Monday, January 14, 2019

Last and First Games...



If you look over the posts from the last six months they all center around the 2018 football season at Thomas More University. It was a unique season for several reasons, especially because I was pretty sure it was going to be my last one. Besides the blog posts I have several hundred pages of notes from the last four seasons about coaching, not just at Thomas More and not just football. I've had this idea for awhile to write a book about coaching, using a diary like structure of a season as the frame story that would allow me to insert smaller stories. I figured I'd spend this winter and next summer working on it, and hopefully have something done by next fall. That's what I had planned...

I did know that this year was going to be my last at Thomas More. I really enjoyed my time there, but I had one of those birthdays that ends with a '0' and I had a few other adventures I wanted to pursue.

My coaching book was not going to be about all the names you read in the paper and see on TV. It isn't going to be about those coaches and their million dollar salaries. I want it to be about all the coaches I have worked with all these years, high school and small college coaches and the real world we have lived in.

O.K., that was my intention for the 2018/19 football and school year. I was going to stay at TMU until the spring semester ended, working on the book when I had time away from tutoring and teaching English, then work on it almost full-time through the summer and into the fall.

Then I got another call from Dave Armstrong. He was the old friend who got me to come to Thomas More in the first place, and now was president at St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens, Florida. Would I be interested in coming and help starting a football program from scratch? Be an assistant coach and the academic advisor? Would I be interested in being on the faculty pay scale and possibly teaching a creative writing class? Would I be interested in ending my teaching and coaching career in South Florida, on a beautiful campus eight miles from the beaches of my youth?

And so that is how I have ended up living in a dorm for the first time since I was 19 years old (living free on campus for a semester was another perk to get me down here). It's actually a building that once was a Holiday Inn, built to house the Miami Dolphins when they trained on St. Thomas's campus back in the 60's.
















Monday, November 12, 2018

Football 2018: Week 11 at St. John's

The Thomas More University football team fell, 63-23, to fourth-ranked St. John's University today (Saturday, November 10, 2018) in the regular season finale at Clemens Stadium in Collegeville, Minnesota.
First quarter
  • St. John's took a 7-0 lead with 13:44 to play in the quarter when Jackson Erdmann connected on a 61-yard touchdown pass to Will Gillach and Zack Barwick added the point after attempt.
  • The Johnnies extended the lead to 14-0 when Erdmann and Gillach connected on a three-yard touchdown pass and Barwick add the PAT with 3:42 to play in the opening quarter.
  • Adam Essler scored on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Erdmann and Barwick added the PAT to increase St. John's lead to 21-0 with 2:38 to play in the quarter.
Second Quarter
  • Thomas More made the score 21-3 with 14:12 to play in the quarter when junior kicker Cole Mathias (Reynoldsburg, Ohio/Reynoldsburg) made a 30-yard field goal.
  • Kenneth Udoibok scored on a two-yard touchdown run and Barwick added the PAT to give the Johnnies a 28-3 lead with 11:51 to play in the second quarter.
  • St. John's extended the lead to 35-3 with 9:31 to play in the quarter when Erdmann connected on a 35-yard touchdown pass to Andrew VanErp and Barwick added the PAT.
  • Thomas More cut the lead to 35-10 when senior running back Luke Zajac (Edgewood, Ky./Dixie Heights) scored on a five-yard touchdown run and Mathias made the PAT with 6:34 to play in the quarter.
  • St. John's made the score 42-10 when Jared Streit scored on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Erdmann and Barwick added the PAT with 1:41 to play in the first half.
  • The Johnnies extended the lead to 49-10 at halftime when Erdmann and Gillach connected on a 23-yard touchdown pass and Barwick added the PAT with 1:01 to play in the second quarter.
Third Quarter
  • St. John's increased the lead to 56-10 when Erdmann and Gillach connected on a 23-yard touchdown pass and Barwick added the PAT with 14:44 to play in the quarter.
  • Thomas More made the score 56-17 with 9:05 to play in the third quarter when junior quarterback Justin Post (Macedonia, Ohio/Nordonia) connected with junior wide receiver Da'marco Canty (Bogart, Ga./North Oconee) on an eight-year touchdown pass and junior kicker Alex Barnhart (Westerville, Ohio/Westerville Central) made the PAT.
Fourth Quarter
  • The Johnnies extended the lead to 63-17 when Udoibok scored on a one-yard run and Barwick added the PAT with 8:05 to play in the game.
  • The Saints answered with 3:19 to play in the game when Post connected on a 13-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Will Thompson (Franklin, Tenn./Father Ryan)and Barnhart's PAT failed for the final score of 63-23.
  • The Saints finish the regular season 7-3.
  • St. John's improve to 10-0.
  • Thomas More had 317 yards of total offense (139 rushing/178 passing), while St. John's had 454 yards (163 rushing/291 passing).
  • Post was 14-of-30 passing for 178 yard and two touchdowns.
  • Zajac led the rushing attack with 16 carries for 82 yard and a touchdown.
  • Senior running back Hjavier Pitts (Cincinnati, Ohio/Mt. Healthy) had 16 carries for 68 yards and pulled in five catches for 56 yards.
  • Canty led the receiving corps with four catches for 75 yard and a touchdown.
  • First-year linebacker Peyton Van Horn (Hebron, Ky./Conner) led defense with nine tackles (six solo/three assisted) and forced a fumble.
  • Senior linebacker Adam Guard (Lawrenceburg, Ind./Pinecrest Academy (Ga.)) had eight tackles (three solo/five assisted).

