Ah, the 10th episode of Noontime Sports the Podcast – we have officially reached double-figures … high five!

For our initial double-digit edition, Matt Noonan caught up with Erik Frenz, the author of Bill Belichick vs. the NFL: The Case for the NFL’s Greatest Coach

Frenz highlights different moments of working on his first-ever book, which recently hit the bookshelves a few weeks ago, as well as why Bill Belichick is hands-down the best coach ever.

In addition to discussing his book, Frenz and Noonan also discussed the first few weeks of the NFL season and why the league’s ratings have plummeted.

Make sure to follow Frenz on Twitter (@ErikFrenz).

Mass. College Football: Camping With American International College (AIC) Football

By Matt Noonan

American International College (AIC) enters the 2015 season projected to be the runner-up in the Northeast-10 Conference, but that prediction isn’t what head coach Art Wilkins is focused on at this time.

AIC Football commences its season on Saturday, September 5 with a non-conference game against Bryant University (Photo Credit: SportsLogos.net)
AIC Football commences its season on Saturday, September 5 with a non-conference game against Bryant University (Photo Credit: SportsLogos.net)

Instead, the legendary head coach, who enters his 21st season with AIC, is focused on preparing the Yellow Jackets for its week one opponent: Bryant University.

“I think Mr. (Bill) Belichick has the right approach (to a new season),” said Wilkins, “one game at a time.”

AIC will travel to Rhode Island this Saturday (Sept. 5) to face a Bulldogs squad that was picked to capture the Northeast Conference. Bryant garnered four first-place votes and is coming off an impressive campaign that included eight victories, which tied a program record for wins.

“(We have) a one game season right now and after (we play Bryant) there will be another one (game season), but it is a one game season,” said Wilkins.

Quarterback Kevin Arduino has graduated after a very impressive four-year career, but is expected to assist the team as an assistant coach.

“You (can) never replace a great player (like Kevin), but we’re doing the second best thing. Since he can’t play anymore, we’re going to let him coach and see if some of the magic dust (helps),” said Wilkins.

The Yellow Jackets have five quarterbacks on its roster, including sophomore Shawn Brathwaite, who completed four passes last season and tossed a pair of touchdowns. He also rushed for 31 yards and one score.

Another quarterback to keep an eye on is senior Adam Salvador, who competed in nine games last season, but did not register a single pass. Instead, the senior signal caller rushed for 137 yards on 43 attempts and averaged 15.2 yards per game.

At tailback, expect the Yellow Jackets to rotate five or six players, including junior Marcel DePina, who hails from New Bedford, Massachusetts. DePina registered one touchdown last season on 19 carries, while rushing for 133 yards. He also returned a pair of punts for 34 yards.

“DePina has looked great,” said Wilkins. “I think he is going to be an exceptional player. He is the one we’re counting on right now (at halfback).”

Similar to tailback, the wide receiving core will rely on five or six players to assist the offense. Junior Evan Graham – a Springfield, Massachusetts native – is back after finishing second on the team in receptions (41). Graham, who competed in 11 games, was second on the team in touchdowns (five) and receiving yards (655).

“We think (our receiving core) is the best position on offense right, so we’ll see how it comes together during the first several games,” Wilkins said. “This is an exciting bunch.”

On defense, the Yellow Jackets will count on senior linebacker Demetrius Steed – a Boston native that competed for Bedford High School. Steed ranked third on the team in total tackles (72), but recorded 38 solo stops, four sacks, seven tackles for a loss and a trio of pass-breakups.

“He’s the guy that leads by example and has a high energy level and (can) translate that to his teammates,” said Wilkins. “He is everything you could want.”

AIC also returns seniors Andrew Justice (defensive end), Danny Omoregie (defensive line) and Daquan Holmes (defensive back). Sophomore Rob Hansen returns after leading all freshmen defenders with five total tackles and three solo stops.

Following the Yellow Jackets’ season-opener against the Bulldogs, AIC will commence conference play with a home contest against Southern Connecticut University on Saturday, September 12. The Yellow Jackets will then travel to University of New Haven on Saturday, September 19 before concluding the first month of play with a 1:00 p.m. kick-off against Saint Anselm College at home.

