Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Game Day:
Franklin College steamrolls to 70-20 win

It's been over a week since I revisited Franklin College, where I went to photograph the Grizzlies' homecoming football game against Earlham College of Richmond, Ind. The Grizzlies are a highly regarded small-college team, and have been so for several years. Still, I did not expect the blowout I witnessed that afternoon.

The Grizzlies scored 70 unanswered points -- 35 alone in the first quarter, and 56 in the half -- before the final gun at Red Faught Stadium mercifully sounded with the final score 70-20. The winners' point total was their most in the school's 120-year history.

The scoring in this Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference game started quickly. I'd barely settled into a shooting spot in the end zone behind the Grizzlies kickoff receiving team and hadn't even made the final adjustments on my camera settings when, on the first play from scrimmage, quarterback Johnny West threw a 69-yard  touchdown bomb to Kyle Linville. Yeah, I missed the shot. Ditto only a few minutes later when the Grizzlies blocked an Earlham punt -- I was on the opposite end of the field expecting to photograph the kick returner -- and, moments later, Franklin had scored its second touchdown. On the plus side, I was in great position (behind the end zone, again) when ball carrier Grant Welp (photo at top) passed on an opportunity to slip through this hole in the middle of the line -- the defender behind Nick Schultz (79) would have had the angle on him -- and instead took off to his right and scored the team's fifth touchdown in the first quarter.

It wasn't looming as a very good take for picture-taking. To top it off, I decided to try something out of the box -- different. I set my shutter speed to 1/250 (rather slow for football) on the hope of shooting the bulk of my shots by panning. For those unfamiliar, panning means following the action with the plane of the camera, blurring most of the scene except the subject you elect to follow, which should come out sharp, or relatively sharp. The technique is supposed to enhance the sense of motion, of which there is a lot in football.

I had more failures than successes, although occasionally the angle was such that motion -- and, hence, blur -- were minimal, enabling me to get a few shots that could pass as if I'd shot them at a much faster 1/500 or more.

Fortunately, in my quest to capture as much of Indiana small college football and basketball (and perhaps other sports), I'd gotten some wonderful shots of Franklin three years ago when the Grizzlies came from behind late in the third quarter to defeat nationally ranked Trine University in a game that would be a keystone moment for the Grizzlies' program. The week after the victory, Franklin entered the national rankings (and Trine dropped out), and the Grizzlies have been nearly unbeatable ever since except when coming up against the two national small-college powers, Wisconsin-Whitewater and Mount Union.

Clink on the link in this sentence for a full gallery of shots of action in the Franklin-Earlham game. For a full gallery of my shots of the Franklin College campus, follow the link in this sentence.

Above: Earlham spent a lot of the afternoon receiving kickoffs after Franklin touchdowns. The Quakers' Marcus Coby (3), a freshman, meets a Franklin special teams tackler on this first quarter kickoff.  

Above and below: Joey Pasquale on separate runs in the first half. He would score the Grizzlies' third touchdown of the game on a 14-yard scamper. This is one of my panning successes; note Pasquale is sharp, while the defender behind him is not. 

Above: Earlham's Jalen Kenner, another freshman, tries to outrun Franklin defenders. This is another pan technique success.

Above and next three below: Earlham's roster has three freshman quarterbacks, and Alonzo Genelin was the one harassed all afternoon by the stifling Grizzlies' defense. Above and the first below, junior lineman Dominique Boyd (8) is the nemesis, netting a sack and just missing blocking a pass by Genelin. Sacking Genelin in the other photos are junior linebackers Johnny Varner (4) and Alex Van Cleve (9). Varner had two of the Grizzlies' six sacks on the day.

Above and below: Grant Welp's first of two touchdowns, curling around right and reaching the end zone after a 14-yard run just as a Quaker defender would tackle him. The post-TD celebration included a jump bump along the sideline.  Another panning success.

Above and next three below: A sequence of shots as Franklin quarterback Jonny West (12) tries to make something out of a bad snap from center. He stumbles after freshman defensive back Terrell Scott (24) gets a hand on West's ankle, causing West to stumble. But he maintained his balance long enough to reach the sideline where another Quakers' defender pushed him out of bounds. 

Above: With the end zone in sight, Grant Welp nears the end of his second, and longer touchdown run of the day. This time he did slip through an opening in the middle of the line and found no defenders in the backfield close enough to contain the damage. He scored from 58 yards out. Yet another panning success. Several other frames I shot in this multi-image sequence were not as fortunate, although continuous focus was the real issue there. Cameras give you a feature to manage such focus (with Canon cameras, it's call AI Servo), but the key to succeeding with that is to keep your selected focal point on the subject as you pan, and it sometimes is not easy to do with a fast-moving target (in relation to your focal plane) like this. 

Above and below. The Franklin Men's Chorus opened homecoming festivities by singing the national anthem. Joining his fellow chorus members for the anthem was Grizzlies junior defensive lineman James Rogers (93).  

Above: Leonard's Loft, located in a corner on the southeast corner of the field. It's named for Grizzlies' head coach Mike Leonard. 

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