The 2015 Season: Post Mortem, MVP’s, and Special Awards

November 24, 2015
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Texas A&M-Commerce Lions, 2015 Lone Star Conference Champions, NCAA Division II Playoff Qualifier, 20th Ranked  Team in the Nation.


This is my next to last post of the season, well actually in regards to this team specifically, it will be my last post. I will not do a post mortem write up for the Ferris State game, mainly because a lot of the key players in that game will not be with us next year. A bittersweet way to go out, first time back in the NCAA Division II playoffs in 2 decades, and from the looks of things, HC Carthel is primed to really take us to the next level, back to national title contention. So today my post is going to cover three things, MVP’s and a new set of awards for outgoing Seniors, so lets get to it.

Overall, this season was better than last. We beat Angelo State twice, Midwestern when they were ranked higher than we were, shut out Tarleton to take the President’s cup for the third straight year, beat up West Texas in Canyon, and have 4 straight Chennault Cup wins over the Hoggies down in Kingsville. The quality of the wins and even of the losses were much better and what made a difference was the ability to run the ball effectively and throw it efficiently. Niether one of those would have been able to have been done without a strong offensive line that whipped tail all year long and provided great protection and opened great holes for the backs, and D-Linemen who got after it and came after the opposition on every snap. Next year looks very bright with a lot of the offense and defense coming back. The high point was doubling up to beat Angelo State, and the low point was losing to Midwestern in the tournament Championship game, but this season created a lot of memories for these Seniors going out. So here are your Prairie Lion Nation Football Awards for the 2015 season.


Team MVP: The Lion backfield, Richard Cooper and Theo Wofford. In the entire makeup of the team, these two guys provided themselves to be so invaluable. They returned kickoffs, churned out yards, burned clock, wore defenses down, kept our defense fresh, took the load off Harrison Stewart and the WR’s to do everything, and kept good opposing offenses on the sidelines. They did everything you could ask for and really without these two guys, there would have been some tough things to overcome. When I look at what the team as a whole was able to accomplish, these two guys played a hand in some form or fashion in just about every bit of success that was had by this team. Running, blocking, just doing everything they could do for the team. Theo, we will miss you dearly sir, and Cooper, we cannot wait for next year to see how you will cap off your career.

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Another great offensive year.

Offensive MVP: Lance Evans. The kid was a total home run threat and also made some just amazing catches and was also a great possession receiver. He matured a ton in just one season from a back up last year to Vernon Johnson to becoming, along with Darby Smith, a fantastic WR. Lance is a sound fundamental player and made some fantastic plays. He was the main target for the QB’s this year and was defended by some very tough DB’s across the nation and still produced almost a thousand yards receiving with 50 catches and 8 touchdowns. He led the WR core in every stat, and with some great WR’s on this team, that is saying something.

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Defensive MVP: Charles Woods. From the start to the end, Woods was the most productive, the most consistent, and a huge part of what made the defense such a good unit. His numbers are just outstanding. 120 total tackles, 60 unassisted, 60 assisted, 7.5 for loss, 1 sack, 1 interception, 6 pass break ups, and first team all conference. I know, some of you may say Toni Pulu should have gotten this award, and there is a strong case for that, but from a numbers and productivity standpoint, I believe Woods makes the best case and when your name is called on the PA system a lot and you play linebacker, you are one heck of a linebacker.

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Special teams were special again.

Special Teams: Buck Wilson and Devarus Shores. There was no way I could pick only one of them. Buck Wilson is one of those guys that just has to wait to get the ball in his hands and gives the offense a short field to work with. He was outstanding as a return man this year and when teams started to kick it away from him or kick it to another deep back, who was usually equally as dangerous that says something. He was a huge part in getting us good field position. Shores was nothing short of spectacular as a defender. He blocked……..oh gosh I lost count of how many punts and PAT’s he blocked, not to mentioned forced fumbles, turnovers he caused and of course, the Angelo State game where he made a play that won the game for us and we did not know it until the game was over. Both of these guys were fantastic this year and deserve this award.

Now, as most know, our University Creed is “Ceaseless Industry, Fearless Investigation, Unfettered Thought, and Unselfish Service to Others.” So what I have created is a set of awards that will be given to Seniors only every years end who exhibted the characteristic in the creed of our University and what we were founded on. So, here they are.

Ceaseless: Ceaseless means “one who does not stop a particular action.” When I think of that, I think of Chase Thrasher. Thrasher has dedicated his entire collegiate career to learning to do a job over and over again, and that is to kick the football. Lets face it, the punter and place kicker is rarely, if ever the sexy position in Football, but when you have one that always responds to the call (think Dan Bailey of the Dallas Cowboys), you appreciate it. Chase was ceaseless in his actions in working to become in my opinion, the best punter and kickoff man in the conference. I believe he has the leg to get looked at to go to the next level. Well done Chase, we will miss you.

