Panthers thumping aside, Charlotte’s seasonal activities welcomed four terrific days

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Doubling down on goodness at Christmas tree lot.

Having chosen to invest my time in a solid bike ride to enjoy the primo weather we kind of expect around here, I missed the entirety of the Panthers 40-20 debacle against Atlanta on Sunday. After the ride, something to eat, and making a few landing page adjustments, it was time to scoot to the Christmas tree sale.

I’ve watched the highlights, seen a lot of quotes with consistent sorrow-breast beating (this is ‘The Buckle on the Bible Belt’) about what is now a five game losing streak. Yes, Christian McCaffrey got his contribution in, with 11/58 yards on the ground and 11 catches for 82 yards. QB Kyle Allen was 28/41, 293 yards, TD/2 INT, and rushed for a TD late in the game. DJ Moore (4/81) continued closing in on a 1,000 yard receiving year (980), and TE Ian Thomas had his first five catches of the year, with Greg Olsen still in concussion protocols.

Four turnovers and allowing BIG plays (again) to the Falcons – Matt Ryan was 20/34 for 313 yards and two TDs – and the run defense that gave up 159 yards, Atlanta’s best production of the year, I’m willing to say I didn’t miss much. Now 5-8, it confirmed for many that not believing was legitimate, fire up the BBQ.

Owner David Tepper makes decision on Rivera

Ron Rivera is gone, and Perry Fewell didn’t wave any magic wands in his first game as the interim coach. Owner David Tepper is every bit as pragmatic about what comes next as the fans can ask for, which probably means hiring from outside the organization. Hold onto your PSLs.

Tepper rolled with the field operations group and facilities during Year One, but they’ve moved on from Wofford, have an indoor practice facility now, and Rivera got pretty much the standard amount of rope in 2019, considering a disastrous second half of 2018. The Cam Newton factor of losing #1 QB is factual, but lots of teams lose top personal (ask Houston about JJ Watts). Its still a Ws and Ls deal to be a coach anywhere.

“(Long time Charlotte Catholic Coach) Jim Odo said he won a championship because in OT he chose to defend in front of the student section. He felt it made a difference.” – Current Coach Mike Brodowicz

On the other hand, local favorite and two-time defending 3A champs, Charlotte Catholic won their game 56-49 in seven overtimes against Kings Mountain to advance to the State finals against first-timer Southern Nash (15-0). That it was 7-7 at the end of regulation is the amazing part, and there were a bunch of 4th down plays to test wills.

I can only imagine the juice running through that stadium, and you betcha, those young men felt the love. Friday night lights, baby!

For those considering getting off any Who Needs Cam? bandwagons that appeared when Kyle Allen led the Panthers to four straight wins with no INTs (he now has 12), fan-dom doesn’t mean blowing off the rest of the year now.  (Seahawks, and even if it rains, you’ll want to see Drew Brees…) Geez, if this was the NFC Least, the Panthers would only be a game out.

Tree selling, schmoozing, Beer Garden tent, singing, joyful kids

Business-wise, getting into December doesn’t change anything about my approach to writing gigs, and most ‘project resources’ know about end-of-year and future funding considerations. As military types might say, “Stay frosty,” meaning on the lookout for what makes a difference, and hang your professional stocking out there with expectations of being filled for the effort.

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Tree selling though, that is 100% satisfying, like Mom’s smooth gravy on mashed potatoes, or a slab of cinnamon-y apple pie. If you never ran away from siblings among the trees (lots of snowballs in upstate NY) while looking for one to cut down, may your kids enjoy the search for bigger or smaller or fatter anywhere you decide to look.

This year our Men’s Club had an activity tent that included karaoke, brots, and some simple – a hole drilled in cut-off tree bottoms with a twig of Frazier insert – crafts we’ll undoubtedly keep going in the future.

That a handful of guys who hadn’t really been part of club activities before showed up was an extra goodness, with the genuine good will generated while talking to customers and tying trees onto rooftops being priceless.

