Sunday, August 20, 2017

Aztecas vs. Burros Blancos Scrimmage Game, a GREAT day for American Football

Saturday, August 19, 2017:

It was a beautiful Saturday morning, a perfect day for a college American football game in Mexico City.

Seven of us, the last Warriors still in town, were all set to board a van for the 45 minute drive across town to see in Universidad De Las Américas Puebla Aztecas play a pre-season scrimmage game against the Instituto Politécnico Nacional Burros Blancos.

After spending the better part of three days at UDLAP interacting with their coaches and players this week, we were all excited to see the defending Mexican National Champions in a game situation.

As for me, I wanted to see the Aztecas outstanding offensive left tackle, #51 Diego Bedolla, in action.

I would not be disappointed in his levels of effort and total domination today.

With Anna our
Radisson Paraiso Hotel
housecleaning phenom

One of the fun things about spending over two weeks in the same five star hotel is forming friendships with many of the people who work at the Radisson Paraiso.

Anna is always upbeat and has really taken care of Mike Wood and myself during our stay in room 617.

On to the game . . .

Entering the gates of the venerable
IPN campus

The scrimmage game would be
played on a practice field behind
the Burros Blancos American football
facilities building

The Burros Blancos have a nice stadium across the street from this building but, because of the unseasonable torrential afternoon tropical rain storms the last few days, opted not to tear up the turf in their stadium with the entire home season slate of games still to be played. 

Part of a random American football
femenino team was in attendance

Burros Blancos Pride
is cute

Aztecas Pride
is fierce

Final UDLAP pre-game
tone setting

Head Coach Eric Fisher did most of the talking and as usual was under control and in full bore teacher/coach mode.

I like that his approach is not one of hyper frenzy but of solid, positive support of the concept that the team's preparation over the many months will carry the day.

Through their hard work, the Aztecas culture has lead them all to not think that they just want to win but to 100% believe that they have earned the right to win through their effort and preparation.

Great approach Aztecas coaches!

The Aztecas marching
to their sideline

Defensive Coordinator Robert Peay
and his troops just before kickoff

Mike Wood's keen eye got us two empty seats in the shade of the Aztecas otherwise packed stands.

Much better than standing all day in the Sun.

The Burros Blancos kicked off
to start the game . . .

. . . and the Aztecas
took it to the HOUSE!

A 100+ yards return for six was a nice way to start the day for the men from UDLAP.

The Burros Blancos offense
got off to a rocky start

At the end of the First Quarter it was Aztecas 14 - Burros Blancos 0.

The Burros Blancos played hard
but the Aztecas defense was
suffocating in the early going

Aztecas QB Keeper

The Second Quarter saw both
clubs moving the ball

The Aztecas ability to pass and
make big plays was the difference

Wait, Bedolla, that's the
Left Tackle I came to watch

As it turned out, we were sitting in the middle of the Diego Bedolla Fan Club, aka, his family and friends.

Another Aztecas score with the
Diego Bedolla Fan Club cheering
in full support of the Aztecas

At the Half Time break it was Aztecas 21 - Burros Blancos 7.

The Diego Bedolla Fan Club with
Diego's Mom at the lower right

According to the other members of the Fan Club, Momma Bedroll is a highly respected lawyer here in Mexico.

We had a long talk at halftime about Diego and his future in American football.

My advice was as follows:

1. Concentrate 100% on the current Aztecas season, Diego's Senior campaign and fourth year as a starter.

2. After graduating this Spring, enroll in Graduate School at UDLAP to earn both his Masters Degree and, under Mexican college rules, gain an additional two years of playing eligibility.

3. She said that Diego had drawn some interest from the Canadian Football League. Depending on what was offered, they would have to seriously consider this option.

4. After he is done completely playing either his four or six years of playing for the Aztecas and the CFL situation is done with, and only then, he might want to consider the cultural opportunities awaiting him a few years down the road competing in EuroBall.

Diego who I spoke with on Wednesday appears to be a fine young man. After speaking with his family I can see why.

The Burros Blancos drive to start
the Third Quarter was a good one

Good Burros Blancos
pass protection

At the end of the Third Quarter, the Aztecas were still in control leading 35-13.

Burros Blancos Read Option

Give it to the Running Back

When the game ended, the Aztecas had won the day by a final tally of 42-27.

It was a fun game to watch with the fans of both clubs intensely but positively into the game.

As should be expected after only two weeks of practice, there were several minor mistakes that need to be cleaned top by both sides but then again that is what scrimmage game is all about.

