The Eagles took their first big step toward improving on their 3-9 mark of a year ago when they took the field for their first scrimmage Saturday.

After the first week of formal preseason practice, the Eagles went through game situations early Saturday morning.

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Coach Steve Addazio oversaw the first scrimmage Saturday. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

The Eagles took their first big step toward improving on their 3-9 mark of a year ago when they took the field for their first scrimmage Saturday.

After the first week of formal preseason practice, the Eagles went through game situations early Saturday morning.

The Eagles played their first intrasquad scrimmage on Shea Field bright and early, emerging from the Yawkey Center locker room at 7:40 a.m. to prep. The formal scrimmage – almost two-and-a-half hours long – put the Eagles in a variety of game situations with varied personnel groupings.

Steve Addazio watched the action from the center of the field, and got his first look at the Eagles in an full offense-defense atmosphere.

“It’s was good,” Addazio said. “A lot of good things happened. [There are] a lot of things to work on. We did a lot of work and we have a lot of stuff we can evaluate. We are not too badly hurt and you always feel good about that.

“We made some big plays on offense and gave away some plays some big plays on defense – made some good plays, gave up some good plays. It was good. There was enough to go around out there. There was a lot of good competition out there. We have a good chance to watch that tape and evaluate it,” he said.

While there was no formal score – a points system was in place for various plays – three touchdowns were put up late in the scrimmage. A pair by senior running back Myles Willis (on runs of 10 and 40-plus yards) and an interception return by freshman linebacker John Lamot on the final play of the morning.

“I think it was a lot of fun to play full-on defense and football again,” junior linebacker Connor Strachan said. “Anytime you get a chance to scrimmage in a game-like atmosphere, it’s a ton of fun. It’s fun to get out there and compete with your teammates.”

Graduate quarterback Patrick Towles added, “All around at every positions, we had some mess ups today – including myself – so we have to watch the film, continue to get better and be better football team on Monday than we were today.”

One of the highlights of the morning was redshirt sophomore quarterback Darius Wade’s 40-plus yard connection with sophomore wide out Elijah Robinson from the one-yard line.

“In that situation – a goal line situation – everyone is pressed out,” Wade said. “They think it’s going to be a run. I had great protection and I was able to find my receiver down the field and we were able to make a play. It’s always great in a coming out situation where you need to flip the field and change the momentum.”

With tweaks and areas of focus coming into clarity after today’s scrimmage, the Eagles get back to the practice field next week for their second full week of practice. The team is scheduled to play its second intrasquad scrimmage next Saturday morning.

Boston College sports information assisted with this report.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
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The always energetic Steve Addazio makes a point on media day. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

CHESTNUT HILL — If there’s anyone with the energy and belief that things will improve at Boston College, it’s Steve Addazio.

The 57-year-old football coach is entering his 22nd consecutive year of Division I coaching. His 21st was arguably his most difficult.

The Eagles went 3-9 and lost player after player on the offensive side of the ball. But now, with a transfer quarterback from Kentucky in Patrick Towles, who has dedicated the season to a gorilla, there’s new hope.

There’s Jon Hilliman, Myles Willis and Tyler Rouse and senior tight end Michael Giacone. The Eagles will look to pound the ball and get back to the type of complementary football that allowed the Eagles to use their defense to win close games.

Winning close games is not something the Eagles could do much of last year. They were in games against Clemson and Notre Dame, both ranked fifth in the nation at the time and in the national championship conversation. They lost at Duke, 9-7, at home in the regrettable Wake Forest ending (3-0), at Louisville (17-14), at Fenway against Notre Dame (19-16) and at Syracuse (20-17). That’s five games by three points or less.

A big reason so many of those games against the best competition were so close was the defense. Statistically, the Eagles had the top-ranked defense in the country last year.

“We were really good on defense last year,” Addazio said. “But we are not trying to beat our stats. They are not really relative that way. The biggest thing is winning.”

And that’s something the Eagles did precious little of a year ago. After going 3-9 in ’15, is there a record this year that will prove to Addazio that he’s got the program where he wants it and it’s heading in the right direction?

