Gene's Blog: Magazines out, football must be on horizon
June 21, 2013
Sophomore QB Matt O'Connell (11) broke the UST single-season record for total offense in 2012 in leading a 14-1 finish. (Mark Brown photo)
There are still eight weeks until fall practice begins, and 11 weeks until the first games. But there’s already news on the Division III football front.
Coming off a school-record 14-1 finish and Stagg Bowl title game appearance, St. Thomas has landed in the top four of both Division III polls that recently appeared in 2013 summer preview magazines.
The Toms, who graduated All-Americas Curtis James, Ayo Idowu and Chinni Oji, return starters at 14 of 22 positions, plus regulars at punter and placekicker.
The Sporting News preview’s top 5 teams are Linfield (Ore.), Mount Union (Ohio), Wisconsin-Whitewater, St. Thomas and Mary-Hardin Baylor (Texas).
Lindy’s College football preview has a slightly different top five: Mount Union, St. Thomas, Wesley (Del.), Linfield and Mary-Hardin Baylor.
In late July, d3football.com is expected to release its 2013 preseason poll. St. Thomas has been in the d3football.com top 10 for 43 consecutive polls.
Both magazine polls also rank Wittenberg (Ohio), Johns Hopkins (Md.) and North Central (Ill.) in their top 10s. One other MIAC program, Bethel, is ranked No. 13 by The Sporting News.
The Tommies and Royals aren’t the only conference teams producing a buzz. St. John’s has a new head football coach for the first time since 1953, the year the wiffle ball was invented and a board game called “Scrabble” debuted. St. Olaf and Hamline also hired new head coaches. Concordia-Moorhead was literally one play away from making last year’s playoff field, and the Cobbers look to be on the rise. Augsburg has some dangerous athletes again, including sophomore QB Ayrton Scott.
Players to Watch
Both magazines named a D-III preseason All-America team. No Tommies made the Lindy’s list but senior-to-be LB Tremayne Williams was among the 24 honored by The Sporting News.
Williams showed his explosive nature when he recorded five sacks in his first two career starts in 2011 NCAA playoff wins against St. Scholastica and Monmouth. He has started 19 consecutive games. In his first full season as a starter, in 2012, Williams finished with 70 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, four sacks, three forced fumbles, two interceptions, five break-ups and one fumble recovery. Over the last two seasons alone, he has 11 sacks, 20.5 tackles for loss and three interceptions.
Another Division III preseason All-America team was released this week by Beyond Sports Network. Tommie senior DL Riley Dombek was among 95 players named by BSN.
Dombek has started 27 games over the last two seasons and has totaled 89 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble and five breakups.
The Tommies, 57-7 in Glenn Caruso’s five-year era, will open their 2013 season Sept. 7 at home against UW-Eau Claire. They start conference play Sept. 21 at home against St. John’s. Their Homecoming game is Oct. 5 against Carleton.
St. Thomas brings three long winning streaks into this fall: 17 in a row at Palmer Field in O’Shaughnessy Stadium; 33 in a row in the regular season; and 27 consecutive MIAC games. Out of 625 NCAA football programs, just three have won 11 or more games in each of the last four seasons: Boise State, Mount Union and UST.
St. Thomas has built a 34-2 home record in the five seasons under Caruso. The two defeats have come by a combined eight points, and the UST defense allowed just 12 points in each of those games.
In a little more than five months, another MIAC men's hockey season will begin. No other conference sport currently enjoys the level of parity that exists in that sport.
Example 1: Six different conference institutions won the men’s hockey championship during a six-year stretch from 2005-10.
Example 2: All nine teams have made the playoffs at least once over the last 10 seasons (the Tommies are 10-for-10 in playoff trips in that span).
Example 3: Ten different gentlemen have won the last 10 MIAC men’s hockey Coach of the Year awards. That group represents eight different schools.
MIAC Men’s Hockey Coach of the Year winners
--2003-04: St. John’s John Harrington
--2004-05: Bethel’s Peter Aus
--2005-06: UST’s Terry Skrypek
--2006-07: Augsburg’s Chris Brown
--2007-08: Hamline’s Scott Bell
--2008-09: St. Olaf’s Sean Goldsworthy
--2009-10: Gustavus’ Brett Peterson
--2010-11: Concordia’s Chris Howe
--2011-12: UST’s Jeff Boeser
--2012-13: St. John’s Doug Schueller
--The 2013 St. Thomas Athletics Hall of Fame Class will be announced this summer. An induction ceremony is planned for the Sept. 21 weekend as part of the home Tommie-Johnnie football festivities. St. Thomas’ Hall usually inducts every three years but hasn’t added a class since 2007.
--Tommie women’s track and field placed ninth in the outdoor national meet, with seven All-Americas. Coach Joe Sweeney’s squad of four dozen athletes combined to post an excellent 3.51 grade-point average in 2012-13.
--Not only did Coach Thanh Pham’s volleyball team capture the NCAA Championship with a 40-1 finish, it also recorded a 3.27 team gpa last school year.