Bluejays lose to Millikin, rebound with victory over Carthage

By Brandon DeJesus, Sports Writer
Follow him @TheRealBDejesus

A rocky start to the second half due to poor shooting and defense proved to be the ultimate downfall for the Elmhurst Bluejays as they lost their fifth straight game by the score of 87-70 to the Big Blue of Millikin University.

The Big Blue scored the first seven points of the game and started out with a 15-5 lead five minutes into the first half. Trailing 35-22 with five minutes left in the first half, The Bluejays went on a 13-0 run to tie the game including sophomore guard Ryan Patton scoring eight consecutive points. After the game, Ryan was asked about the late resurgence from the Bluejays late in the first half.

“We are just a resilient bunch. We are still trying to figure things out but we always play hard and we never stop playing hard until the final buzzer” said Patton.

The Bluejays also got the Big Blue into a lot of foul trouble throughout the first half and converted on most of their free throws. Patton was asked about what all the fouls drawn showed about the teams toughness.

“We just try to go at them. We try to get to the rim, we try to pound it down low right in the beginning of the game. So that is why we drew a lot of fouls and led to a lot of those free throws” said Patton.

The poor second half play was mostly due to the Bluejays not being able to stop the stellar play from Millikin’s Zach Fisher. He finished the game with 33 points while shooting 13-of-17 from the floor including 6-of-8 from three point range.

Junior forward from Elmhurst Jeremy Ireland (who finished the game with 12 points) talked after the game about what made it difficult for the team to stop Fisher and his rapid scoring.

“He never stopped moving and he has a high and quick release on his shot. We gave him too much space and he got hot early” said Ireland.

Not only did Fisher contribute to Millikin’s victory, so did forward Elijah Henry who got himself a double-double by scoring 20 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Millikin also got great play from their bench mostly thanks to Michael Beaty who came off the bench to score 17 points.

This loss gave the Bluejays their fifth straight loss and are now 11-11 on the season as well as falling to 4-9 in CCIW conference play. The team looks to end this losing streak on Feb. 10 as they take on the Carthage College Red Men at Faganel Hall.

COLUMN:The Battle for Ultimate Imperfection: The 2008 Detroit Lions vs. The 2017 Cleveland Browns

By Brandon DeJesus, Sports Writer
Follow him @TheRealBDejesus

In 1978, the NFL switched to a 16 game season and 30 years later, the Detroit Lions became the first team to lose every single one of them. This past season, the Cleveland Browns became the second team to lose all 16 regular season games.

What would happen if these two dismal teams played against each other? Who would win the showdown to determine who is the worse 0-16 team in history? This is why I am here to break down the matchup. To find out who wins this game, we will look at both teams strengths, weaknesses as well as both head coaches.

 

Factor #1: Both Team’s Strengths

Let us start with the Lions. The first player that comes to mind is future hall of fame wide receiver Calvin Johnson who at the time was in his second year in the league. In 2008, he recorded the first of his seven 1,000 yard receiving seasons and caught 12 touchdowns which tied him for league lead with Larry Fitzgerald.

The Lions also had their longtime kicker Jason Hanson who made 21 of 22 field goals, which included eight from 50 plus yards away. On the offensive line, Jeff Backus started every game for the Lions in 2008. Despite those strengths, this team still had major holes which will be addressed later.

Speaking of offensive lineman, this brings us to the Browns strengths. Future hall of fame left tackle Joe Thomas who up until week seven this past season did not miss a single offensive snap in his 10-year career. Other than Thomas, nothing else stood out about the 2017 Browns. The winner of the strengths battle is the Detroit Lions.

 

Factor #2: Both Team’s Weaknesses

One weakness about the 2008 Lions that stands out was the revolving door at the quarterback position. Five different signal callers took the field for the Lions that season including Jon Kitna who suffered a season ending back injury. The bigger weakness however was their defense. This was one of, if not the, worst defensive team to ever play in the NFL. They gave up a grand total of 517 points (32.3 points per game) and they intercepted four passes all season, ouch.

The Browns also had issues at the quarterback position like they always have ever since they returned to the league in 1999. Rookie Deshone Kizer started 15 of the Browns 16 games and threw 22 interceptions. Kevin Hogan started one game for Cleveland and Cody Kessler played in four games this past season. The Browns also had a severe lack of talent in the receiving core. Yes, Josh Gordon returned to the league but he did not make much of an impact because he only played in five games.

The Browns also lack talent in the secondary, absolutely no playmakers at all on defense. Not even the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft Myles Garrett made much difference on the defensive line. Both teams weaknesses are extremely apparent but I think the Lions are in worse shape in this regard.

