Athol Daily News – Keeping Score: Is it football season already?


Published: 01/07/2022 19:10:19

Modified: 07/01/2022 19:07:45

Good morning!
The UMass football season kicks off in nine weeks from today at 7 p.m. against Tulane. During the spring trailer, coach Don Brown told congregants at Charles River Country Club and beyond that this would be the year UMass went bowling.

The first UMass Bowl game was in 1964 when perennial Yankee Conference champions Vic Fusia lost to East Carolina, 14-13, in the Tangerine Bowl. My dad came back from Orlando saying he never wanted to hear a band play Dixie again.

Eight years later, coach Dick MacPherson took UMass to the Boardwalk Bowl in Atlantic City where they beat Cal-Davis, 35-14, but that’s the extent of their bowl history.

UMass will need six wins to qualify for the Myrtle Beach Bowl, Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, or any lesser bowl. Las Vegas doubts they’ll get half that number of wins. The over/under is 2½ wins. Last year it was 1½ wins. They finished 1-11 and a local bettor lost $30,000.

Let’s go fishing. The first two wins will be against UConn and New Mexico State. UMass is 129th in ESPN’s power rankings, but the Huskies and Aggies are 130th and 131st, respectively.

Stony Brook is an automatic “W” because it’s an FCS team. Last year, Walt Bell was fired after losing to URI and Maine in consecutive weeks. AD Ryan Bamford didn’t even wait until the end of the season, he sent Bell west on Route 9 and interim coach Alex Miller arrived and restored order to the chaos.

Arkansas State’s presence on the program was likely arranged by Bell while he was in Bamford’s good graces. Bell cut his teeth for two years at Ark. State as offensive coordinator. The Red Wolves were 2-10 last season and are 106th in the power standings. UMass wins at Jonesboro.

Temple is expected to drop to the Bottom Ten this season. The Owls were 3-9 last year and have lost their last seven games. Seven years ago, Temple trailed 23-20 when Will Hayes returned a blocked run after a 98-yard two-run attempt. The Owls then marched down and threw a winning field goal with 12 seconds left for a 25-23 win. Marty Maroon sought advice after this loss, and UMass needs ying to go with that yang.

Former MAC opponent Eastern Michigan beat UMass 42-28 last year. Quarterback Ben Bryant and running back Jawson Hamilton combined for 436 total rushing yards in the game. They are gone now and UMass will return from Ypsilanti on October 1 with a win.

Losses are easier to predict. Texas A&M and Army will be heavy favorites, and Toledo, Liberty and Buffalo are a combined 9-2 against UMass since 2012. As for season opener New Orleans, Tulane is a 29½-point favorite.

Let the party begin.


Congratulations to Sean Lavoine and Todd McDonald of Greenfield for a good year in their respective hockey jobs. Lavoine rose through the corporate ranks to become vice president of marketing and business operations for the American Hockey League, and McDonald is vice president of sales and strategy for the Springfield Thunderbirds.

The T-birds’ subscription base was less than 500 when McDonald’s arrived. This season, they averaged 5,325 at the MassMutual Center and filled the building for the final two games of the Calder Cup Finals. It was indeed a good year for two locals whose love of the game began with the Franklin County Hockey Association.


Kumar Rocker pitched for Vanderbilt University and was expected to be a top-five pick in the MLB Draft. He was 28-10 in three seasons with a 2.89 ERA and 321 strikeouts in 237 innings.

A year ago Thursday on the national stage, Rocker allowed six hits and four runs in the first four innings of a 9-0 loss to Mississippi State in the College World Series.

One bad outing wasn’t going to ruin his career, but Rocker wasn’t right. The Mets took him 10th overall, but held off on signing him for a $6 million bonus after his medical report said he suffered an elbow injury.

A torn elbow ligament is like a blown transmission, the car won’t run without a new transmission. Rocker Young and Tommy John’s surgery (ligament replacement) has an 85% success rate according to ESPN.

Apparently, the 23-year-old Rocker wasn’t ready to go under the knife. In June, he joined the independent Frontier League Tri-City ValleyCats who play in Troy, NY. As of this writing, he has a 1.80 ERA with 25 strikeouts in 15 innings, and maybe those stats will convince a team to take him to the MLB Draft two weeks from now. of tomorrow.

(Sources: Vanderbilt Athletics and


The Saratoga 40-Day Thoroughbred Competition begins a week from Thursday. Posting time is 1:05 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday except 12:35 p.m. on August 6 (Whitney Stakes) and 11:35 a.m. on August 27 (Travers Stakes).

This year’s giveaways are July 29 (picnic blankets), August 19 (long sleeve t-shirts), and September 2 (mini umbrellas). Bet trainer Todd Pletcher’s horses in 2-year-old races and Chad Brown’s horses on layoffs and turf and you’ll come away a winner.


Playing with a broken hand in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals, Avalanche center Nazem Kadri scored the game-winning goal in overtime. “Coach had to tie my skates,” Kadri said. “For anyone who thought I would be a liability, you can kiss my ass.”


SQUIBBERS: The Bernardston Kiwanis Club is considering ways to help fix Pioneer’s broken dashboard. Fixing it is part of AD Kerry Baird’s effort to remove athletics from the school’s background. … The bleached and frayed state flag flying above Olver’s transportation hub on Olive Street is an embarrassment to the city. … Chuck Fairbanks deserves to be in the Patriots Hall of Fame. His 1976 team was Super Bowl-bound until Ben Dreith manhandled the passer call on Sugar Bear Hamilton kept the Raiders player alive and caused Dave Zewinski to throw a chair through the TV. … Jack Leiter, who was ranked second overall by the Rangers last year, is 2-6 with a 5.36 ERA at Double-A Frisco of the Texas League. … Trade update: Michael Chavis has nine homers in 243 AB for the Pirates, and left-handed specialist Austin Davis has a 3.33 ERA in 47 appearances for the Red Sox. Edge: Boston. …. Andrew Benintendi (.303) is rumored to be on the trading block in Kansas City. … Ole Miss scored both the go-ahead run and an insurance run on wild pitches to upset Oklahoma, 4-2, in the College World Series. … A year ago today, the Red Sox were 52-31 and led the AL East by 4½ games. … Bill Plaschke, LA Times columnist: “Mike Trout could show up at a coffee shop here and nobody would know him.” For the sake of the game, Trout needs to be out of the Angels organization like Giancarlo Stanton needed to be out of Miami. … A reporter asked Cale Makar about his Stanley Cup plans. “I don’t know,” said the Conn Smythe winner. “Right now, just take a picture with the boys.” … The Cleveland Guardians will end the regular season with six straight home games against the final Royals. … Franchy Cordero must be a romantic. His backing music is Si Algun Dia Las Ves, “If One Day You See Her” by Sergio Vargas.…Following caller Dave Johnson on Bob Baffert’s one-year suspension from the New York Racing Association: “I never thought of Baffert as a dope, just sloppy and his own worst enemy…. East Longmeadow’s Frank Vatrano received numerous play-by-play endorsements in the Rangers playoffs His family owns a grinder and a popular pizzeria down the hill in Springfield’s South End…. God willing and the creek doesn’t rise, I’ll be back here August 6. Until then, happy birthday, America.

Chip Ainsworth is an award-winning columnist who has written his observations of the sport over four decades in the Pioneer Valley. He can be contacted at


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