When you start with nothing, check into a dirty hotel and still place fourth in a national tournament, you are part of the KSU paintball team.
On April 19-21, the KSU paintball team competed in nationals at the University of Central Florida. For the past four years the team has encountered trials building the club team, but this year they placed fourth in nationals and first place in the conference.
In 2009, Spencer Lloyd started the team, and they have faced drastic changes over the years. Lloyd has been competing in tournaments across the country since 2005. Without a full roster, the team began competing at the highest collegiate club level.
A Motel 8 was awaiting the team’s arrival on one of their first tournaments, as they pulled into the parking lot and approached the dark and dirty run down hotel.
“There was a stray dog outside the room that barked nonstop and in the middle of the night someone banged on the door and yelled “cops open up”, but eventually they left,” Lloyd said.
The people in the town were also not accommodating. The team went to the local Walmart for help and the employees assumed they were in town for a “Harry Potter Convention”.
This was four years ago and the team has come a long way since this incident.
At the beginning of this season the team was predicted to be the worst team in the league, but they quickly disproved all assumptions.
“Essentially we went from worst to top four in the nation. We took a lot of people by surprise because we ended up flying under the radar,” Lloyd said.
The KSU team has been so successful this year because they have a fast paced offense with immense depth.
“Depth helps us overcome fatigue, when you don’t have that depth that’s when teams drop the ball and get gassed,” Lloyd said.
The team clinched a first round bye at Nationals and advanced to the quarterfinals, where they upset Florida Atlantic University.
The team plans to improve and have a larger recruiting class next year despite some setbacks, as Lloyd and some other seniors are leaving the team. Some of the younger players are going to have to step up and fill his shoes.
“Definitely it is a turning point; I started the club in 09 and have been running it by myself. Guys have kind of learned that if we are going to keep going they are going to have to step up,” Lloyd said.
Lloyd will be studying abroad in China this summer but plans to stay involved in the team as much as possible. The team only has high expectations for next year with the plans of winning the National Championship.
The KSU handball team has learned through competition that handball is not all about winning, but instead about improving. The team finished eighth at nationals recently, only winning two games this season due to a slow start.
Martin Branick and Trevor Sands started the club and began teaching recruits the basics of the game. They are powerful starters, hoping to turn the tables around for the handball team in the future.
“The first two or three months was difficult and challenging because we had to teach people basics like how to pass. Later as people became more experienced we were able to run plays,” Branick said.
The team improved offensively as well as defensively throughout the season, which will help the team drastically next year.
“Offensively one of the things that changed was we started running plays. We didn’t have any plays when we started.
We were able to communicate with the team and that’s when we were able to put up point after point. Defensively we were able to get more physical in the game. Once everyone built confidence, our defense improved and was much better over the past month,” Sands said.
The team may not have done well in the season, but they developed character. Sands and Branick said that going to tournaments was where the team developed relationships and became a family.
“The best thing about this team is we are more of a family than a team. The entire sport of Handball is like a big family. We hang out with other teams despite the game on the court. When you walk off the court you are friends,” Sands said.
The team is currently recruiting players for next year from many different sports, including a six-foot player that previously played basketball.
The handball team plans on becoming more competitive, adding depth and carrying over their improvement to next season despite a minor setback.
“We are losing our best player. He is Danish as well. We lose him and a couple of our starting wing players, but I think the rest of the team is going to improve. We are working on more depth. So I feel like we are going to be a stronger team and it will be a better year,” Branick said.
The team has met their goal this year of improving. Two people started with the team and it has grown into a team of 11. The team has not only seen growth within themselves, they have also grown throughout the handball community, developing relationships that they will have for the rest of their lives.
Jimmy Beck was named Golfer of the Week Sunday after claiming individual medalist honors at the Irish Creek Intercollegiate in Kannapolis, N.C.
“It’s a great honor. It was just a special week last week so I am thankful and humble to receive the honor,” Beck said about his achievements.
The tournament kicked off neck and neck, despite clinging on to the win by a thread, Beck beat out Franco Castro by one stroke. “I knew it was going to be a tough finish with the players that were there. So I knew I was gonna have to finish low so I was glad I did,” said Beck.
Beck has improved his short game dramatically this season as a direct result of hard work and dedication in the offseason.