 

Factor #3: The Head Coaches

The head coach of the 2008 Lions was Rod Marinelli who was fired after that season. In three seasons as head coach he posted a 10-38 record. He since then proved to be a very good defensive coordinator but he was not a good head coach. As for a notable coach on his staff, Joe Barry who was the defensive coordinator went on to have some success with the Redskins and is now the assistant head coach of the Rams.

Hue Jackson for the Browns is a completely different story. In two seasons as head coach, he posted a 1-31 record, yes you are reading that correctly. He only has one win as the head coach of the Browns. While Jackson did a nice job as offensive coordinator with the Bengals, it was clear that he would struggle with a considerably less talented roster in Cleveland.

With the incompetency that the Browns have at the head coaching position the winner in this department are the Lions.

Who Wins?

After all of the analysis, I have concluded that the 2008 Lions would beat the 2017 Browns. The Lions have more talent especially on offense with a young Calvin Johnson and Jon Kitna being a better quarterback than Deshone Kizer. Plus I think Marinelli’s defensive schemes will make it hard for the Browns to move the ball on offense.

The Biggest All-Star Snub in NBA history

By Brandon DeJesus, Sports Writer
Follow him @TheRealBDejesus

Jordan, Russell, Kareem, Magic, Bird, Kobe and LeBron. These are the names you immediately think of whenever you hear the term All-Star. All of those players mentioned made at least 10 All-Star teams during their illustrious careers.

There are a few factors that go into being an NBA All-Star. Putting up big stats, being a team leader and giving the team a good chance to win every single night.

Throughout NBA history, there have been very productive players that never made an All-Star team. Richard Jefferson, Jason Terry and Mike Bibby just to name a few. However, one player stands above the rest and that is former Boston Celtics great Cedric Maxwell.

With NBA All-Star weekend quickly approaching in Los Angeles, I will be talking about how Cedric Maxwell is the biggest All-Star snub in NBA history.

By the time Cedric Maxwell retired from the game of basketball, he was never selected to an All-Star team. What Maxwell was however is a definitive example of a role player, a proven winner and a prime example of being efficient on the court.

When his career was over and done, Maxwell was the all time leader in true shooting percentage and had all the talent in the world to be an All-Star caliber player. However when you look at some of the teammates Maxwell played with, it would be rather difficult to make the All-Star team when you are playing with guys such as Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish.

Although he averaged 19 points per game in his second year in the league, he decided to let Larry Bird and Danny Ainge worry about shooting the ball from three point range and letting the offense come to him.

Much like other great role players such as Robert Horry and Derek Fisher, Maxwell made a name for himself for being clutch for his team when big games were on the line. Which is why he was named the MVP of the 1981 NBA Finals for his contributions against the Houston Rockets.

In the 1981 NBA Finals, Maxwell lead the Celtics in points per game with 17.7 while also averaging nearly 10 rebounds per game and playing outstanding defense. After that series came to an end, nobody could really blame Maxwell if he wanted to take on a bigger role on a different team. This was especially true because his role as a forward would later be subsided with the rise of Bird, McHale and Parish.

Then again Cedric Maxwell was not going to be that type of player who wanted all the attention to himself. All he wanted to do was win. In his final two years with the Celtics (‘84 and ‘85) they would do just that. He helped the Boston Celtics reach two straight NBA Finals.

Looking distinctively at the 1984 NBA Finals (which the Celtics won), it was Cedric Maxwell much like in the ‘81 Finals who stepped up when his team needed him the most. He vowed to put the team on his back, especially in Game 7 when he scored 24 points on only ten shots in a nine point Celtics championship victory over the rival Los Angeles Lakers.

After his days with the Celtics, Maxwell had stints with the Los Angeles Clippers and ironically enough the Houston Rockets.

At the end of the day, Cedric Maxwell was never an NBA All-Star but he is one of the greatest role players in the history of the league. So great in fact that in 2003, the Celtics retired the number 30 he wore for his tremendous contributions on two championship teams.

Nowadays, you can find Cedric Maxwell doing color commentary for Celtics games on the radio in Boston and he currently lives in Weston, Massachusetts.  

Jones owns Carroll: Bluejays forward leads EC past Pioneers

By Cole Sheeks, Sports Editor

Follow him at @ColeSheeks

Led by a milestone day from Kaela Jones, the Bluejays’ women’s basketball team won their CCIW opener over the Carroll Pioneers 66-49 on Dec. 2 at R.A. Faganel Hall.

“My dad texted me and I just looked at my phone and he was like, ‘you got a double-double,’“ said Jones. “That’s my first double-double in my [personal] college history.”

The Bluejays’ senior forward made her presence felt all game long as she filled the box score with 22 points and three assists to go along with a pair of blocks and steals; however, it was her 13 rebounds that she was most proud of.

“I think [my] rebounding was more of an accomplishment,” said Jones. “The rebounds and the effort I gave today were what I was proud of more than the points because I know I can score, but I’m really proud that I gave effort the whole time.”

