A TALE OF TWO TOWNS; Chapter 3
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
This third and last chapter in a serial article takes an in-depth look at Pitt’s new transfer QB Ricky Town’s backstory and it is an interesting one. Usually when a player comes onto a school’s roster one takes a glance at where and when he played his previous football and then moves on. But in this case the more I read about Ricky Town the more interested, and then fascinated, I became so I started making phone calls to satisfy my curiosity about the young man. From there I felt his was a story that was waiting to be told in deeper terms.
In the first two chapters of this story about transfer quarterback Ricky Town Jr we wrote about Pitt’s football program and its history with in-transfer players under Head Coach Pat Narduzzi since his hire in 2015. We covered the quarterback situation Pitt was faced with during the 2017 season when transfer Max Brown came to Pitt from the University of Southern California to be the starter only to play well below expectations and then get injured in the sixth game.
That led to QB Ben DiNucci being called on and later the staff deciding to start the wunderkind true freshman QB Kenny Pickett for the last two regular season games, including a big upset of #2 Miami in the last game. Our five wins and seven losses showed what could happen when a starting QB goes down and the back-up QB isn’t talented enough to carry the team.
We also discussed Ricky Town’s course toward college ball as laid out by his father, Ricky Town Sr and Town’s difficult training regime. In this chapter we will continue that thread and look at what transpired to bring Town, once a 4* recruit and the nation’s #5 ranked QB, on his bumpy road to Pitt.
Ricky’s father did everything possible to turn his son into an “elite” QB from sixth grade on. Between flying 800 miles round trip twice a month to meet with self-proclaimed “QB Guru” Steve Clarkson and then actually moving the whole family to where Clarkson lived and individual practice sessions in his hometown Town Sr steered his son towards big-time college football with a bullet. But a lot of fathers want that for their sons and that isn’t an unusual story. However the extreme lengths at with the Town family went to set Ricky up for success came with a load of problems also. Most of which were emotional and mental as kids at such a young age are truly not equipped to deal with the outside pressures which the transference of wished for stardom from the father to the son brings.
A telling story about very young Ricky Town is that he’d disappear from inside the family home when he was five or six years old and his parents would see him climbing around the back walls with his Spiderman costume on. Then he reappears in the house in his regular clothes again and not mention he was outside. He obviously had a sense of fun and wonderment and felt he could do anything…
“I thought he was going to get hurt,” said Town’s father, Rick Sr. “Then he wouldn’t say a word and he would come back and be in normal clothes and he’d never mention it. It was all the time. He would disappear, you’d see Spiderman out on the wall and then he’d come back in and wouldn’t say a word. He honestly thought he was a superhero. He may still think he is. “
That ‘can do’ belief followed through to his introduction to high school ball when as a starting sophomore he had a year for the ages and Town quickly became a bright spot on almost every major college football program’s radar.
When I called Sportswriter Joe Curley of the Ventura County Star newspaper, who has been covering local high school and college football (along with many other Southern California sports) for over 20+ years to get his take on Ricky Town it was a very interesting conversation. As stated earlier Curley knows Town’s story intimately and has covered Ricky in both his schoolboy career at St. Bonaventure High School and later on when he returned to the area to play for Ventura County Community College (VCC). Curley was, for the most part, positive about Town but he also was honest about Town’s shortcomings over his young career.
Right off the bat he told me that during Town’s sophomore year at St. Bonaventure he was “the best high school quarterback I have ever seen.” Which is pretty heady praise considering Curley’s many years of covering the sport there and with all the great schoolboy football and college QBs who have come from that area.
For example in Town’s first start he complete all ten of his first pass attempts, then finished 11-12 for 160 yards and three TDs in a 48-0 route by St. Bonaventura. His second game was against stronger competition and he went 16-23 for 340 yards and three more TDs. So the great start of his sophomore year had taken place and he continued that play all season long. That was the good beginning…
But Curley also stated that ‘something in Town just changed’ from that great SO year to his “pretty rough” SR year of ball. While Town’s stats were pretty good his SR year it was as if he didn’t seem to want to be out there. Why would that be the case?
A real and present problem for young and super productive high school football players is that they tend to get an inflated sense of themselves and then usually have stage-parents and hangers-on telling them how ‘truly fantastic’ they are. The crucial point here is the fact that most of the adults telling the 16 year olds that are famous college head coaches who have exactly zero interest in the kid’s well being beyond getting him onto their campus and onto their roster as soon as possible.
