Tag Archives: J.D. McKay

A BADDUDE’S JOURNAL UNDERRATED ATHLETE SPOTLIGHT: Freshman Savanna Liddle

By J.D. McKay

It is hard to call freshman Savanna Liddle underrated. She is already finishing third on the cross country team behind two seniors who will both be running at college next year. But, when one of the girls ahead of you is your sister, it would be easy to fall into her shadow, especially when your sister was all-state as a junior and broke the school record last Saturday. However, Savanna does not see herself as being in Sydney’s shadow. 

“I do not think that I am really in Sydney’s shadow,” she said. “We have been training and working together through the whole off season, so we really hope each other will do well. Plus, she was all-state last year, and being all-state is definitely one of my goals. It is not like my parents or anyone through a lot of pressure on me to be all-state like her.”

The hard work with her sister has led to the success Savanna has already seen. 

“We do cross training, which means swim workouts, and workout videos as well as running. We would run seven to eight miles on long days, but normally we do five or six miles a day,” said Savanna. “Plus, my dad is a coach for the team, so it is nice having him at home to train with me a little extra.”

While most people would enjoy the success Savanna has seen her freshman year and might even let it go to their head, she has not done that. 

“I like getting to see the team every day and competing with my teammates and against other good runners. I want to be a good example to other girls because I try to run for Jesus because he gave me the ability to do this,” said Savanna. 

She also understands that to be a successful runner you need to always push and do, not let yourself plateau. 

Savanna said, “Of course I want to be all-state, but I know right now if I try to get faster and PR (personal record) every race I will get there, hopefully soon.”

Savanna is clearly a talented runner, but throughout the interview, she made it very clear that running was not her end goal. 

“Obviously it is fun to be successful and be on a good team,” she said. “But honoring God in all that I do is more important than running or swimming or school or whatever I do.”

 

Sports unite America after biggest tragedies

By J.D. McKay

Eighteen years ago today, America was physically hit as hard as when the British burned down Washington, including the White House in 1814. America was very different at that point in time, of course. America was missing something that I believe Americans associate with our country, sports. 

It is early to say, but probably the biggest tragedy of my age group’s lifetime will be 9/11. Sports were also affected. There was not another sports game until Sept. 16. But 10 days after 9/11, the Mets Mike Piazza hit one of the most memorable home runs in baseball history. The game was the first pro-baseball game played in New York after the attacks. The Mets were down 2-1 in the eighth inning, but Piazza hit a two-run home run, putting the Mets ahead 3-2. The American flags that were already around the stadium started fluttering. Mets fans erupted. It gave the country and New Yorkers a chance to cheer about something after such a tragic time.  

However, that season was a good year to be a fan of the other New York team, the Yankees. In game three of the World Series, the Yankees were hosting the Diamondbacks at Yankee Stadium. President George W. Bush was scheduled to throw out the first pitch. The game was sold out. Bush knew he needed to look good on the mound, but the pressure only rose when Derek Jeter warned him not to bounce it. When Bush stepped out of the dugout, U.S.A. chants echoed around the stadium. He threw in a beautiful pitch, and the handheld flags waved around the stadium. His pitch was a great moment for New Yorkers, showing that America was too tough to let terrorists win. 

But 9/11 is not the only moment where Americans united over sports. In 2005, New Orleans was hit by Hurricane Katrina. The New Orleans Saints were in a time of turmoil. They were terrible, considering relocating, and without a true quarterback. Now we know the Saints did not move. They found the answer to the other two questions in one man, Drew Brees. Brees did not only led the Saints back to the playoffs, but he also helped rebuild the city. Specifically, his Brees Dream Foundation helped rebuild schools, parks, and athletic facilities. The Saints did not play a game in New Orleans until 2006. But in their first game back, they had one moment that has been memorialized. Steve Gleason blocked a punt early in the game that was returned for a touchdown. The announcers were silent for almost a minute as the stadium erupted, and the Saints players pointed back at the fans, as if telling them that was for them. Gleason diving to block the ball will forever be outside of the Super Dome, and the title on the pedestal could not be any better: Rebirth. 

Sports have united America during other tragedies. The Astros won the World Series just two months after Hurricane Harvey hit in 2017. All of Boston sports rallied after the Boston Bombing. That was best seen at the Boston Bruins game on April 17, 2013. The fans took over singing the National Anthem from Renee Rancourt, who was brought in to sing that night. 

