2011 Preview – William and Mary Darkhorse

by | January 27, 2011, 4:00pm 0

[stextbox id=”alert” color=”050505″ bcolor=”6cc3f8″ bgcolor=”ffffff” big=”true” image=”null”]School Name: The College of William and Mary
Team Name: Darkhorse
Captains: Archibald Charles Craft IV and Andrew Fickley
Coaches: Andy Fleming, Andy McCoy
Year Founded: ~1990
Jersey Colors: Green and White
Score Reporter[/stextbox]

Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get involved with Ultimate at William and Mary?

Mike Nyman: I started out Frisbee like most other people. Just some pick up in high school and I figured I’d come out to the tryouts to see what it was like. I had no idea what competitive Frisbee was going to be like. The real I wanted to join was because senior captain at the time, Alan Kolick, looked so cool and I figured if I made the team I would be able to be that cool.

Andrew Fickley: I didn’t play in high school, but I was pretty involved in the cross country and track programs at my school. I played summer league in Charlottesville (CUDO) the summer before my freshman year, and was hooked pretty much right away. One of my summer league captains was a pretty decent college player from the area, and he really helped me along, encouraging to work on certain things (how to best use my athleticism, how to throw, simple stuff like that)  so that I could make William and Mary’s team in the fall. When I got to William and Mary and made the team, I had found my home on campus.

Jon Goldsmith: I am a junior handler on the team.  I tried out freshman year, never having played organized Ultimate before, and fell in love with the sport.

Myles O’Kelly: I got involved in ultimate my senior year of High School. I had played soccer through out High School career and after my senior season ended a friend of mine convinced me to play ultimate with him in the spring. I enjoyed the game and tried out for the team when I got to college.

How did your team do last year? What was the highlight of your season?

Mike: Last year we finished t-12th at Regionals because there were no placement games for the last four spots. Like many teams in the old Atlantic Coast region we had difficulty getting people to go to Regionals because it was in Tallahassee, which is a twelve hour drive from our school.

Highlight of last season was definitely losing to Georgia 15-9, we had played them earlier in the year and got skunked 11-0 at QCTU so to come out in the first game of Regionals and watch them get kinda scared when they were up 5-4 was really cool. It was easily the best Ultimate we played all season and to have it happen at Regionals, especially against Georgia was pretty sweet.

Andrew: Yeah like Mike said, that game against Georgia was pretty awesome for us. Getting shut out at Queen City was probably the most unenjoyable time I’ve ever had playing ultimate, so to come back later that season and run with them for a while was a cool experience, especially for a team as young as we were. I think personally my favorite game from last year would have to be against Wisconsin at CCCs in Tennessee. We started the day with a couple inches of snow on the ground and lost our first game to Tennessee on universe. We came back out in our second game against the Hodags and showed some real stones, I think we were tied at 6-6 and then scored only to have the point called back on a travel call. Wisconsin ended up getting the disc back and taking half, and we were so gassed in the second half they really ran away with it, but that first half was so unexpected I think I’ll always remember that one.

Myles: Our team did OK considering we had lost the core of our team from the year before. We spent the year trying to get younger players into more prominent roles to set the team up to hopefully make a run in the future. The highlight was probably making Regionals. We took pride in the fact that we could make it that far with such a young team.

Who is your favorite team to play against? Tell us about a memorable game.

Mike: My favorite team to play against is JMU because we know a lot of the guys on that team and are always competitive with them.  My freshmen year so spring 2009 we played them at their home tournament, Hellfish. We ended up beating them to advance in the tournament after we had lost to them two weeks prior which was sweet.

Andrew: JMU is always fun, and last year we had a couple really close games at sectionals that were both super intense and really spirited at the same time. We also played Tennessee in a handful of close ones last year, but we were never able to pull out a win. I remember we were tied with them midway through the second half at Regionals in Tallahassee and our captain Zach Jackson made an absurd layout catch on a runaway huck in the endzone, and I hadn’t really seen our team get that fired up all season. They pulled away at the end, but it capped off two years of playing them in I think five or six really close games. I will say that playing JMU is much more enjoyable from a spirit standpoint though; those guys have class and a good sense of humor on top of being really solid ultimate players.

