There are plenty of parallels to draw between the University of Georgia’s football team and its Ultimate frisbee team. In the summer and early fall of 2008 it appeared that UGA’s football team appeared to have all the pieces to the puzzle. Many thought that the Bulldogs were a lock to at least go on to the National Championship, if not win the whole thing.
In the fall of 2008 and spring of 2009 talk ran rampant on RSD and other Ultimate forums about Jojah’s shot at a national title this season. It seemed that they had all the pieces. An experienced core, nationals experience and a young group of ambitious freshmen and sophomores that could fill in and provide parks of energy for the experienced upper classmen.
Both teams also sprinted out of the gates with a hot start. Jojah defeated Regional rivals Florida at Florida Warm Up and followed that performance up witha tournament win at Queen City Tune Up. However, just like their counterparts of the gridiron, Jojah faltered throughout the season, struggling at national tournaments like The Stanford Invite and Huck Finn.
However, unlike the Bulldogs of the football field, the Bulldogs with the plastic disc did not misstep going into their important postseason. Where the football lost to Georgia Tech, Jojah won the GA/SC Sectionals going away. Perhaps even more importantly, the Georgia student athletes on scholarship did not have a player like Peter Dempsey returning to the field just in time for the most important tournament, the UPA Atlantic Coast Regionals in Charlotte this weekend, of the season so far.
Dempsey hasn’t played in a tournament since March 29 at College Easterns and he’s returning with the intent to drag his team kicking and screaming to Nationals. Dempsey is a game changing defender and can initiate the Bulldog offense from downfield or from the handler spot. There are few players in the nation that mean as much as Dempsey does or are as talented as Dempsey is.
A lesser player may be concerned about trying to kick back into high gear with only one week of practice but Dempsey is positive that he’ll be ready to play this weekend.
“I’m not too worried about being rusty, honestly,” Dempsey wrote us in an e-mail. “I have only been out two weeks and I have played for long enough now that having a full week of practice will get me back in the swing of things. Plus, it’s not like I haven’t been able to throw a frisbee while I was hurt.”
It helps that Dempsey is returning after Jojah’s best performance in quite some time. While he was quick to admit that the sideline is “no fun,” if he had to spend a tournament on the sideline, Sectionals was the one to do it.
“I really couldn’t have hoped for anything better at Sectionals,” Dempsey wrote. “We played well, we played smart, we didn’t make many mistakes. Our offense only got broken twice the whole weekend and our defense did its job. Overall, we just took care of business.”
That being said, Dempsey realizes there is a large jump from Sectionals to Regionals and that the Bulldogs will have to be ready to make that jump in their effort in order to compete.
“The level of competition at Sectionals wasn’t exactly like what we’ve been playing most of the year, but a win is a win,” Dempsey wrote. “We still have a lot to prove this weekend against the stiffer competition.”
In an effort to prepare for that more talented field Jojah has been working on using all different kinds of defensive styles during practice in order to keep other teams on their toes.
“We will be throwing lots of different looks this weekend,” Dempsey wrote. “We have a host of different defenses that are effective that we like running.”
Dempsey also related that Jojah, much like other college teams, will be depending a spread offense to move the disc on offense.
There is no easy road to a Nationals bid for any team in the AC Region this year and Georgia is no exception to that rule. Dempsey understands and accepts that fact, in fact, it appears that he may even revel in it.
“I expect us to show up ready for a fight,” Dempsey wrote. “We certainly think we are good enough for a bid to Natties, but we know that nothing is going to come easy this weekend. We know that nobody gives us a chance. That’s fine. I’d love to surprise some people.”
So, while their seasons seem to be inexplicably intertwined thus far, Demspey and company have aims to draw a distinct line between Jojah’s season and Georgia football’s season.
“We are ready for this weekend,” Dempsey wrote. “Everyone on our roster is healthy for the first time this season and we are hungry. We have never been the team that was the ‘prettiest.’ We have just always wanted it more. We are ready.”