AIC and LIU Post, which competed in the conference’s championship last season, will meet in Springfield on Saturday, October 3 for a 1:00 p.m. kick-off. LIU Post was picked to capture the NE-10 crown for the second consecutive season.

Noonan: On Sunday, The Patriots Will ‘Ignore The Noise’ Against Seattle

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick (left) and quarter Tom Brady (right) will look to capture their fourth Super Bowl on Sunday. (Photo Credit: Bleacher Report)
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick (left) and quarter Tom Brady (right) will look to capture their fourth Super Bowl on Sunday. (Photo Credit: Bleacher Report)

By Matt Noonan 

It’s finally Sunday.

One more game remains on the 2014 NFL Schedule: Super Bowl XLIX.

New England versus Seattle, clam chowder and great seafood versus Starbucks and the artists. Bill Belichick against Pete ‘How ‘Bout Our Defense’ Carroll, Tom Brady versus Russell Wilson, and East Coast versus West Coast.

The list goes on and on, but this Super Bowl has a different meaning. Instead of two teams competing for the ultimate prize – the Vince Lombardi Trophy (Yes, I used Lombardi’s first name) – this game is about the Patriots against the World.

Everyone wants to see the Patriots crumble, especially against a defense – The Legion of Boom – that is prepared to burst through the line of scrimmage on each snap. Fans want to see New England – a team that has been under scrutiny for the past two weeks because of “Deflate Gate” – lose.

Enough, people!

This is the NFL, the most popular sport in the North America, and instead of getting excited about two great teams competing for a championship, we’ve been wrapped up in Deflate Gate, as well as pondering the question: Is Tom Brady a cheater?

Belichick’s mantra has always been to ignore the noise, and you can bet New England did that this week while preparing for their final test. Say what you want – go ahead, are they cheaters? – but the Patriots first faced adversity when they finished the month of September with an excruciating loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Tom Brady and the Patriots were "done" after ending September with a 41-14 setback. (Photo Credit: The Big Lead/USA Today Sports).
Tom Brady and the Patriots were “done” after ending September with a 41-14 setback. (Photo Credit: The Big Lead/USA Today Sports)

Against Kansas City, Brady completed 14 of 23 passes for 159 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Brandon LaFell hauled in six catches for 119 yards, including one touchdown reception, while the defense allowed 26 first downs 443 yards.

Yep, the Patriots were done after this game. At 2-2, the “experts” said it was time for Brady to take a seat and make way for Jimmy Garoppolo.

Yet, as I stated above, the Patriots ignored the noise, turned their attention to their week five opponent: Cincinnati Bengals. And in a span of six days, the Patriots went from non-contenders to contenders, blowing out their opponent by a score of 43-17.

Following their win, New England rattled off seven straight wins, including victories against Denver, Indianapolis and San Diego. They finished atop the AFC East again – surprise, surprise! – and claimed home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Still think the Patriots should have folded following their 2-2 start?

In the postseason, they earned impressive wins against Baltimore (35-31) and Indianapolis (45-7). Their win against the Ravens featured a formation that continues to baffle John Harbaugh – Baltimore’s head coach – but again, did that faze these Pats?

The answer: nope!

Say all you want about Belichick, who was punished for SpyGate in 2007, but the man knows the game of football. He knows how to coach a team, which is ready and prepared to compete against the Seahawks, who humiliated Peyton Manning and the Broncos literally one year ago.

So, while you may think that Deflate Gate or SpyGate or any sort-of-gate is going to bring down these Patriots, think again.

Tonight, we could see history play out in Arizona as Brady and Belichick look to capture their fourth Super Bowl crown since the 2001 season. Sure, it is the same playing field that saw these Patriots conclude their almost perfect season to the New York Giants, but this team is clearly different from the 18-1 squad.

My prediction: I like the Patriots against the Seahawks. It will be close, but New England will squeak past Seattle, claiming their fourth Lombardi trophy, setting up an interesting handshake between Patriots owner Robert Kraft and the Commissioner of the NFL Roger Goodell.

Again, say what you want – call them cheaters or benders-of-the-rules, but these Patriots will ignore the noise and figure out a way to conclude a controversial season with some hardware.