fishing for words

(and tossing out random thoughts)

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last game of the ’06-’07 season

Sean in the All-Star Game

Sean in the All-Star Game

I’m pretty sure football wasn’t meant to be played during the summer.  It just doesn’t seem right.

And if football is to be played during the summer, it seems that (1) it must be played in an arena or (2) must be of the European variety.

I can’t figure out if it is a good thing that neither the East nor the West dominated the 2007 East-West High School Football All-Star Classic. Both teams put forth strong defensive efforts. However, both teams shared in a number of penalties — with a few unnecessary roughness penalties called after the half — and these penalties added a considerable number of minutes to the game.  And during the first 30-plus minutes of the game, it was a matter of three-and-out almost everytime the offense was on the field.

With the West’s two defensive teams, Sean’s playing time was limited, but he nailed at least one tackle and was in on a few plays. (There were murmurs in the stands that “He [another player] probably didn’t even see number forty-one [Sean] flatten him…”) So I can guarantee that Sean had fun.

You can read more about the game at the Vallejo Times Heard or The Napa Valley Register.


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Sean in the paper, part two

They got the name spelled right this time…

Tandem Still Going Strong
Former Panther linebackers preparing for football at Solano
By Brian Bainum/Times-Herald Correspondent
July 6, 2007

     Former Benicia High linebackers Sean Konoske, left, and Justin Ponder get ready to hit the field during practice Thursday evening, in preparation for the East-West All-Star Football Classic on July 14. (Mike Jory/Times-Herald) 
     Sean Konoske throws himself down on the grass and closes his eyes, his head resting against his shoulder pads.
     A couple of yards away, Justin Ponder gives a big yawn while walking slowly toward practice at Morton Field.
     Close friends and teammates at Benicia High last season, Ponder and Konoske have found rest and relaxation hard to come by this summer. The linebackers have spent their summer working out in preparation for the fall season at Solano College, while also practicing with the West team leading up to the East-West High School Football Classic on July 14 at Napa Memorial Stadium.
     “We go to Solano, have an hour of class, an hour on the field and an hour in the weight room, and then we come here and practice for a full two hours,” Ponder said. “It’s tiring, but it’s football. That’s all the motivation I need.”
     Ponder and Konoske played key roles on the Panthers defense in the fall. Now the pair is hoping to find themselves in a similar role at Solano, with the prospect of a transfer to a Division I program looming two years down the line.
     “We feed off each other,” Konoske said. “We keep each other going.”
     It is encouragement both of them need as they transition from playing at the high school level to coach Floyd Burnsed’s Solano program.
     “I walked in the first day and I see some guy benching 405, and I’m only (doing) 250,” Konoske said. “It makes you realize that it’s a whole new level.”
     Said Ponder: “Next year, we’ll be the returning guys intimidating the new kids.”
     Both players play a similar style (it is no surprise that they share a favorite NFL player: John Lynch of the Denver Broncos). Konoske and Ponder hit hard and are quick to the ball, and by all accounts have played with a high intensity level even in practices for the East-West game, which often fosters a more laid-back attitude among players who are trying to enjoy their last game against high school players.
     Konoske admitted he needs to work on his tackling to succeed at the collegiate level.
“I can see the difference from high school already,” he said. “Everyone is faster on the field.”
     But in preparation for next week’s game, Konoske and Ponder will play alongside many familiar opponents from high school.
     “It’s cool to team up with everybody,” said Ponder, looking over toward a group of St. Patrick’s/St. Vincent’s players. “I heard their game plan was to hurt me when we played them, but it’s all good, because it didn’t work.”
     St. Pats’ Alexander Wong, who also plays linebacker and will play at San Jose State in the fall, acts as though all the high school rivalries are a thing of the past.
     “(Konoske and Ponder) are going to prove something this game,” Wong said.
     It is a competitive drive that West coach Richard Eaton certainly appreciates, as he attempts to mesh together a cohesive unit leading up to the game in eight days.
     “They are positive and upbeat, they’re competitors and they love the game of football,” Eaton said.

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Sean in the paper

They may have misspelled the last name, but you can tell by the pictures who it is…

Sean & Justin

Sean & Justin

Football in June
Local players take field for All-Star game’s first practice
By Dan Nied/Vallejo Times-Herald sports writer
June 27, 2007

