Urban Meyer returns

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Ohio State NCAA college football head coach Urban Meyer gestures while speaking at a press conference in Columbus, Ohio, Monday, Sept. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Mitch Stacy)

Ohio State NCAA college football head coach Urban Meyer gestures while speaking at a press conference in Columbus, Ohio, Monday, Sept. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Mitch Stacy)

Ohio State’s Meyer moves toward repairing scandal damage


AP Sports Writer

Tuesday, September 18

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said he has sent letters and had conversations with families of players as a key step toward containing and repairing the scandal that led to his three-game suspension, a saga he describes as “a window in time I made an error.”

He acknowledged Monday that the program’s reputation has suffered and said he hopes more clarity about what happened will help mitigate the damage.

In what normally would have been a press conference about the week’s football game, the Ohio State coach met for nearly an hour with reporters who questioned him about his mismanagement of fired assistant Zach Smith and his resulting suspension after a university investigation.

“I think there was,” Meyer said when asked whether the program was damaged. He said the letters and talks with families of players were to assuage concerns that he turned his back on domestic violence allegations.

“The damage, I believe, is that we just went through a really hard time, and I made a mistake in helping a troubled employee, went too far in trying to help someone,” Meyer said.

Beyond his players, Meyer’s explanations and actions have ramifications with potential recruits. Four-star linebacker Kane Patterson from Tennessee already rescinded his commitment to Ohio State since Meyer was suspended.

Meyer reiterated his contention that he didn’t ignore or cover up domestic abuse allegations against Smith, who was fired in July. Smith denies abusing his wife, Courtney Smith, and was never charged or prosecuted for domestic violence. Meyer said his mistake was not asking more questions about their situation and instead trying to help Zach Smith keep his job so he could continue to support his family.

He also again denied lying to reporters about his knowledge of 2015 allegations against Smith, saying that he “misspoke.” Ohio State’s investigative report found that Meyer intended to keep details of Smith’s troubles private when asked by reporters.

“I’m going to keep saying if for the rest of my life, this was about trying to help an employee with work related issues. It was not about lying to the media,” Meyer said.

Meyer was asked about memory issues cited by the report as a reason why he might not have remembered specific conversations. He said he’s had some medical issues that required some “pretty heavy meds at time,” but said “I’m very healthy” and none of those issues would affect his running of the program.

Meyer was put on paid leave on Aug. 1, two days before the Buckeyes opened fall camp as the university launched its investigation.

That probe found that Meyer had for years tolerated misbehavior from Smith, who is the grandson of former Ohio State coach and Meyer mentor Earle Bruce. Meyer was suspended on Aug. 22. He was allowed to return to practice on Sept. 3, but could not be on the sideline for the first three games, which the Buckeyes won behind acting coach Ryan Day.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith — no relation to Zach Smith — was suspended for two weeks.

Meyer will be back on the sideline for Saturday’s home game against Tulane.

NOTES: All-American defensive end Nick Bosa will be held out of Saturday’s game because of a lower abdomen/groin injury suffered in the 40-28 win over TCU. He was having more tests Monday. … Defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones was named Big Ten defensive player of the week.

Follow Mitch Stacy at http://twitter.com/mitchstacy

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Scott Frost keeping eye on Huskers’ response to tough start


AP College Football Writer

Monday, September 17

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Minutes after his team lost to Troy to drop to 0-2, Nebraska coach Scott Frost struck an ominous tone when he announced to reporters he had just told his team in the locker room that if any player “doesn’t want to stay on for this ride, let me know and get off.”

Frost said Monday that he didn’t mean to suggest he’s seen signs of players giving up or having their own agendas.

“I just want to get ahead of it,” he said. “Coming into Nebraska and hearing how things went down last year, I want to make sure nobody decides to go off on their own. We’re all in this together. There is a lot that had to be fixed. We’ve fixed a lot of it. There’s still a lot more to be fixed.”

Frost’s postgame remark illustrates how mentally fragile he found the team he took over. The Huskers lost four straight to end last year’s 4-8 season, giving up more than 50 points in the last three games.