Jones, who shot 9 of 13 from the field and 4 of 5 from three point range, recognized that the Bluejays improved their intensity in the second half in order to pull away from the Pioneers.

Photo by Cole Sheeks Bluejays forward Kaela Jones squares up a Carroll defender on Saturday, Dec. 2.

Photo by Cole Sheeks

Bluejays forward Kaela Jones squares up a Carroll defender on Saturday, Dec. 2.

“That was the key of the game,” said Jones. “We have times where we go up and down in intensity and in the first quarter we were struggling a little bit.”

The Bluejays trailed 17-16 roughly midway through the half before closing the second quarter on a 12-point run as they opened up a temporary double digit lead. Carroll entered the intermission trailing 36-28.

EC turned the ball over 15 times in the first half before cutting that number down to 10 in the second, as well as improving their rebounding total from 17 to 23.

Yet, the Pioneers battled back and managed to pull within a single point with 4:21 remaining in the third.

“In the third and fourth [quarters] we kinda looked at the scoreboard like, ‘this is not gonna happen. We are gonna win on our home court,’” said Jones. “This was our first conference game, we have four seniors, so we just went out with more intensity and that’s purely why [we pulled away].”

Although she was productive throughout, Jones closed this victory for the Bluejays as she scored seven consecutive points with just over two minutes remaining in regulation as part of a 14 point, eight rebound second half effort.

The victory puts EC in the win column to begin their conference slate. The Bluejays move to (3-3, 1-0 CCIW) on the young season, while Carroll drops to (1-5, 0-1 CCIW).

The Pioneers finished the 2016-2017 with a (1-23, 1-15 CCIW) record.

“Coming into this game, Carroll being … not the top [in the conference], it was definitely something like, ‘well we’ve played against better, we should’ve beat better,’” said Jones. “This should not be something that we should not be close with.”

Moving forward, the Bluejays will be tested as they face Augustana at home on Dec. 6 with a 2 p.m. start before the defending CCIW champion Wheaton Thunder visit EC on Dec. 9 at 7 p.m.

“[Augustana and Wheaton] have been a challenge the past four years,” said Jones. “We just have to pull the intensity from this game and continue with it and roll with it.”

NFL Top 5 Worst Regular Season Meltdowns

Internet Photo Dan Marino of the 1993 Miami Dolphins looks down field for an open receiver.

Internet Photo

Dan Marino of the 1993 Miami Dolphins looks down field for an open receiver.

By Brandon DeJesus, Sports Writer
Follow him @TheRealBDejesus

With the NFL playoffs about one month away, teams everywhere are trying their absolute hardest to make it one step closer to the Super Bowl. 

Historically there are teams that started way ahead of the pack and end up missing the playoffs completely. There are a couple of things that go into creating a terrible regular season meltdown.

It could be luck that ran out or a star player getting injured. Here is the list of the top five worst regular season meltdowns in NFL history.

 

#5 The 2008 Denver Broncos

In 2008, the Denver Broncos went 8-5 through their first 13 games and needed just one win in their final three to clinch the AFC West Division title. 

Despite the Broncos hot start, and despite Jay Cutler throwing for over 4500 passing yards, this team had enormous defensive issues. This Broncos defense gave up on average 28 points per game. 

In their first shot to win the AFC West, they gave up 30 points against the Carolina Panthers and lost. In their second opportunity, they once again gave up 30 points and lost to the Buffalo Bills at home. 

Then everything came unglued in the final game against the San Diego Chargers when they lost 52-21. The San Diego Chargers who were 4-8, won their final four games to steal the division away from the Broncos.

As a result of this meltdown, the Broncos became the first team to blow a three game division lead with three games to play. Plus their long time coach Mike Shanahan was fired and Jay Cutler eventually got traded to the Chicago Bears. 

#4 The 2003 Minnesota Vikings

 

Through the first six weeks of the 2003 season, the Vikings were one of the top teams in the NFL. They had the top offense in the league averaging 30 points per game on their way to a 6-0 start. 

This team looked ready for the Super Bowl, they were the class of the NFC but like the other teams on this list, there was no happy ending.

They lost seven of their next 10 games, including losing to four teams who finished 4-12 on the season. 

None worse than the final game of the season. If the Vikings can beat the 3-12 Arizona Cardinals, they would win the NFC North title. They had a 17-6 lead in the fourth quarter but choked the game away.

Including the final play of the game when Cardinals wide receiver Nate Poole caught the game winning touchdown and the Vikings lost 18-17. That catch got the Green Bay Packers into the playoffs. 

#3 The 1987 San Diego Chargers

The NFL strike of 1987 shortened the season to 15 games. After the first two games of the season, the Chargers were 1-1 and then all NFLPA players went on strike.

Week three of NFL games got cancelled and replacement players were utilized from weeks four through six.