Fearless: There is one person that exhibits this characteristic, and that is Cole Pitts. Cole is an Alvin, Texas product who may not look like much, but that guy fears nothing. For 4 years I watched him run into and over many a runner, blocker and receiver. It is natural for smaller guys to try to run around or from huge guys, but not for this dude. I saw him take many an O Lineman head on and many a time took them for a ride. You cannot be ruled by fear in Football, and not in life, and Pitts feared nobody. This one is for the fearless one, Cole Pitts.

Unfettered: Unfettered is defined simply as “release from restraint or inhibition.” In other words, someone who just have one focus and keeps on keepin’ on. Toni Pulu. For every single game, Toni had his mind on one thing, make the life of the opposing quarterback a living hell. He had a job to do and that was to get after the backfield snap after snap, game after game. He did that and I believe he gets a shot at the NFL.

Unselfish: In sports, unselfish players are often the best teammates, but not the best players. This is different. Harrison Stewart will leave Commerce as one of the best passers to ever wear the Lion uniform, and he could have been the best. It did not take long for the coaching staff to realize that we had a strong running game, and I am sure Harrison was looking forward to chunking it 40-50 times a game for every game, but he did not putting up gaudy numbers due to the running play calls. Most coaches would have thought that having Harrison back there handing the ball off every other play was wasting him, but not this staff, and not this guy. He exhibited leadership, and sacrifice. He could have thrown for over 4,000 yards and thrown 40 touchdowns, but he was the ultimate team player. Gabe Rodriguez working in the truck package throwing and running for TD’s and of course Cooper and Theo doing their thing. He did not complain or act like he should be the start of the show. Stewart led, did his job, and when he was called on to make plays, he came through. Being unselfish is something that more people will remember you for than most anything else. Congrats on your memorable Season and Career Harrison, you earned it pal.

Side Note: Last year, I got to know and visit a lot with former Lion QB Deric Davis’s family, who were just awesome to me and I look forward to seeing double D playing in the Arena Leagues soon. I also got to know the Stewart family, his parents were two of the most gracious people I have met and to all of the parents who have thanked me for writing about their Sons, I thank you for giving me a reason to write. I will do one more write up, but it will be about the playoff structure and how I would fix it, but this is it for Lion Football 2015. Had another fun ride, and looking forward to next year.

God bless,


Final: Ferris State 48, Texas A&M-Commerce 30

November 21, 2015

Good season. The second half was less kinder to us than the first half. Write up coming up. Congrats to the Seniors as they go out with nothing to hang their head about.

Halftime: Texas A&M-Commerce 16, Ferris State 13.

November 21, 2015

Sports fans, let me tell you something. If this game was being played in Commerce, America, Ferris State would be down by a LOT MORE than 3 points. Lions squandered two golden red zone opportunities and also missed a FG at the end of the half. That is 17 points. Lion defense is play very well right now and as good of player as Vander Laan is, he gets toasted every time he drops back. He is not used to playing teams that come after him like we are and you can tell their defense is not used to having to defend a true multi dimensional team. If we lose this game, it is because we gave it away, but based on what I see I see an group of blue and gold playing very hungry right now.

Texas A&M-Commerce @ Ferris State-NCAA Playoffs First Round-5 Thoughts

November 21, 2015

  1. We can beat this team. The forecast for tomorrow calls for snow and 32 degrees. Ice Bowl, snow bowl, who cares what you call it, it is probably on. The spread offense usually does not perform well in the snow, but stranger things have happened before. I believe you will see a heavy dose of Richard Cooper and Theo Wofford early on and see how that goes. Also, do not be surprised if Chris Chumley might be your X factor on offense tomorrow. 3 Big name receivers who are all fast and formidable, more than likely you will see some guys step up to play who may not have done as much earlier on this year.
  2. What determines how well this group plays will depend on one word, attitude. It would be easy to have a “this sucks” attitude. However, this group wanted to win the conference and get to the playoffs, and they did. I have a strong feeling that getting at least one playoff win is now on that wish list. This is the biggest test we have faced under the Carthel era. Everything is pretty much stacked against us, so how do we step up? Tomorrow I believe it will come to who is more physical and which team wears the other team down. If we can do that, do not be surprised if we come back to Texas with a win.
  3. Ferris State is a good team, and for the third time this year, we are playing a Harlon Hill finalist. Jason Vander Laan is a very good player, and to be honest, he is the key cog in the offensive attack at FSU. He is a very accurate and efficient passer, having thrown for over 2,200 yards and rushed for 1,300 more. He is a big dude too. I have not gotten to see much film of him, so it will be interesting to see how he moves so well and what his true strengths are. FSU seems to be just like their QB, very balanced on offense. Looking at their strength of schedule, I really do not know if they are really that good or of their conference is that weak, I assume we will find out tomorrow
  4. One of the reasons I believe we can win this game is because there is not a single game we have been out of this year. We had a Division I FCS team on the ropes and literally gave away our other two losses by a combined amount of 9 points. We have played in the heat of August, the rains of Northeast Texas, and the wind of West Texas. Like I said earlier, if we come out with a physical Football game with the express intent of coming after Vander Laan and play good football with few mistakes, I believe we will win.
  5. Here is some history for you. We have been to the National playoffs 5 times. Our record in first round games is 4-1. Let’s hope this time tomorrow that changes to 5-1. Also, I have been asked what are the chances we get a playoff game in Commerce. Chances are slim, two things must happen in order for that to happen. First, we have to make a run of at least getting to the third round of the playoffs and have to be a higher seed. The seeding committee made that a really low likelihood but a guy can dream, right?