The team he inherited was woefully out of shape, and he immediately put into place a demanding strength and conditioning program. He also installed an entirely new offense and a defense predicated on passion and aggression. An air of confidence permeated inside and outside the program from the spring through fall camp.

But the first three weeks of the season have been a test. First, the opener against Akron was canceled right after the opening kickoff because of severe weather. Then came a loss to Colorado , and then another to the Trojans of the Sun Belt Conference.

Giving up might have been an option before. Not now, Frost said. The Huskers open Big Ten play on Saturday at No. 19 Michigan (2-1). Another loss would be a seventh straight and ninth in 10 games since last year and make Nebraska 0-3 for the first time since 1945.

The Huskers are one of the most penalized teams in the nation, none of their special teams ranks higher than 80th and they are second-to-last in turnover margin.

More than ever, Frost said, the players need to be committed to his plan.

“It’s details. That’s been our message to the team,” he said. “It’s not on the field. It’s deciding whether to make it to class and deciding whether to be dressed the right way at meetings and deciding whether or not to go home and go to bed and get sleep instead of doing something else. Champions make good decisions in every single decision they have. Average people, average teams don’t make those decisions. Little things lead to big things, and we’re going to get it right.”

Offensive lineman Tanner Farmer said the message was received. As a senior, he said, it’s his job to hold teammates responsible and to teach them what it takes to be committed.

Farmer said he’s learned a lot about himself through the process, pointing out that he thought he could work just as hard as he did in high school and achieve the same results as a collegian.

“If you succeed in high school, you’ve got to be ready to amp it up, go even harder,” he said. “I don’t have free time. I’m up dusk till dawn dedicating myself to football and schoolwork. I make sure I’m passing my classes, and I want to do everything I can and extra stuff — go to yoga, watch more film. That’s what it takes. You don’t really get a social life during football season. Either leave it or take it.”

Cornerback Dicaprio Bootle said that even though he believes the team is mostly holding together through the tough start, Frost’s point is taken.

“No one on this team is outright against what we’re doing and where we’re trying to go,” Bootle said.

Linebacker Mohamed Barry said the 0-2 start should motivate him and his teammates to challenge themselves to be better.

“We are this close from being that team,” he said, holding up his right thumb and index finger close together. “Y’all see it and you know we’re not the same team as last year. When we get that taste of winning, it’s going to be great things that happen this season. We have to get the first one and it’s going to be good.”

More AP college football: https://apnews.com/tag/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

BC returns to AP Top 25 trying to ignore accolades


AP Sports Writer

Monday, September 17

BOSTON (AP) — For a guy who’s never been the head coach of a ranked team before, Steve Addazio knew just what to say.

The Boston College coach didn’t want to talk about the Eagles’ elevation to No. 23 in The Associated Press Top 25 this week, sticking with his belief that it is too early in the season to be worried about such things.

“Hey, listen: It’s better than the alternative,” Addazio said Monday as he turned his attention to this weekend’s game against Purdue. “Those are things that you like to see at the end of the year, then reflect back on it. … It means that so far things have gone well.”

With a 41-34 win in its Atlantic Coast Conference opener against Wake Forest on Thursday — the Eagles’ third straight game of 40 or more points — BC is undefeated through three games for the first time since Matt Ryan led them to the first of back-to-back conference championship games in 2007.

“Honestly, it’s still not where we want it to be as a start,” said quarterback Anthony Brown, who threw for career highs of 304 yards and five touchdowns against the Demon Deacons. “We’re still pushing to make history at this school. And that starts with just preparing for Purdue this week and trying to execute enough to get to 4-0.”

Addazio has worked at top-tier football schools as an assistant, including serving as an assistant on the Florida staff when the Gators won a pair of national championships, then as the head man at Temple from 2011-12.

He came to Chestnut Hill in 2013, taking over a program that was coming off a 2-10 record and leading the Eagles to back-to-back bowl games — both losses — before they went winless in the ACC in 2015. A victory in the 2016 Quick Lane Bowl gave hope that he had turned things around, but it wasn’t until the Eagles won five of six games to finish the regular season last year that optimism began to really rise in Chestnut Hill.