The Chargers were the only team to win all three replacement games and had their original players return with a record of 4-1.

The original players came back and won four straight games and were sitting atop the AFC West at 8-1. 

Jack Murphy Stadium (the Chargers home field) was also hosting the Super Bowl that season. However, their dreams of playing in the game were erased with six straight losses to end the year. 

It also signaled the end of eventual Hall of Fame careers for quarterback Dan Fouts and tight end Kellen Winslow.

#2 The 1994 Philadelphia Eagles  

People tend to forget how good the Eagles were in 1994. In week five, they humiliated the eventual Super Bowl champion 49ers 40-8 in San Francisco. How does a team like that meltdown?

The 1994 Eagles soared to a 7-2 start and head coach Rich Kotite was looking for a contract extension but first year owner Jeffrey Lurie would not give it to him. 

Lurie was probably right because the ‘94 Eagles lost their last seven games in a row to finish 7-9. One of their defeats included coach Kotite benching star quarterback Randall Cunningham in a week 16 game against the New York Giants. 

Rich Kotite was fired and went on to coach the New York Jets.

#1 The 1993 Dolphins

To say that a lot happened with the 1993 Dolphins is a complete understatement. It all starts with Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino rupturing his achilles tendon in week five. He missed the rest of the season.

Then in week 11 against the Eagles, Don Shula became the all-time winningest coach in NFL history surpassing George Halas. 

Even without Marino, Miami kept winning and were sitting at 9-2 after Thanksgiving day. Then everything came undone when they lost their last five games to finish 9-7.

They became the only team to ever start 9-2 and not make the playoffs.

With teams like the Rams and Saints among others off to great starts this season, will one of them meltdown? We will see as the NFL playoffs quickly approach.

COLUMN: New look men’s hoops squad is the team you need to see

By Cole Sheeks, Sports Editor Follow him at @ColeSheeks

By Cole Sheeks, Sports Editor

Follow him at @ColeSheeks

The winter sports season has begun at EC and the men’s basketball team is off to a fast start with their 4-1 record.

After a disappointing season last year, the Bluejays have entered the 2017-2018 campaign with a roster that features a lot of new faces.

It was likely a lack of familiarity with those unproven players that led coaches around the CCIW to pick EC to finish eighth in the conference during their preseason poll; however, if their early season performance is any indication, the Bluejays may be poised to surprise a lot of folks around the league.

Forward Jeremy Ireland leads the way and currently averages a double-double with 14.2 points per game along with 12.2 rebounds. The junior transfer from North Central provides the Bluejays with a strong interior presence in the paint.

Junior Lance Gardner, sophomore Derek Dotlich and redshirt freshman Jake Rhode support Ireland, as the trio also features double figure scoring averages. Together, they combine to form an offense that has all the necessary tools to be a dynamic threat to CCIW defenses.

The impressive collection of talent was on display during the Bluejays conference opener against Carroll University on Dec. 2.

Gardner, an athletic, 6-foot-7 forward in his first year on campus, put his wide range of skills on display. Whether he was shooting from the outside or slashing through for a dunk, he brought energy to the court and gave fans something to cheer about.

Dotlich was also a dual threat, scoring from behind the arc in addition to a consistent performance in the paint.

Between the two of them and Ireland, EC appears to have a strong foundation as they head into the bulk of the CCIW schedule.

That being said, Rhode, the Bluejays’ 5-foot-10 point guard, might be the most compelling player on the team.

While aspects of his play have been inconsistent at times to begin the year, Rhode is constantly in on the action as he flies around the court and pesters opponents with his nonstop motor and a swagger that makes those in attendance sit up and pay attention when he has the ball in his hands.

Whether he is slinging no look passes or cutting through the lane, Rhode is a pleasure to watch and if he can harness his talent, the young playmaker has a chance to be a game changer for the Bluejays.

But the depth on this team runs deeper than that, as sophomore Ryan Patton fills out their lineup, senior Brandon Auker contributes quality minutes, and freshmen Justin Fox, Peyton Sampson, and Nick Perry pitch in off the bench.

While it remains to be seen just how well the group will be able to stand up to the heavyweights of the conference, their energized play on the court makes them the most exciting team to follow on campus at the moment.

Whether or not they continue to win at their current pace, head coach John Baines has his team playing inspired basketball and the Bluejays will certainly be fun to watch as the season progresses.

All together, this appears to be the team you need to see in action at EC this year.

Streaking Bluejays Men’s hoops drops Carroll, extends winning streak to three games

Photos by Cole Sheeks Jeremy Ireland cuts through the lane.

Photos by Cole Sheeks

Jeremy Ireland cuts through the lane.

By Cole Sheeks, Sports Editor

Follow him at @ColeSheeks

Bluejays’ men’s basketball stretched their winning streak to three games on Dec. 2 as Lance Gardner and Derek Dotlich combined for 30 points in a 64-58 victory over the Carroll Pioneers.

