ON CAMPUS: Godfrey’s first scrimmage is Tres Bon

Dec. 24, 2012 @ 01:08 PM

Dennis Godfrey (LCHS) saw his first action of American football in France last week as his Saint Ouen l'Aumone Cougars scrimmaged inter-conference foe Asnières sur Seine.

“The scrimmage went well, team’s swapped 10-play series several times, no score was kept but I feel like we’re really going to surprise some teams this year” commented Godfrey afterward.

After signing a contract to play American football for the 2013 season with the Saint Ouen l'Aumone Cougars in the Elite Football Conference in France, Godfrey moved across the pond in October to join fellow American and past University of Virginia quarterback Marc Verica as the two Americans who will both play and coach for the Cougars.

Saint Ouen l'Aumone is a suburb of Paris and is located 17 miles northwest of the city. The Cougars play in an eight-team league with four teams representing northern France and four representing southern France. Their season lasts from February through June.

I had an opportunity recently to speak with Godfrey on how his international experience is going so far.

How have you been doing with the transition of moving from North Carolina to France?

“The transition for me was very difficult in the first two months that I was here. The culture in France is drastically different than it is at home in North Carolina. I remember getting off the airplane, walking down to meet my general manager in the parking lot of the airport and seeing all the small cars. I found myself wondering, where are the Tahoes, F-150 trucks, Cameros and Chryslers? I was told that everyone drives compact cars leaving me pondering how I was actually going to fit into the small manual transmission cars. Another transition was the limited access to fast food restaurants. The main American restaurants in France are McDonald's, KFC, Dominos, and Pizza Hut, but the prices are very expensive so nearly all of the French people take advantage of the fresh food markets and stores and cook everything fresh. Their food sources are often straight from the farm. I remember walking into a shopping center that reminded me a lot like Walmart and there was a whole cow hanging skinned in the window and you tell the butcher what part of the cow you wanted. The final struggle is the language barrier, I'm still in the process of learning French, which is probably the hardest thing to pick up, thank goodness for my Google translator.”

“I have also noticed that the French people are not accustomed to seeing a very tall and large American my size. When I go out to the malls and shops, everyone one stares at me, but I kind of like the attention. I’m having difficulty finding clothes and shoes my sizes since most French people are very petite, leaving me to order my clothes online or get them customized in Paris.”

How are your practices going, is the competition the same as what you saw in the ACC? How is your experience going in both playing and helping coach the French players?

“I arrived in France Oct. 20 and practiced the following Monday. I’m just now beginning to adjust to the jet lag and six-hour time difference. French American football is a different skill level compared to any fashion of football in the States. Many French people do not have access to watch American football so they are still pretty unfamiliar with the sport. American football is over shadowed by soccer and other European sports that have been in place for centuries so it feels good to be viewed as an ambassador for a new sport, sharing the methods and principles that I have learned through my experiences of growing up and at Wake Forest.”

“The organization I'm playing for supports several teams. I am play offensive tackle for the Elite A team and serve as offensive coordinator and special team’s coordinator for the B team, Juniors, Cadets and a Flag Football team. My daily schedule involves film watching and creating a practice schedule in the morning, free time throughout the afternoon into the early evening and practice from 8:30 p.m. until midnight.”

What things have you gotten to do outside of football so far? What are your experiences with your teammates and the townspeople off of the field?

“I've really enjoyed traveling to see the many historical sites and monuments in France. In Paris I visited the Eiffel tower, the church Notre Dame, La Defense, Napoleons tomb, Arc de Triumph and many more. My plans for 2013 are to travel to Italy and Germany. I'm having a blast with my teammates. They are constantly teaching me the language and urging me to speak French with them. They are also very attentive when it comes to teaching them the game of football. The French people in my town have accepted me well they even have me a nickname, “Optimus Prime,” because I tower over everyone.”

Any Christmas message to send home?

“The thing I miss the most is my family and friends, I hope they all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I will be thinking of them all while I’m away over the holidays and want them to know how very thankful I am for their constant support of me throughout the years and the commitment and sacrifices they have made for my future.”