“Well since I kind of had a year of experience already I knew what to look forward to. I really focused in the off season on my short game. It is a skill that is really vital to have and it is what kept my game on the level that it needed to be this weekend,” stated Beck.
Beck did not expect to have improved this much and be as skilled as he is currently as only a second year player.
“I never expected to get my second win this year. I had a goal to at least win one, so winning a few is very surprising and I am pleased with it,” said Beck.
Beck expects, with the experience of his team this year, they can win nationals. They have had problems in the past with shooting low consistently but they are improving with every tournament.
“I really expect our team to really finish out the season well. We haven’t really come together as a team and played well together. I think it is about time we did it. I feel that our team is playing well right now, so in the post season we will really show what we are made of,” stated Beck. Last year the team fell short of winning the conference by only a few strokes but because of experience the team’s luck is subject to change.
“Hopefully we all can come together and win the conference this year because last year we fell a few strokes short. Individually I hope to keep on winning tournaments and building on my resume,” said Beck.
Beck strives to be like professional golfers that are successful and maintain positive attitudes on and off the course. He believes this is the key that is the building block to his future.
KSU track athlete Andre Dorsey earned second team All-American honors at the 2013 NCAA Indoor Championships despite having overcome injuries.
In high school, Dorsey participated in track and field and football. Due to coaching preferences track won Dorsey’s attention.
“I chose to run track in college rather than play football because of one on one coaching,” Dorsey said. “It is the only way I can get better. I prefer it rather than being coached on a 100 person team; it kind of helps out.”
Although Dorsey chose track and field as his main focus in high school, his involvement in football caused physical challenges that he still faces today.
“In high school I tore a meniscus twice, one on the right knee and one on the left knee, and I also had a compound fracture in my throwing hand,” Dorsey said.
Dorsey conquered the challenges he faced in high school, but bad luck still awaited the young star. The sophomore fractured his ankle in his first track meet, and is still in the process of recovering.
“I am still healing from my injuries, but everything is still good enough that I can compete so I can’t complain,” Dorsey said.
Dorsey carried with him his persevering attitude through the indoor track season.
As a sophomore Dorsey earned the second team All- American honors at the 2013 NCAA Indoor Championship and became the first KSU Track and Field athlete to earn All- American honors since 2006. The overwhelmed athlete fell short of his goal and set a mark of 15.72m in the triple jump.
Dorsey earned 11th place, but it is a small stepping-stone on the long route to achieving his future goals.
“I will definitely beat it next year. The biggest thing is I jumped over 50 feet a few times this year. I don’t really practice the jump at all so I think it is just inexperience. My timing was off but now I definitely know I can jump a lot farther than 52 feet,” Dorsey said.
The Kennesaw Track and Field team heads into their outdoor season after recently wrapping up the indoor season. Dorsey expects the team to be successful in the upcoming season.
“Our specialty is outdoor and not really indoor so considering that margin we are going to do much better,” Dorsey said.
Dorsey plans to finish in the top 10 in the triple jump next year. His goal is to jump 15.30m and qualify for the USA Championships in June. The KSU Track and Field team will have to push through grueling heat this summer as they prepare for next year’s indoor season.
“Throughout the summer we are going to train hard and engage in AAU track. I am going to try to qualify for team USA and work with them. Then I will try to keep moving forward,” Dorsey said. “Next year I am going to say we may be even better than this year. My goals for the championship are pretty eyes so as long as I keep doing what I should be doing I should be able to hit them.”
Continued growth and athleticism is expected from the team, and a championship is expected from persevering athlete Andre Dorsey in the near future.
The KSU ice hockey team played the Davenport University Panthers in the quarterfinals of the Division 3 National Ice Hockey Tournament Thursday.
Winner of the game clinched Pool C and advanced to the semifinals of the tournament.
The Owls swiftly skated across the ice calm and collected in the first and second period of the game. From the third period and forward they became physically drained.
The Panthers were out to a solid 2-0 lead in the first period of the game. As the second period began KSU found a spark and would not let off of the gas pedal.
With lighting quick agility, the Owls’ shooters shot the puck across the rink. The Owls scored four goals in four minutes. Shortly following, KSU added to their comeback with another goal on the scoreboard.