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Football 2018: Great Article from d3football.com

d3football.com is the bible for small college football, covering over 250 teams each week. They do a great job. This is an article they did about us this week in front of our big game against St. John's. Thanks for the pub!


Thomas More road show coming to a close


Thomas More playing at North Carolina Wesleyan in September. (Photo for N.C. Wesleyan athletics by Carl Lewis)
Thomas More's season started with a long trip, and a loss, but the Saints have managed to win enough games since to stay in contention for a playoff bid, which could extend the program's last season as a Division III member.
Photo for N.C. Wesleyan athletics by Carl Lewis
 
By Joe Sager
D3sports.com
Thomas More’s road back to the NAIA has proven to be a long one.
The Saints, who joined the Presidents’ Athletic Conference in 2005, left the conference last spring. They will return to the NAIA next fall for the first time since 1990. The shuffling left the team with the unenviable task of cobbling together an independent football schedule this fall.
As a result, Thomas More has had to hit the road. And, hit the road again. And, hit the road some more.
“Anytime you look down the barrel and have seven road games staring at you, that’s a task in itself, let alone seven games traveling more than 7,000 miles,” Thomas More coach Trevor Stellman said. “When you have 18 to 22-year-old young men, each one of them handles the situation a little differently. It was a struggle early on for us to find the best way to keep our kids busy, yet clear-minded enough to be able to play and play the best we could. As the season progressed, we’ve gotten better at it. Guys have taken to what we do on the road to make it a lot more enjoyable for them.”
Thomas More is no stranger to long travel. Located in Crestview Hills, Kentucky, just outside of Cincinnati, the Saints regularly trekked more than 300 miles across Ohio to play PAC foes, who are based around the Pittsburgh area.
This year, though, the voyages are more extensive. The team had two visits to Minnesota on the slate, along with stops in North Carolina, Indiana, Alabama, Virginia and upstate New York, not far from the Canadian border. The trips got longer as the season went on, too. The shortest was a 146-mile round trip to Hanover, Ind., and the two longest (nearly 1,600 roundtrip) came at the end – jaunts to St. Scholastica and St. John’s in Minnesota. For those really long trips, the team breaks it up over two days.
“Being in the PAC, every road game we had in the conference was an overnight trip. That was nothing new. The new aspect came with the trips to upstate New York and Minnesota, where we had to leave on a Thursday afternoon. So, being away from own beds for two days is probably the biggest change,” Stellman said. “You worry about how much school they are missing, too. It makes my job a little more stressful ensuring that we take care of everything we need to, not just on the field.”
Thomas More at Huntingdon.
Thomas More took an 1,100-mile round trip to Alabama at the end of September and came away with a win against Huntingdon.
Huntingdon athletics photo
 