While the final outcome was a positive one for EC, the victory did not come without adversity.

“To start the first half we were pretty stagnant, we didn’t move the ball much. They gave us a lot of pressure,” said EC junior forward Lance Gardner.

Carroll forced seven first half turnovers with a pair of steals and three blocked shots before the Bluejays cut their turnover total to three in the second half while preventing any steals or blocked shots against their offense.

“In the second half, coach made some adjustments, put us in a more spread out offense to create more space,” said Gardner. “It gave us more opportunities to get to the rim instead of having to stand in one spot the whole time.”

Photos by Cole Sheeks Jake Rhode drives to the basket.

Photos by Cole Sheeks

Jake Rhode drives to the basket.

Photos by Cole Sheeks Nick Perry crosses over his dribble.

Photos by Cole Sheeks

Nick Perry crosses over his dribble.

Photos by Cole Sheeks Ryan Patton dribbles past a defender.

Photos by Cole Sheeks

Ryan Patton dribbles past a defender.

Gardner finished the game with 15 points and nine rebounds, shooting 5 of 8 from the field and a perfect 2-for-2 from three-point range.

The Bluejays took a four-point lead into the locker room; however, the Pioneers quickly battled back and closed the gap, eventually taking a four-point lead of their own with 16:18 left to play.

It was at that point when EC sophomore forward Derek Dotlich stepped up and knocked down a series of shots that put his team back in front for good.

Photos by Cole Sheeks Lance Gardner looks to score.

Photos by Cole Sheeks

Lance Gardner looks to score.

“The [three-point shots] I hit, I was wide open,” said Dotlich. “[Redshirt freshman] Jake Rhode does a really good job getting into the paint and kicking out. I’m fortunate enough to play with a great point guard like him that opens me up for a few opportunities, and I knocked them down.”

Dotlich ended up with 15 points on 5 of 8 shooting, including 3 of 4 from beyond the arc, in addition to eight rebounds and a pair of assists.

With the victory, the Bluejays moved to 4-1, 1-0 CCIW on the season, while the Pioneers dropped to 2-3, 0-1 CCIW.

“We needed this one,” said Gardner. “We lost that one in Blackburn that I feel we shouldn’t have lost, but we needed [this], coming back and winning two, then winning tonight.”

The Bluejays head to Decatur to face Millikin on Dec. 6 at 4 p.m. before heading back home to play Wheaton College at EC on Dec. 9.

“Right now, we’re just focused on ourselves,” said Dotlich. “The [CCIW preseason coaches poll] picked us eighth, so we kind of take that a little personal, so we’re just worried about us and we’ll figure out [Millikin next] week.”

COLUMN: Let The Music Play

By Cole Sheeks, Sports Editor Follow him at @ColeSheeks

By Cole Sheeks, Sports Editor

Follow him at @ColeSheeks

One of the great traditions of high school and college football is the pageantry of the marching band.

Whether you are playing in a packed Big Ten stadium in front of 100,000 fans or at Middle of Nowhere High School in front of 100 fans, the marching band is one of the foundational pieces of a football game.

No self-respecting school will allow their team to take the home turf without one.

As tradition dictates, the home team enters the stadium behind the support of the band, which leads the way while playing the school fight song.

As the game goes along, the band sets the tone for the entire stadium, intimidating opponents before every third down, standing and exploding into action every time the home team’s offense moves the chains.

When the good guys reach the end zone, the band takes center stage and the fight song bellows once again as the crowd goes wild.

After a victorious ball game, many teams even make it a tradition to join their band and sing the fight song together one last time, savouring the sweet taste of success.

Close your eyes and you can imagine this exact scene taking place at every football field across the country.

Well, except for one: Langhorst Field.

Instead of a taking the field behind a marching band, the Bluejays simply walk out onto the field with some generic tunes playing over the stadium speakers.

People in the crowd kind of turn and look to observe what is happening. Then they nod their heads and applaud before returning to whatever conversation they were having before the football team so rudely interrupted.

When the Bluejays’ defense is on the field for a third and long, they get hyped up to the sound of their own teammates awkwardly chanting support from the sidelines.

It is far from intimidating.

Nothing of note happens after EC first downs. There might be some more generic music. Nothing compelling. Pretty boring.

The worst part is after touchdowns.

A taped recording of the EC fight song plays from the stadium speakers and it feels like you are watching a parody of a real football game.

It is like somebody forgot to invite the band or could not afford one, so they just made a CD instead.

Overall, it is pretty pathetic.

However, none of this is the football team’s fault. This is not an attack aimed at the athletic department whatsoever.

I am addressing this complaint to the musical community at EC.

On the school website, our music department advertises itself as “internationally renowned.” It suggests that we offer “exceptional opportunities” for students who are interested in “the serious study” of music.