In the world of college recruiting the biggest and best offers start coming in as early as after the player’s sophomore year which in Town’s case was his by far best… and indeed those big offers started rolling in.
One of the very first letters the Town’s received asking for Ricky’s services, of the 150 they received on the initial day colleges were allowed to contact the recruit (he had over 1,500 letters overall) was from championship producing Head Coach Nick Saban of Alabama. That is pretty heady stuff especially for a kid who just months earlier turned 17 years old and just finished his second year of high school.
This August 2013 Bleacher Report article sums up the positive feeling Town had back then well. Town said this is reference to his commitment to Alabama:
I think that it is a special program, Town said after his first visit to Alabama. It would be an honor to be in a program like Alabama. They are all about creating the overall person, not just the football player. That is what really impressed me.
You are going to be a better football player and young man. That really caught my eye…my dad and I were the only two who came this time. We are going to bring my mom and brother back hopefully for a game.
Let’s take a step back and point out how perfectly Ricky Town’s early high school years and the pursuit by colleges for his playing services shows us the real problem of college football today.
Any young kid, and boys between 11 years old in sixth grade to 16 & 17 years old are very young kids regardless of how well they do something, who have not only their father mapping out a strict road map for jumping over a success bar set way too high in the first place. Then they also have almost every major college in Division 1 football pursuing them with exaggerated and false promises of stardom and championships, and it all puts the player behind the mental 8-ball before he even gets anywhere near a college campus as a student/athlete.
Then a funny thing happened on Town’s way to stardom. Based that great SO year of 2013 Town was invited to be one of the 11 QBs selected for the national “Elite 11” camp. Pitt fans will remember the hype surround Chad Voytik because he was an “Elite 11” QB also. This is a for-profit QB training camp run by Steve Clarkson and Trent Dilfer (of the Baltimore Ravens fame) that singles out 11 HS QBs and invites them for extensive training sessions. This was during the summer between Town’s JR and SR year in high school but something had changed from that good season only a year ago.
The most common theories were that many of these products of the private Southern California quarterback gurus like Clarkson had been coddled over programmed and overhyped at a key time in their development, which often bred a sense of entitlement. Perhaps because of all that there was already plenty of skepticism in the college coaching world brewing around the touted So Cal class of 2015.
Brian Stumpf, who had been scouting talent for the elite 11 and traveling the country while helping run the Nike football training camps for fifteen years, suspected that many talented Southern California quarterback prospects fizzled out due to a “burnout factor with guys who have been in QB training since fifth or sixth grade and going really hard, and maybe that’s pushing some kids away,” he said, “because at that point, you really don’t even know if they truly like football.”
Two of those top three ranked quarterbacks were once groomed by Clarkson. Ricky town Jr., who played at St. Bonaventure in the valley, was originally from Walnut Creek, California in the Bay area a biography of town was still up on the DeBartolo sports website with Steve Clarkson’s logo towns measure bowls were 5’4″, 110 pounds from when he was in the sixth grade.
Which is exactly what Town was going through. His first week at the Elite 11 camp was rough. Here’s more of that quote above:
Nearly everything he threw looked like it was being thrown into a stiff wind. Town’s 7 on 7 team in The Opening’s tournament lost all four games and pool play, but the next day something changed. His team went for now4-0. Both Dilfer and Roth were stunned to see such a turnaround, not just in the way Town threw the ball, but and in how the dour guy who arrived in Oregon had become so upbeat. “I’m finally having fun” Town told Roth…
“Ricky had a greater week an Elite 11 kid has ever had,” Dilfer said. “He told me, ‘Thanks coach this week has changed my life. The breathing (exercises he learned from high-performance psychologist Dr. Michael Gervais). The Perspective. This is the best thing that has ever happened to me’.
“Ricky is everything we stand for. It’s helping kids reach their potential. I’m unlocking something in them. At the beginning of the week in Oregon, there was just no juice in his soul. No juice in his arm. It seemed like the ball weighed thirty pounds. Like he had a thousand pounds on his shoulders. Burdened.
This was a kid who was suffocated by the blue-chip recruiting attention, and it wasn’t his fault.
“…it wasn’t his fault.” Dilfer was correct but it wasn’t limited to just the recruiting attention.