At a time when tensions around the world seem wound pretty tight, especially our political situation that has kept center stage, unplugging from that to watch the Panthers get clobbered to the point of a captain apologizing for it, what still matters is the spirit of the season. Sometimes its still legit to walk away from miserable others who might otherwise suck the joy from a candy cane.

Congrats to Charlotte Catholic, “bless their hearts” for the Panthers from the locals, and since its always the thought that counts, especially two weeks from Christmas, think of me if the opportunity arises.

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Glenn Shorkey – Creative eDitorial Talents Enterprises 
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Panthers 7-0 After Rainy Monday Night Almost Slipped Away

Two essential Truths about unbeaten teams are that not everything is going to work perfectly, so sometimes you’re going to have to buckle it on *strong* and WIN the game, dammit! Secondly, clutch field goal kicking is going to figure in there significantly.

For the vast majority of Monday nights 29-26 victory, in front of an above-average crowd that endured steady and sometimes heavy rain (bless their hearts), the vaunted Panther defense made Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck look exceptionally human. The Colts had only 40 yards passing after three quarters, and he leads the league with 12 INTs after Carolina picked three, including the gamer in overtime. After Cam Newton’s TD pass (16-of-35, 248 yds., 2nd TD- Philly Brown) to Greg Olsen, the 23-6 lead looked like a kickin’, even though Gano missed the PAT.

Luck’s final yardage was 231, but overtime belonged to the kickers. The Colts Adam Viniteri, showed his chops with another clutch kick in his career-long string, thumping a 50-yarder, then Gano answered with one. After Kuechly, who dropped an interception possibility at the end of regulation, grabbed one in OT– Ted Ginn also dropped a possible TD in admittedly lousy conditions– Gano took care of business with a strong 52-yarder.

If the game looked kind of ‘Done Deal’ after the Olsen TD, its going to help Charlotte (and fans) in the future, because it became a game where that ‘unbeaten’ could have come off their resume. When they beat Seattle two weeks ago, that certainly charged expectations up, Seattle being a constant pain over the last couple meetings. Of COURSE there’s a whooooole lot of ‘Can they beat Green Bay/Aaron Rodgers?’ now, and thats a legitimate question. Should it make any difference that Rodgers had an ugly night vs. Denver and might have a chip on his shoulder when he gets to Bank of America stadium? In a word,’No’, because stopping his usual surgery on offense will test whats been the teams strength–its D– and you *HAVE* to nullify his big plays to win in all cases.

Moral victories don’t count, and no denying Green Bay is a premier team. It will be a massive game, and there’s every reason for a full stadium till the end, which is, or should be, a standard for this level of event. The Panthers haven’t been ‘Lucky’ yet in getting to 7-0— even without Charles Johnson (knee) and Kuechly (out three games, concussion protocols), the defense has been flexible with personnel, AJ Kline and Shaq Thompson stepped up, and opportunistic– two of ace cornerback Josh Norman’s 4 picks were returned for TDs. While TV analyst John Gruden continued to sound pessimistic about having Newton run as frequently as he has this year, his 41 looked good, and his 3rd down conversion rate has helped Carolina’s running game all season.
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The Hornets have picked up their game with a 2nd win, after stumbling out of the starting game 0-3. Last night they rode (Less Big?) Al Jefferson’s 15-18 shooting for 31 points to bury the Dallas Mavs 108-94. Much has been made of Al being 25 pounds lighter this season, but it was an excellent team scoring effort, which was essentially the Hornets ‘must fix’ problem from last year. Marvin Williams-17, Kemba Walker-14, Cody Zeller-11– and with ALL due respect for Jeremy Lamb’s 16 off the bench— Coach Caldwell can continue blending process on where points come from.

Frank Kaminsky hasn’t been overwhelming yet, and losing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (MKG) to a shoulder injury at end of pre-season are adjustments to continue. Caldwell, who is dealing with many new and clearly talented parts very successfully, feels getting roles set is a priority, even after a 7-1 preseason that included a pair of victories in China.