I hear all about the music program around campus.

I even believe we have some sort of widely acclaimed jazz festival during the spring and the people involved take it extremely seriously.

And to be fair, I am sure these people know how to play music.

But as a sports fan, I just cannot take any of it that seriously after watching how poorly the department is represented at sporting events.

Perhaps playing at a Division III football game is not seen as an “exceptional” stage, but I have seen rinky dink little high schools out in the rural countryside manage to play at their school football games.

I have seen these same little schools put together pep bands to play during basketball games.

So if this is the excuse we are going with, I am not buying it.

If our music department is so damn good, it should require very little effort for them to perform at such lowly venues.

They do not need to prepare highly sophisticated songs. In fact, any music at all will be an improvement compared to what they have performed at games so far this school year.

This is a challenge to the department of music.

Right now, those who attend Bluejays sports games do not even know that your “internationally renowned” program exists.

It is up to you to change that.

Hawks claw Jays Women’s hoops falls to the Warhawks in season opener

Photo by Brandon De Jesus EC sophomore Becca Gerke shoots free throws during home opener.

Photo by Brandon De Jesus

EC sophomore Becca Gerke shoots free throws during home opener.

By Brandon DeJesus, Sports Writer
Follow him @WRSEBrandon

Due to some early foul trouble and an underwhelming fourth quarter, the EC women’s basketball team fell prey to the 20th ranked UW-Whitewater Warhawks by a score of 75-64 at Faganel Hall on Nov. 15. 

“I think early on in these early [season] games, you are going to get into more foul trouble,” said EC head coach Tethnie Carrillo. “We have to a better job [of] adjusting how the officials are calling everything.”

Part of the foul trouble that frustrated Carrillo began when senior guard/forward Mikaela Eppard played only eight minutes total in the first half. 

The Bluejays’ offensive struggles stood out the most when they only scored nine points total in the fourth quarter.

UW-Whitewater began the final quarter on a 15-3 run.

EC shot 3 of 11 from the field and could not cut the deficit to less than nine points for the entire quarter.

Brooke Trewyn from UW-Whitewater recorded a double-double by scoring 22 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. 20 of those points came in the first half.

“[Trewyn] is a good player, she is a preseason All-American and we were not playing tight enough defense on her so we made some adjustments in the second half,” said Carrillo. “I wish we could have just stayed a little bit tighter on her in the first half not to let her go off.”

“She was a one woman show and that really hurt us,” added Carrillo.

Trewyn finished the game nine for 19 shooting with two assists, three steals, and one block.

Despite their late struggles, the Bluejays’ offense got off to a good start, led by senior guard Jasmin Bailey, who scored 10 points.

“It felt pretty good,” said Bailey about her offensive production. “I was really nervous because I have not started ever since I have been here, so just the intensity was nice and it felt good to get those 10 points and I knew I always had my team behind me to rebound or something if I shot it.”

Bailey ended the night four for 10 shooting from the field and two of seven from three point range.

The Bluejays look to bounce back from their season opening defeat as they take on Aurora 

Football looking at long road back to top

By Cole Sheeks, Sports Editor
Follow him at @ColeSheeks

Vacated sports accomplishments have always confused me.

I am familiar with the concept. Team X cheated in various games, so part of their punishment includes the loss of all the positive achievements the team and the players earned when they cheated.

The idea makes enough sense, yet, as it applies to EC and the NCAA ruling, it really just seems like a great big shame.

The individuals who were members of the vacated conference championship teams put in hours upon hours of hard work to earn those titles only to see them taken away due to what seems to be a technicality.

Now to be fair, you can debate how much losing the volleyball and wrestling championships really matter in the big picture of EC sports history.

Julie Hall has been the head volleyball coach at EC for 24 years and her teams have won the CCIW title via the regular season or conference tournament a combined 15 times.

The program has an entire wall dedicated to it in the fieldhouse. They have experienced their fair share of success and losing a few championships is not going to hurt them that much.

It is pretty much the same story for wrestling, as the team has won eight CCIW titles since Steve Marianetti took over the program prior to the 2002-2003 season, including a pair of three peats over a nine year time period.

That is a borderline 90’s Bulls level of dominance in CCIW wrestling.

I cannot imagine there will be many tears shed around the conference over the fact that Hall falls down to a mere 11 conference titles and Marianetti slips to seven.

However, none of this applies to the EC football program.

That 2012 football championship was the only CCIW title the Bluejays could lay claim to since 1980.

It was one of three total football championships in school history and it was the year of the program’s only playoff appearance.

With the title being vacated, the only EC alumni who can still say they witnessed a football championship while they were on campus are approaching retirement age.

What I’m trying to say is that winning the 2012 CCIW football championship was a big freaking deal around here.