Prior to getting selected to the Elite 11 Town had surgery on his knee and was at “about 60%” according to his father, who was concerned about his son’s emotional state before going to the QB camp but apparently not enough to keep him out of it. Ricky did go to the camp and afterward felt it was one of the best things he had done. Others noticed a change in him also.
He came back from the Elite 11 and told me ‘This has changed my life’ and it has. All of his coaches at St. Bonaventure said, “this kid has drastically changed.’ His leadership has gone to a whole new level. Before he really didn’t talk much, except when he was on the field. The Elite 11 unlocked something in him for sure. They gave him new tools to separate himself as a person from what he does.”
However that pink cloud didn’t last too long and really didn’t extend into his work on the field of play. Back to Venture sportswriter Joe Curley; remember him saying that Town had the best HS QB he had ever seen in Town’s SO year? Well, by the time Town was entering his SR year something had changed in him.
Curly stated “He had a really rough year as a senior. You could see he still had ability there but it was evident he peaked in his sophomore year.” He went on to say that you could feel a sense of stress in Town and see a lot of on-field indecision by him. Again – Town’s stats were pretty good that season but his play and decision-making was nothing like they were in his first two years at St. Bonaventure.
Other’s expectations that were heavily placed on Town’s shoulders from age 11 on were now catching up to him. He was still a highly ranked recruit labeled as a 4* and the #5 QB in the nation for the class of 2015 by Rivals.com . Some recruiting sites had him rated even higher so that was a lot for him to live up to.
Then it all came rushing back to him and his recruiting process, which both he and his father thought was over after Town committed to Alabama, reared its ugly head again as the Towns decided to have Ricky decommit from Saban and again open up his recruitment process. The University of Southern California (USC) had just fired head coach Lane Kiffin and offensive minded Steve Sarkisian was hired as the Trojans’ head coach. At the same time there were staff shake-ups at Alabama and the situation there changed enough to be of concern to the Towns which allowed them to look a lot closer to home.
But things went completely sideways for Town after that.
His troubles, from the time period right after his SO year in high school to his exiting USC are well described in this article from the LA Times newspaper:
Trouble began before Town’s junior season when St. Bonaventure fired coach Todd Therrien. Town had to adjust to a third coach in three years. Then he injured his knee. Before it had fully healed, he was back at recruiting camps (edit: the Elite 11 as written above). It was a mistake.
“He looked like a completely different quarterback than he did the year before,” Huffman said. “You’re looking at him as a sophomore thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, he’s this good now, how good is he going to be in two years?’ To now, ‘Oh my gosh, what happened?'”
Everyone had theories. Everyone shared those theories.
“Imagine trying to take golf lessons from dozens of different coaches a year, each with their own ideas on how to create the perfect swing,” Town Sr. said in 2014.
Town’s confidence disappeared. He hesitated. He held onto the ball too long.
He, not (Sam) Darnold, was the jewel of USC’s class, but he struggled in his first spring with the Trojans. His transfer came as a shock, and he still prefers to not talk about it. There was no single thing that made him leave, he said. He left it at that.
Clearly Town’s SO year was his peak in both high school, and as it turns out in his college ball so far. Town abruptly left USC in the middle of spring drills and again pulled out of a commitment without any public explanation for doing so. Those actions alone signal a lack of confidence in himself.
The Towns then cast an eye toward the University of Arkansas and Head Coach Bret Bielema even though he’d have to sit out a full year by NCAA transfer rules. He transferred in but things didn’t get any better for Town at Arkansas where he redshirted his freshman year and was firmly sat on the bench the next season. And the doubts he had back before he went to the Elite 11 camp in 2014 were apparently still with him in full flower and still affecting his abilities as a QB.
The one thing that Town had always been able to rely on, and what made him such a star in his early years in HS, was his ‘Football Intelligence’ as had been remarked on by the many sportswriters, recruiting sites and staff coaches at the schools who were recruiting him. That attribute, to completely understand the game and role of the QB, was a supposed strong point of his. But over the four years since that SO year his football intelligence, along with his assertiveness, was disappearing.
Again here is a quote on that issue from the LA Times about Town’s stint at Arkansas and his arrival at Ventura CC. Bret Beliema was the Razorbacks head coach at the time of Town’s transfer there from USC:
“There was that perception out there that Ricky Town’s Tim Tebow or something, he’s the savior,” said Bob Holt, a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette who has covered the Razorbacks since 1981.
