After two years of intense training and practice, the University of Saint Thomas Tommies overcame mediocrity and have become one of the best teams in Division III football. Currently undefeated, they made their way into the playoffs, which began Nov. 20th (where they won 57-10 against Benedictine (Ill.)), and plan to go all the way to the national championship.
A lot of momentum has been growing around this team; the Tommies are one of the most close-nit teams in college football and have great team chemistry. A great exemplar of the emotion following this team is shown after their 27-26 victory over St. Johns in OT, the crowd rushed the field in celebration.
“Everyone plays with a lot of emotion out there,” says freshman rover Winter Cullen. “Practice is really up tempo and fast paced, getting guys in and out…Our season is looking great as long as we play Tommie football. We are really excited and pumped for what’s going on.”
Right now, the Tommies are 11-0 in no small thanks to Winter. Currently, the true freshman rotates in plays behind senior All-American Brian Villar, and sophomore Josh Carey. However, he is also a part of the scout special teams and scout defense. The scout team’s job is to provide the first-team offense and defense with an accurate simulation of their weekly opponents. Hence, the scout team is often highly underappreciated, for they have to learn the playbooks of each team on their schedule, in addition to their own team’s playbook, where the starters only have to learn the latter.
“I [just] try to give them the best look on scout special teams and defense,” says Winter Cullen. Modest for a player who is expected to get a lot of playing time next year. A value that is to be admired considering Winter came from Wellington High School in Wellington, Florida, a school that won very few games in the four year span he played there.
(The records for the seasons are not complete. They read that in the 2009-2010 season, they went 5-5; in the 2008-2009 season, they went 1-2, in the 2006-2007 season, they went 3-7).
Moving from a very poor football environment to a highly winning program would make many others jump on the chance of finally receiving that “winner’s high,” which is why it’s so nice to see a player truly appreciate the opportunities he has.
Unfortunately, many people dismiss Division II and Division III football as sub-par and they miss the chance to see a special game of football. Just because a team is unheard of, or that it may not have players like Emmit Smith, Troy Aikman, Joe Montana, Joe Namath, Dan Marino, or Jon Elway, does not mean they don't have just as much heart as any player in the country.
On the other hand, Division III football does have players like Pierre Garcon, who plays for the Indianapolis Colts as a WR (Garcon set an AFC record for most receptions in the AFC championship game), London Fletcher, who plays for the Washington Redskins as an MLB (Went to a Super Bowl and was a Pro Bowler in the 2009-2010 season as well as an eight time Pro Bowl alternate), and Fred Jackson, who plays for the Buffalo Bills as a RB (the first NFL player to have 1000 rushing and kickoff return yards in a season).
I encourage anyone who has the chance to watch the rest of the Tommies’ season on http://www.mnsportsnetwork.com/ as I will. I guarantee that if given a chance, they will impress you.