The score was 5-3 with 10:07 in the third period, but the Panthers were not ready to throw in the towel. Davenport freshman Brandon Burton scored on two assists from teammates Jake Otto and Donald Sund. With right under five minutes remaining, Davenport senior Jordan Stegar shot a goal that slid into KSU’s net evening the score 5-5.
Despite the opportunity for a berth in the semifinals, the Owls fell victim of fatigue due to the lack of depth on their bench.
Kennesaw State University’s Ice Hockey Head Coach Barry Dreger commented on KSU’s curse.
“It wasn’t a question of breaking down it was just we ran out of gas literally,” Dreger said.
After a back and forth three periods, the teams entered overtime.
Advancing to the semi finals only required a tie, but KSU still could not manage. Already having an incredible game, Panther freshman Donald Sund found a hole in KSU’s defense and ended the game with a shot into the net.
Davenport clinched Pool C and moved on to the semifinals. KSU left the tournament dumbfounded, ending an incredible season.
“To take away from the game my biggest thing is I am really proud of the growth and development of our team at the division 3 level. We improved over the weekend tremendously. The team had tremendous buy into our system which is exciting for next year,” Dreger said.
The team will lose a couple key players next season, but still expects to see improvement and success in the future.
“We are going to lose one or two key people, but we are going to maintain a large nucleus from this program. We are looking forward to next year being an even better season for us,” Dreger said.
It is still unknown what new additions will be made for the team next year, but it is expected to have teams from the United States and overseas.
“It is too early to tell what our talent will be next year. We are going to have of shooters from Canada because of a program that has reached out to us. It is an encouraging sign for our program,” Dreger said.
The Owls do not enter the off season questioning the quarterfinals. They enter the offseason open minded and anxious for next year’s season.
On Saturday, the KSU women’s basketball team hosted one of the most physical games they have competed in all year.
The Owls managed to take control early as Ashley Holiday hit an early 3-point shot from outside the free throw line. Chelsea Mason found a hole underneath the post and was able to drive down the key. Mason put up an additional two points for the Owls with a layup.
Lipscomb’s first shot was a jump shot that bounced off the rim. The Owls capitalized on the missed opportunity, and Mason repeated her success on the glass. KSU jumped out to an early 7-0 lead.
Lipscomb bounced back. Hannah Phillips hit a layup and Kelli Smith swiftly hit a 3-point jump shot. KSU’s lead decreased to only one point. The first half was ultimately overshadowed by foul shots and missed opportunities.
Lipscomb struggled against KSU’s ability to keep the floor spread, but managed to comeback and find a lead.
With approximately three minutes left in the first half, the score was 23-27 in Bison’s favor. As the Bison’s offense drove towards the basket, players collided with Sametria Gideon. With immense impact she hit the court on her side. Gideon clutched her ankle and rolled to her back while her face filled with lingering twisted expressions of sharp pain. Gideon was lifted up and moved to the side of the court where she was looked at by a trainer.
The game was quiet in the first half until the last three minutes. Back and forth, the teams scored on each other.
Nicole Adams shot a two pointer from the key. Following the Owl score, the Bison added another two points to their side of the scoreboard. Kelli Smith was fouled and successfully made two free throws on the line. The physical first half ended with a score of 30-31 still in favor of Lipscomb.
Gideon was able to return to the game after the half, and the second half consisted of solid defensive performances from both teams. Lipscomb had a total of 33 rebounds, 3 blocks and 3 steals. KSU had 32 rebounds, 6 blocks and 5 steals. Lipscomb was 20-45 in field goals and KSU was 16-47.
“We shot well the first half and the second half played well defensively, but you are not going to win games down the stretch playing half and half,” said KSU head coach Nitra Perry.
The entire second half, the teams were consistently similar in every statistic. The Bison managed to gain a lead 51-53 with 38 seconds left on the clock.
A chance to tie the game fell in the Owl’s hands. Gideon was fouled on KSU’s side of the court and intentionally missed her second in hopes of her team returning a rebound and sending the game into overtime. The ball bounced off of the glass like Gideon planned but was retrieved by Lipscomb.
The Bison withheld the ball and drained the life out of the clock. The game ended with a final score of 53-55, claiming the Bison victory.
“We have to take it one game at a time, and solidify the birth one game at a time. Senior night is going to be a big night for Ashley and Senitra. I look forward to them trying to get the win for our team,” Perry said.