Town liked the coaches at Arkansas, but he was buried on the depth chart. Bielema told reporters that Town “was deficient in ‘Hoganese,'” Bielema’s term for Arkansas’ offensive (playbook) language. It was as if “we’re speaking French to him,” Bielema said.
Mooshagian (Ventura Community College’s head coach) has known Town for years, but by the time he enrolled at Ventura this winter, “It was hard to even have a conversation with him,” Mooshagian said. “I think he didn’t know who to trust.”
As dramatic as that sounds but when a person who is well-versed in certain intelligences then suffers confusion of the same it is an earmark of extreme stress. The fact that he couldn’t follow a different offensive playbook should have sent up red warning flags all over the place. Another sportswriter I spoke with said that he felt Town had developed a mental block when it came to any risk taking or in doing anything new or differently at all.
After the 2016 season ended, with Town again not taking a snap in live game action, he re-evaluated his status at Arkansas and his abilities along with the plain fact that he just wasn’t enjoying football any longer, at least not like a talented college scholarship player should be enjoying it, so he again left a D1 Power Five program, this time looking at playing in a lower level of competition.
That choice allowed Town to go back home to familiar and happier surroundings again, try to reset his college football career back to zero and hopefully find a place where he could play ball without the intense scrutiny that his younger life and his prior recruitment fame had put him under In essence he needed to try to have fun in the game again. So in the spring of 2017 Town enrolled in local Ventura Community College to play for Head Coach Steve Mooshagian. and Mooshigan’s wide open passing attack.
Pitt fans may remember Steve Mooshagian from his time as the Panther’s Offensive coordinator back in 1997 and ‘98. That was Walt Harris’ first two years when he had QBs Pete Gonzalez and Matt Lytle passing the ball and racking up some pretty gaudy numbers.
Ventura CC is not a typical community college like some schools in other parts of the country are. In Southern California the community colleges aren’t just a step up from high school football like elsewhere but closer to Division 1 college football and the competition is tough with talented players. Many CC
Mooshagian had this to say about Town after he arrived on VCC’s campus and started taking part in the Razorbacks’ spring drills:
“They can come here and they can take that freakin’ weight off their shoulders,” Mooshagian said. Town has gained visible confidence since the spring. He doubts less. He overthinks less. Family members have given him his space.
“I think finally he’s just said, ‘Look, let me do this on my own here. I don’t want anybody telling me what to do. I’m going to make my own mind up,'” Mooshagian said. “And I respect that.”
Mooshagian believes quarterbacks often thrive at Ventura because there is nothing to lose.
“I think there’s always expectations, especially coming from where I came from and whatnot and my past,” Town said. “But it’s definitely nice to just have the ball in my hands again and just do my thing. Yeah, it feels good to just relax a little bit and know that I’m the guy here and just enjoy it for what it is.”
And indeed he was led to believe he was “the guy here” at VCC. Part of the attraction of VCC was that Mooshagian was very offensive minded and Town felt he could adapt to yet VCC’s offensive playbook but this time grab and hold the starting job.
Indeed Town did come out of fall camp battling for VCC’s starting QB position and while he believed his was going to be a carefree and easier time of it at Ventura but his play didn’t quite match up to that.
Things started getting rough for him after just a couple of games. While his statistics weren’t too bad the other QB, Jake Constantine, was just as talented as Town but also had loads of self-confidence and charisma and was a risk-taker. “Constantine was an accurate gunslinger” was how writer Curley described him to me and once behind the VCC’s offensive line Constantine played like it. Constantine opened the season as the starter, then Town had his chance to play. But again, problems with grasping the offense seemed to follow him to VCC also.
On September 23rd VCC was playing Riverside College, who had won 48 of their last 49 games, and when VCC dropped to a 15 point deficit Town was benched and his backup came in. Constantine started flinging the ball all over the place and nearly pulled the game out but fell short. From that time even while still starting the next week his days numbered as the QB1.
From midseason on Town was on the bench and watched Constantine lead VCC into the regional playoffs. In that regular season Town had six TDs and four interceptions but it was obvious that his ability to effectively lead the VCC offense to victory wasn’t there. Again as relayed to me “Town played scared and way too conservative at Ventura” that season as he reverted back to low confidence in his play.
