February 3, 2011

Super Bowl XLV Betting: Pittsburgh Steelers Players to Watch

Should the Pittsburgh Steelers really complete the “Stairway to Seven” this year and clinch Super Bowl XLV, they are going to need a few key players to step up and make a huge impact. Here is the list of the Top 5 men in black and gold that we think are going to be pivotal for the Steelers to beat the Super Bowl XLV odds.

Ben Roethlisberger: It almost goes without saying that the Steelers are going to need a big time game out of Big Ben, but history doesn’t really suggest that he needs to be the dynamo to take the Lombardi Trophy. He really didn’t play all that well in either of the two Super Bowl triumphs for the Steelers in the past, but the difference this year is that he is dealing with a young, inexperienced offensive line and a running game that doesn’t know what it is like to drive the ball down the throats of the competitor when it really counts the most. Roethlisberger has probably the most explosive set of receivers that he has ever had, as WR Mike Wallace has really excelled as a deep threat, while WR Hines Ward and TE Heath Miller are really like the “Old Reliable” men of the bunch. We don’t think that Big Ben needs to throw for 300 yards or four TDs to win this game, but he needs to continue to direct the offense and keep track of the football without turning it over too many times. A 230 yard performance with a TD and no picks is a great game for Roethlisberger.

Rashard Mendenhall: Here’s another “duh” statement. Mendenhall has already handled the pigskin over 400 times this year in 18 games, and he is inevitably going to be called upon another 20-25 times at minimum on Sunday in the biggest game of the year. This is a man that virtually never fumbles, and he is always very tough to take down, especially in space. The former member of the Illinois Fighting Illini isn’t known for his flashy runs, as he only had one carry of more than 38 yards all season long, but he is certainly a load to tackle when he is slamming the ball right up the gut. There might not be a man that is better in short yardage situations in the entire league than Mendenhall, and his effectiveness is going to be the key to victory on Sunday.

Maurkice Pouncey: Never before has the play of an offensive lineman been so important, especially one that is a rookie. Pouncey has been dealing with an ankle injury since the second half of the AFC Championship Game against the New York Jets, and he has really been a topic of conversation in Dallas. The rookie from the University of Florida made the Pro Bowl this year as a first year man, something that is unheard of, especially for a man in the middle of the offensive line that rarely gets all that much praise. Still, we know that the big DT BJ Raji is going to be staring either Pouncey or his backup OL Doug Legursky right in the face, and we know that the former Boston College Eagle is going to be all over the place trying to make life a living hell on these offensive linemen. With both outside tackles already out of the fold, the Steelers need to be able to anchor down the middle of the O-Line. If Pouncey can do that, they’re going to be in great shape. If not, Roethlisberger had better have his life insurance policy paid up.

James Farrior: Ok, we know that LB LaMarr Woodley and LB James Harrison are the sack masters of the bunch and that LB Lawrence Timmons is really the next great up and coming Pittsburgh middle linebacker, but Farrior is the key man in this rush defense for the Steelers. He is the one that is either going to push RB James Starks out to Harrison or Woodley for cleaning up, or he is the one that is going to stuff the rookie out of Buffalo right in his tracks in the middle of the line of scrimmage. The battle between the interior offensive line for the Packers and the combination of Farrior and Timmons should be very, very interesting. Head Coach Mike Tomlin knows that there might not be a more important man to his defense’s effort to beat the Super Bowl betting lines than Farrior.

Troy Polamalu: How could we leave out the Defensive Player of the Year from this discussion? Polamalu might be the legitimate MVP of the entire league, and he has proven it just by when he has been in and out of the lineup in recent years. When he missed the majority of the middle of last season, the Steelers were getting blown to bits by teams like the Cleveland Browns and the Oakland Raiders. With him back in the lineup, they once again have a legit Top 5 defense. There aren’t any players that can really cover the same type of ground as Polamalu can in a short period of time, and this is a safety that is clearly great both in coverage and in blitz packages, and if the runs are consistent up the middle and the linebackers aren’t getting into the hole quick enough, you can bet that the wild haired safety is going to be right there. Polamalu needs to be at full strength and at his best, and if he is, Pittsburgh is going to have a very tough ‘D’ to stop.