KSU looks to redeem themselves on Monday against Northern Kentucky.
Most people celebrate happy endings but the KSU baseball team is celebrating happy beginnings. The team hosted the Jacksonville State Gamecocks on Sunday at 1 p.m. in Stillwell Stadium. KSU defeated the Gamecocks by a score of 9-3, completing the series sweep.
The Owls started off on defense with Will Solomon, a left-handed pitcher, finding a new home on the mound. Despite being in his first year at KSU, the freshman entered his first game with a three up, three down inning. Center fielder Michael Bishop for Jacksonville State stepped up to the plate first. Bishop hit a fly ball into the outfield that was quickly caught, adding an out to the scoreboard. Next up to bat was Eddie Mora-Loera for Jacksonville. Solomon fought through the ice cold wind chill and sent three fast balls across the middle of the plate. Mora- Loera fouled two of the three balls but in the end could not handle Solomon’s fast balls and was sent back to the dugout. Solomon kept his pace for the next Jacksonville hitter giving the Owls a chance on offense.
When asked how the team prepared defensively for the game, Solomon showed a wide grin, shrugged his shoulders and said, “We just did what we normally know how to do and that’s just go out there, work ground balls and get ready for the game.”
Jacob Bruce was first up to bat for the Owls. Bruce was walked to first after Kurt Lipscomb, starting pitcher for the Gamecocks, threw several pitches. Three quick outs followed Bruce’s walk including a strike out from 3rd baseman Peyton Hart. Going into the second inning the score was tied at zero.
The Gamecocks managed to scramble in two RBIs within the next two innings. But it did not stop the Owls from managing a comeback and lighting a fuse. At the bottom of the 3rd, Bruce hit a single into the outfield. Following Bruce’s hit, Bo Way stepped up to the plate. Before Lipscomb could pitch the next ball, Bruce bolted to 2nd base. Bruce was claimed safe after leaving dirt and dust trailing behind him.
Bo Way hit a ground ball into the infield towards the shortstop. Jacksonville’s starter Coty Blanchard tried to scoop up the ball but could not manage to capture it. The score of the game increased to a tie game of 2-2.
Solomon pitched another three up, three down giving the Owls another chance to soar on the plate. Andy Alomonte was leading off for KSU during the bottom of the 4th inning. Alomonte had a phenomenal game and hit a double to the fence of Stillwell Stadium. The hit helped add momentum to the teams play. The Owls had two RBIs in their favor. By the top of the 5th, the score was 4-2 in favor of KSU.
At the top of the 6th inning, KSU head coach Mike Sansing switched pitchers. Starting for KSU was freshman Jordan Hillyer. Hillyer is another left handed pitcher that uses curve balls as his primary weapon. This seemed to throw off the Gamecocks hitters leaving their offense frozen. Tuning out criticism from being a freshman, Hillyer was ice cold and pitched a three and out to start off the 6th inning.
“I was hoping to pitch as well as I did but the inner squad hadn’t been that great control wise so I didn’t know what to expect. I just tried to stay focused out there,” Hillyer said.
The Owls kept their momentum on offense and increased their lead 5-2. Jacksonville State added one more run to their score before they ultimately fell.
Instead of coasting out with a win, KSU looked to make a statement. In the bottom of the 8th inning, runners were on second and third base after Max Pentecost hit a double. Alomonte used a bunt in an effort to drive in an RBI. The bunt allowed the third basement to score and Pentecost to move to third base. They scored four more runs and increased their lead on the Gamecocks 9-3.
“I was trying to get the third baseman to come over so that Max could move to third so that we could get the job done,” Almonte said.
James Conell ended the game pitching for the Owls. The Gamecocks could not find a spark. KSU held up a force field on the diamond and drowned Jacksonville State’s hopes of winning. Conell led another three up, three down inning giving the Owls the win for their season opener and a final score of 9-3 favoring the Owls.
The KSU baseball team plans on keeping the pace set by their season opener and surpassing last year’s season with an Atlantic Sun Conference Championship.
“I wasn’t here last year but I have heard a couple things, we have got a better staff this year and we are deeper on our pitching staff. I feel like we got it this year, winning the conference championship is a great goal for this year that’s exactly what we want to do,” Solomon said.
After the game, Almonte commented on what people can expect to see from the team this year, he gave a small smile, shook his head to the side and said, “I don’t even know, but it’s going be a good one, that’s all I know.”