VCC met Riverside again in the first round of the playoffs with Constantine under Center. On the second series of play Constantine was injured on a horse collar tackle and had to leave the game and Town had his last chance to shine that year. And he did by throwing for 271 yards on a 17 for 30 run with three TD passes in a back and forth scoring match. But like all of his football play to that point he was up and down that game.
VCC took its last lead, 26-21, on a 40-yard Town strike to WR Flowers with 9:50 left in the third quarter and then again pulled within 35-33 on a 39-yard Town TD pass with 11:07 to play. But then a Riverside running back ripped of a 53 yard TD run to put his team back on top 40-33.
VCC and Town had one last chance to pull it out but when deep inside Riverside’;s red zone Town threw an interception on a poorly thrown pass when he was confused on the wide receiver’s assigned route for the playcall and that closed the book on the game. And that game was typical of Town’s time at VCC. His stats were not bad at all really, especially for someone benched for a underclassman:
His overall season stats were average for a QB with a pretty good average yards per completion at 11.7. But he also had a poor yards per attempt at 6.2. That playoff game really helped his season’s stats but you can see that he didn’t play much against conference teams as Constantine was healthy and starting for those important matches.
But if you look at his game log stats from that season you’ll see that after the first two games he was used as a mop-up relief for the new starter Constantine until that Riverside playoff game.
After the 2017 season closed Town and his father again started shopping around to find Ricky a D1 program to go to, as almost all community college players do after a year or two at that level. He didn’t get any play from the bigger Power Five schools, mainly on the back of the sketchy track record he had at both USC and then Arkansas. Throw in being benched as a starting QB at the community college level and you can see why any bigger program’s interest was lacking.
Then the tide turned and some good luck struck for him. Town had been in touch with the smaller schools of Central Michigan, Miami (Ohio), Indiana State and Stephen F. Austin College. Actually he was on a campus visit to Stephen F. Austin, which is a D1 school albeit in the Football Championship Subdivision’s (FCS) little known Southland Conference, the day after Ben DiNucci suddenly left Pitt.
With the DiNucci development Pat Narduzzi quickly had his offensive coordinator Shawn Watson give Town a phone call to see if he was interested in coming East. Watson offered Town a chance to be back in the Power Five and a scholarship to go with it so Town dropped what he was doing and flew to the Southside to sign his Letter of Intent.
Town now had a new opportunity to prove himself capable of playing in a bigger program. He joined the Pitt roster in January of this year and participated fully in the spring practices. He had some playing time in the Pitt annual Blue-Gold game but failed to impress with a 1 of 9 passing for only 46 yards. Granted he was running for his life on almost every snap because Pitt’s offensive line played like a sieve.
Head coach Pat Narduzzi had already told Town he’d be the firm QB2 this season before he ever put on a Pitt uniform which, because of an utter lack of talent in any of the other possible backup QBs currently on roster, isn’t surprising and is as it should be.
Narduzzi has gone so far as to say the blatantly obvious in that incumbent Kenny Pickett is Pitt’s starter for 2018 – no real surprise there. But let’s do watch out Narduzzi utters the words “…quarterback competition this fall…” because that will absolutely not happen unless it is solely for the QB2 job.
Personally I have a lot of doubt about Ricky Town’s ability to play D1 football successfully. For all the touchdowns thrown, yards passing, etc; all the stats and physical measurements we usually grade quarterbacks by don’t mean much when you look at his actual high school and college career and all the variables and problems that have gone into it. Physically he may have the tools but even then there are differing takes on that.
The recruiting sites back in 2015 listed Town as a 4* “Pro-style” QB and their articles mention him as having a strong arm. But in my conversations with people who have seen him play in actual games they all have said that he’s not much of a deep threat and is more a “check-down” type QB who plays a very short and conservative game so as to not to make any mental mistakes. His knowledge of offenses has been suspect also and that is worrisome for a D1 offensive playbook is going to be hard for him to grasp if that is the case.
So that is the story of Town’s football career to date. His numbers weren’t poor really, but at every step of the way since beginning his junior year in high school those watching him always looked at him with a qualifier – usually on the minus side as much as anything else. The are a ton of question marks associated with Ricky Town.