“I don’t need to prove it to myself or anybody really,” Addazio said. “To be honest with you I know the program is going where it is supposed to be going.”

So, there is a goal?

“Yes, the goal is to win the opener. And this is what I tell the team since I have been here,” Addazio said. “This is what I have been a part of everywhere in my career. Win the opener, get bowl eligible, then compete for a conference championship. That’s what you do. You try to win the opener, and then you try to get bowl eligible. All those. Those first two things I just said are well within the reach of this football team. And then you’ve got from there. I would never short. I would never say nothing can be done.”

Last year, the Eagles beat Maine in the opener, 24-3, and Howard, 76-0, in the second game. They won just once in the final 10 games and lost their last eight.

“I say win the opener, get that done and from there, no matter what happens from there, you go to become bowl eligible, once your bowl eligible everything is still in front of you. That’s the way I feel. I am not one of those guys, I never have been, and I have never been around a program that’s broken it down, national championship on three. Let’s take it one step at a time, even with veterans. One-game seasons. This team is very capable. If we stay healthy and continue to develop, it’s a very capable football team. We will do some things that we will shake our heads at because we are young across the board but we will see great growth from that.

“I have said it several times. This is one of my favorite teams to be around right now. No matter what you throw at them, they respond. They love football. They work really hard at football. They give you everything they have. It’s a fun group to be around. Fun group to coach. And that hasn’t changed.

“No one feels good about last year. The guys that were in it understand why, but you don’t feel good about it. The year before we were pretty good on offense and we had a hard time stopping a number of teams, we could have had a nine-win year. But last year we were really good on defense but couldn’t function on offense for all the reasons we have already ad nauseam gone through. And even with that, this team last year, in my opinion played really hard, all the way through the final game, played hard, both side. To say that the offense didn’t play hard is not an accurate statement and as young as we were, we still had the ability to run the football and half way through the season we had a pretty high time of possession. And the offense, myself and the staff made a conscious decision that we were going to feature the defense for obvious reasons which I always do here. We could have went to a no huddle, an up-tempo, we worked on it really hard, we had it available but I said that is not going to help our defense. See that’s the other thing people don’t talk about. What we do offensively is to extenuate our defense because that is our number one goal, to be great on defense. A lot of teams don’t do that. A lot of programs don’t do that.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

This is what @BCCoachAddazio said Friday Dan Koppen said about Tom Brady in speech to BC team Wednesday night. pic.twitter.com/Ad793EN8Mn

— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) August 11, 2016

Patrick Towles transferring from Kentucky gave Boston College an intriguing option to compete with Darius Wade for the team’s starting quarterback spot.

He just made things more interesting and guaranteed that pretty much every casual fan will be pulling for him.

Patrick Towles transferring from Kentucky gave Boston College an intriguing option to compete with Darius Wade for the team’s starting quarterback spot.

He just made things more interesting and guaranteed that pretty much every casual fan will be pulling for him.

Checking in from the Cincinnati Zoo on Instagram, Towles posted a picture of himself on Friday and dedicated his senior season to Harambe, the gorilla who was killed at that very zoo and is currently on his second round of internet fame.

Dedicating this season to the realist there ever was… #RIPHARAMBE

A photo posted by Patrick Towles (@patty_ice_8) on

Towles would be well-served to not major in English (the world would be “realest” in the context in which he used it), but that’s a heck of a dedication.

Blog Author: 
WEEI

In front of an enthusiastic Boston hockey crowd, alumni from the Boston University and Boston College hockey programs played in the Commonwealth Avenue Charity Classic at Walter Brown Arena Friday night and raised $55,000 for Compassionate Care ALS and the Travis Roy Foundation.

It was a game that brought smiles to the players and fans with 21 goals scored during 45 minutes of play and, more importantly, donations through ticket sales and raffles for hockey memorabilia to benefit both causes.