The KSU men’s basketball team failed to end their losing streak Thursday against North Florida. The game came down to the wire, but turnovers proved costly, as the Owls fell 60-52 in front an enthusiastic home crowd.
“I knew the fraternities and sororities were going to come with energy and passion, but I did not know they were going come with that much energy and passion,” said KSU head coach Lewis Preston regarding the fan atmosphere. “I think it’s one of the best atmospheres I have ever been in since I have been a head coach here. I really want to thank them for coming out.”
The Owls started off fast offensively, grabbing a 9-0 lead. As the game continued in the first half, it was a turnover contest. North Florida and KSU had a combined total of 19 turnovers. Drenched with sweat and overcome with intense emotion, the Owls lost their lead. The first half ended with KSU trailing North Florida 22-29.
“At half time I discussed that we needed to stop turning the ball over, we had 11 turnovers at half. So once we took care of the ball. Now it comes down to the simple point, can you make a shot? At the end of the day that’s what the game comes down to,” Preston said.
Entering the second half, momentum began to build in the Owls’ favor when Delbert Love made a jump shot from outside the key. Calm and collected, the sophomore focused in and sent the basketball through the net without hesitation. Fat heads of senior Markeith Cummings sliced the air back and forth as students waived them overhanging the court. Cummings was a man of steel offensively, but defensively he couldn’t get the job done.
Cummings did not start for the game because of his recent performance on defense. Using his quick agility he was able to drive through defenses, and fly vertically with jump shots outside the key. Cummings put up 7 field goals and two 3-point field goals, adding 17 points to the scoreboard on his own. Defensively Cummings struggled, as he only had two rebounds during the game.
“The 17 points he scored is one thing but he played 30 minutes and only had 2 rebounds,” Preston said of his senior. “My thing is I need him to get on the glass more. I think he is the most physically talented player in this league, but there has to be a consistency of effort each and every day, but with that being said I am happy with the way he came out tonight I thought he came out and was aggressive.”
Cummings hit a layup at the tail end of the game keeping the Owls in range of a possible victory. The score was 50-56 in favor of North Florida with 37 seconds left to play.
Despite the Owls perseverance, all hopes of victory turned sour. Chances of making the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament continued to deteriorate.
The Owl’s Achilles Heel was their ability to stop screens. North Florida primarily set picks allowing them to blitz the ball down the key to the basket. The Owls repeatedly were left dumbfounded when North Florida starters exposed holes at the bottom of the post.
The final score of the game Thursday night was 52-60 declaring North Florida victorious. The game added another loss in the record books for KSU’s 2013 season.
“What this thing comes down to is one thing and one thing only and that’s you can’t beat anyone when you have 32 points in the paint. And then to top it all off when we get inside we are not able to be affective,” said Preston.
Despite the majority of players having disappointing performances, Nigel Pruitt and Jordan Montgomery played well. Preston commented on the outstanding performances of Pruitt and Montgomery during the game Thursday night and how the losing season is affecting them.
“Well I think some of it is they are just starting to mature in front of your eyes. Unfortunately there aren’t many sophomores and juniors right now. And you know, I think the thing with them is a lot of it comes down to them being men. I told a lot of these guys that their trial would be through fire and were going through hell right now,” Preston said.
Fighting through criticism of their downward season, the team’s goal after Thursday was to learn from their mistakes and become better from them. This past Saturday, the team showed that they could do that, proving that their season is not over yet. The Owls defeated the Jacksonville Dolphins 75-68 with the life of the team depending on the outcome of the game.
The team still has a long road from birthing a spot in the A-Sun Conference Tournament but they are able to continue to fight for their survival, which is an accomplished goal on its own.
KSU’s baseball team will open their season against Jacksonville State on Feb. 15. The team is currently in spring practice preparing for the upcoming season.
Head Coach Mike Sansing commented on the team’s preparation: “We are just trying to get off to a good start, and the key is staying in shape,” Sansing said.
Sansing has coached 22 baseball seasons and has the most wins of any baseball coach in KSU history.
“Preparation is not a whole lot different. At this point it is more about repetition and getting off to a good start; one of the keys is being in shape physically where your arms have seen a lot of pitches. We have participated in a lot of inner squad games for this reason,” Sansing said.