Myles: My favorite team to play is JMU. They are our biggest rivals since we play them far more often than anyone else but we still manage a good rapport unlike some other teams we lay often. For me there are two memorable games. My Freshman year at Hellfish Bonanza: I was out with a broken wrist and so got to take the game in as a spectator rather than a player and what a game to watch. It was cold, windy, and the first game of the day but we really played that morning and ended up winning the game by 8 points or something like that. My second most memorable game was last year at Sectionals; I got to play in this one. The intensity was just so high in that game since it was the game to go, we had been playing well that day and we’re all pumped. Both teams played really well trading points, it was anyone’s to win for almost the whole game. They ended up winning by 2 scores which was kind of a buzz kill, but still it was a great game to play in.

Tell us about your coaches/captains. What do they bring to your team?

Mike: Our captains are somewhat useless. Archibald runs around the field acting like a noob, while Fickley runs around the field trying to look cool. They don’t bring that much to the team. Acie is kinda short, he has decent throws and makes some pretty sweet lay outs from time to time. Fickley just runs around like a chicken with his head cut off on the field and magically does good stuff with the disc every now and then. But on a more serious note, both are first time captains and are doing a fantastic job shaping this team to be a regional powerhouse in the spring.

Andrew: I think Mike summed it up pretty well.

Jon: Our captains are Acie Craft and Andrew Fickley.  Acie, a senior, brings a calm intensity to the team in practice, and pushes everyone to further their own game.  Andrew, a junior, is the more vocal captain and is more likely to fire the team up in a pre- or post-game talk.

Myles: This is the first time we will have “Captains,” they are actually just ineligible players from last year so it won’t be really different but having them with us allows us to tap into their experience and takes some pressure off the captains when they really need to focus on playing. Our Captains each bring different things to the table: Acie is that game changing player that can make other people play better through his own play. Very much the central cog in our offense he can almost singlehandedly move through an opponents defense, especially zone, if he is really on top of his game. Fickley is more of the coaching captain. He is certainly more than capable on the field but he also brings the knowledge, game plan, and encouragement. There are two types of leaders: those that lead through rallying players with speeches, cheers, and a mental preparedness to win, and those that lead through inspiring on field performances in order to rally teammates. We are blessed with both.

Are there players on your team who deserve consideration for Callahan, All-Region, or Freshman of the Year?

Mike: All-Region, first team Archibald Charles Craft IV and second team maybe Andrew Fickley. FOTY without a doubt Cody Johnston. Came from YHB Ultimate and has become an integral part of our offense already.

Andrew: All-Region: Our spark plug of a captain, Acie Craft. The kid is maybe one of the most under-rated players in the region. He can get open at will against just about anyone, and runs like a jackrabbit every single point. He’s just an all-around athlete, and consistently takes teams by surprise. He’s also maybe the most consistent thrower on our team with the exception of Cody Johnston, who would certainly be our nomination for freshman of the year as things stand. I think FOTY is a hard nomination to make before the spring season starts, but Cody is a clear front runner in Virginia at this point. We’ve spent a while arguing about when we first saw Cody turn the disc over in practice or a tournament, and we can’t remember anything before October. His throws, decision making, and defense are all incredibly mature for a freshman. Talk about a nice kid too, word on the street is he has a spirit award or three under his belt from high school.

Jon: Acie definitely deserves consideration for All-Region.  He is the quiet workhorse on the team, and nearly every play runs through him.  He always plays with such high energy while keeping his head on his shoulders.  While not the tallest on the field, he is a true playmaker. Cody Johnston deserves consideration for FotY.  He entered the team this fall and has made an immediate impact as a handler.  He an extremely consistent player, and racks up the assists while maintaining one of the lowest touch-to-turn ratios on the field.

Myles: I think Acie has a shot at All-Region if he gets his name out there but we also have a Freshman Cody Johnston that certainly could be a Freshman of the year candidate. He has throws and decision making good enough for a junior. He understands the game and is an asset on offense. Maybe he’s not the best but the Freshman that is better than him must be really damn good.

What player is most likely to make a huge play as a thrower? As a receiver? On D?

Mike: Acie will make a huge play as a thrower, and as a receiver Aric Mills, the big ginger, is one of our top receivers. On Defense two sophomores, Bobby Corron and David “Fabio” Fabian make big plays on D.

Andrew: We’re actually lucky this year in that we have a lot of solid handlers, and we’ve already seen huge hucks from Acie, Mike, Ankoor Patel, Aric Mills, Sean McFall, and Cody Johnston, just to name a few/like a third of our team. As a receiver either Aric Mills or our new recruit Myles Matteson, who’s like 6’3 and a super athlete. He’s also legit the most interesting man in the world, if you ever get a chance to talk to him seriously take him up on it. The guy’s the most experienced 26 year old on the planet. On defense sophomore Bobby Corroon is a freak, and junior Myles O’Kelly is a workhorse who can play shutdown D on just about anyone, whether it’s upfield or in a handler slot.