Terrorist attacks try to bring America down. However, we typically come back stronger. Sports are not always the events that bring America together, but they help create strength and toughness in a city and a country that desperately need it. 

 

A Baddude’s Journal Underrated Athlete Spotlight: Junior Caleb Slaughter

Photo by Grace Allen

Story by J.D. McKay

FC has been terrific at sports all four years I have been in high school, and we have had many talented athletes. This year, if you read The Bagpiper, you will probably see some names carry over from past years, athletes like senior kicker Cole Hussung, junior quarterback Tristan Polk, senior cross country runner Sydney Liddle, and senior soccer player Katie Yankey. All four people I named are extremely talented and have earned the attention given to them. 

However, there are other athletes who are also very talented. Athletes that often are not the highest point scorers, have the fastest times, or make the flashiest plays. These athletes can be very important players on the team, too. Their few points, several great tackles, or beautiful passes could push their team over the edge. 

This week, my athlete is junior football player Caleb Slaughter. Slaughter is a middle linebacker who is in his second year of football in high school. However, he started playing football as early as he could. He did not play his freshman year because he wanted to focus on baseball. But, his year off rekindled his love for the game. You can tell in practice that he does love the game again. 

As the “mike” backer, Slaughter understands his role. “The mike backer is typically the captain of the defense, so I view my role a little bit like that. But with both team captains being on that side of the ball, I let them lead and step up when I need to. I still take charge by calling the plays that coach Polk sends in to our DB’s,” said Slaughter. 

He understands the role of a middle linebacker, though. One of his goals is to win a sectional, and he knows to do that, his tackling will need to be top notch.

“I want to miss under eight tackles this year,” said Slaughter. “The lower that number is, the more likely it is we win games.”

Slaughter also plays a little bit of offense. He has the opportunity to get his name in the paper on that side of the ball by scoring some touchdowns as a fullback or tight end, but that is not his main goals. 

“My role on offense is to block and open holes so Wenkers (Wright) can score some touchdowns,” he said. 

Slaughter also fits into the student-athlete phrase. Slaughter has the team’s highest GPA and is in the top 10 percent of his class. He said being an athlete has helped in achieving such high grades. 

“The best advice I have ever been given related to sports was that everything I learn in sports will carry over to my day-to-day life now, and as an adult, said Slaughter. 

Slaughter probably does not get much attention because, as he said, “I want to help make the rest of the team look as good as I can.” But do not let that fool you. Even if Slaughter is making others look good, he will be one of the most important pieces of a defense that gave up just seven points Friday at Providence.

Colts out of Luck before promising season

By J.D. McKay

One week ago I wrote my NFL preview column. I was riding high on the Colts who have a great returning offensive line, solid defense, and upgraded receiving core. If you can recall I even picked them to beat the Patriots, who are Rob Gronkowski-less in the AFC Championship game, and Da Bears in the Super Bowl. Everything has now changed. Andrew Luck, the Colts starting quarterback, 2018 NFL Comeback Player of the Year, and potential 2019 NFL MVP retired. That means while the Colts should still be pretty good, they will not win a Super Bowl. 

So now that Luck is retired, there are a couple subjects that need to be discussed: Where does that leave the Colts? Where does this leave Andrew Luck in the history books? What is the Colts game plan going forward? 

The first one is not too hard; it leaves the Colts in the hands of Jacoby Brissett. He spent the first part of his career playing under Tom Brady and has started for almost one full season. Of course, Colts fans are crushed, but I do not think that it puts us in a bad place, at least for this season. 

As for Luck, his legacy will be complicated. You cannot ignore the first few years of his career where he was sacked at least 27 times a season. That certainly led to his early retirement, and I think that can be blamed on Ryan Grigson, the Colts GM for the first few years of Luck’s career. However, last year he was sacked just 18 times. He also had an exciting career. His rookie year, he led seven come-from-behind wins, in what was a very exciting time as fans were Chuckstrong, in honor of head Coach Chuck Pagano’s fight against leukemia. Then, the next year he lead the third most exciting Colts post season game of my lifetime against the Chiefs. He came back from down 28 points to eventually win before losing to the Patriots. He then led the Colts to our third straight 11-5 season, before again losing the the Patriots in the playoffs in the Deflategate game. His next two years he missed most of the regular season before coming back to be 8-7. Then, last year he lead the team to the playoffs after starting 1-5 and won Comeback Player of the Year. 