Football

Senior Tobias Palmer (NHS) and N.C. State (7-5, 4-4) are in their final preparations for the 2012 Music City Bowl where they will face Vanderbilt on Monday in a 12 p.m. game in Nashville. This will be the last game for Tom O’Brien’s staff as new head coach Dave Doeren continues to announce his new hires with Des Kitchings, N.C. State’s running backs coach, being the only coach retained from the old staff.

Kemory Mann (NHS) and East Carolina (8-5, 7-1) saw their season come to a disappointing end at the hands of Louisiana-Lafayette as the Ragin’ Cajuns dropped the Pirates 43-34 to win their second straight R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.

The All-American honors keep coming for Elon wide receiver Aaron Mellette (SLHS) as he earned his fourth such distinction this season being named to the Walter Camp Football Foundation 2012 FCS All-American team last week. This is the second consecutive season Mellette has received this honor. In all, players from nine different conferences and 24 institutions were represented on the All-America team. The Southern Conference and Colonial Athletic Association had the most selections with six honorees each. Mellette has already earned All-American distinction from the Associated Press, the American Football Coaches Association and The Sports Network/Fathead.com. Mellette will play for the South squad in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. on Jan. 26, 2013.

Wrestling

After tallying a 5-0 record and capturing Most Outstanding Wrestler honors in leading the Braves to a sixth-place finish at the 34th Annual Midwest Classic over the weekend, senior Mike Williams (SLHS) has been named this week's UNC Pembroke Athlete of the Week. The tournament title was the second of the season for Williams, who also captured top honors at the Central Florida Open in mid-November. He has now earned 10 career tournament titles, including the 2012 NCAA Division II National Championship last March. Williams owns a 91-10 record with the Black and Gold, including a 17-1 mark this season. Of his 91 career victories, 19 have come via pin, five by technical fall and 18 by major decision. Williams had his personal 35-match win streak snapped earlier this season at the Pembroke Classic, but boasts a current 15-match win streak, as well as a 36-match winning streak against NCAA Division II competition. Williams and the Braves will be in action Saturday traveling to Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Fla. for the Citrus Invitational.

Basketball

Akeem Richmond (SLHS) and East Carolina (7-3) finished 1-1 last week squeaking past Gardner-Webb, 62-60 and then falling to University of Massachusetts, 88-81. Versus the Bulldogs, Richmond came off of the bench to score five points and added a steal, a rebound and an assist in 12 minutes of play. He was more of a contributor against the Minutemen finishing as the Pirates’ third-leading scorer with 11 points while adding three rebounds and an assist in 16 minutes of play. ECU will be back on the court Saturday when they host Norfolk St. at 5:30 p.m.

Josh Mellette (SLHS) and Wake Tech (10-3) extended their winning streak to five games defeating Sandhills C.C. 83-73. Mellette turned in a double-double for the Eagles scoring 14 points, grabbing 16 rebounds and adding six blocks and one steal in the win. Wake Tech will be off the remainder of the holidays and return to action on Jan. 6 at Brunswick C.C.

Russell Tatum (LCHS) and Peace College fell to 1-5 on the season losing to Central Carolina Community College 65-57. Tatum has seen action in three games this season, starting one game at guard. The Pacers will return to action Jan. 1 when they travel to participate in the Roanoke College New Year’s Tournament.

Julian Martin (SLHS) and N.C. Wesleyan (7-2, 0-1) will return to action Saturday with a road game against Ferrum.

Alex Tucker (LCHS) and Francis Marion University (4-2, 0-1) will return from Christmas break Sunday to host Elizabeth City St. for a 2 p.m. tip off.

Women’s Basketball

Yazzy Butler (SLHS) and UNC Pembroke (5-4, 0-2) dropped their final game before heading into Christmas break losing to Lander College 77-68 last week. Butler snagged one rebound in two minutes of play. The Lady Braves will return to action on Sunday at 4 p.m. facing Coker College in the Stair South Classic Tournament at Georgia College State University and then play their second game of the Holiday tournament on Monday facing Tuskegee.