Football falls short on the road; Carroll headed to NAIA Final
Carroll College is on their way to a second straight NAIA Finals appearance as GC battles cold, injuries and stalls on both sides of the ball.By ANDY RUSSELL Sports Editor
It truly was a magical run, but as any competitor knows, eventually the team with superior talent shows through. In Montana on Saturday, it wasn’t any different for Georgetown College as their run to another NAIA Championship was cut short by Carroll College.
The Fighting Saints, who look to be well on their way to a seventh title, marched right through to the title. The scary thing is that all of Carroll’s title game appearances have come since 2002. As a strong competitor, I wouldn’t want to go out any other way; if I had to lose I always wanted it to be to the best. On Saturday GC lost to the best, 35-3.
Carroll came out and slashed the GC defense, one that has been stellar all year They ran for 273 yards on the ground. On the other side of the ball, GC’s offense was stymied by a tough Carroll defense. Coming into the game, GC averaged over 400 yards of offense and over 35 points.
The roles seemed reversed in this game and GC was only able to manage 241 yards of offense and three points. The game, which kicked-off in the early afternoon, had a factor in it that no one could have prepared the team for: freezing temperatures. In fact, subfreezing temperatures would be more exact. The mercury remained in the high teens and low 20’s throughout the game and was undoubtedly a factor, although no one on the team nor the coaching staff would admit that.
Although GC didn’t end the season the way they would have wished, there is still a lot they can hang their helmets on: they finished the season 12-1 and were 12-0 going into the NAIA Semifinal game. They managed to score 427 points over their 12 games and only allowed 184 all season, 35 of which came in the Carroll game.
They also did all of this (with the exception of the first four games) without star quarterback Kaelin Ammons. The Tigers quarterback went down with a knee injury early on in the season and freshman Neal Pawsat was called on to step under center.
Pawsat stepped up and has made play after play, time after time this season. With Pawsat returning and this squad only losing limited people, things are looking bright for the future at GC.
The way I see this loss is simply as a bump in the road, a different avenue perhaps, to a National Title in the future. Under the guidance of Coach Bill Cronin and the continued development of star athletes, I would say the future is looking bright indeed. However for now it is time to hang up the cleats, store the uniforms and lock the stadium: football is over.
Cronin named AFCA NAIA Region Coach of the Year
Georgetown College’s Bill Cronin joins very good company as the American Football Coaches Association released its 2011 Regional Coach of the Year winners. AFCA selects coaches from five regions in each football division for a total of at least 25 winners.
There were two ties in the NAIA division for 27 coaches being honored this season for their 2011 campaign. Among those coaches are Louisiana State University’s Les Miles, Oklahoma State University’s Mike Gundy, Clemson University’s Dabo Swinney and Eastern Kentucky University’s Dean Hood.
In his 15 years at the helm of the Tigers, Cronin has been named National Head Coach of the Year twice, Mid-South Conference Coach of the Year six times, and just this year is receiving his first AFCA Regional Coach of the Year honor.
He and Lindsey Wilson College’s Chris Oliver were selected as co-Region 1 winners. GC went 12-1, winning its second straight MSC East Division Title and advancing to the 2011 NAIA Football Championship Series Semi finals. Oliver directed the Blue Raiders to a 7-3 nish in the program’s second season and a second place finish in the East.
The AFCA began recognizing district coaches of the year following the 1960 season. The awards were established the same year Eastman Kodak agreed to sponsor the AFCA Coach of the Year award. Prior to 1960, the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain had sponsored the program which recognized one national Coach of the Year. The AFCA first recognized eight district winners in each of two divisions, university and college.
In 1972, a ninth district was added in each division. In 1983, the award was changed to recognize regional winners instead of district winners, and the number of divisions was increased from two to four, and five regional winners were selected in each division. This resulted in a more equitable selection process and better represented the make-up of the membership.
At the same time, the new system increased the number of honorees from 18 to 20. In 2006, the AFCA Division II award was split into separate Division II and NAIA divisions, giving us the 25 winners we now recognize.