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Catching Up: Obscure football, Gonzaga to the NFL, D.C. to the LPGA

With high school football playoffs getting started this week, it only seemed fitting to catch up with some former Washington area players getting ready for college football’s playoffs.

You read that right. There’s no sudden replacement for the Bowl Championship Series. We’re talking about the Division II playoffs that get underway this weekend. It’s a 24-team tournament with the top four seeds getting first-round byes. The championship game is Dec. 12 in Florence, Ala., which probably isn’t on par with the Rose Bowl’s history or pageantry, but compensates by its absence of polls or Sagarin ratings.

Since these schools have limited recruiting budgets (read: DeMatha’s may be larger), seldom do they recruit out of their region. The six teams in the Northeast Region of the tournament have some local names. The region’s top seed, though, West Liberty State (W. Va.) is led by junior running back Kevon Calhoun (Richard Montgomery), who has rushed for 1,275 yards and 16 touchdowns. If West Liberty can make it to the championship game, which will be televised, try to check out the Hilltoppers. Since losing their opener, they’ve won 10 straight and have scored at least 48 points seven times. Their 45.1 points per game are higher than any other team in Division I or II.

Calhoun, himself, is an interesting story. He arrived at West Liberty as a sophomore after playing his freshman year at Mansfield (Ohio). There, he led the Mountaineers in rushing as a freshman, but after the season, the school disbanded the football program. (Now, the school sponsors “Sprint Football,” which it touts as the same as the traditional version of the sport, except it has a 172-pound weight limit for all players. I’m intrigued.)

Lead-blocking for Calhoun is 2006 All-Met Will Alvarez (Hylton) who transferred to West Liberty this fall after spending two years at Virginia Tech. The Mountaineers backup quarterback is sophomore Nate Worek, who led Chantilly to the 2006 Virginia AAA Division 6 final. West Liberty earned a first-round bye and will host the winner of Edinboro (Pa.)-East Stroudsburg (Pa.) on Nov. 21.

Also in the tournament is Fayetteville State (N.C.), which touts former Westlake defensive lineman Darius Powell. He originally signed with North Carolina in 2006, but in November of last year, Powell was dismissed for a violation of team rules. He didn’t have to go far to hook on at Fayetteville, where he leads the Broncos with 8 ½ sacks, and his 14 ½ tackles for loss are second on the team. The Broncos play at California (Pa.) on Saturday.

The bracket for the FCS tournament (formerly known as Division I-AA) will be announced on Nov. 22, and with Richmond and William & Mary consensus top-five teams, look for plenty of local players in that tournament.

The Division III pairings will be announced on Sunday. Wesley (Del.), undefeated and ranked third, has actively recruited the Washington area for several years.

It might be worth paying attention to whomever plays tight end at Gonzaga. You might see him in the NFL soon.

Joey Haynos graduated in 2003, walked on at Maryland, and became an all-ACC performer. Undrafted out of college, Haynos is now in his second season with the Miami Dolphins. He didn’t even make honorable mention All-Met. Whoops.

Colin Cloherty followed Haynos in the Purple Eagles’ lineup (honorable mention All-Met in 2004), and, according to his father, Jack, had just one scholarship offer – Richmond. Instead, Colin decided to pin his future on his schoolwork, and went to Brown. He hooked on to the football team there, and, as a senior, caught 40 passes – more than any other Ivy League tight end – and was a unanimous all-Ivy choice.

Like Haynos, Cloherty went undrafted, but a day after last April’s draft, he signed with the Indianapolis Colts. He stayed with the team through training camp, earning the nickname “Ivy” from quarterback Peyton Manning, but was cut when injuries at other positions kept the Colts from keeping him. Cloherty then hooked on with the Cleveland Browns' practice squad, but was cut last Monday. Fortunately, the Colts' injuries seemed to improve, and Cloherty was re-signed and assigned to their practice squad. He will be on the Colts' sidelines Sunday night for their big game against New England.

The Duramed Futures Tour touts itself as the “Road to the LPGA,” a developmental tour that has been the springboard for stars like Lorena Ochoa and Grace Park.

Will Sara Hurwitch make that jump? Well, the 2006 Dominion graduate took the first step last week, when she landed one of the tour’s spots for the 2010 season at the annual qualifying tournament in Winter Haven, Fla. Hurwitch, currently a senior at Kentucky, finished tied for 57th in the five-round competition.

The tour features a couple of other familiar names to Washington-area golf fans. Jenny Suh, the 2003 All-Met Golfer of the year at Chantilly, who became the first girl to win the Virginia AAA championship, completed her second season on the tour. She won her first professional tournament in August, and was exempt from needing to qualify for 2010. Stephanie Connelly, the 2005 All-Met Golfer of the Year at Northeast, turned pro for the 2009 season, but needed the qualifying tournament to secure her place for next year. Connelly finished eighth with a three-under 357 for the five rounds.

By Alan Goldenbach  |  November 12, 2009; 1:24 PM ET
Categories:  Catching Up , Chantilly , Dominion , Football , Golf , Gonzaga , Hylton , Northeast , Richard Montgomery , Westlake  
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