Aug. 1, 2011
Bearcats Enjoy Media Day
By David Boyce
The annual road trip took place on a steamy Monday morning for a few of Northwest Missouri State senior football captains and head coach.
But this year was different for the selected Bearcats making the van drive from Maryville, Mo., to the Downtown Marriott in Kansas City for the MIAA Football Media Day.
Northwest begins the 2011 season with a new head football coach in Adam Dorrel.
The Bearcats had to go through a tragedy that few college football players ever have to deal with during their careers.
When legendary coach Mel Tjeerdsma retired after guiding Northwest to three national titles and the current 46-game MIAA winning streak, longtime assistant Scott Bostwick took over.
Bostwick died suddenly of a heart attack in early June.
"It's been a little bit of a rollercoaster going back to Coach T retiring to Bostwick getting hired," Northwest senior quarterback Blake Christopher said. "We were very excited about Bostwick getting the job. Spring ball went well and then having that tragedy happen brought us down. The hiring of A.D. (Dorrel) brought everybody together.
"Through all of that, one thing you can say about our team is we became closer."
One aspectthat has remained the same for Northwest is getting picked to finish first in the MIAA in both the coaches and media preseason poll.
But that wasn't a topic for the players on the drive down. With Dorrel behind the steering wheel, Christopher, Jake Soy, Kyle Kilgore and Josh Lorenson talked about little things such as where the team will eat or whether they will watch a movie before a game.
Dorrel also sought input about different aspects of fall practice.
"Going back to when I was captain and playing for Mel, he always took feedback from the captains and I'm going to continue to do that," Dorrel said. "They represent our team and speak for our team."
Christopher becomes one of the players that Bearcat fans will discuss over the next five months. Christopher, a star quarterback from Kearney, steps into the spotlight. It's new for him.
In the first 45 minutes at media day, Christopher had already done three times as many interviews as he had in all his previous seasons at Northwest.
"I've done one interview since I've been in college," Christopher said. "My last interviews were in high school. Some of these questions I had to dig a little bit to remember how to answer them. It's exciting. It has been fun.
"I'm just trying to stay away from the camera."
Christopher gave a quick smile at his last statement. It's doubtful he has a face that would spark someone to say it's one only a mother would love.
Dorrel is confident Christopher has the right football make-up to lead Northwest.
"His No. 1 strength is his leadership," Dorrel said. "We had 115 kids in spring ball and he had 97 votes for captain. No. 2 is his toughness. He's been a frontline kick returner for us. He's played tight end and running back.
"He's a team guy. He never tries to do too much."
Media day gave the Bearcats an enticing taste of what is about to come.
And the players are playing for a purpose that goes beyond their yearly goal of first winning the MIAA and then having a successful run in the NCAA Division II playoffs.
"It will definitely be different," Kilgore said. "Everybody was expecting Bostwick to be the coach this year. They brought in enough people who have been in the program or around the program that I think it will be the same as it has been even though we are missing some people who we thought we were going to have with us."
When practice starts next week, the returning Bearcats have another hurdle to get over.
Bostwick and his high energy will not physically be with the Bearcats. His memory will be.
"Honestly, the first two to three weeks the team really struggled," Soy said. "I know, me, personally I had a tough time. Workouts were really a struggle.
"It will be a full circle once we get back on the field. None of us has actually been out there on the field without him being there. It will be a completion of a step.
"We will play with passion for him throughout the season. He won't be forgotten, that's for sure."
Though the circumstances are difficult, Dorrel made it clear the expectations remain the same for Northwest.
Dorrel has the bulldog mentality to get it done. He walked on as a football player at Northwest. He spent four seasons as an offensive coordinator at William Jewell.
Dorrel returned to Northwest in 2005 as an offensive line coach and after two seasons was promoted to offensive coordinator.
"People keep wondering about the expectations," Dorrel said. "I've had to fight for everything I've gotten to be honest with you. I feel like I've had to work my way up. I've earned the right to sit in this seat, but it's not how I expected to get it.
"The expectations are not going to change. Maybe I'm naïve. All I know is what was expected of Northwest Missouri State when I played here, when I was an O-Line coach and when I was an offensive coordinator. The expectation is to graduate players and win football games. That's not going to change."
Simply put, the Bearcats are ready to win games and entertain their fan base.
"It's exciting," Soy said of media day. "It is the start of football season. We are getting together. It sparks your mind that we are ready to go. It's the exciting time of the season."
For more information, please contact:
Media Relations Department, Northwest Athletics
firstname.lastname@example.org | 660.562.1118 | Fax: 660.562.1582
Lamkin Activity Center | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468