And to me that is what is fascinating about his life and football career so far. It appears he didn’t have much choice in either playing or not playing football at a very young age. But it was the sport for him and he loved everything about the game. The intense and, I believe, overbearing travel and training schedule ruled down on him by his father obviously didn’t help matters. Then that great sophomore year at St. Bonaventure high occurred followed by his slipping and sliding through two more high school years that didn’t live up to his earlier promise and potential.
Still the sportswriters, fans and football coaches’ expectations of Town coming out of school boy football were sky-high and unrealistic after he came out of the Elite 11 QB camp and then again after his very high rankings by all the recruiting sites. He committed to Saban at Alabama, then not; committed and practiced a few weeks at USC, then not. Then he self-imposed a rather drastic drop in competition level down to Ventura Community College and was subsequently benched for ineffective play and closed out his pre-Pitt football time.
He’s had a rough go of it overall yet keeps bouncing back to try to find that fun and success he dreamed of as a youngster. If everything I read, heard and have quoted in this article is true, and I believe it is, then Town has done an exemplary job in keeping it together and having as good and positive attitude as he has had. A lot of players who have gone through what he has have run into other troubles off the field. But I haven’t heard or read anything even remotely negative at all about his character or personality and that is a real fine thing especially given the tribulations he’s encountered.
There is no doubt Town is a positive addition to Pitt’s roster and not just within the QB group. Sports writer Joe Curley was explicit when he said “ Ricky Town is a very good teammate and he’s going to be a real good kid to have in the QB room”. That truly might be the most effective help he gives the team this season, especially as the oldest QB with a true sophomore starter and a highly regarded freshman coming in .
As Town says about himself in this Tribune-Review article:
Town has learned not to compare himself to other quarterbacks. He says God has a plan for him, and he trusts it will work out.
“I trust in myself, having the confidence in myself to know wherever I’m going and whatever path I take, I’m going to get to that end spot,” Town said. “You definitely have to have that inner confidence that you can play at the highest level. That’s where you want to go. You definitely have to believe in yourself. I definitely do.
“That’s been part of the journey, knowing that I’m better and can keep getting better.”
Let’s hope he found that self-confidence that he speaks of. As recent history shows Pitt has had trouble at the back-up QB spot when Max Brown went down and out last season. If that happens, and fellow Pitt fans please pray it doesn’t, then Town is going to need all the inner-strength he can muster.
While I welcome Ricky Town to Pitt I also feel that in pure football terms it would have been better had Ben DiNucci stayed as Pickett’s back-up. For me a QB who has had real game experience in 12 matches, thrown 167 passes for over 1,000 yards and six touchdowns is a proven player. DiNucci had a full three years on a D1 roster and was a key member of the two-deep offense so that experience would be valuable. In addition he’d be in his 2nd year of Watson’s offense…but that’s not to be.
For me any experience behind center at this level of play beats having to rely on a player who has set never foot in a D1 game. We can discuss potential and stats and whatever else for a long time but to me I’ll take a quarterback who has already been under the lights on the big stage and produced.
This coming 2018 is going to be a very interesting year for Pitt football and one thing I will keep a close eye on is how well the offensive line can protect our gunslinger Kenny Pickett. If they can’t and he starts getting beaten up then we may well see the beginning of the next phase of Ricky Town’s football life. Questions about Town and his abilities still linger and that is valid. But it will be very satisfying for all if Town is called on and does his job well. That can certainly happen because he has the raw talent for it to and I truly hope things go that way for him.
I think at this point in his young life he deserves a new future and a real chance to put his past football time to rest. He’s studying at a great university at Pitt and can get a degree from one of the best schools in the U.S. and with two years of eligibility perhaps he can leave Pitt with his Masters Degree – here’s hoping on that front!
But wouldn’t it also be just great to see him get gang-celebrated in the endzone by his teammates after throwing a game winning pass this season? That’s the ending Town wants to have and I hope he gets it.
Editor’s Note: I started this series back in mid-March and wanted it to be as detailed and as fair as possible. I sought out people who know Ricky Town much more than I do (obviously) and when I was in doubt of some bit of information I double and triple checked to make sure what I was writing was as accurate as possible. Because I do not know the Towns personally I let quotes from other articles previously published tell their story and to to fill in the blanks.
I hope this three chapter article, a full 11,500+ words by the way, is as interesting to read as it was to research and write. I said in the text above and will reiterate – this is as close to accurate background information I could find and I believe it to true as possible in both fact and accuracy. If not the errors are all mine.