Stag Football Season Opens: Summer Trip to South America Prepared Team

The CMS Football team kicks off their 2010 season under the lights this Saturday, Sept. 11th at 7:00 pm on Zinda Field against visitors Lewis & Clark. Last season the Stags beat Lewis & Clark 22-7 in Oregon and are excited to play them at home this weekend.

Since Coach Rick Candaele announced his retirement from football in July, the Stags are moving forward under the leadership of interim head coach Steve Retzlaff. Retzlaff previously served as both Offensive and Defensive Coordinator for the Stags and has been on staff since the two came to Claremont in 1993.

Though Candaele pointed to the loss of 12 key graduated seniors, he remained very optimistic about the Stags’ chances in 2010. “We’ve got about 80 kids coming out, the most in the history of Stag football,” Candaele said. “I feel really good about building the numbers of the program, that’s something that I really wanted to do.”
While the Stags are looking forward to Saturday’s competition, they had a unique and memorable summer experience that will help them build upon last season’s successes.

As national heroes Lionel Messi and Diego Forl?n prepared for soccer’s greatest stage this summer, Candaele sought to put his sport on the map in the stars’ f?tbol-crazed nations of Argentina and Uruguay.

For two weeks in May and June, Candaele took to the cities of Buenos Aires and Montevideo with a group of roughly 40 Stags and their families to engage in what Candaele called an “educational, cultural, fun, social football opportunity” in the continent’s Rio de la Plata region.
The trip marked the fifth such trip for the Stags and Candaele. Since 1994, the team has traveled to Switzerland, Spain, Ireland, and Australia. The 2010 trip was unique, however, in that the Stags were the first American team ever to travel and play in Argentina and Uruguay.

The trip began in Uruguay, where the Stags spent six days in the capital of Montevideo hosting a clinic for the local players and youth as well as a coaches’ clinic. The group also toured the US Embassy and played a full game against the Uruguayan Select Team. The group then crossed the river to Buenos Aires, where they conducted a similar clinic and took on the Argentine Select Team, comprised of the best from the nation’s 12 club teams.

Though Candaele admits that American football is far from the national pastime in Argentina and Uruguay, the game is expanding year-by-year. “American football has become a thing to do across Europe and now South America,” says Candaele. “Teams are springing up all over. It’s not going to take the place of soccer but it’s another alternative and the kids that play it are really excited about it.”
While they successfully completed their goal of sharing their football expertise, the Stags weren’t finished. After building a relationship with the Uruguayan coaches, Candaele made what is likely a first-ever acquisition for Division III college football. Gonzalo Techera, who Candaele calls “the Vince Lombardi of Uruguay,” has obtained a six-month visa and will join the CMS staff from the Montevideo Golden Bulls this fall.

After an interesting and successful summer, Retzlaff and the team look forward to starting their season on Saturday. Make sure to come out and support your Stags!

– Gordon Voit