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Bailey's Take on Pirate Sports

From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
By Brian Bailey

This group of seniors endured and survived


Replay Monday night's Brian Bailey Show, with guest Steve Shankweiler.

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Replay Skip Holtz's Monday press conference (recorded by Brian Bailey).

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East Carolina Media Relations Director Tom McClellan gives this Pirate senior class the “Purple Badge of Courage.”

It’s truly hard to believe that these 19 players, led by the likes of Chris Moore, Zach Baker, Josh Chilsom and Richard Koonce, had to endure all that went on within the Pirate football program during their careers.

In their five years at ECU, this group worked with three different head coaches, three defensive coordinators, four offensive coordinators and two directors athletics and an interim AD.

That may be some sort of collegiate record.

Coach Skip Holtz has said all year long that this group of seniors has really been a positive for the program. Now, this group will strap on the chinstrap at ECU for the final time.

“It will be very emotional,” said Coach Holtz on Monday at his weekly press luncheon. “It’s not just about this game, like when we went to Marshall it was about the Marshall game. These seniors are going to be looking back on a four- and five-year career. They’ll be looking at closing that chapter in the life and opening another one.”

Holtz made light of the day with a little joke, but you could see the emotion in his eyes as he continued to talk about this group.

“Hopefully, we don’t have so many tears in our eyes that we can’t see who to block or who to tackle,” Holtz joked. “For me it’s going to be emotional because you’re always going to remember your first senior class. These guys could have looked at us as coaches and wondered how we were going to be any different.

"They were like sponges, though, and bought into everything we said. They were a great group to lead this team into the future.”

Something to play for

The win over Marshall certainly picked up the spirits of not only those inside the program, but also Pirate fans around town.

Sure, in some ways there is nothing tangible to play for against UAB. The Blazers need a win to become bowl eligible, but the best the Pirates can do is 5-6.

A 5-6 record, though, would show marked improvement in just one year for Skip Holtz and this staff. Regardless of this Saturday’s outcome, the Pirates have already doubled last year’s win total.

ECU played with a chip on its shoulder against the Thundering Herd. It was almost as if the players had finally had enough and were determined to pull out a win.

That determination will again be tested against UAB. Blazers quarterback Darrell Hackney has already guaranteed a win over East Carolina, so the Pirate bulletin board should be loaded and ready to play its motivational role.

Hackney is good. Coach Holtz says Pirate fans should get to the game early to observe him during the pre-game regimen.

“Wow,” Holtz said. “Just watch him in warm up. You can see a difference. He is very intelligent and their timing passing game is very difficult to stop.”

Rare fall twinbill

Saturday provides one of those great doubleheaders for a Pirate sports fan.

It’s East Carolina and UAB on the gridiron at noon, and then the Pirate basketball team hosts Wofford at 5 p.m.

Ricky Stokes opened with a victory over North Carolina A&T on Friday night at Williams Arena.

Senior Corey Rouse started his year with a dominating performance against the Aggies. The former Kinston High School star scored 35 points and hauled in 17 rebounds in the win.

Tonight, East Carolina hosts a Gardner-Webb team that took North Carolina to the final seconds on Saturday.

David Noel’s three-pointer was the difference, as the defending national champs won it 83-80. Granted, the Heels have lost their top seven scorers, but still, no one really expected Gardner-Webb to win in Chapel Hill.

Last year, Gardner-Webb hosted the Pirates and put a 30-point shellacking on them in a game that many felt went a long way towards ending Bill Herrion’s coaching run with ECU.

This year, the Bulldogs provide a stiff test for Coach Stokes and his team. Tonight’s game (7 p.m.) should tell us a lot about this team. The students did a nice job in making their presence felt in last Friday night’s game.

A bigger crowd tonight, though, might make the difference between a win and a loss.

The Pirates follow up tonight’s game with a rare home-and-home set with Wofford. The teams will me in Greenville on Saturday at 7 p.m., then turn around and play at Wofford on Wednesday, Nov. 30.

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02/23/2007 01:32:16 AM

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