     Tuesday afternoon, Richard Eaton scanned the roster, then looked over to the players.
  “The first day, you never know who is going to show up,” Eaton said.
     It didn’t help that Eaton, normally the coach of North Hills High, currently serving as the head coach of the West team in the East-West Charity All-Star Football Classic couldn’t recognize most of his players.
     But Eaton and his team made due with what they had Tuesday, which was the best 2006 senior football players from the West region in the first day of a three-week practice session for the 35th annual game which will take place July 14 at Napa Memorial Stadium.
     There were only a few no shows at Morton Field on Mare Island, and the team went through myriad drills in the two-hour session.
“I think the primary objective is to come in and have fun,” Eaton said. “This is just an honor and a privilege to come in and coach all these kids. The caliber of kid is what you dream of as a high school coach.”
     The West roster is mostly made up of players from the Vallejo-Benicia area. That includes North Coast Section Class A title winners St. Patrick-St. Vincent.
Before practice, now former Bruins quarterback Max Schulz stretched in his St. Pat’s practice gear.
     “I am excited,” he said. “This is going to help me get ready for college.”
     In August, Schulz will begin his career at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. This serves as his final tune-up.
     While Schulz was stretching in the St. Pat’s circle, players gathered in the field’s dugouts and introduced themselves. Many players were rivals, however they were now on the same team.
     “I know we are going to become closer friends,” said former Vallejo High receiver and Diablo Valley College recruit Mychael Wallace.  “There’s a lot of guys here I don’t know, I’ve never seen before without a helmet on. So just make new friends and maybe we’ll see each other in college.”
     While most of the players got acquainted, a pair of former Benicia High linebackers stood about 40 feet away, waiting to practice.
     Sean Kanoske [Konoske] and Justin Ponder took a no-nonsense approach into practice. The pair will play at Solano College next season after narrowly missing out on a Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berth as seniors in 2006.

(Click here to read the full article.)

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the man in the middle

Last night Sean was awarded the title “Defensive Player of the Year” for the 2006 Benicia Panthers football team for his work in the middle linebacker position.  He was surprised to find out that he was also selected for the 7th annual Vallejo Times-Herald All-Regional team. Next week he’ll be honored at the 7th annual Times-Herald/Vallejo Elks football awards dinner, where first-team athletes from the Solano County Athletic Conference, other conferences and Solano College will be honored.

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bethel@benicia (20-6)

What a tough ending to a season and a high school football career. It was a tough game from the beginning, with the score tied at zero at the half. Murmurs around me in the stands hinted at a belief that the first team to score would win the game by sheer momentum. In the end, the Bethel Jaguars (Vallejo) took away any hope of the Panther moving into the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs. In the end, Benicia simply made too many mistakes and couldn’t capitalize on the hard work of the defense, which was on the field much more than in most of the season’s games. Sean put in a strong effort though he was floating around on both offense and defense. One of his runs gained a first down for the Panthers deep in Bethel territory, but that’s where Benicia’s offensive drive ended. Not the best ending to a season, but I think its a season that Sean can look back upon and be proud of and one in which he really learned the meaning of “hustle.”

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vanden@benicia (22-42)

This was a big game for the Panthers, and this win keeps them in the hunt for the Solano County Athletic Conference championship.  When Benicia’s defense was on the field, I don’t think more than five or six plays went by without the announcer saying “Konoske” in a sentence as Sean was hustling all over the field.  He had numerous tackles and one big “textbook” tackle that got the crowd to groan.  You should be able to view a video clip of this tackle by clicking here.  Great game!  (And check out Sean’s swagger after that tackle!)

P.S. Sean ~ posted this, but still waiting on your stats, dude…

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rodriguez@benicia (36-18)

As you can see from the score, it was an ugly game Friday. But what you can’t see is Sean’s strong individual effort. In my humble opinion, the Panthers’ defense was there and ready to go, but it took at least a quarter before the offense was warmed up. The Rodriguez Mustangs, however, came out strong, scored quickly and effectively shut down two of Benicia’s best offensive players. Sean did have one carry for 2 yards and played on offense quite a bit this game, but it was on defense that he once again came up with several good stops, as well as forcing a fumble. It was good to him feeling and knowing that he put in a strong personal effort, even if this one didn’t go into the win column.

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benicia@hogan (20-6)

It was a clash of defenses Friday night, with the Benicia Panthers taking on the Hogan Spartans. Unfortunately, defense alone can’t win a championship. But it can sure help a team along. The Panthers forced five turnovers, with Sean in on forcing one fumble that put his team in Spartan territory. Best of all, Sean finished the game without an injury to his shoulder! (He also had about the normal number of tackles, which is quite a few.) Because he didn’t participate in contact during practice, he didn’t start the game, but it wasn’t too long before the coach put him in. He and his defense — he’s a captain — did a great job of not only keeping Hogan from scoring, but in putting the Benicia offense in position to score. In the end, Benicia won 20-6, but it was a tough offense game for the Panthers. Next week, Sean will go head-to-head with his step brother as Rodriguez takes on Benicia at home.

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fairfield@benicia (27-20)

Though the Panthers couldn’t sustain their winning streak, I think Benicia’s defense has every reason to be proud of their performance. The defense not only score almost half of the Panthers’ points (8 points on a touchdown and safety), but it make the Fairfield Falcons earn every point. It was a seesaw game into the half, with the score at 20-20. As usual, Sean was in the thick of it, stopping or helping to stop the run numerous times. In the end, it was a fumble by the Panthers offense with less than two minutes on the clock that sealed their fate. Unfortunately, as has happened in games before, Sean end up nursing his arm through the last quarter. After a visit to the doctor, it was determined that he’s feeling the efforts of typical football injury, commonly called “stingers” (medically referred to as brachial plexus injury). While he will attend practice, he’s supposed to stay away from contact for most of the week. Let’s hope all’s well next week, when the games begin to count!