“Hockey has the tightest group of athletes that there is,” said Pat Mullane, a former BC hockey player who runs the Comm Ave Charity Classic. “It’s hard to get NHL players on the ice over the summer, especially on a Friday night. But a lot of them reached out to me and said they couldn’t wait to play. It goes to show that the hockey community is so willing to support one of their own [in Travis Roy as well as Pete Frates].”

Roy crashed awkwardly into the boards during his first shift for the Terriers in 1995, cracking two of his vertebrae and leaving him a quadriplegic. Since his injury, he has gone on to raise awareness and find a cure for spinal cord injury victims through the Travis Roy Foundation.

Frates, representing Compassionate Care ALS, was a Boston College pitcher who was diagnosed with ALS and has since raised awareness through the viral Ice Bucket Challenge.

Both of these men were a part of a ceremonial puck drop before the game, with Roy emphasizing the importance of the Boston hockey family and how much it means for a city to stand together against both ALS and spinal cord injuries.

“We are all here for Pete and Travis and how they inspire everyone,” said Nick Bonino, a former Terrier fresh off of a Stanley Cup victory with the Penguins. “We’re happy to all participate with their initiatives and what they do for the community, so it’s fun to play some hockey and raise money doing it.”

The game itself was everything a Boston hockey fan could have asked for, but BC fans went home a little happier than their BU counterparts, as the Eagles beat the Terriers 13-8.

Kevin Hayes started the scoring just 34 seconds into the game and stayed a consistent threat throughout the game with two goals and three assists. BU would go down 2-0 before fighting back in the last three minutes of the period and ending it with a buzzer beater from Sean Sullivan, one of the strongest defensive defensemen in the school’s 21st-century history.

The second period had its moments, ranging from a Danny O’Regan goal that sent the BU crowd back into a frenzy, to BC’s Dave Spina getting one past netminder Matt O’Connor that left those same fans speechless. The period ended with BU only down one after yet another buzzer beater, this time by Evan Rodrigues.

BC pulled away in the third, outscoring BU 7-3 in that period, including two empty-netters that all but sealed a victory for the maroon and gold.

“It doesn’t get any more fun than playing BC-BU,” said Johnny Gaudreau, the Calgary Flames’ 2015 Calder Award finalist who scored a hat trick for the Eagles. “Last year they took it to us, but this year thankfully we got the win. But it’s still a ton of fun for both teams, and it’s great to see guys you played with and played against.”

For the past and present Bruins on the ice, Shawn MacEachern, a Terrier who ended his career on the Bruins during the 2006 season and currently coaches local hockey, scored one and netted an assist. Meanwhile, Jay Pandolfo, known for his stellar college career at BU where he earned 167 points through 133 games, earned two assists. As for the Eagles, current Bruin Jimmy Hayes scored the first of two empty-netters late in the third and had two assists.

No matter the score, players from both sides were happy to play with former teammates, old heroes they looked up to, and of course, for legendary coaches Jerry York and Jack Parker.

“It brings back a lot of memories,” said Chris Higgins, who was part of BU’s 2009 national title team. “In the locker room and on the bench, guys were just talking about the good old days. [And Jack Parker] came in after one of the periods, joking around, and started yelling at us trying to pick it up.”

Parker, retired since 2013, was amazed with how well the event went, from gathering players to raising money, and was happy with how well tonight went for both foundations despite the loss.

“It’s amazing how many NHLers we have from BC and BU and how much fun it is watching them play,” said Parker. “And obviously, this was all for a good cause.”

Blog Author: 
James Mattone

Boston College announced Tuesday that it will retire the numbers of former football stars Luke Kuechly and Matt Ryan in ceremonies this fall. Kuechly’s No. 40 will be retired Oct. 22 at the Eagles’ game against Syracuse, while Ryan’s No. 12 will be retired Nov. 19 during a contest against UConn.

Boston College announced Tuesday that it will retire the numbers of former football stars Luke Kuechly and Matt Ryan in ceremonies this fall. Kuechly’s No. 40 will be retired Oct. 22 at the Eagles’ game against Syracuse, while Ryan’s No. 12 will be retired Nov. 19 during a contest against UConn.