Vacating that title sucks. Period.

Volleyball and wrestling compete year after year and will surely run into more championships in the future. Meanwhile, football is on the decline and the now 37 year title drought for football does not appear to be on the verge of ending anytime soon.

And it only gets worse as you put it into perspective.

Three different schools claimed a share of the 2012 CCIW football championship: North Central, Wheaton, and EC.

For North Central, I’m sure winning the CCIW was exciting, but it was their seventh championship in a row (and they won an eighth in 2013 before winning again last season).

Over in Wheaton, it was a similar story. The title represented the Thunder’s sixth since the turn of the century and, just like North Central, they have won another two since.

As for EC, they have been mediocre at best since 2012 and they have completely fallen off the face of Earth this season.

The road back to the top of the CCIW for the program appears to be a lengthy one and the loss of their most recent conference championship will not help matters.

 

David Michaels tackles cancer, football, and life as a student athlete

By Cole Sheeks, Sports Editor
Follow him at @ColeSheeks

David Michaels during the Bluejays game against Olivet this fall. File Photo

David Michaels during the Bluejays game against Olivet this fall. File Photo

It was his freshman season at EC when Bluejay’s offensive lineman David Michaels found a lump on his neck. He did not know what it was, all he knew was he wanted to keep playing football.

When he finally had the lump checked by a doctor, Michaels’ life changed forever.

The doctor told him he had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Not only that, but after further testing it was revealed that Michaels did not have the first stage of the disease, as was initially suspected. He had Stage 4.

“Everything was crumbling right there. I didn’t know what would happen,” said Michaels, now a junior at EC.

“The first thing I had to do was go tell the team and coach Planz,” added Michaels. “He sat me down and told me that no matter what happens I’m always going to be on this team, that I don’t have to leave the team, that there is always a spot for me no matter what.”

Ron Planz, head coach of the Bluejays football team, believes that the adversity his team is accustomed to facing prepared them for the battle that Michaels was about to begin.

“We talk a lot about doing things together and the fact that being a college football player is hard and the things we do aren't average … that naturally builds a bond,” said Planz.

“When something like this happens with David, getting diagnosed with cancer, nobody really flinched,” Planz added. “Nobody really said, ‘ah, what are we gonna do?’ It was just, ‘alright, well we're gonna do this together and we’re gonna be together with this and we're gonna help him in any way we can.’”

And so his battle began. While most of his classmates dealt with the everyday struggles that college freshmen face, Michaels was right by their side. He never missed a day of class and he never missed a day of football. However, unlike his peers, Michaels had to do it all while going through chemotherapy.

“I would have a doctor's appointment every other Tuesday in the morning,” said Michaels. “I would have to drive back [home] Monday night, and then I would have a doctor's appointment from 10 in the morning, all the way until about four in the afternoon … then I would actually come back for night class on Tuesday night. Never missed a day.”

While at his appointments, Michaels would get his blood drawn for testing and put through a physical before he headed into the chemotherapy room.

“[The doctor] would get all the drugs ready for the chemotherapy and I had to pour it in my chest,” said Michaels. “So they would have to take a needle and stick the syringe in me just to get it all hooked up and I had to sit there for four hours [to] five hours to let the drugs go inside me.”

For the average college student going through all of this, it would have been easy to give up on the idea of playing sports. However, with the support of his teammates, Michaels continued.

In a moment that Michaels remembers as one of the main reasons he kept coming back, former Bluejays linebacker, Alec Datoli, spoke to him and provided him with a message that has stuck with him to this day.

“I showed up to every lift during the offseason, which was four days a week and [DaToli] came up to me and told me, ‘You know Dave, I don’t know how you do this. You come here every day with a smile on your face and you don't have a problem just standing here watching us grind. You're the reason why we're grinding so hard. You’re the reason we are trying our hardest this offseason. We’re gonna do amazing things for you this season.’”

“He would be in the weight room [and] he was never moping around, very positive,” said Datoli. “He would just stand there and watch us work out and talk to us.”

“I would say, in that moment, seeing him, this wasn’t like a planned conversation,” added Datoli. “I didn’t talk to my buddies and say, ‘hey I’m gonna talk to David,’ it just kind of came over me that day.”

“I was like ‘hey, this is incredible,’” DaToli continued. “The fact that this kid is doing all this for us and he’s only been with the team for not even a whole year just goes to show his character … I mean, he put his body and his life on the line, practically … for the team.”

“I can really say that the reason I was able to get through without a problem was because of the team,” said Michaels. “I went through flying colors without any kind of complication during this and my doctors were amazed that someone who had Stage 4 was able to not have any complications.”

Upon receiving the news that he was cancer-free, the first thing Michaels wanted to do was tell his teammates.

