(Olathe, Kansas) - On the eve of their NAIA Football Championship Series (FCS) Quarterfinal Round game at Baker University the fifth ranked Morningside College football team went out for dinner as a team a local Applebee's, business as usual for a college team of any kind on the road. However, last Friday night what happened in Olathe shows what small-college athletics is all about and why the NAIA, the GPAC, and in this case Morningside College has some pretty special student-athletes who embody being Champions of Character. Often student-athletes can make more of an impact off the field than on the field. This story shows why what you do on a Friday night in a restaurant may mean more than any touchdown pass thrown or caught in a college football game on a Saturday afternoon.
The following e-mail was sent to Morningside Athletic Director Tim Jager and Head Football Coach Steve Ryan on Monday and is being shared with permission of sender and Morningside College.
Mr. Jager and Mr. Ryan,
My name is Amber Miller and I am a 1999 Ottawa University graduate. I take pride in small liberal (arts) schools and felt compelled to share with you what my family experienced this past Friday night. My husband and I, along with our two children (Holden age 7 and Kinsley age 5), and neighbors went to the Olathe Applebee's as we live down the street in Spring Hill, Kansas.
While dining, the entire Morningside football team walked in. I immediately recognized them as I knew they were playing Baker on Saturday. My son was in "AH" and begged me to ask for their autographs. I told him he could. The waitress and my son Holden approached a young man - I believe it was Darius Hicks and Holden asked for his autograph. Mr. Hicks was touched and responded with "Little Man.....I could do better than that!" He proceeded to get everyone on the team's autograph, along with the coaches. I can't tell you how happy my son was. Holden was glowing and couldn't stop talking about it all weekend long.
He asked on Sunday if "his team" won against Baker and I confirmed they did. Congrats!!! Your team's compassion needs to be shared with others as this is what makes the NAIA what it is! I wish you much success and Coach Ryan I remember you from Ottawa - congrats on your head coaching and raising a great team.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa senior tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz and junior left offensive tackle Brandon Scherff have been named first team All-Big Ten by a vote of league coaches. In addition, senior defensive back B.J. Lowery was a first team selection by league media. The teams were announced by the Big Ten Conference Monday on the BTN’s annual show revealing the 2013 all-conference teams and individual award winners.
The Big Ten coaches second unit includes senior right offensive tackle Brett Van Sloten, junior defensive tackle Carl Davis and senior linebackers Anthony Hitchens and James Morris. The Big Ten media second unit includes Scherff, Fiedorowicz, Morris and senior kicker Mike Meyer.
Hawkeye players earning honorable mention recognition on both the coaches and media units include sophomore center Austin Blythe, senior offensive guard Conor Boffeli, senior linebacker Christian Kirksey, senior defensive back Tanner Miller and junior defensive tackle Louis Trinca-Pasat.
Lowery was named honorable mention by Big Ten coaches, while Big Ten media named Davis, Hitchens, Van Sloten, senior long snapper Casey Kreiter and junior defensive back John Lowdermilk to the honorable mention squad. Morris is also Iowa’s recipient of the Big Ten’s Sportsmanship Award.
Fiedorowicz (Johnsburg, Ill.), has at least one reception in 30 straight games and his season totals include 26 catches for 253 yards and six touchdowns. Scherff (Denison, Iowa), has started every game at left tackle after missing seven games a year ago due to injury. Lowery (Cincinnati, Ohio), ranks second in the Big Ten and fourth nationally in pass break-ups (1.58). He totaled 55 tackles and three interceptions, with two touchdown returns.
Morris (Solon, Iowa), Hitchens (Lorain, Ohio), and Kirksey (St. Louis, Mo.), have combined to give the Hawkeyes one of the top linebacker crews in the nation. Hitchens leads Iowa in tackles (102), followed by Morris (99) and Kirksey (97). In career stops, Morris has 392, Kirksey 308 and Hitchens 260. Morris also leads Iowa with four interceptions.
Van Sloten (Decorah, Iowa), has been Iowa’s most durable offensive lineman over the past two seasons, starting all 24 games. Blythe and Boffeli started every game this season as Iowa started the same five offensive linemen in all 12 games.
Miller (Kalona, Iowa), has also enjoyed a steady career 35 games over the past three seasons. This season he has recorded 63 tackles and is tied for second on the team with three interceptions. He is the fourth current Hawkeyes with over 200 career tackles (215). Trinca-Pasat (Chicago), has started at defensive tackle in 24 straight games. He has 34 tackles this season, including seven tackles for loss and a recovered fumble.
Lowdermilk (Carrollton, Ohio), is in his first season as a starter and recorded 72 tackles, fourth on the team behind the trio of linebackers. Kreiter (DeWitt, Iowa), joined the team as a walk-on and has handled deep snaps for three consecutive years, snapping for all field goal and PAT attempts in every game.
Morris has been recognized for his talents both on and off the field. He has twice been named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. He is one of 16 players in the nation to be named a National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athlete and he is one of four finalists for the Lott IMPACT Trophy and one of 12 finalists for the Wuerffel Trophy.
With an 8-4 record, Iowa is tied for third among all BCS schools in win total improvement from 2012 to 2013, trailing only Auburn (+8), Boston College (+6) and Missouri (+6). The Hawkeyes are tied with Michigan State and Duke. Iowa is bowl eligible for the 12th time in 13 seasons and has won at least eight games in four of the last six years.
(Sioux City, IA) – Morningside College’s football team will travel to Des Moines, Iowa, to face Grand View University on Saturday, Dec. 7, in an all-Iowa semifinal round game in the NAIA Championship Series. Gametime in Des Moines is set for 1pm. The other NAIA Semifinal will feature Carroll at Cumberlands next Saturday.
Morningside will take an 11-1 record and a No. 5 NAIA national ranking into the contest. The Mustangs, champions of the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) with an 8-1 league record, advanced to the semifinals with a 36-28 victory against No. 4 Baker University in Saturday’s quarterfinal round game in Baldwin City, Kan.
The Mustangs are in the NAIA Championship Series for the 10th year in a row and have an all-time record of 12-9 in NAIA Championship Series competition. Morningside, which has an all-time record of 1-1 in the NAIA Semifinals, is coming off its best post-season finish in school history after it lost 30-27 in overtime against Marion University in last year’s Russell Athletic-NAIA Football National Championship Game in Rome, Ga.
Morningside defeated Saint Xavier University 47-19 in last year’s NAIA Semifinals. The Mustangs’ other semifinal round appearance came in 2005 when they lost 42-14 against the University of Saint Francis. Second-ranked Grand View improved its record to 12-0 with a 44-24 victory against No. 11 Tabor College in Saturday’s quarterfinal round game in Des Moines. The Vikings are this year’s champion of the Mid-States Football Association (MSFA) Midwest League with a 6-0 record.
Grand View is making its second appearance in the NAIA Championship Series, where it has an all-time record of 2-1. The Vikings are in their sixth season of varsity football after making their debut in 2008. Saturday’s game will be the first-ever meeting between the two teams.
2013 NAIA Football Championship Semifinal Pairings