Jon: Andrew Fickley is likely to make a big play as a thrower.  He has very sneaky goal-line throws and knows how to make the completion when it counts. Aric Mills, junior, is likely to make a huge play as a receiver.  He is the biggest ginger ever and can sky fools like nobody’s business. Bobby Caroon, sophomore, is likely to make a huge play on D.  He has zero regard for his body, and has already tallied up two concussions on sweet layout D’s.  He can always get through his man and make that big play to change momentum in a game.

Myles: The player to make the biggest play on a throw is probably Acie Craft our captain, his throws are solid enough from any part of the field to always be a threat. The player to make the biggest receiving play is Aric Mills. He is a big’ol Ginge and can dust most defenders and so is pretty threatening down-field. Biggest D play is Sophmore Bobby Corroon. He has little regard for his body and will layout for anything, and I mean literally everything, the kids nuts.

It’s easy to see when someone throws a huge huck or gets a layout D. Who’s a player you have to watch more carefully to see how valuable his is to your team?

Mike: I’d say Jon Goldsmith, a junior, has really stepped into the offensive role for us this season without a lot of people knowing.  He has been the main handler on offense late in the fall and has a low number of turns but a high number of scores and assists.

Andrew: Well Cody is one of them, just because he does so much and makes it look so easy. Jon Goldsmith and Myles O’Kelly are both really consistent players who aren’t normally really flashy, and we have some up and coming players in Tristan Schnader and David Fabian who are definitely must-watch cogs in the wheel, as we like to say. Myles O’Kelly, junior, is one of the most valuable players to our team.  He is a quick cutter who nearly always gets open on his in-cuts or endzone cuts.  Myles draws some of the tougher match-ups on defense and always stays right on his man’s hip.  While one of the less flashy members of the team, Myles gets the job done on both offense and defense.

Myles: Players that you have to watch on our team to really see how important they are are Andrew Fickley and John Goldsmith. Both players are solid handlers, Fickley taking a bulk of the handling on offense and some on defense and John playing some both ways. Both of these players can put it down field if need be but are more than content to work it up through in cuts and strikes slowly working towards the end zone and getting the safe but less flashy score.

How does your team bring new players up to speed on Ultimate?

Andrew: We try to emphasize teaching new players to become students of the game, to think ultimate rather than just emulating what they see. As a young team it’s obviously a huge priority for us to take athletes and turn them into ultimate players as quickly as possible. One way we’ve done this in the last few years is to keep a “split squad” format for the fall, taking a pair of smaller teams which are evenly split with returners and new guys and attempting to force young players into positions that facilitate learning as fast as possible before the college series.

Jon: We like to focus on the fundamentals of the game (beating your man on an in-cut on O, staying on your man’s hip on D, etc.) so that we anyone can hold their own on the field.  The more cerebral parts of the game, like O and D formations and plays, we teach but don’t nitpick until everyone has their fundamentals up to speed.

Myles: The way we have started to bring new players up to speed in ultimate is trial by fire. We teach them the basics: cutting, throwing (but poorly), and defense and then take them to club sectionals in split squads. This way we can get them a lot of playing time with returning players. We have found that although this makes us look a little silly at these tournaments it really brings the new players up a notch, they get valuable game experience before it means anything and get to practice all the basics in an intense by low pressure situation.

Without giving too much away, what does your team like to do on offense and on defense?

Mike: On offense we like to score. On defense we like to not get scored on.

Andrew: We’re all about consistent intensity on O and D. Since we’re such a young team, we can’t necessarily rely on the run and gun game as much as we’d like. Not to say we don’t have those big plays, but our bread and butter is high percentage throws and tight man D. We still throw deep and we love to play zone on a windy day, but consistency is the name of the game for Darkhorse.

Jon: Our team likes to focus on tough man D, emphasizing that each player winning his own match-up creates a successful team defense.  On offense, we have many handlers and like to patiently work it up-field with solid in-cuts and reliable dump cutting.  That being said, we still have those showtime players who can get the huge huck and sky when we need it.

Has your team set any goals for this season? What are they?

Mike: Not yet. Maybe soonish, I guess making nationals is everyone’s goal right?