“I was waiting for [a] call from my mom to tell me before [a] team meeting we had and I get the call, find the news that I’m all good, cancer-free,” said Michaels. “So, I go to the team meeting beforehand and see my o-line coach at the time.”

Michaels continued, “I tell him that I had some news to tell the team, so he says ‘ok I'll tell coach Planz that you need to speak in the meeting at the end.’”

“He came up in front of the meeting and it was like from a movie,” said DaToli, who mentioned that he was getting chills reliving the scene in his head. “He told us he everything was in remission and he was healthy and he’s cancer-free and everyone immediately jumped out of their seats screaming and cheering, all of us basically tearing up in joy … and mobbed him.”

“He let the guys know and it was an eruption,” added Planz. “It was as if we had won the national championship. That's how excited and happy guys were.”

“I think emotionally, because of that family atmosphere, they were invested,” said Planz about the team. “They were invested in Dave and the process he was going through.”

“I got tackled on the stage. It was a great experience … I got a hundred hugs, everybody was in a line ready to hug me,” said Michaels.

“It was remarkable. He is an inspiration, that story is an inspiration,” said DaToli.

But the story does not end there.

“And he is playing now,” added DaToli.

Michaels said that it was “a tear jerker” getting back onto the field.

“As soon as I stepped on the field with all my pads on I kinda teared up in our stretch lines,” said Michaels. “Right from there, the coaches told me that I had a chance to compete for varsity playing time, even last year.”

“My goal was just to make the travel roster,” Michaels continued. “But I actually was able to get some playing experience last season. So after everything I went through it was a humbling experience.”

As of this season, Michaels is now a starter on the Bluejays offensive line, with another year of eligibility ahead of him.

“His will and his determination have led him to the position he is in now,” said Planz. “As he continues to grow and get his body back from all the radiation and chemo, he is going to be where he wants to be [on the football field].”

The top five reasons you should attend an EC sports game

 by Cole Sheeks, Sports Editor
Follow him at @ColeSheeks

Attending sporting events is usually one of the last reasons why a student would choose to enroll at a Division III college and for the most part, the average student has more important things to worry about than watching their classmates play sports.

That being said, as somebody who goes to a lot of these games, I can speak from that unique perspective and tell you guys about all of the exciting things that you can see at Division III games.

 

Reason #1:

A good, close game.

Nothing is quite as exciting as a sports game that goes down to the wire. Whether it is football, soccer, basketball or anything else, you never know when you are going to see a really good, close game at EC.

 

Reason #2:

We have cool uniforms

Navy and white are really nice colors. What’s more, most of our teams add light blue to the mix to change things up and the end results are some of the finest uniforms offered in the CCIW.

Regardless of the score or the outcome of the game, you can be confident that you will be seeing some of the best uniforms available when you watch sports at EC.

 

Reason #3:

Victor E. Bluejay

If you are lucky enough to go to the right game, you may be able to spot our school mascot: Victor E. Bluejay.

I’m not sure when we was created or who designed his costume, but I would definitely rank him up there as one of the top mascots in the conference.

If I’m being honest, Vic is probably the primary reason I came to this school in the first place.

 

Reason #4:

The pregame

I haven’t been able to actually convince anybody I know to go to these games with me yet (fingers crossed), so I generally attend our games sober; however, from what I hear, sporting events are a great place to hangout and drink.

I know our concessions stands refrain from serving alcohol, but it can’t really be that hard to sneak it into games. If you manage to pull that off, prepare to have the time of your life.

If you are underage, you could pregame it and then hang out at the game for a little while.

Personally, I think it would be pretty cool if we had a bunch of drunk college kids at all the games, but there aren’t always that many people who come out to support the Bluejays, so don’t get too excited about this one.

 

Reason #5:

A fight could break out

This is really my number one reason and it is the reason I became Sports Editor at The Leader.

Now understand me for a second, I have never personally witnessed a fight at any EC sporting event, nor do I endorse this sort of behavior, BUT this kind of thing happens at games all the time. Go on YouTube and type in “College of DuPage football fight.”

This was not an EC fight and it wasn’t even a Division III game; however, it happened pretty close to EC and I imagine it is possible at one of our games.

The whole video is pretty awesome and I highly recommend that you go check it out.

We will have the link embedded on ecleader.net for those who care to watch it.

Football games get pretty chippy and emotions can run wild in the heat of the game. If I had to bet on a sport a fight could happen in, football would be my best guess.

In addition to that, I am always on the edge of my seat at EC baseball games when somebody gets a pitch up and in. Like I said, it has not happened yet, but I can envision a Rougned Odor versus Jose Bautista-esque showdown at Butterfield and it is beautiful.

But this is not limited solely to the players. People in the crowd at sports games start fights all the time too. Hell, it could happen to you.

So there you have it. These are the top five reasons to attend a Division III sports game. Come on out to EC and support the Bluejays at their next home game. Hopefully I see you all there.