The photographer speaks: 2011 football recap
[Photographs are, of course, by Kenneth Bailey. These are also his words, with my comments in brackets.]
I wanted to say a few words about each game that I photographed this year. In the process, I picked the picture that seemed to speak about the game.
The opening game for the EMU season was the game against Howard. It was also the first game that I ever photographed from the sidelines. Up until that point, I had only photographed form the stands, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Nor was I quite sure what to expect from Eastern. The last time that Eastern had a winning season was in 1995 and the last time they went to a bowl game was when I was freshman there, which suffice to say was a long time ago.
Howard was a Division I-AA (sorry…I still can’t do FBS and FCS) opponent and evidently not a very good one, so Eastern should have no trouble with them. As it turned out, that was the case and Eastern cruised to a 41-9 win.
The picture is of Gillett getting a touchdown.
This game found EMU pitted against another Division I-AA opponent. This time it was one of the better ones in the form of Alabama State. I didn’t think that Howard was much of a test for EMU, so I still wasn’t sure what to expect in this game. As it turns out, it was a pretty nice defensive effort on EMU’s part and they won 14-7.
The picture is of one of the Alabama State quarterbacks getting crushed. [This sack by Brad Ohrman was one of my favorite photos of the year.]
The next game was the short hop over to the Big House where EMU was pitted against the Wolverines. I think I may have said it before but I’ll say it again, this game was probably the game that had me most stoked at this point. I would have a chance to be on the sidelines at Michigan Stadium. I didn’t think EMU would put up much of a fight for the Wolverines but they did manage to hang on for the first half but ended up losing 31-3.
The picture is of EMU getting stopped at the 1 yard line. Little did I realize at the time but it would end up being a trend for EMU this season.
I didn’t travel to Penn State, so no pictures for this one.
This game found us back in the friendly confines of Rynearson Stadium. It also found EMU in an unfamiliar spot at 500 with a 2 and 2 record. I still wasn’t sure how EMU would fare in this game. Their opponent was the Akron Zips. This one turned out to be a see saw battle but EMU managed to triumph with a final score of 31-23.
The picture is of Dominique White punching the ball into the endzone.
The next game had me taking the not quite so short trip down to Toledo for EMU’s game against the Rockets. This one was also kind of cool because I’d never been to the Glass Bowl before but I’d seen pictures of it before and it seemed pretty impressive. I had a little trouble getting my press pass for this one but a couple phone calls and that was taken care of. I think this was actually the first test for EMU because Toledo was a team that traditionally does well in the MAC as the banners around the stadium showed. EMU got blown out by the Rockets 54-16.
The picture is of the Toledo kick returner [Eric Page] taking it for a touchdown. This wasn’t the moment when things went south for EMU but it was pretty close.
The next Saturday found me traveling up to Mt. Pleasant for the match against one of EMU’s in state foes, the Chippewas of CMU. This one was also kind of cool because I’d been to Kelly-Shorts once and I read that it was changed since then. It was also cool because some of my relatives are CMU grads, so I was hoping for an EMU win. This one found EMU getting a fairly comfortable lead only to have CMU tie it. If not for the last minute heroics of Gillett, I think EMU may have lost this game.
The picture is of those last minue heroics of Gillett. He basically blew through the CMU defense and scored the final touchdown for the EMU 35-28 victory.
After the thrilling win in Mt. Pleasant, the Eagles returned to the shadows of the water tower and the friendly confines of Rynearson to face their other in state foes of the WMU Broncos. If EMU won this, they would win the Michigan MAC trophy. If they lost, it would turn into another typical EMU season. Instead of heroics on the offensive side of the ball, this game brought us heroics on the defensive side of the ball. EMU squeaked by WMU with a 14-7 victory.
The picture is of that goal line stand.
After taking the week off, the Eagles remained in their home at which they were undefeated at this point. They would find themselves up against the Cardinals of Ball State. This was another back and forth battle but one that I think EMU should have won. They ended up losing 33-31 after they couldn’t punch the ball in from the one yard line, nor could they prevent Ball State from marching far enough up the field to score the winning field goal. Granted, Ball State had lots of help in this game from some pretty stupid penalties not that there is any other kind. I also think they had a little help from the folks in black and white. [Yeah, there were definitely a couple game-changing calls that were bogus. This was the one game that I went back and watched again later just to double-check that.]
And the picture is of Sherrer coming up short during that missed touchdown.
This was the last game where I would be taking photographs as the last two were away and circumstances did not permit my travel to them. EMU would find themselves faced up against the Bulls of Buffalo. They would also find themselves victorious after a pretty solid defensive game where they won 30-17. This would be their last victory of the season.
The picture is of the Buffalo quarterback getting crunched. [Another beautiful sack by Ohrman!]
Overall, I think the season was a good one for EMU because they got to feel what it was like to win a few games and find themselves at 500 for a change. It was also good because EMU was actually getting mentioned in the bowl picture and sort of stayed in that picture until the last game of the season. It was bad because EMU seemed to shoot themselves in the foot repeatedly. I don’t know how many times I would see a nice run or something get called back because of a stupid penalty. There were a few calls that seemed questionable but for the most part, I think EMU hurt their cause more than anything. If a couple plays had gone other ways, I wouldn’t be writing this for another month or so because EMU would be in a bowl game somewhere.
So the picture for this is one I took of Ron English where he didn’t seem to pleased with the call.
And the future…..
Admittedly, my picture for the future of Eastern is of a cloudy Rynearson Stadium but I don’t think their future is that cloudy. For the most part, the offense is returning intact next season. Gillett, Greene, White and Sherrer are either juniors or sophomores. The o-line is in the same shape, I believe. The question is on defense, so we’ll see.
But at any rate, I would like to thank Mr. Adler for the opportunity to be his photographer for this season and I hope that I am returning next season. [Of course you are!] It has been both challenging and fun. I hope that my pictures have grown as the season wore on.