KSU’s preparation and conditioning last year lead to a birth in the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship. The Owls plan for it to play as much of a major role this year in their success, as it did last year.
This year the team has phenomenal depth defensively. Justin McCalvin, James Connell and Kevin Kyle all return to the mound this season. The team has high expectations for McCalvin this season. He is one of several players on the team that are Major League Baseball prospects and can play a major role in a successful season for KSU’s baseball team in 2013.
“I think we’ve got several pitchers that are getting some strong interest from the scouts. Justin had a really good summer and has increased a lot of velocity in his throws.
I think several of these guys will get some looks from the major league scouts this spring,” Sansing said.
Captain Peyton Hart, a veteran senior for the Owls, makes his return to the defense this season giving them another advantage. Hart is another MLB prospect and as a senior brings not only his athletic ability to the team but his knowledge as well.
“Having Peyton is like having another coach out there for us. He has been in the infield for four years, and was a red shirt freshman but he brings a lot to our team,” Sansing said. “He knows what I’m thinking, as we go into things I will hear him address things in terms of strategy and what we’re doing before I can get to it. It’s great having him around.” Offensively, additional hitters have been added to the roster giving the team more depth. This will aid returning hitters Andy Almonte, Chris Mcgowan and Max Pentecost. The KSU baseball team last year held a batting average of .292, which was second in the conference. These three returning hitters hit a total of 170 hits and 22 home runs. The three hitters also had a significant amount of RBIs. Their performance last year gives the Owls offense confidence for success this season.
When asked about the advantage of having Andy Almonte, Chris Mcgowan and Max Pentecost on the team, coach Sansing responded sincerely: “I think those guys are in the middle line up, and if you are in the middle lineup in college baseball your about run production. They can put up good RBI numbers. Those are your favorite players, the ones that can put up RBIs. Getting RBIs will allow us to put up numbers offensively,” he said.
Last year the Owls lost in the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship. This year they are not only trying to make it back, but are trying to win it.
“I think we are really strong offensively last year, but we had a couple of injuries that set us back. This year we have added depth making the conference championship definitely a reachable goal for this team,” Sansing said.
The goal of KSU’s baseball team this year is to score offensively. The difference between last year’s team and this year’s team is the added depth on the offense and defense. The Owls are hoping that with a lightning-fast offense and a wise veteran defense, they will soar past the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship and go to Regionals.
The primary leaders for the Owls this year are James Connell and Peyton Hart. The captain’s lead the team in practice plans to lead the players to victories on the road and at home.
“They have great experience from past leaders, and they do a tremendous job in the class room. They are great people on and off the field; and that’s why they are our captains,” Sansing said.
The Owls will soon begin preparing exclusively for their opener against Jacksonville State. KSU hopes to start the season off with a winning record and get a significant lead in the conference. People can expect to see hard work, enthusiasm and veteran leadership from the KSU baseball team during the 2013 season. Added depth behind the plate and on the mound is sure to earn the Owls wins in the diamond this year.
Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades; the term does not apply to flag football. For two years the KSU flag football team has left the flag football season empty handed. This year the team left the season as national champions.
It’s fourth down, and goal! One more play, and The Greatest Show on Turf earns a win against flag football powerhouse the University of Central Florida. Seeding in the national championship tournament is on the line. The issue is that the team has been in this position before.
Quarterback Zachariah Desmarais remembers the team having encountered struggles in the past. Playing both defense and offense, Desmarais has fought to stay healthy. Two years prior to the tournament, Desmarais pulled his hamstring rushing 70 yards to the house in the semifinals of the national championship tournament in Texas. The injury left the team without its leader. Last year, Desmarais injured his knee on a defensive possession in the national championship. It was all or nothing and once again The Greatest Show On Turf left with nothing. This year was different. This year the team wanted to finally own up to its name.
UCF led the game by two points and KSU needed a touchdown to win. “We knew they were going to bring their best team,” said starting outside linebacker Aaron Harrison.
“I was kind of nervous to be honest, we were like this is a tough road we got.”
In the huddle, The Greatest Show On Turf suffered distraction and confusion as the crowd tried to encourage panic to settle in on the team. Calming the team with a stern face, Desmarais said, “Shut up; we got this. Let’s do this and a guy will be wide open.”
