Nov. 24, 2011
Bearcats and Adams thankful for second-round matchup
By David Boyce
For most of their first-round playoff game against Missouri Western, the Bearcats looked like they would be spending Thanksgiving at home with their families.
It is not what they wanted.
Northwest Missouri State football players obviously love their family members. It is evident after games when moms and dads, brothers and sisters swarm the field to talk about the game and take photos that will last a lifetime.
But the football players wanted to be in Maryville, Mo., on Thanksgiving, preparing for their second-round game in the NCAA Division II playoffs.
A sophomore quarterback helped Northwest extend its season into the Thanksgiving weekend.
Trevor Adams, a back-up to senior Blake Christopher, overcame two interceptions in the first 3 minutes of the game against Western and played a key role in Northwest’s 35-29 victory. He threw for 182 yards and a touchdown and ran for 78 yards.
The Bearcats, 10-2, are moving on. They will play No. 1 seed Midwestern State, 10-0, noon Saturday in Wichita Falls, Texas.
Today, the Bearcats will combine Thanksgiving dinner with football. It has become a tradition with Northwest football.
“Spending Thanksgiving with the team is something that really motivated me,” Adams said. “It motivated all of us. We are such a family. We are so close. We want to keep this rolling.”
Northwest coach Adam Dorrel nearly got choked up at the postgame press conference on Saturday when he talked about what it meant to him to spend Thanksgiving with the team.
“It is very special,” he said. “We are together for Thanksgiving.”
Dorrel was just as thankful to have a quarterback like Adams. The plan for the season was for Christopher to get the majority of the snaps.
But several injuries have derailed Christopher’s season. It’s unfortunate because he was putting up all-conference numbers in the games he played.
Adams, who played high school quarterback in Odessa, Texas, was put in a difficult spot. Dorrel believes playing quarterback is one of the toughest positions of any sport.
“The pressure is on them,” he said. “When they make a mistake it is magnified.”
It’s highlighted even more when you are playing for one of the top NCAA Division II programs in the country.
Northwest’s run of five straight appearances in the NCAA Division II Championship game was brought to an end last year when it lost by just four points in the semifinals.
“That is a tough position to come in as quarterback in a program like this,” junior running back Jordan Simmons said. “He has done a great job, and I stay in his corner 100 percent.”
One reason Adams was able to overcome his early miscues against Western was because he knew his teammates backed him.
His faith in a higher being also carried Adams through the tough times on the field a week ago. He is playing for more than his teammates. He is playing for God.
“I’m just so blessed to be out there with the team that’s around me,” Adams said. “I want to thank Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior first of all. His sacrifice really propels me and really motivates me.”
When you hear these words, you automatically think that Adams is religious and is willing to talk about his religion. That’s not really the case.
“It’s not religion; it’s more of a relationship with Jesus,” he said. “I think religion sometimes makes it looks like a bunch of dos and don’ts. I’m just so blessed to have what I have and have that relationship with Jesus.
“I try to keep a mindset of an audience of one. I am playing for God. It really takes the pressure off. At the end of the day, His grace is good enough for me. There is nothing more that needs to satisfy me. Just playing for him really helps me.”
Adams delivers these profound words in such a soft-spoken way that it is almost hard to believe that he has the competitive fire to play a violent sport like football.
Clearly, he has a competitive fire on the field. A lot of young quarterbacks would have crumbled if they had the start that Adams had in his first playoff game. Thoughts of letting down the seniors could crush an underclassman.
“It can be one of those deals you don’t want to let the seniors down,” Adams said. “But I feel like I have a great relationship with all the seniors. They are great leaders for our team. They do not look down on anybody because of their classification.”
Simmons never lost faith in Adams during the game. He has seen him bounce back from mistakes in other games.
“He has ice water in his veins,” Simmons said. “He has done a great job of stepping in for B.C.”
Adams has appeared in all 12 games. He has thrown for 2,013 yards, 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Adams said Christopher has helped him a lot. He understands that Christopher is the starting quarterback when healthy. Dorrel even said that if Christopher proves he’s healthy enough to play, he will start against Midwestern State.
“Blake is a great player and a great leader for our team,” Adams said. “He is great to look up to. I learn from him every day, even when he is not playing.
“Right now, he is constantly helping me, whether it’s the sideline at a game or in practice on what to look for. He is a big help. I’m really thankful to have that. I’m thankful to have him as a good friend.”
The biggest thing for Adams is he knows he has plenty of help on the field. Simmons and James Franklin can break long runs at anytime. The receivers have reliable hands.
“It is so helpful, whether it is handing it off to Franklin or Jordan or trying to get the ball on the perimeter to our receivers,” Adams said. “Those guys make plays and it is huge for our offense, getting the ball into their hands and letting them go.”
Because all the Bearcats made key plays at the right time, Adams is returning to his home state for his next game.
“It’s like 7 hours away from where I grew up,” Adams said. “I think my parents will make the trip. It is really exciting. I’m looking forward to get down there. It’s probably a little bit warmer weather.”
The Bearcats will enjoy some turkey today, but the rest of their focus will be on Midwestern State. Each round of the playoffs get tougher.
“This is the best team in our region,” said senior defensive tackle Josh Lorenson. “They are the No. 1 ranked team and they are undefeated. We are not going to take them lightly. We will have to play out of our minds to beat them. We are going to work hard in practice and the film room.
“No matter how well we play, it is going to be a big challenge and it is going to be fun.”
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