Thomas More’s players have tried to make the most of their time.
“We were used to the long drives, but we weren’t used to the 12-hour-plus drives. I wouldn’t say we were stressed, but it could be a little difficult being on the bus that long and then getting off and trying to prepare for the team,” Thomas More senior running back Hjavier Pitts said. “Each road trip has been like a little vacation for us. We continued to bond throughout the season and come together as a team.”
“For the longer bus rides, we can split it up in two days so it doesn’t take as much of a toll on your body. You’d like to have more home games, but I don’t think travel has been that tough on us,” Thomas More junior quarterback Justin Post said. “On trips, we’re always having Madden (video game) tournaments or goofing around in the same hotel room. Really, we’re just coming together as teammates, more than anything.
“As a team we’ve just tried to focus on each week. We didn’t really look ahead. We wanted to focus on that week’s game and having a good bus ride back home rather than a long bus ride afterward.”
Fortunately for the Saints, they’ve avoided any major travel issues – except for the first week’s ride home from a 35-28 loss at N.C. Wesleyan.
“We take two buses and, on the way home, the air conditioning went out on the bus I was on. We were in North Carolina and is really humid. Everyone had shirts off. It was pretty miserable,” Post said. “After a while, a couple guys got to go on the other bus and be in the cool air. I was one of those guys, fortunately.”
Saints vs. Saints at St. Scholastica.
The Thomas More Saints shut down the St. Scholastica Saints in an October matchup which was more than 1,500 miles in the making.
St. Scholastica athletics photo
 
A stop at St. Lawrence University resulted in a little snowball fight in September.
“We were walking back to the bus after our walkthrough and there was a pile of snow (from an ice rink resurfacing machine) off to one side. We started having a little snowball fight,” Pitts said. “One of the players picked up a snowball and hit one of our coaches with it accidentally. He wasn’t too happy.”
Despite all the miles, Thomas More (7-2) is challenging for an at-large playoff berth after years of contending for – and winning – PAC championships. The Saints could strengthen their postseason case with a triumph Saturday at No. 4 St. John’s.
“We like to think of every game as a playoff game for us. Being an independent, we didn’t have a conference goal. Our goal was to get to the playoffs and win a national championship,” Post said. “In order to do that, we knew we’d have to win a lot of games on the road. I think this game will be a real test for us to see what we can do the rest of the season.”
Thomas More’s two losses came by a touchdown, 35-28, at N.C. Wesleyan in the opener and by three, 34-31 at home against Muhlenberg
“When I sat down last year and started trying to find games, more or less, I knew our schedule would have us in the mix of things if we took care of what we needed to,” Stellman said. “That’s been our goal. We’ve treated each game like a playoff game. When you lose one right off the bat, it kind of makes you pin your ears back and start working even harder. Our guys have done that. Muhlenberg made a couple more plays and got the better of us. We just have to take care of business and make sure we’re still in the conversation Saturday night.”
Added Pitts, “I am pretty happy where we are as a team. We could be undefeated. We’ve learned from the mistakes we made and we’re continuing to grow. I don’t think we’ve played our best game yet. Our goal is to win out and finish this week strong and, hopefully, get in the playoffs.”

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Football 2018: Week #10 vs. Lake Erie College



Courtesy of ThomasMoreSaints.com
 The Thomas More University football team rolled up 480 yards of offense today (Saturday, November 3, 2018) as it defeated NCAA Division II member Lake Erie College, 44-0, on Senior Day at BB&T Field in Crestview Hills, Kentucky.
First Quarter
  • Thomas More took a 6-0 lead with 10:42 to play in the quarter when junior quarterback Justin Post (Macedonia, Ohio/Nordonia) connected on a seven-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Logan Winkler (Independence, Ky./Simon Kenton) and junior kicker Cole Mathias's (Reynoldsburg, Ohio/Reynoldsburg)point after attempt failed.
Second Quarter