For those of you in the Dallas area, I will be watching this game at 1st and 10 in the Lakewood neighborhood. Game kicks off at 11 AM our time, so no sleeping in that much for me tomorrow. There is an actual watch party, so I hope to see some of you there.

The Season-5 Thoughts

November 17, 2015
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Five Thoughts on another great season

Well, it has been almost a full 72 hours since the clock hit all zeros on our regular season. This season has been merely a continuation of what started in 2013 with the hiring of Colby Carthel and staff, and for the first time in 20 years, we are heading back to the NCAA Division II playoffs with a conference championship in tow. I have 5 thoughts I would like to share regarding the season and even the last game we played.

  1. The loss Saturday stung more than the one last year. You may ask why so, mainly because I despise the fact the Lone Star Conference put us in this position two straight years and we got punished for it. It is very hard to beat an opponent twice on the road, and the fact that we got the 7th seed while MSU gets a first round bye is a total sham, and anyone with a shred of sense knows it. However, we are still in the playoffs, and we need to prove to that we are better that what have been getting ranked at the past two seasons. Stay tuned for a write up on how I would run the NCAA postseason in Division II.
  2. We are set to be a power in this conference and in the region for the long haul. The recruits, the booster funding, the crowds, everything we need for a long term success we have again. I may disagree with a coaching decision or two during the game, but I have this staff’s back because I know what kind of Man Colby Carthel is and what stands for and represents. He is doing everything right and I hope that he stays around here for a long time, because if he does, I believe we will be National Champions again.
  3. I have to say a word about Harrison Stewart. He is the QB, Captain, and leader of the offense. Two years ago, I saw a JUCO transfer from California with a great arm and great potential, and this year a I see a guy who has matured into great leader for a team. He has exceeded expectations and let’s face it, he probably had the notion that he would get to throw the ball more than he has so far this season, but Richard Cooper and Theo Wofford have shown themselves to be a super potent force running the Football and we have ran the ball a lot more than we thought we would. Harrison has played under a lot of scrutiny and handled it well with maturity. I have also enjoyed getting to know his family. Much like last year with Deric Davis and his family, getting to know these players families and helping to give their Sons the recognition they deserve is a part of what I do what I do, and I take great joy in it.
  4. The Defense has looked dominant at times during this season and when it comes down to bare knuckle physicality, they have been. I have enjoyed watching Cole Pitts knock the tar out of many a ball carrier and the incredible plays made by our secondary. The unit as a whole has won games by getting stops, and they put us in the position to win the game Saturday, but the ball just did not bounce our way, but when you have a great defense with an offense that clicks, that is the recipe for a team that can make a deep run.
  5. So yes, we drew the short straw for the playoffs. We drew the number one team in the country, but do I think we can beat the Ferris State Bulldogs? No. I KNOW we can beat the Ferris State Bulldogs because the gauntlet that we ran this year showed us we can play with anyone. We have to play in the cold, but we can perform and win on the road, and I believe with all my heart and my mind, we can knock Ferris State off, in fact I believe we can beat anyone in Division II. It is a question of will we, and that all depends upon learning lessons from the shortcomings of the past. This group committed 3 egregious errors that led to MSU being gifted 21 points. It is quite simple, if we do not make those mistakes, we win. So the focus this week should be on eliminating mistakes and being focused but not too tight. They will not have long to practice due to where they are headed, but there is a lot that can be done to bring the team together and have them know they can beat anyone in the country, and they most certainly can. Again, this question is will they eliminate the mistakes and get a chance to come back to Commerce and play a playoff game? I believe they can, but sometimes, one can only hope.

Final- Midwestern State 37, Texas A&M-Commerce 33

November 15, 2015

Heartbreak does not do it justice. Post mortem tomorrow.

Halftime-Texas A&M-Commerce 17 , Midwestern State Mustangs 17.

November 14, 2015
Vs. Midwestern State...for most of the marbles.

Vs. Midwestern State…for most of the marbles.

sloppy play for the most part, and terrible officiating. Harrison Stewart hit Derrick Macon for the equalizer with under a minute to go. Everything that could go wrong for us did in the first half, so here’s hoping for a better second half.


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