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Yet another FB gamer

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by earlyentry, Sep 18, 2007.

  1. earlyentry

    earlyentry Member

    Here is a story I did this weekend as a stringer. Did not come out the way I hoped for, but there is always another one - hopefully. I tend to drink a lot of coffee and get really hyper before I write. It's abad habit.
    Note: "Inside a cauldron of wind" is probably incorrect, and yet another case of overwriting. But I really wanted to paint a picture of Giants stadium as this wicked place to throw a football. Anyway, here goes:

    Tim Shankle hardly could suppress a smile when asked about his performance. After all, the freshman running back had no idea his talents would shine so soon and in a game dubbed the "Battle for North Carolina."
    Inside a cauldron of wind at Giants Stadium, N.C. Central sacked its West Coast offense late in the game and summoned Shankle, who said he was inspired by a late-night call from injured senior back Jeff Toliver.
    Shankle answered by rushing for a career-high 116 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries, lifting the Eagles (3-1) to an 18-10 victory in front of 43,006 fans at the New York Urban League's Whitney Young Classic.
    NCCU improved to 19-8 all-time against the Vikings (0-3), and have won nine of the last 11 meetings.
    "I never thought Tim Shankle would be in this position," said NCCU coach Mose Rison, who improved to 3-1 overall in his first season.
    "After we lost Jeff [Toliver], I talked to 'Shank' and said 'You are due to have a breakout game.' Being a freshman and forced in this position earlier than we thought it would be, he did an outstanding job."
    NCCU looked to the running game late. On their final scoring drive early in the fourth, Rison called for the run on seven straight plays. Shankle rewarded his coach, lunging over the defensive line for a 2-yard run, his first collegiate touchdown.
    "I wanted to run the ball well," said Shankle, who's a bruiser at 5-10 and 220 pounds. "I wanted to have a big game."
    In his telephone conversation with Toliver, Shankle was told to keep his head upfield and to always look for open spaces. And most importantly, hold onto the ball.
    "He said that the running game will open up sooner or later, and my offensive line came ready to play today," Shankle said.
    NCCU lost a ton of talent off its offensive line from a year ago, but they opened up enough holes to dominate the battle in the trenches.
    Defensively, the Eagles were opportunistic. Craig Amos was named the defensive player of the game. He recovered a bad snap on a punt attempt in the end zone for a first-quarter score. Mendez missed left on the extra point.
    Offensively, NCCU's freshman sensation from a year ago, quarterback Stadford Brown (10-for-23, 103 yards and a touchdown), didn't miss a beat.
    More importantly, Brown protected the ball. Vikings quarterbacks were intercepted three times, and a lot more were left on the table because of drops by NCCU defensive backs.
    But Brown again showed poise in directing the Eagles to the win. A good mix of run and pass kept their opponents off balance, resulting in the Eagles finishing 7-of-18 on third-down conversions.
    "Stadford got it going," Rison said. "He was seeing the field extremely well. ... He was directing traffic like he always does. He is a tremendous football player and is the reason we always have a chance to win on Saturday."
    Brown was at his best in the spread offense. With his team trailing 7-6, Brown calmly engineered a quarter-eating 12-play, 65-yard drive before the half.
    Using his fleet feet and sturdy arm, he set up the offense inside the red zone with consecutive scrambles, finishing the surge when he hit Wayne Blackwell (three receptions, 50 yards) crossing over the middle for a 9-yard touchdown. Eagles place kicker Taylor Gray had his extra point blocked, his third miss of the game. NCCU's all-time scoring leader Brandon Gilbert is out for the season with a leg injury.
    Good thing it didn't matter.
    The Vikings, looking for a late spark, substituted in their third quarterback in Dominic Strand (4-for-10, 50 yards). With 3:50 left in the fourth, he led a drive that resulted in a 26-yard field goal from Daniel Mendez to shave their deficit to 18-10.
    Rison knew that, without his injured kicker, getting a comfortable lead was decisive.
    "We didn't want to make this a game where it was decided by a field goal," he said.
    And with help from freshman like Shankle, the Eagles survived without having some of their starters.
    "It's a young football team,” said Rison. “And these guys have been forced into some roles that they usually wouldn’t be in. But they're growing up fast, and that's all you can ask."
  2. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    Hi ee --

    Thanks for posting with us again. And I'm going to agree with you that three grande double-shot lattes are probably wiser than five on game day. Likewise, I'm going to ask you to save the "cauldron of wind" for the next quidditch match you cover.

    I think it's generally a sound piece. But it lacks a compelling lede, and as a result, lacks a compelling landing. As I so often do here, I'm going to remind you to leave proportionally more time to work on your openings and your endings, even on a game deadline. People remember great ledes and great endings. Careers are built on them.

    And in a case like this particularly, in which you have what I presume to be, what, community college kids playing in front of over 40,000 people in an NFL stadium, it seems to me you could write most of your lede before the teams are even introduced. Statistically, perhaps five kids from either team will ever play again in front of so many folks; and perhaps one of them has a 1 in 1000 chance to make it back to Giants Stadium as a player.

    So celebrate the immense scale of it, and the lifetime memory it makes for these young men. Do it in one or two sentences at the top. Then remind us of it again at the bottom in one or two more.

    I also felt like I wasn't getting enough information about the opposing school.

    Oh, and don't use "sacked" as a synonym for "abandoned" - it's confusing given the context.

    Those are my thoughts. I await other, smarter comments on your behalf

    Thanks again.
  3. earlyentry

    earlyentry Member

    I agree about using both a compelling lede and landing when writing an effective story.
    In fact, that's what usually sticks with me as a reader. If not, I'm off to another one.
    Myself and another reporter were both stumped on a compelling lede for this game, as both teams stunk up the joint and played like, well, a Division I-AA independent facing a D-2 opponent.
    No matter.
    It would've been better to start with all of the emotions these kids felt - small school kids from North Carolina playing inside an NFL stadium. In fact, the coach had given me a few quotes about it; a player too. Something like "only two teams were playing inside Giants Stadium today, and we were the winners."
    Damn, that would've been nice. Like I said, I'll have to wait for the next game.
    Unfortunately, I get real excited - for better or worse - when crafting a story. My breathing speeds up and I get real panicky when going over my notes. It's not as bad as it sounds, I hope.

    I also agree that there wasn't enough written about the opponent. Instead of neglecting the team because of how they played, I should have used stats to prove my point.
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