However, expectations for Luck coming in were higher. Mel Kiper said coming in the Luck was better than Peyton Manning. Some viewed him as the best draft prospect in 30 years. Bleacher Report and others did not stop there and wrote headlines saying he was going to be the best NFL prospect ever. When you read those, you expect better things than just an undefeated record against the Titans, one of the two teams the Colts beat the year before they drafted Luck.The expectations are Super Bowls, wins against consistent Super Bowl caliber teams, such as the Patriots and Steelers, and pro-bowls. Luck only managed to fulfill one of those, and it was not one that would get you a ring or a parade. I think that might put Luck in the category of busts. He is not the biggest bust in NFL history by any means, and while it would have been hard to reach any expectations, he was not really very close to getting there. 

The Colts gameplan going forward should just to have a good year this year. The division is winnable, so make do. However, after this year, Jacoby Brissett is set to be a free agent, so if he does not re-sign, maybe the Colts will get another great QB prospect in Trevor Lawrence. This of course is very hypothetical, but a saddened fan can dream. Teddy Bridgewater is another name that has been thrown around as someone the Colts could use going forward. No matter what, the next few years as a Colts fan will either be extremely good behind our stud Brissett, or terrible behind one bad year of Brissett and then Tua Tagovailo from Alabama, or another bad year as we tank for Trevor.

 

Previewing the NCAA and NFL seasons

By J.D. McKay

We made it. Saturday Florida and Miami play to start the college football season. Now, to those of us in Indiana, that game does not really interest us. But, it is the first televised game to matter. That should hopefully hold us over to Thursday, when we get to see Clemson and their QB Trevor Lawrence play for the first time after winning the National Championship last January. 

I have already started college football, and it is coming sooner so I will start there. I expect 50 percent of the playoff from last year to be back. It will be the same 50 percent I predicted last year, Clemson and Alabama. The other two spots are much more open. However, Oklahoma has been very good over the past few years and always seem to slide into the playoffs, so they will be my third. The fourth spot is also pretty open. Georgia could get in. However, that would mean keeping the Big Ten out for a third straight year, and their last appearance, Ohio State, in 2016, was forgettable. They were blanked by Clemson, losing 31-0. I really do not think anyone from the Big Ten will get out of the conference. Ohio State has a new coach, so it should take them a year to get going. Michigan is always good until they play Ohio State, where they will inevitably get destroyed. Michigan State has a chance I guess, but when you could compare them to a one loss SEC team, they probably are not in. The rest of the conference has some good teams not typically thought of as powerhouses, like Iowa, Nebraska, or Penn State. However, none of those teams have the prestige Georgia has to get in. 

In the first round, Clemson will beat Oklahoma in one versus four game, and Alabama will beat Georgia in the two versus three game. For the third time in four years, Bama and Clemson will play for the championship, and for back-to-back years, Clemson’s stud QB, Trevor Lawrence, who will be coming off a Heisman trophy winning season, will win the title. 

Moving to the NFL, this will also be at least semi-predictable. The Patriots will win their division. Shocking, I know. The Saints will also win their division behind Drew Brees’ first MVP season in a career that should have produced two or three MVPs. 

I will skip through the regular season, but the playoffs will have the Colts, Chargers, Patriots, and Browns winning their divisions in the AFC. The Wildcards will be the Jaguars and Chiefs. The Chargers and Browns will have the first round byes, but the Browns will go into the bye in a sharp decline after losing their last three and be beat in their first playoff game by the third seeded Colts. The Chargers will lose to the Patriots, and Tom Brady will once again be in the AFC Championship game. However, I might be biased here, but the Colts will get over the hump and beat old man Brady. 

The NFC will also look pretty similar to last year. The Bears, Saints, and Rams will all repeat as division champs. However, the Eagles will win their division instead of the Cowboys. The Wildcards will be the Falcons and 49ers. The Bear and Saints will get the bye. After the Eagles and 49ers get knocked out in the first round. Both the first and second seeded teams will advance to the NFC Championship game. The Bears will somehow quite Brees and go to the Super Bowl XLI rematch. 

It will be a match up of a great Colts offense versus a great Bears defense. That often does not go well for the offenses. But Frank Reich, one of the NFL’s best coaches will figure out the Bears and win the Colts third Super Bowl, and second against the Bears in my lifetime.