Now, after victories over overmatched UMass and Holy Cross, the win at Wake Forest made Addazio the head coach of a top 25 team for the first time.

“I definitely think that in the five years I’ve been here, this group of guys is probably the best team I’ve been on,” said linebacker Connor Strachan, who had 15 tackles against Wake Forest. “It’s fun to be around guys like this, that this is their world. They all have the same mindset as you.”

And that mindset, for most, doesn’t include midseason rankings.

“I really haven’t even wasted one second thinking about it,” Addazio said, calling it “just one more distraction.”

“I think our guys are wired pretty good. They know that’s like Kool-Aid, don’t drink that now. Just go about your business,” he said. “They’ve been through the meat grinder, this team. … These seniors know where they’ve come from, what they’ve gone through, what the focus is.”

Addazio said the coaches did not mention the rankings to the team Monday — even to tell the players to ignore them. He did acknowledge they could have a benefit if it gets the fan base excited about a program that has suffered from a lack of enthusiasm.

Running back A.J. Dillon said that can be big for the team and the school itself.

“We always talk about representing ourselves, our families, and the university,” said Dillon, who is an early Heisman Trophy contender after running for 432 yards and four touchdowns in about seven quarters. “It’s kind of a great feeling to know we’re doing well, we’re shining a light on them.”

More AP college football: https://apnews.com/tag/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Herman put trust in Texas defense on big goal-line stand


AP Sports Writer

Monday, September 17

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas coach Tom Herman had a tough choice to make.

Trailing Southern California 14-13, he could leave the Trojans on the Longhorns’ 1-yard line or push them back 5 yards because of a penalty, which would give them an extra down at a pivotal moment in the game.

In his ear was defensive coordinator Todd Orlando, pleading with him to trust his defense to keep the Trojans out of the end zone.

“Coach, we got this. We got this. We’ll stop ‘em,” Orlando told Herman.

Herman chose 4th-and-1. And he won, both the moment and the game and maybe a whole lot more. Texas (2-1) responded with a goal-line stand that completely swung momentum and launched the Longhorns to a 37-14 win, a critical victory in Herman’s second year in Austin.

“Our players did not disappoint us,” Herman said Monday.

Texas turned away the Trojans when Brandon Jones, who had given up a big pass play a few minutes earlier, beat USC running back Stephen Carr to the edge and shoved him out of bounds. After scoring touchdowns on their first two drives, the Trojans were shut out the rest of the way.

“We weren’t going to let them run the ball in,” Texas defensive end Charles Omenihu said after the game. “We said we were going to bow up, bite our mouthpiece down and get nasty in there.”

Herman emphasized the moment and the trust the coaching staff had in the players when they met Sunday.

“It was neat to see the looks in their eyes,” Herman said. “The light bulb went (on). That’s not to say that some great epiphany is going to carry us into the wild blue yonder, but it was a step in the building of our program in terms of proving again that we believe in them and we trust them, and they can trust us.”

The goal-line stand ignited a defense that struggled early against USC freshman quarterback J.T. Daniels. The unit buckled down to hold the Trojans to minus-5 yards rushing, which turned linebackers loose to chase Daniels around the backfield.

The defense faces a different challenge this week in the all-around team speed of No. 17 TCU in the Big 12 opener for both teams The Horned Frogs have beaten Texas handily the last four years, but are coming off a 40-28 loss to No. 4 Ohio State. TCU lead the Buckeyes in the third quarter but gave up two touchdowns off turnovers and had a punt blocked.

Darius Anderson scored two touchdowns. His 93-yard TD was the longest play from scrimmage against the Buckeyes in Ohio State history.

Herman noted how fast Anderson and the Horned Frogs can get to the end zone and from sideline to sideline.

“TCU has speed everywhere,” Herman said. “It’s as fast of a defense as I’ve seen in a long time.”

More AP college football: https://apnews.com/tag/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Follow Jim Vertuno on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JimVertuno

Steelers plan to talk to Brown about social media usage

By The Associated Press

Tuesday, September 18

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Mike Tomlin doesn’t like talking about the way his players use social media. The Pittsburgh Steelers coach would prefer to stick to football.