Students publish symphony-inspired storybook

The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV) March 2, 2011 | Clint Thomas cthomas@cnpapers.com 304-348-1232 As part of the Arts Integration Program administered through Regional Education Services Agencies (RESA) III and the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, one class at Flinn Elementary School has achieved recent literary acclaim.

The second-grade students in Sharon Adkins’ class signed copies of their self-written and illustrated book, “The Three Little Pigs Visit West Virginia,” on the afternoon of Feb. 22 at the Sissonville area school.

At the book-signing event, Flinn Principal Maria Bird explained that the school was approached by RESA officials last summer to participate in the learning program. “It was amazingly beneficial,” she said.

In November, Robyn Hood Black, author of “Wolves,” visited Flinn and students and teachers visited one of four symphony performances in Charleston for nearly 5,000 state students. At the concert, they were treated to orchestral arrangements of “Take Me Home, Country Roads” and “The West Virginia Hills” by WVSO Artistic Director and Conductor Grant Cooper. Cooper has also composed “Song of the Wolf,” a symphonic reimagining of the classic fairy tale “The Three Little Pigs.” After the concert, teachers received the WVSO’s interactive CD- ROMs of lesson plans, resource links and creative writing prompts. creativewritingpromptsnow.net creative writing prompts

Thus artistically and academically inspired, the children in Adkins’ class began collaborating on their book last semester, a retelling of “The Three Little Pigs” set in the Mountain State. The fanciful story included vignettes at the New River Gorge Bridge, Cass Railroad and other notable state venues.

“Our program was used a springboard for telling a common story in a different way,” Cooper said at last week’s assembly in the school library. “In this case, it was the story of ‘The Three Little Pigs.’ They used a combination of words and artwork to create a story centered around West Virginia. in our site creative writing prompts

“We’ve heard over and over from teachers about their amazement at the children’s creativity. Through music being such a concept- oriented language, the students are able to advance their conceptual thinking,” said Cooper.

Along with Cooper, speakers at last week’s reception included RESA Director Chuck Nichols, RESA Staff Development Director Linda Andresen and WVSO Educational Operations Vice President Betty King.

Nichols commended Adkins and the young authors and mentioned that the youths’ signed copies of “The Three Little Pigs Visit West Virginia” would be distributed to officials at this month’s Kanawha County Board of Education meeting.

“We did a variety of things in my class,” Adkins explained last week. “We studied information about West Virginia, tourist attractions, the state bird, those types of things. We used tourism information I picked up at tourist booths. Then we started reading ‘The Alaskan Three Little Pigs’ and decided to bring them to West Virginia for a vacation.

“We brainstormed the characters, drew them, named them and decided what kind of characters they would be,” the teacher said. “We did a little bit of research on the Internet of the places we would use in the story. We started writing on the Smartboard. We’d write a while, read and edit it and plug in some adjectives. I typed it all, and made sure there was a page each child could illustrate.” After each student received his or her own copy of the book, second-grader Jordan Phillips read passages aloud to the audience.

The student authors were Timmy Bailey, Sydney Beckett, Olivia Blount, Steven Carpenter, Hank Comer, Abigail Cunningham, Elijah Goodwin, Emily Jones, Kaylee Jones, Blake Lane, Chris Martin, Macy McKnight, Colin Milam, Logan Monk, Kevin Parsons, Jordan Phillips, Alyssa Soblit, Megan Thaxton, Brandon Shaffer, Authum Shrader and Taylor Slater.

“Their published book will be a milestone in their educational journey,” Adkins said, “because I think it’ll mean something to them for their entire lives.” RESA III encompasses schools in Kanawha, Putnam, Boone and Clay counties. Other elementary schools that have participated this year in the RESA III/WVSO Arts Integration program include Watts, Eastbrook, Whitesville, Clay and Big Otter.

Metro photo by CLINT THOMAS Jordan Phillips shows off the cover of a book written by students of Sharon Adkins at Flinn Elementary School this school year. The students signed copies of the book on Feb. 22 at a program that featured West Virginia Symphony Orchestra Artistic Directo Clint Thomas

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