Out of the gate

05/14/03 Don Yeager Jr.

            Hello once again loyal readers, and welcome to Out of the Gate, my weekly column devoted to the last remaining undefeated team in the NIFL and current home-field advantage holder (you hear that Lake Charles?  Utah?) for the playoffs, the Ohio Valley Greyhounds!

            Another big win for the ‘Hounds this week.  Buthcie Washington put up pretty good numbers in his first start.  Thirteen for twenty-eight for 168 yards and 2 TDs is the almost identical to what Shane put up against Knoxville the first game of the season, so that is encouraging.  Greg Muckerson seemed to do a great job as a receiver.  Muck has so much talent and I think our having him is a great advantage.  The thing to keep in mind is that even though we only scored 23 points this week, when a team is decimated by injuries, a win is a win.  I am sitting at work at the Valley Skate Center Saturday night and turn on my radio, and what do I hear?  Our GM John Blackmore (Who did an excellent job I may ad) calling the game.  Who was helping him?  Well, we had starting Center Mike Blackburn, starting QB Shane Franzer, and just for good measure starting WR Steve Vagades doing stats.  The bottom line is we pulled it out.  Some people say the best offense is a great defense, and right now we seem to be showing it.  We have a good offense overall, there just seem to be a few things we are still working out.  The defense plays well enough that we still have the ability to tune up and figure out what we need to do by the playoffs.

Eddie teed up again Saturday night.  Four sacks is great.  Eddie is a great player and I expect him to hassle Knoxville’s quarterback by committee this week.  Maybe Heath Shuler should have suited up for the River Hawks.  It would have been interesting to see our defensive pack hunt down a former NFL first rounder.  This week’s game will be an interesting one.  If everyone is healed or close, we will go into the game very strong with our inured players fresh from sitting out the Show Me game.  Also, the “Animal Show” returns to Wheeling for the first time.  From what I heard, Bunny is playing in the secondary, which surprised me.  Again, I wish both of these guys luck this season, however I think Bunny will be trying to prove himself against the guys he was cut in favor of and will over commit in attempts to make a big play too much resulting in some long yardage for the ‘Hounds receivers.  As for Birdie, I don’t think he knows what he will be facing.  The front line is totally different from anyone he practiced against last season and is definitely finer tuned than they were for Game 1.  He also needs to realize that he isn’t running behind “The Big Uglies” anymore.  I look for the D-line, especially Eddie, to put him on his back early and o

I think this week will be a turning point for our offense.  We put forty-six points on Knoxville the first week of the season with the offense adjusting to new starters.  This week could be similar.  I have no idea who will be under center this week as I have heard Shane is doing well, but I do not know if he will play or if Butchie will get the start again.  I believe our receiving corps and line will both be back to full strength this week, I hope so at least.  If not, Muckerson rose to the occasion last week at WR and I believe he will again.  I do have a very strong feeling that Lloyd Clemons will be the feature back this week, and for the rest of the season.  It just seems that when you look at a stat line and one back has a few rushes and negative yardage and the other back has very few rushes and positive yards then a change must be made.  I believe that Clemons has earned the starting spot, but I do not know if that will be the case.

            Some of the best news I heard this week involved ownership of teams.  First of all I was very happy to hear that the Wheeling Nailers were purchased and will remain in Wheeling.  This once proud franchise will hopefully be able to return to form now.  The Nailers, or as they will forever be known to the true valley fans, the Thunderbirds were a great franchise at one time but have been down for a very long time.  Here is to hoping that things will be looking up soon.  Also, the Rapid City Red Dogs were purchased this week and will continue play.  The Red Dogs organization seems to be consistent and the team is very good this season.  Them not making the trip to LaCrosse would have been a real shame.  Let’s not forget that this is the team that beat Utah and is very much a threat in the Pacific. 

            Just as a side note, I must say that Eagle 107’s spring fling concert at the Capitol was excellent.  The Buzz Poets did a decent job and Bill Deasy was very good.  The Clarks were amazing.  If you ever have a chance to see these gems of Pittsburgh, check them out.  They played for 2 straight hours and (even though the other groups were good) made the tickets well worth paying for.

            Well, my time is up.  Questions?  Comments?  Thoughts?  E-mail me @ or say hey to me just above section 206.  I’m the game-film guy for the team and always rock the Jose Davis throwback.

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