Antonio Brown, however, isn’t giving his boss much choice.

Tomlin said he plans to speak to the All-Pro wide receiver “directly” after Brown caused a bit of a commotion — again — by taking to Twitter to vent after a former team employee suggested Brown’s stardom is a result of playing with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Brown responded by tweeting “trade me let’s find out.” When asked Tuesday if one of the NFL’s most dynamic players has asked to be moved, Tomlin responded “no, no” and laughed.

Still, Tomlin believes the seemingly incessant inquiries about Brown’s online behavior is growing tiresome.

“It’s important that we understand our position, the light that shines on us and the responsibility that comes with it,” Tomlin said.

Tomlin plans to provide Brown with a reminder on Wednesday when the team returns to practice. He wasn’t able to on Monday because Brown did not show up for work.

Tomlin declined to say whether Brown’s absence was excused, though in the past Tomlin has typically offered an explanation when a player is out.

Brown caught nine passes for 67 yards in a 42-37 loss to Kansas City on Sunday that dropped Pittsburgh to 0-1-1. He has 18 receptions for 160 yards and a touchdown through two games, a pace that would easily have him top 100 receptions for a sixth straight season.

Yet Brown has struggled at times to keep his emotions in check, be it on social media or on the sideline. Cameras caught him venting in the second half against Kansas City, and when Roethlisberger dived into the end zone for a 3-yard score that drew the Steelers within five points on Sunday, Brown walked slowly off the field while his teammates celebrated.

Tomlin downplayed Brown’s sideline behavior, calling “negative exchanges” the byproduct of not playing well as a whole. The Steelers are off to their worst start since 2013, when they dropped their first four games and missed the playoffs.

Brown’s in-game behavior has long been a flashpoint. He famously punched a Gatorade bucket in Baltimore last September and more than once had semi-heated exchanges with former offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Roethlisberger isn’t worried about Brown’s outburst on Sunday .

“I think it was just frustration,” Roethlisberger said during his weekly appearance on 93.7 The Fan. “He’s a competitor, and he wants to be the best in the world, and he probably is the best in the world. So he wants to make every play and catch every ball and every touchdown, which is what every player wants to do.”

Every player, however, has not regularly forced the Steelers to either reprimand him — Brown drew a strong rebuke from Tomlin after livestreaming a locker room celebration following a playoff victory over Kansas City in 2017 — or issue an apology, as the club did last week when Brown threatened an ESPN reporter on Twitter for the way he was portrayed in a story.

Tomlin suspended former wide receiver Martavis Bryant for a game last season after Bryant went on Instagram and said he should be playing ahead of rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster.

Tomlin said that situation is different because it was one player going after another as opposed to Brown’s latest episodes.

Brown will almost certainly be available next Monday when Pittsburgh travels to surprising Tampa Bay (2-0).

“He’s been a significant reason why we’ve been successful around here,” Tomlin said of Brown. “He’s going to continue to be.”

NOTES: RG David DeCastro (fractured right hand), CB Joe Haden (hamstring) and DT Tyson Alualu (shoulder), who all sat out last week, could return to play against the Buccaneers. … RT Marcus Gilbert (hamstring) and LG Ramon Foster (knee) will be monitored throughout the week. … Tomlin said it’s possible the team could work out punters with Jordan Berry struggling. Berry has a net average of 34.8 through two weeks, a full 5 yards lower than his net average in 2017.

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/tag/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Renewed push to protect QBs has defenders stumped


AP Pro Football Writer

Tuesday, September 18

Pass rushers like Clay Matthews are stumped as to what constitutes a clean hit on quarterbacks anymore. Lending a sympathetic ear is none other than Mike Zimmer, one of the biggest beneficiaries of the league’s renewed emphasis on protecting the passer.

“It’s pretty difficult,” the coach of the Minnesota Vikings said. “You’ve got a target area the size of a strike zone.”

So, from the top of the knees to the armpits.

No lower legs. No neck. No head.