“On behalf of Boston College and Eagles fans everywhere, I would like to congratulate Luke and Matt on this well-deserved honor,” BC athletic director Brad Bates said in a statement. “Matt and Luke represent the very best of intercollegiate athletics and personify the Jesuit principle of ‘men and women for others.’ Both enjoyed brilliant collegiate careers and have gone on to enjoy success in the NFL. Beyond the gridiron you would be hard-pressed to find two gentlemen who conduct themselves with more integrity, disciple, generosity and kindness. They make all of us very proud.”

Kuechly was a two-time consensus first-team All-American and in consecutive seasons he led the nation in total tackles, tackles per game, solo tackles and solo tackles per game. His 532 career tackles is the most in BC history. In 2012 he won several postseason awards including the Dick Butkus Award (most outstanding linebacker), the Lott IMPACT Trophy (college football’s defensive best in character and performance), the Bronko Nagurski Award (top defensive player in college football) and the Rotary Lombardi Award (best linebacker in college football).

The linebacker was drafted ninth overall by the Panthers in 2012 and won the AP Defensive Rookie of Year that season. In 2013 he was named the AP Defensive Player of the Year. Despite suffering a concussion in Week 1 last season, Kuechly was able to help the Panthers establish one of the best defenses in the league and guide them to the Super Bowl. Last season he became the first linebacker to have multiple interception return touchdowns in a season during the Super Bowl era. In September 2015, Kuechly signed a five-year, $62 million extension, which gave him the highest annual average salary among middle linebackers.

“It’s a tremendous honor to have my jersey retired,” Kuechly said. “It is very important to me because of the love I have for Boston College and the memories I created not only on the field but throughout all of campus. It’s an honor to have my name in Alumni Stadium along with Doug Flutie, Mike Ruth and the other great players who have been recognized. I truly enjoyed my time at Boston College and would definitely choose BC if I had to do it again.”

In 2007 Ryan helped BC get off to an 8-0 start and a No. 2 national ranking and ultimately led the Eagles to an 11-3 record, their best since 1940, and an ACC Atlantic Division championship. That season, Ryan set the record for the BC single-season passing yards with 4,507 and won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm (given to the nation’s top senior quarterback), the Manning Award (given to the nation’s top quarterback) and ACC Player of the Year.

In the 2008 draft the Atlanta Falcons took Ryan third overall, and he rewarded them by winning AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

“Boston College is an amazing place,” Ryan said. “I am very fortunate to have had so many great memories during my college years at BC. I continue to be so fortunate with the retirement of my jersey and I am humbled that it will hang in Alumni Stadium with BC legends Doug Flutie, Mike Ruth and now Luke Kuechly. I’m so thankful for the guidance of all my coaches and the support of all my teammates during my time on campus. Football is the ultimate team sport and without their contributions none of this would have been possible.”

BC previously has retired jerseys to pay tribute to 10 others. In addition to Flutie and Ruth, the honored include Art Donovan, Bill Flynn, Gene Goodreault, Mike Holovak, Lou Montgomery, Charles O’Rourke, Tony Thurman and Louis Urban.

Blog Author: 
John Hand

Frozen Fenway is returning to Fenway Park with a pair of Hockey East doubleheaders on Jan. 7 and Jan. 14. The first Saturday will feature Boston University vs. UMass and Boston College vs. Providence, while the second weekend pits Maine vs. UConn and Northeastern vs. New Hampshire.

College hockey has previously visited Fenway in 2010, 2012 and 2014. This will be the fourth Frozen Fenway game for BC; third for BU, Northeastern and Maine; second for UMass, Providence and UNH; and first for UConn.

“Hockey East and our schools could not be more excited to take the ice once again at Fenway Park,” said Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna in a statement. “Once Frozen Fenway 2017 is complete all 12 Hockey East schools will have played an outdoor game at Fenway Park, creating once-in-a-lifetime memories for the players, students, alumni and fans.”

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh also announced a free public skate for Boston residents on the Fenway rink on Monday, Jan. 16. Game times, ticket information and additional Frozen Fenway games and events will be announced in the coming months.

Blog Author: 
Scott McLaughlin