Time drained off the clock like sand through an hourglass. Starting center Ryan Oubre hiked the ball. Zoned in, Desmarais found open receiver, Andre Madison, in the end zone. “Our go-to guy is Andre. If there is anyone that is a Julio Jones or Randy Moss on our team it’s him,” Oubre said. In response to the statement, Madison said, “I just try to get open and do my job. Most of the responsibility is stopping their offense.” Excitement and cheers filled the air as the team defeated UCF and helped their chances in the national championship tournament.
The Flag Football American Collegiate Intramural Sports National Championship tournament was held at the University of West Florida located in Pensacola, Fla., from Dec. 29-31. It was there that the team began to prove its name.
At 9 a.m. the team played North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and quickly advanced with a win. An hour later at 10:30 a.m., The Greatest Show On Turf played Angelo State’s B-team in the quarterfinals. KSU’s team defeated the team without trouble, but their A-team still stood in the way of a national championship birth. Harrison made an interception that ended the game. “We really hit a hot streak from that Monday on,” he said. “We had perfect balance; we were an all around great team.”“Angelo State was a powerhouse. We weren’t necessarily the underdogs but the semifinals were really where the championship occurred,” Oubre said. The starting center and corner for the team looked straightforward with a smile.
“If you could relate anyone to Ray Lewis on the team it would be Ryan Oubre,” Harrison said. “We usually hear hyped up speeches from Oubre before the game and then we put on the Randy Moss song. That’s how we get ready.”
“We are all best friends; the team is perfectly balanced with different personalities,” Oubre said. “I see teams getting in fights but we don’t. The great thing about us is our synergy. It is what has led our team to great success.”
Harrison commented on Angelo State‘s A-team. He sat up firm, stretched his arms for a minute and said, “Angelo State had just been stomping folks. They’re a good team.”
The semifinal against Angelo State was another shoot out. Harrison caught an interception thrown toward the middle of the field. The play caused the game to end in a victory for KSU. Chuckling, Harrison said, “It was really a bad pass. It wasn’t even my guy I was supposed to cover. I just figured they were going to throw it to their best receiver and they did. The guy threw a bad pass. The only thing I remember was thinking why did he throw that pass? So I just went up and got it.”The final score of the shoot out was 30-24. The Greatest Show On Turf had earned another chance to back up their name.
The team played the University of Nebraska in the finals. Momentum fell in KSU’s favor from the beginning of the game. Nebraska’s quarterback threw a bomb to the left side of the end zone. Dallas Hall, starting safety for the team, intercepted the pass, ending the quarterback’s hopes of adding seven points to the board.
“I knew he had a big arm; he threw it deep on the left side and I just kind of dropped back, came over and picked it,” Hall said. Oubre commented on the interception, saying, “We were only up 14-7 at halftime but it felt like more. Once Dallas got the interception the game was pretty much over when it started. We all had the mindset that we weren’t going home without being champions.”
The Greatest Show on Turf proceeded to create a blow out. The final score of the national championship was 27-7, declaring KSU victorious.
KSU’s flag football team pulled a monkey off their back and lived up to their name. “The Greatest Show On Turf” now truly is the greatest show on turf. The team held an aspiring record of 37-2 this year, a record that will never be forgotten.
Desmarais was named MVP of the tournament. “Zach is literally the backbone of our offense without him I don’t know what we would have done,” Oubre said. Desmarais responded differently when asked how he felt about winning the MVP title. “Yeah, I’m MVP, not a big deal. I mean, honestly its not. I would be nowhere without my teammates. We proved this year that just relying on each other could win a national championship,” he said.
Every year KSU’s flag football team is going to have to overcome challenges. The team is losing three important players next year, including Hall. “We are going to have to go back to the drawing board a little bit, the game is all about speed and agility. You can get people that have played football before and they are absolute studs, but then they turn out to be not the best football players,” Oubre said calmly. The team will have to overcome obstacles, but it will make them stronger. KSU expects to get better every year.
“The Greatest Show On Turf” proves to be the greatest show on turf. The flag football team forever leaves its mark on KSU. Hall described his last year with the team and said “The best thing that has ever happened to me in college is being on this team. We are all brothers, everybody knows everybody.”The team will not be remembered this year for their championship title alone, but because of the synergy and persistence they had amongst each other.