“And then you can’t fall on top of them,” added Zimmer.

So, they’ve got to break the quarterback’s fall or at least do a “gator roll,” where they basically pull the quarterback on top of them as they land.

Do all that in the blink of an eye and there won’t be a flag negating the game-sealing interception like Matthews was hit with Sunday, allowing the Vikings to escape Lambeau Field with a 29-29 tie instead of a loss.

To be clear, the rule outlawing defenders from landing on the quarterback has been in the books since 1995, but the league’s competition committee made it a point of emphasis this year.

And while Matthews wasn’t whistled specifically for that, the league’s emphasis on roughing the passer appeared to play a role in the game-altering whistle that erased rookie Jaire Alexander’s interception of Kirk Cousins with 1:37 remaining in the fourth quarter with Green Bay ahead 29-21.

Referee Tony Corrente explained that when Matthews “hit the quarterback, he lifted him and drove him into the ground.”

Many critics didn’t buy that explanation or the justifications for the more than 30 times roughing the quarterback has been called in the first two weekends of the season.

“I love the NFL – but it’s crazy the #s being put up by QBs & WRs due to fact that D can’t hit them anymore & can’t lay hands on them downfield,” tweeted Kurt Warner, the architect of the “Greatest Show on Turf” that put up its own big numbers.

“Everyone is running free the entire game (or it’s a penalty)! Don’t get me wrong I LOVE Offense, but better when it’s a fair fight.”

Other takeaways from Week 2 include the realization that not even his grandma is safe from Jalen Ramsey’s trash talk; Marquette King got the last laugh on Jon Gruden after the Broncos’ 20-19 win over the Raiders; kickers who can’t cut it get cut; and Vontae Davis gave new meaning to walking away from the game.


Ramsey, the Jaguars star cornerback and one of the league’s most outspoken personalities said he “definitely would” hit his grandmother if she lined up against him on the football field.

“To respect the game, you have to play it fierce,” Ramsey said. “I don’t believe in having friends on the field. I mean, my brother, my dad, my mom, grandma was out there, like it’s on. After the game, we can be cool. It doesn’t matter. That’s how I feel, like, you’ve got to respect the game of football.

“Football is not a game meant to be played being nice to each other and all that, like kumbaya. After the game’s over with, that’s cool.”

Ramsey wouldn’t really hit his grandmother, would he?

“No, I definitely would,” he said. “She knows that. My grandma knows that. I love you, but she knows that.”

Ramsey added that granny “might not get up from one of my licks.”


Instead of a farewell game, Davis said farewell to the game, walking away during halftime of the Bills’ loss to the Chargers.

The 10-year veteran told his coach he was done and then didn’t accompany his team back onto the field for the second-half kickoff.

Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said he’d never seen anything like it “in Pop Warner, college, pros, never heard of it, never seen it.”

“And it’s just completely disrespectful to his teammates,” Alexander added.

After the game, Davis tweeted that he meant no disrespect to his teammates or coaches, saying, “This isn’t how I pictured retiring from the NFL. … But today on the field, reality hit me hard and fast. I shouldn’t be out there anymore.”


Shortly after Brandon McManus’ field goal with 6 seconds left allowed Denver to escape Gruden’s bid for his first win in Denver, the ex-Raiders punter trolled him on Twitter with a video that included a Chucky doll with dollars stuffed into his clothes, an unmistakable reference to Gruden and the 10-year contract he signed to return to the Raiders this spring.

King was released by the Raiders on March 30 and quickly signed with Denver, saying he was eager to face Gruden twice a year. King said after signing with the Broncos that he hadn’t spoken to Gruden before or after his release, and when he was asked about Gruden last week, he replied, “Who’s that?”


After a weekend that included 19 missed kicks, two kickers lost their jobs Monday.

The Vikings waived rookie Daniel Carlson after he missed all three of his field goal attempts, including two in overtime, in the tie game at Green Bay.

When asked by a reporter how the decision was reached, Zimmer deadpanned, “Did you see the game?”