  • The Saints increased the lead to 13-0 when senior running back Hjavier Pitts (Cincinnati, Ohio/Mt. Healthy) scored on a seven-yard run and Mathias added the PAT with 12:39 to play in the half.
  • Senior running back Luke Zajac (Edgewood, Ky./Dixie Heights) scored on a seven-yard touchdown run and Mathias added the PAT to give Thomas More a 20-0 lead with 8:31 to play in the quarter.
  • Thomas More made the score 27-0 at half time when Post connected on a nine-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Darrell Crenshaw (Dayton, Ohio/Trotwood-Madison) and Mathias' PAT was good with 1:06 to play in the quarter.
Third Quarter
  • The Saints extended the lead to 34-0 with 9:07 to play in the quarter when Pitts scored on an eight-yard run and Mathias added the PAT.
  • Post connected on a 21-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Da'marco Canty (Bogart, Ga./North Oconee) and Mathias added the PAT to make the score 41-0 with 5:05 to play in the quarter.
Fourth Quarter
  • Thomas More closed the scoring with 12:21 to play in the game when junior kicker Alex Barnhart (Westerville, Ohio/Westerville Central) made a 28-yard field goal for the final score of 44-0.
Notables
  • The Saints improve to 7-2, while the Storm fall to 0-10.
  • Thomas More out-gained Lake Erie 480 yards (272 rushing/208 passing) to 143 yards (65 rushing/78 passing.
  • The Saints had four penalties for 33 yards, while the Storm had 14 penalties for 131 yards.
  • Post was named the Jimmy John's Player of the Game as he was 18-of-26 passing for 203 yards and three touchdowns and had seven rushes for 80 yards.
  • Pitts finished with 20 carries for 93 yards and two touchdowns.
  • Zajac had 14 carries for 83 yard and one touchdown, while also pulling in one catch for six yards.
  • Crenshaw finished the game with four catches for 45 yard and one touchdown.
  • Canty had four catches for 40 yards and a touchdown.
  • First-year wide receiver Nick Hall (Cincinnati, Ohio/Elder) had two catches for 52 yards.
  • Junior linebacker Cody Coffey (Anderson, Ohio/Anderson) had eight tackles (all solo), including one tackle for a loss and had one forced fumble.
  • Junior defensive back Thomas Williams (Oregonia, Ohio/Clinton-Massie) had eight tackles (five solo/three assisted).
  • First-year linebacker Peyton Van Horn (Hebron, Ky./Conner) had eight tackles (five solo/three assisted), including one tackle for a loss.












Football 2018: Week 9, Bye Week (Thank God!)

Our bye week could not come soon enough.


I spent my Saturday off going to Senior Day at Notre Dame College, where my niece Alex is in the marching band. That's her mom Valerie, Alex, her dad Larry, and her sister Elizabeth.




Monday, October 22, 2018

Football 2018: Game #8 at St. Scholastica

Game recap courtesy of ThomasMoreSaints.com
Thomas More University senior running back Hjavier Pitts (Cincinnati, Ohio/Mt. Healthy) crossed the 1,000 yard rushing plateau for the season and the Saints clinched their 23rd winning season today (Saturday, October 20, 2018) as they defeated The College of St. Scholastica, 35-0, at Public School Stadium in Duluth, Minnesota.
  • Thomas More took a 7-0 lead with 2:31 to play in the first quarter when senior running back Luke Zajac (Edgewood, Ky./Dixie Heights) scored on a two-yard run and junior kicker Cole Mathias (Reynoldsburg, Ohio/Reynoldsburg) made the point after attempt.
  • The Saints extended the lead to 14-0 when junior quarterback Justin Post (Macedonia, Ohio/Nordonia) connected on a 17-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Da'marco Canty (Bogart, Ga./North Oconee) and Mathias added the PAT with 10:58 to play in the quarter.
  • Post and Canty connected on a 39-yard scoring pass with 22-seconds to play in the quarter to give the Saints a 20-0 halftime lead.
  • The lead grew to 22-0 with 10:19 to play in the third quarter when St. Scholastica snapped a punt out of the back of the end zone for a safety.
  • Thomas More increased the lead to 28-0 with 9:15 to play in the game when Post connected on a 26-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Darrell Crenshaw (Dayton, Ohio/Trotwood-Madison).
  • The Saints closed out the scoring with 4:07 to play in the game when sophomore running back Dillion Powell (Independence, Ky./Simon Kenton) scored on a nine-yard touchdown run and junior kicker Alex Barnhart (Westerville, Ohio/Westerville Central) added the PAT for the final score of 35-0.
  • The win clinched Thomas More's 23rd winning season in 29 years of football at the University.
  • Thomas More improves to 6-2.
  • St. Scholastica falls to 4-3.
  • Thomas More out-gained St. Scholastica 569 yards (361 rushing/208 passing) to 154 yards (0 rushing/154 passing).
  • Pitts finished the game with 200 yards on the ground on 20 carries and now has 1,176 rushing yards this season.  He also had five catches for 26 yards.
  • Post was 17-of-26 passing for 208 yards and three touchdowns.
  • Zajac carried the ball 21 times for 103 yards and one touchdown.
  • Canty had two catches for 56 yards and two touchdowns.
  • Crenshaw finished the game with 44 yards and one touchdown on three catches.
  • First-year linebacker Peyton Van Horn (Hebron, Ky./Conner) led the defense as he had 11 tackles (six solo/five assisted), including four and a half tackles for a loss and one sack.
  • Junior linebacker Cody Coffey (Anderson, Ohio/Anderson) had five tackles (four solo/one assisted), including one tackle for a loss.
  • Junior defensive lineman Noah Sayre (Lebanon, Ohio/Lebanon) had five tackles (three solo/two assisted), including two sacks.
  • Junior defensive back Thomas Williams (Oregonia, Ohio/Clinton-Massie) finished with five tackles (two solo/three assisted).