I felt that it was a good tune-up for both clubs as their opening games are just two weeks away.

On Saturday, September 2nd, the Aztecas will host the UNAM Pumas that we played a week ago in the UDLAP's renowned "Templo del Dolor."

That should be an interesting match-up, I hope that it is live steamed.

The Aztecas paying tribute
to their rabid fan base

The Bedollas after the game

Hard to read but the two words
across the back of this youngsters
jersey say "Pieles Rojas"

That translates to Redskins in English.

I wonder if there is a PC uproar over this team's nickname in Mexico too?

We were all hungry and thirsty after the game and we wanted to celebrate our Europe Warriors/Osos Rivas DE Alberto Pardo's birthday.

Where to go?

Why Hooter's of course!

Normally, Alberto dotes not wear a chicken suit but, after all, it was his birthday.

Feliz Cumpleaños Alberto!

Young Joey seemed happy

Must have been the chicken wings.

Bringing home a few spare
wings to the hotel

Joey takes a lot of good natured ribbing from the coaching staff but he has always come through when needed in his role as aide to the coaches.

For this young man who is a lineman in Spain for the Reus Imperials, this has been an interesting two+ weeks in Mexico City to be sure.

As this billboard declares,
"Living Is Incredible"

I could not agree more as these past two weeks were filled with so many great people and experiences.

It has simply been amazing time for all of us I'm sure!


Saturday, August 19, 2017

"Just When You Thought It Couldn't Get Any Better!" Coach Mike Wood

Friday, August 18, 2017:

Mike Wood's quote that is the title of this blogpost is perfect for what we all experienced today.

Who would have guessed it?

The day started simply
enough with solid breakfast
in our five star
Radisson Paraiso Hotel

I had time to admire the upwards
view in the hotel's lobby

Today's agenda started with a
10:00 a.m. pick-up for the drive
to the Heróico Colegio Militar

We were going to meet with some of the American football coaches at this historic military academy that is Mexico's West Point.

We arrived on campus on a
GREAT day for American football!

Yes, this is the right place

This Humvee would be our transport
around the 400 hectare campus

That's about 1,000 acres!

Soldiers in the back

Generals in the front

Of course there were cannons

Military statues too

We had to enter the campus
through a back gate

Enrique Peña Nieto, Mexico's President, was due on campus for some official state business.

Arriving at the football stadium

Home of the Aguiluchos
"In the army, as in sports, values,
discipline and competitive spirit
are exalted"

Excellent Aguiluchos helmets

Brand new 2017 game jersey

Lots of good equipment

Aguiluchos Pride!

In their spartan weight room

The American football program here is only five years old and has room for much improvement. These dedicated coaches are doing all in their power to improve the facilities every year.

Maybe the President Peña Nieto was on campus to sign a bill giving the American football program 10,000,000 Mexican pesos for a new weight room.

Our Joey Fuentes holding
a sand filled football used
in their training regimen

Aguiluchos RB Coach
Marco Pacheco Patraca
explaining the state of the
Aguiluchos' program to us

Here are the basics of the Aguiluchos situation:

1. There are 600 cadets on campus going through a rigorous academic and physical regimen daily.

2. The American football team fields about 87 players.

3. The average Aguilucho player weighs 76 kilos or about 168 lbs. and has 1.7 seasons of playing experience.

4. The best squat recorded by a player is 90 kilos/200 lbs.

5. The best bench press recorded by a player is 63 kilos/140 lbs.

6. Players lack of the type of nutrition needed for the sport. The food offered on campus is good but basic for athletic needs we were told.

7. Lack of rest is also an issue for all of the cadets on campus as they are lucky if they get six hours of sleep each night.

8. The big plusses for the team are the disciplined, high character players who are in tremendous shape and possess great speed. They also have dedicated coaches who are hungry to learn more about our great game in order to take the Aguiluchos to new heights.

Coach Jesús Sánchez
at the white board

President Enrique Peña Nieto's
helicopter touching down
at the football stadium

Mike Wood gets the photo credit here as he was able to go out to see what all the noise was about while I was going over Special Teams with the coaches.

We took a lunch break and boarded the Humvee for a short drive to coach Marco Patraca's on-campus home where we all enjoyed equal doses of good home cooking and excellent hospitality.

I only at three plates of the main dish.

