While watching Stillwater’s undefeated sophomore football team crush Cretin’s sophies 52-14 last Thursday night, Ponies head coach Beau LaBore informed me that his record against the Raiders was 0-10.
That’s right, sports fans, 0-10!
I believe that he thought the next day he would get that huge monkey — that had grown to the size of King Kong and Mighty Joe Young by then — off his back.
I assured LaBore that the law of averages was on his side and his team would prevail 27-21. That’s easy for me to say, but the good guys had to do it and they did, winning 21-7.
Because of a previous coaching assignment, we were late when we walked in the St. Thomas stadium and the boys from C-DH were already lined up for an extra point after touchdown — and that’s never a good sign.
From that point on, however, the Big Red Ponies turned the Raiders every way but loose before a national TV audience on ESPN2.
The Ponies, led by junior running back Zach Knox with 134 yards on 31 carries and steady quarterback Trevor Tillett behind a hard-charging line, amassed 230 total yards. Tillett was 8 for 13 passing for 95 yards and a 16-yard TD pass to junior Matt Anderson.
Fans told me that ESPN focused most of its attention on Cretin’s junior standout Jashon Cornell, who ESPN has anointed the No. 1 player in next year’s recruiting class. He is no doubt an excellent player, but credit the Ponies line of Peter Palecek, Nick Brevitz, Oliver O’Keefe, Cal Rorabeck, Joe Knapp and tight ends Anderson and Ben Gualtieri for keeping him from sacking our man Tillett.
The Ponies held C-DH to 319 total yards and that couldn’t have been easy while trying to contain star quarterback and Hawaii U bound Ricardo Johnson III.
Johnson’s 47-yard TD pass to Tony Adamle was their biggest moment as two other attempts from inside the red zone went kaput. Adamle is the son of former Ponies offensive coordinator Vic Adamle under former coach Scott Hoffman.
The Ponies gave up some passing yards to Johnson and company, but they were air tight when C-DH attempted to run against guys like Mitch Schertz, Keith Parendo and Ian Weisbrod. That was Haden Hausken who sacked Johnson on a night to forget if you’re a C-DH fan.
“That was a gutsy performance by the entire team, but we need to shore up our pass defense,” said defensive coordinator Mark Elmer.
Stillwater must improve this tomorrow night against Hastings (1-2) and not look ahead — I’m sure the coaches have emphasized this fact all week long.
Here is this week’s prep football Thole Poll: 1. Eden Prairie (3-0); 2. Minnetonka (4-0); 3. East Ridge (3-0); 4. Stillwater (3-0); 5. Wayzata 2-1; 6. Mounds View (3-0); 7. Andover (3-0); 8. Maple Grove (3-0); 9. Lakeville North (3-0); 10, tie, Hutchinson (3-0) and Rosemount (2-1).
In the huddle
Jenny (Gibson) Tuccitto ’94, who left our SAHS campus with a diploma almost four lustrums ago, has been doing quite well by all standards. Since graduating with a master’s degree in physical therapy from the College of St. Catherine. She has designed exercises for
people with Parkinson’s Disease and other neurological disorders. Jenny is an expert LSVT BIG Certified clinician who has recently released a DVD where she leads viewers with Parkinson’s through a series of limb and body movement exercises. Our girl has lectured in several states and foreign countries on this subject and is employed by the Courage Center in Stillwater. Jenny, pride of the Fairmeadows neighborhood where she grew up, and her husband and former Ponies hockey ace Bob Tuccitto reside in Stillwater with their children Ty, 9, and Cici, 7…. I think I’ve heard this song before, but it looks to these old eyes that coach Brian Luke has another excellent cadre of swimmers on his girls’ team. Checking out the early season honor rolls, I find Ponies with monikers like Kylie Burgess, Mary Knaak, Sophie Barnes, Kristin Erf and juniors Liz Click and Sophia Bisch. The youth movement continues with sophomores Abby Kunze, freshman Ava Howard and seventh-grader Asia Neuman. Luke and his staff of Carrie Madline, Tess Radecke, Stewart Rivall and the iconic Elmer Luke will keep the giant ball rolling. Speaking of female swimmers, no less than 14 SAHS alums are competing for collegiate teams covering seven states. The Gophers are the two-time defending Big Ten championships thanks in part to Big Ten Diver of the Year Maggie Keefer and sprinter Monica Radecke. Other stateside swimmers include Meghan Talbot and Olivia VanOrsdale for St. Thomas, Kasey Lyng at Concordia-Moorhead and Ragan Sovell for Hamline. Crossing the state line are Hannah Bowen for the golden dome of Notre Dame, Claire Rutscher at Vermont, Torie Buberl and Summer Olson for the U of South Dakota, Anna Percival for UW-Milwaukee, Jordan Duncan for Carthage and Jordan Skaar for Luther. That’s an impressive lineup…. Former SAHS and St. Thomas all-conference 800-meter runner Erik Bunce ’94 and his lovely wife Sarah (Estreen) Bunce ’94, one of the very best football managers I ever had, welcomed Evelyn Ione Bunce (8 pounds, 14 ounces and 19.8 inches) to their family on 8:10 a.m., on Aug. 13.
Evelyn joins big sister Claire and big brother Jonah. Erik is a school teacher and Sarah a lawyer. The Bunce family resides in Cleveland Heights, Ohio…. North Dakota State University will host ESPN’s Gameday TV show with Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreet and all those neat guys in Fargo, N.D., on Saturday. The Bison are two-time defending FCS national champions and currently ranked No. 1…. The Gophers football team has to improve dramatically if it hopes to have a winning season. Leading FCS and Missouri Valley bottom feeder Western Illinois 7-6 at the half shows a team that wasn’t ready to play. The final 29-12 margin against a team with 23 fewer scholarships won’t fill the seats. San Jose State might be tougher than we think. Full speed ahead…. finis
Today’s rumination #634
You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.
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George Thole retired as head football coach at Stillwater after the 1999 season. He ranks among Minnesota’s top coaches in history with a 285-69-2 record (.805 winning percentage), including four state titles and two state runner-up finishes among 22 championship seasons. He co-authored (with Jerry Foley) “Coaching the Veer Offense,” second edition. His column appears Thursdays in the Gazette. To contact the hall of fame coach e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org