Wednesday, August 23, 2006

South isn't just whistling Dixie

Ultimate winners once again

Some say it's the elevation. Others point to the team bonding during the carpools up to the game. Warmer weather is another reason given for the dominance of the South. Whatever, for one more year the South proved to be unbeatable.

Like any Red Sox fan can tell you, never relax, don't let down your guard, always be prepared for disappointment. No lead is safe enough and defeat can always be snatched from the jaws of victory. For the North, last Thursday's North-South game was no exception to the truism.

The South nipped the North 15-14 in the annual season-ending classic. But from the start, it looked good for North.

Sporting a large squad of veteran players and buoyed by the last-minute arrival of "Spirit of the Game" runner-up Joel Mallett, North sliced through the South's man defense for a quick 3-1 lead.

The South fielded a Savage Seven squad with no reserves, no subs and presumably no hope. Despite being out-manned, South went to a 1-3-3 zone defense called the "picket fence." The strategy worked. South stormed back and took the lead by the half 8-5.

North's pride and talent surfaced. The North regrouped at half and rallied behind precision offense and sticky person-on-person defense. Long hucks from Mallett to speedy Mike Payne tightened the game, South's cushion ebbing to 10-9.

On the South side Scott "Horse Whisperer" Liebsle showed his speed catching a one-handed full-extension huck sent to him by Fireman Dan Ellefson for the score. Another huge sky by Wes Southward, climbing over the back of a shocked Chase Fetter kept South in the lead, barely.

Its confidence building and energy rising, North started to believe. A layout block by Trent Stumph led to another North score, knotting it at 13s.

South, reeling from North's comeback, tried anything to stop the bleeding. That's when John "Chaka" Shenk sent a crisp forehand to a cutting Christl Holzl who was closely guarded by "turncoat" Tess O'Sullivan, recently relocated North of the Mason Dixon line.

Tess deflected the disc sending it wobbling at high speeds toward Holzl. Crystal clamped a sure drop between her legs for an amazing grab and had the presence of mind to call a time out letting her team regroup. It was smart. Though South was unable to convert the catch into a score, the South made a statement.

North scored again to get within one point of victory. With darkness settling in, the game was set to 15 hard cap, first to 15 wins.

Riding on Southward's back, the South scored to even the game at 14, relying on Wes's hard cuts, sure hands, and enormous wingspan. But the South had to stop the North if they had a chance of winning.

And the North put out a tough offensive squad with veterans and national champions the likes of Lonnie "Dart" Lindquist, Tom "TK" Kennedy and Mike McDevitt. They meticulously worked the Frisbee up the field tossing more than 20 passes around and through the picket fence. That's when a floating disc was pounced upon by Donnie Jardin, the south's southeast player driving all the way from Twin Falls.

The block was one of several by Donnie though by far the most important, giving the South the disc with a chance to win. Two passes later Southward caught the disc in the end zone for the 15-14 triumph.

Ultimate still to come: A Labor Day tournament in Boise, so keep coming to Ketchum's Atkinson Park Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7 p.m.

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