Post lunch photo

L. to R.: Bart Iaccarino, Mario Pacheco Patraca, Joey Fuentes, Mike Wood, Marco Pacheco Patraca, Jesús Sánchez, Jonathan Ornelas, Jonathan Foullon and George Contreras

After this photo was taken, we had to say adios to Bart who was returning to his home in Cambrils, Spain earlier than originally planned due to yesterday's terrorist violence both there and in Barcelona.

Good man.

Jonathan "El Teniente" Ornelas
and Mike at a site dedicated
to paratrooper training

"Hey, let's go up for a quick jump!"

It sounded like a good idea at the time.

Cooler heads prevailed.

With Mike in the back of the Humvee

Our post-lunch detour took us through the rough terrain used to train the cadets for both physical fitness and jungle fighting.

This country road didn't look too bad


It was an action packed, bumpy, E-ticket type drive down this mountain without the benefit of seat belts.

We all agreed that flipping the Humvee was a real possibility but we got back on firmer ground without a scratch.

Back at the stadium for more
football clinic talks

The short tunnel from the stadium
to the American football offices

Mike talked defense in one room while Jesús and I talked offense and offensive line fundamentals in the other room.

After we were done with the afternoon sessions of our clinic, we re-boarded the Humvee to see more of the facilities.

They have horses on campus to
train cadets in traditional
cavalry tactics

Of course they also train the cadets learning modern motorized cavalry tactics as well.

Laurie would have liked
to see these horses exercising

First the horse
After that the horse
And finally the horse

The value of Honor is stressed
everywhere on the campus

HUGE Mexican flag

We got to visit the campus museum

The Eagle and the Serpent
Mexico's iconic symbol

By the way, an Aguilucho is an eagle.

An old flag

Lots of fine exhibits

Now, THAT'S a helmet!

Portrait depicting the last
cavalry charge in
Mexican Army history

Military Swords

They are always a big hit with me.

Another ancient flag

Many of the on-campus buildings
are loosely patterned after some of
Mexico's historic archeological sites

The Academy's current site was established in 1976 after having been housed in several other sites around the nation.

Photo of the Aguiluchos American
football team in action last Fall

Their opponent?

Why none other than the United States Naval Academy's Sprint team.

Collegiate Sprint football programs are popular on the American east coast and with our military academies.

These Sprint clubs play American football with one major stipulation, no one can weigh more than 200 lbs.

The Aguiluchos played the Annapolis club in a home and home series the past two years.

They will travel to West Point next December to play the Black Knights of the Hudson's Sprint team. Army will make the return trip to Mexico City in 2018.

The Aguiluchos are in the planning stages of competing against our Air Force Academy's Sprint team in 2019 and 2020.

How much fun is that!

Nice carving by a
Presidential desk

A closer look at the woodwork

Feeling the Presidential vibe

A photo of
President Enrique Peña Nieto
at the same desk

I should have worn a tie.

For the Honor of Mexico

Our visit to the Heróico Colegio Militar was just about over.

We wanted to make one last stop at the souvenir shop to purchase a final memory of our incredible day before going to a college football game scheduled to start in about an hour.

I bought a hat and as we started to walk back to our car to drive to the game, this happened . . .


So much for going to sit in an uncovered stadium to watch an American football game.

The game itself did start in decent weather on the other side of this gigantic city but was stopped mid-way when this intense tropical storm arrived at the stadium sometime after kickoff.

Torrential rains, hale, thunder
AND lightning, this storm had it all

Huddling in the shelter outside
the souvenir shop from the storm

Cool but hard to get home

Still safe from the storm

We made the short, quick run from this point to Mario's car for the trip back to our hotel.

We all enjoyed a tremendous experience today visiting with good people with a passion for our great game and seeing/experiencing much of what this great institution has to offer the dedicated young men and women of Mexico.

When we arrived back at the hotel, a press conference was about to start.

What's up?

A Press Conference to introduce the signing of a new player to the Pumas soccer roster.

Who is that guy?

He is the newest member of the
Pumas soccer team, one
Chelo Diaz

The photo credit on this last picture goes to the ever bold Mike Wood again. As the Ohio State Buckeye News field reporter in Mexico City, he sat in on the Press Conference.

As he left the Press Conference he shook the Pumas President's hand and said "Good job."

Thus in one day Mike was a football field away from the Mexican President and shook the Pumas President's hand.

I wonder which of these two Presidents is more powerful in this country.

Probably the Pumas President we all thought at dinner.

What an amazing day and it was all due to American football.

As Mike Wood said, "Just when you thought it couldn't get any better!"