Tony Caridi provided a strong hint of things to come for West Virginia football fortunes when, while speaking in Fairmont prior to the 2005 season, he advised Mountaineer fans to keep a close eye on No. 2 for the Gold and Blue team. The WVU sportscaster predicted that Darius Reynaud would be a player who would be providing a few surprises to Mountaineer fans who, at the time, were unaware of the full potential of quarterback Patrick White and were completely in the dark about the explosive talents of running back Steve Slaton. …

Well, after the two most recent victories against Maryland and East Carolina, those fans who didn’t recall the two big first quarter touchdowns Reynaud accounted for against Georgia in the Sugar Bowl and who may have forgotten the spark he added at intervals during the team’s impressive 2005 season, are aware of his presence now. He has become the team’s “big play” man, perhaps by deed more than choice. Caridi certainly knew about Reynaud’s amazing speed which has made him one hard-to-catch Mountaineer when going full speed. …

One problem in having the nation’s fourth-rated squad is that when it fails to blow an opponent out, as happened down in Greenville, N. C. Saturday, the critics begin questioning that perhaps WVU is over-rated. Humbug! Let’s wait until one of the Mountaineers’ future opponents comes out on top before worrying about the over-rated factor. … Rich Rodriguez’s team answered the challenge presented by East Carolina and caused some true disappointment among coach Skip Holtz and his upset-minded Pirates football squad. …

The Pirates defense did an excellent job of stopping Steve Slaton (80 yards in 24 carries) as Mountaineer fans are aware, but it often took three, four and five players to bring him down. It was good to see Patrick White make good use of his passing arm (216 yards and two touchdowns) but East Carolina has his number when it comes to interceptions. They picked him off twice last year and three times Saturday. Ouch! …

We were glad to see Rusty Elliott’s Fighting Falcons finally post that elusive first victory. Now let’s hope they enjoy that sweet taste of victory and can pull of a few more. … But East Fairmont’s loss to Bridgeport, although not unexpected, was disappointing nonetheless. The Busy Bees, however, could reel off four straight wins and take a 7-2 record into the annual City Championship game with the Polar Bears. …

Syd Thrift, the Pirate general manager who was responsible for hiring Jim Leyland as manager and bringing in such stars as Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla, Doug Drabek, Andy Van Slyke and Mike LaValliere, died last week of a heart attack after undergoing knee replacement surgery. ...

“He's the guy who gave me my chance,” now Tiger skipper Leyland said. “He was the one guy who believed in me. I'm forever indebted to him.”

Also passing away was Frank “Muddy” Waters, whose Hillsdale College teams gave Fairmont State coach Deacon Duvall an idea of what he needed to be on that level. Hillsdale dumped Deacon’s 1961 team, 59-6. Several years later Fairmont State gained sweet revenge (2014 in 1968) with local attorney Ken Miller at quarterback. ... Muddy was 83. ...

Fairmont State coach Rusty Elliott said of 6-4, 310-pound freshman lineman Kyle Knight in his pre-season civic club address that “he could block a building if necessary. ... Mary Ostrowski, arguably the finest female basketball player in the state’s history, has been inducted into the University of Tennessee Lady Vols Hall of Fame. Led by the Parkersburg native, Tennessee reached the NCAA Final Four three times during her career. ...

Did you know that Pirates rookie Carlos Maldanano spent 10 years in the minor leagues before finally getting a chance in the ”bigs” when Pittsburgh called him up last week? ... The Atlanta Braves 14-year run on the NL playoffs finally has ended. That was an amazing streak but it had to end sometime. ...

It’s amazing how no-hit, no-run baseball pitching performances are sometimes turned in by pitchers no one has ever heard of. Such as Anibal Sanchez of the Florida Marlins recently against the Arizona Diamondbacks. “This is the best moment of my life,” Sanchez said. “You never think that’s going to happen.” This was the baseball’s first no-no in two years.

E-mail John Veasey at jcveasey@timeswv.com.

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