Andrew: Nationals is obviously the ultimate goal for any program, and we’d like to bring some recognition back to William and Mary, as we haven’t been to Natties since the days of the original Darkhorse teams in the early 2000s. We’re definitely not looking past this season in that regard, but we’re very aware of how competitive our conference and region are. At the very least we’re gonna try to make an impression on the region and try and beat some teams who don’t expect us to make a game of it, and one of our big goals is beating our rival JMU, who we haven’t taken down since my freshman year. We have already achieved one of our team goals this year, with hosting our first home tournament, the UOA CAA championship in the fall.  Our goals for the spring are to return to Regionals and improve upon last year’s finish.

Myles: We haven’t really set any clear goals. We want to do well, what that is will be  more clear after the early part of the college season and we can assess where we are as a team. I think it is safe to say we would like to make Regionals, and that’s where I’ll leave it for now.

What has your team been doing this fall to prepare for the spring season?

Mike: Working out as much as possible, trying to have the most intense scrimmages, and doing the best we can to party it up.

Andrew: We’ve definitely renewed emphasis on being in shape. Weekly track/hill/stair workouts complement individuals’ work in the weight room, and we’ve continued the tradition of the fabled “campus loop” run before our favorite practice of the week, Wednesday Night Lights. Otherwise style coaches Myles O’Kelly and Sean McFall have been pounding into our heads that “style is 80% of the game.” Take one look at Acie Craft, and you know that’s one part of our game that flat out doesn’t need work.

Myles: To prepare for the Spring we have been doing this fall what we have done the past couple years: practice, go to tournaments, and get in shape. Its simple, but it works.

What tournaments do you plan to attend in the spring? Which one are you most looking forward to?

Mike: Clemson’s Joint Summit Classic, JMU Hellfish, High Tide, Roll Call, maybe a few others. I’d say I’m most looking forward to Hellfish because of the Hellfish Bonanza. Easily the best tournament/ tournament party/ party I’ve ever been to.

Andrew: Yeah the Bonanza is nuts. Cold as nuts too, but the party absolutely makes up for that. Take a big barn in Harrisonburg, a couple dozen college ultimate teams, live music and the most anticipated night of the year, and you get one hell of a party.

What does your team do to get pumped up for a big game?

Mike: To get pumped up for a big game we usually like run a drill called endzone to pump us up and try and get a good cheer in. I’d say our most used cheer is our alma mater.

Andrew: Yeah we sing the chorus of the “Alma Mater” and it gets us pretty amped up.

Jon: Our most spirited cheer is the alma mater of the College.  Screaming it out before a big game gets us all pumped up and unifies us as a team.

Myles: To get pumped for big games we listen to music, cheer, yell, whatever we have to and whatever we feel like to get into the game.

What song would you pick for the soundtrack to your team’s 2011 highlight video?

Mike: I’d say Put On by Young Jeezy but Florida already took that from us, so probs We R Who We R by Ke$ha or anything by 3oh!3.

Andrew: I bet a lot of people on the team would disagree with us, but yeah Mike and I are pretty much lifelong Jeezy fans. Probably “(Intro) The Recession.” Last year we were also pretty into some song I don’t remember the name of right now.

Myles O’Kelly: If I had to choose a song for the 2011 highlight video it would be the Ecstasy of Gold – One Mic remix. Look it up on the youtoobs, its nasty.

What do you think about the USA Ultimate College restructuring?

Mike: For us its awesome, Tennessee used to be in our region and last year we had to drive 7 hours for Sectionals and then drive 12 hours  for Regionals to Tallahassee so I’m sorta over the Atlantic Coast. Also we don’t have to play Florida, or Georgia anymore which kinda rocks.

Andrew: The decreased drive time is certainly a plus. The region also looks a lot more open than before, but the Virginia conference is more competitive than ever, and teams from NC, SC, Delaware, and Maryland are all looking for a run at Nationals I’m sure. All in all I’d say USAU did a nice job.

Myles: I think the restructuring is great. Last year we had to drive 8 hours for Sectionals and 12 for Regionals. I will never have to do that again, thank God.

Which team has the best shot at winning the 2011 USA Ultimate College Championships?

Mike: Anyone but Florida.

Andrew: Like everyone else is saying, its impossible to tell before the season starts. Obviously Carleton, Wisconsin, Colorado, a bunch of teams from California and the Washington/Oregon area. I’d love to see a few sleeper picks from the Mid-Atlantic make a run at the title, but obviously we’ll see the chances of that in a month or two.

Myles: Carleton.

The fearsome seven of W&M.

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