The Browns released Zane Gonzalez after his four misses in New Orleans prevented Cleveland from winning for the first time since 2016. That came after his potential game-winning field goal in overtime was blocked by the Steelers in the opener.

Gonzalez misfired on two extra points and two field-goal tries, including a 52-yarder in the final seconds, in the Browns 21-18 loss to the Saints.

Some Browns fans weren’t any more accurate than the wayward kicker when they vented at the wrong Zane Gonzalez on Twitter — a graduate assistant baseball coach at the University of Rio Grande who retorted, “Guys, I’m just a college baseball coach. Relax.”

To which one intrepid fan replied, “to be fair you didn’t make those kicks today either.”

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/tag/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

With contributions from AP Sports Writers Mark Long and Tom Withers and AP Pro Football Writer Dave Campbell.

Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

Mixed emotions: Vrabel gets 1st win, Mariota status unclear


AP Pro Football Writer

Monday, September 17

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A game ball for his first victory as an NFL coach is on Mike Vrabel’s desk, and the Tennessee Titans got their first “Victory Monday” off of the season.

The celebration is a bit short-lived while some key starters are rehabbing injuries.

Yes, the Titans (1-1) found a way to beat Houston 20-17 for a much-needed split in their first two games after losing the longest game since the NFL/AFL merger in 1970. Now they prepare for a trip to Jacksonville on Sunday and an early AFC South showdown with the defending division champ Tennessee swept last season before hosting the Philadelphia Eagles on Sept. 30.

But Tennessee might be without starting quarterback Marcus Mariota for a second straight week, and only time will tell if any of the Titans’ top three offensive tackles might be available Sunday against the Jaguars (2-0) as well. Mariota still is having numbness in his right, throwing hand from hurting his elbow in the season opener.

Mariota watched from the sideline, active and dressed. Vrabel said Mariota physically remains about where the quarterback was Friday or Saturday when the Titans decided to start backup Blaine Gabbert instead of Mariota.

“I think and I’m hopeful that it’ll improve as quickly as possible,” Vrabel said of Mariota on Monday.

That puts Gabbert in line for a second straight start, this against the team that drafted him at No. 10 overall in 2011 no less. It wouldn’t be his first game against his old team. Gabbert led Arizona to a victory last November over the Jaguars, and he said this isn’t his first rodeo.

“I’ve been in a lot of different situations. I’m always ready to go,” Gabbert said. “Whether you’re a starter or a backup, 13-guy, you’ve got to have the same routine, week-in and week-out. Otherwise, you have nothing to fall back on when your number is called. I just stuck to my routine, prepared the same way as I always have, and just stuck with that.”

Vrabel said right tackle Dennis Kelly, who has been filling in while starter Jack Conklin recovers from the left ACL torn in January, has been released from the hospital after dealing with an undisclosed illness. Vrabel said Conklin should do more at practice this week, while two-time Pro Bowl Taylor Lewan is progressing in the concussion protocol.

“When that guy’s ready, we’ll put him in the game,” Vrabel said.

The coach and his assistants showed in their win over Houston that they could find ways for the Titans to score points and move the ball even missing several key starters.

The Titans used a fake punt for a 66-yard touchdown pass , and Derrick Henry ran the wildcat for a handful of snaps on Tennessee’s lone TD drive. Defensively, the Titans came up with four sacks and an interception. They also limited Deshaun Watson to a final completion that proved meaningless as the clock expired.

Linebacker Brian Orakpo called it a great one, two, three punch.

“I’m definitely excited for this team overall,” Orakpo said. “We finally came out on the right end, and we’re trying to get back to the winning ways. We still have a long way to go and a long road ahead of us, but I’m excited because it was a big divisional win and coach Vrabel’s first win. Very exciting.”

Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/tag/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Ohio State NCAA college football head coach Urban Meyer gestures while speaking at a press conference in Columbus, Ohio, Monday, Sept. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Mitch Stacy)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/09/web1_121385633-c5d043ee865049fc881777d27af61723.jpgOhio State NCAA college football head coach Urban Meyer gestures while speaking at a press conference in Columbus, Ohio, Monday, Sept. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Mitch Stacy)

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