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Football 2018: Week #7 vs. Muhlenberg









The Thomas More University football team fell, 34-31, to 23rd-ranked Muhlenberg College today (Saturday, October 13, 2018) on Homecoming Saturday at BB&T Field in Crestview Hills, Kentucky.
  • Neither team could find the end zone in the opening quarter as the game was 0-0 after the first quarter.
  • Thomas More took a 7-0 lead with 12:43 to play in the quarter when senior running back Hjavier Pitts (Cincinnati, Ohio/Mt. Healthy) scored on a one-yard touchdown run and junior kicker Cole Mathias (Reynoldsburg, Ohio/Reynoldsburg) added the point after attempt (PAT).
  • The Mules tied the game at 7-7 when Mike Hnatkowsky connected on a 25-yard touchdown pass to Nick Ugarte and Todd Spirt added the PAT.
  • Muhlenberg took a 14-7 lead with 4:10 to play in the quarter when Brian Raguseo recovered a fumble and returned it 12-yard for a touchdown and Spirt added the PAT.
  • The Saints cut the lead to 14-10 at halftime as Mathias made a 28-yard field goal with 24-seconds to play in the half.
  • Senior running back Luke Zajac (Edgewood, Ky./Dixie Heights) scored on a 23-yard touchdown run and Mathias added the PAT go give the Saints a 17-14 lead with 10:13 to play in the quarter.
  • Muhlenberg retook the lead at 21-17 with 9:23 to play in the quarter when Hnatkowsky connected on a 51-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Curtis and Spirt added the PAT.
  • The Mules increased their lead to 24-17 with 14:48 to play in the game when Spirt made a 37-yard field goal.
  • The Saints tied the game at 24-24 when Pitts scored on a three-yard touchdown run and Mathias added the PAT with 13:29 to play in the quarter.
  • Thomas More took a 31-24 lead when junior quarterback Justin Post (Macedonia, Ohio/Nordonia) connected on a one-yard touchdown pass to first-year wide receiver Nick Hall (Cincinnati, Ohio/Elder) and Mathias added the PAT with 10:15 to play in the game.
  • James Diggs scored on a three-yard run and Spirt added the PAT to tie the game at 31-31 with 7:54 to play in the game.
  • Spirt made a 20-yard field goal as time expired for the 34-31 victory.
  • Thomas More falls to 5-2.
  • The Mules improve to 6-0.
  • The Saints had 257 offensive yards (125 rushing/257 passing), while the Mules had 483 yards (107 rushing/376 passing).
  • The lost was only the sixth  (49-6) for the Saints at BB&T Field since it opened in 2008.  The six losses have been by a combined 16 points.
  • Post was 17-of-26 passing for 257 yards and one touchdown.
  • Pitts had 23 carries for 70 yards and two touchdowns.
  • Zajac finished the game with 14 carries for 55 yards and one touchdown.
  • Senior wide receiver Darrell Crenshaw (Dayton, Ohio/Trotwood-Madison) finished with three catches for 86 yards.
  • Senior wide receiver Logan Winkler (Independence, Ky./Simon Kenton) had four catches for 79 yards.
  • First-year linebacker Peyton Van Horn (Hebron, Ky./Conner) was named the Jimmy John's Player of the Game as he led the defense with 19 tackles (13 solo/six assisted), including a half sack.
  • Junior linebacker Cody Coffey (Anderson, Ohio/Anderson) had 11 tackles (six solo/five assisted), including a tackle for a loss.
  • Junior defensive back Thomas Williams (Oregonia, Ohio/Clinton-Massie) finished with eight tackles (all solo).
  • Junior linebacker Adam Guard (Lawrenceburg, Ind./Pinecrest Academy (Ga.)) had eight tackles (six solo/two assisted).