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The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Macalester Football wins Paint Bucket, ends year on high note as team transitions into Midwest Conference

When Levi Brown ’14 (Winona, Minn.) tore his ACL just five days into football training camp, the Scots not only lost their starting linebacker but also their vocal and emotional leader. Brown’s injury was the first in a string of devastating blows to the Scots, in a year marred by injuries to several of the team’s star players.

Starting running back Zandy Stowell ’16 (Chippewa Falls, Wis.) suffered a season-ending injury in the team’s week three victory over Maranatha Baptist (Watertown, Wis.). Prior to his injury, Stowell had gained 252 yards and scored a touchdown, helping the Scots to a 2-1 start.
Despite this promising start, the Scots hit a low point on Oct. 12 when they suffered a 56-17 blowout loss to Carleton in front of the second-largest home crowd of the season.
Even as the team battled through injuries and a tough four-game losing stretch from Oct. 5 to Oct. 26, starting defensive back Jole Miller ’15 (Missouri Valley, Ia.) said the team persisted.

“We kind of had to reevaluate what we were doing as a team,” he said. “We followed up that loss with our best week of practice throughout the whole year and continued to have good practices after that.”

According to Miller, the team chooses a three letter acronym at the beginning of each season. This year, the team chose BFB, or Be the First Believer. He said this was representative of the coaching staff and players’ belief that the team could be successful in the face of adversity.

The team’s persistence paid off, as they closed out the season by winning two of their final three games. The Scots won 44-13 over Trinity Bible (N.D.) and last Saturday defeated Hamline 7-0. With the two victories, the Scots finished the season with a 4-6 record, a drop from last year’s 6-4 mark.
Miller said that the seniors, which included Brown, defensive back Joe Dykema ’14 (Roseville, Minn.) and Ben Conlon ’14 (St. Peter, Minn.) would be missed. “[Conlon] always had great energy,” he said. “[Dykema] is not a very vocal guy, but just his presence and work ethic was really motivating.”

Since Brown suffered his season-ending injury, teammates said that he continued to provide a valuable presence on the team.

“He came to all of the practices and all of the meetings,” Miller said. “He was always there, an emotional leader who got people going.”

Finishing his Macalester career with 11 receiving touchdowns, John Johnson ’14 (McKenzie, Tenn.) was reflective, yet accepting of the fact that his collegiate career was over. After spending more than a decade playing football, Johnson quipped that he’s “wearing down” and “would probably get injured” if he played another year.

In the team’s season finale, the Scots shutout Snelling Avenue rival Hamline (2-8 this season) to maintain control of the Paint Bucket Trophy for the third consecutive season. Johnson said he was “ecstatic” to defeat the Pipers and close out his senior year on a high note.

The Scots’ victory was keynoted by another strong showing by quarterback Samson Bialostok ’15 (North Woodmere, N.Y.), who was both an aerial and running threat, throwing for 83 yards and rushing for 44. Bialostok connected with Johnson on a 30-yard touchdown midway through the first quarter to provide the afternoon’s only scoring play. Daniel Ricci ’14 (Menomonee Falls, Wis.) led the ground attack for the Scots with 60 yards on 13 carries.

In the end, it was the Scots’ shutdown defense that powered the team to victory. Miller led a defensive backfield that had an interception fest, picking off the Pipers five times. Miller had two INTs and teammates Bolton Howes ’15 and Konnor Fleming ’15 (Charlotte, Vt.) had two and one apiece.

“Being able to force them into second-and-long, third-and-long passing downs, we knew that we’d be in a good place to be successful,” Miller said.

“I was just overjoyed,” said Miller of the victory. “There was no better way to beat them. A big game. Close game. It was a great way to send out the seniors.”

“It felt like winning a championship when that final horn sounded,” said defensive lineman Zach Hauser ’16 (Port Washington, Wis.). “Keeping the Paint Bucket is really special. If you look at it, Hamline has had it for a very long time. Then was their time to have it, now it is our turn to keep it.”

For Hauser, the Hamline win was a sentimental game.

“Playing the last game with this group of seniors was really emotional,” he said. “These guys have been through a lot the past four years and were really the mentors last year for me.”

After competing as an independent team for the past 12 seasons, the Scots will move to the Midwest Conference next year. The Scots will compete in the conference’s northern division, which includes Beloit College (Beloit, Wis.), Lawrence College (Appleton, Wis.), Ripon College (Ripon, Wis.), St. Norbert College (DePere, Wis.) and Carroll College (Waukesha, Wis.).

Although the nearest conference competitor is over 250 miles away from Saint Paul, the Scots appear energized by the move.

“I think we’re a program on the rise,” Johnson said. “Obviously moving to a new conference is exciting, and I think it will allow us the opportunity to be even more competitive.”
Johnson was optimistic about the future of a program which he leaves but will return its quarterback Bialostok, running back Stowell, a speedy group of wide receivers including Tre Nowaczynski ’17 (Hales Corners, Wis.), Hunter Johnson ’16 (Malibu, Calif.) and Victor Bordo ’16 (Evanston, Ill.) and the majority of an aggressive defense headed by leading tackler Ryan Fleming ’16 (Charlotte, Vt.).

Hauser said he’s excited to “show people what [the Scots] can do in a competitive conference.”

Meanwhile, Miller was hopeful to develop some traditions with the team’s new competition.

“I hope new rivalries come about,” he said. “That’s what football is all about.”

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