Scots football has first winning season since 1986

By Patrick Murphy

The streak is finally over. History was made last Saturday as the Macalester football team took down Martin Luther 28-21 to cap its first winning season since 1986. Finishing the year 6-3 marks a big turnaround for a program notorious for a losing tradition in past seasons. The accomplishment of a winning season wasn’t a fluke though, and certainly didn’t occur overnight.

To put the scope of the football program’s past struggles into perspective, the team was featured on ESPN a few years back as the second-worst collegiate football program of all time due to a 50-game losing streak in the late 70s. The struggles continued over the years, as the team was dropped from the MIAC in 2001.

When head coach Tony Jennison took over the reigns in 2008, he re-emphasized the importance of creating a tradition of excellence both on and off the field.

“When we were recruited to come to Mac by our current coaching staff, they all stressed the importance and the challenge that comes with turning a program around,” defensive lineman Will Dhonau ’12 said.

By recruiting student athletes who were committed to turning the program around, setting realistic goals year-to-year, and building off of success and learning from failure, the feeling surrounding Mac football began to change.

“One of the overriding goals of the team has been to change the culture at Mac regarding football,” wide receiver Mike Snavely ’12 said. “The winning season has gone a long way towards achieving that change.”

With quality players and a mindset set on turning things around, the pieces were in place for the team to take a significant step forward this season. However, like in any sport, there are so many variables that go into a football game that even the best plan can be easily interrupted.

Things were looking shaky for the Scots early on when they dropped the season opener to Grinnell. The situation became even more dire when four-year starting quarterback Trevor Miehe ’11 went down for the season with an injury against Cornell in the second game of the year.

However, quarterback Clark Bledsoe ’13 did an excellent job filling in for the fallen signal caller, and the team rallied together to save its season.

“I really believe the attitude of the team was tremendous,” Jennison said. “We pushed them hard and challenged them to give their best, and that’s exactly what they did all season long.”

The team was led by a solid core of seniors who had been working to turn the football program around since the time they stepped on campus four years ago.

“The legacy I want to leave behind is for the underclassmen and future generations of Scots to see the effort the senior class put in since the beginning and to realize hard work does pay off,” offensive lineman Joey Shearer ’11 said.

The key will be for the Scots to continue building off of this year’s success as they prepare for the 2011 campaign.

“Now that we’ve had a taste of success, we just have to stay hungry,” Dhonau said. “And I know we all will.