Mount Union Returns Football

Coaching legend Larry Kehres stepping down at Mount Union

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Normally we here at CFT have next to nothing — if that — to do with the Div. III level of college football.  Larry Kehres, though, is not the norm when it comes to that level, or any other level for that matter.

In a surprise announcement Wednesday morning, Mount Union (Ohio) confirmed that the legendary long-time head coach has decided to step down from his post.  The decision is effective immediately.

The 63-year-old Kehres has been the head coach at his alma mater for 27 years and has been at the school for the last 39.  He will remain on as the athletic director.

“The best part of the job was developing relationships with players and continuing those relationships following their graduations,” commented Kehres. “Coaching the Purple Raiders has been a tremendous experience for my family.  We have shared many great experiences with our players, fellow coaches, trainers and their families. We plan to continue to enjoy working with Mount Union coaches and athletes.”

Whether the Purple Raiders continue to enjoy the unparalleled success the D-III football program had under Kehres remains to be seen.

The raw stats involved in Kehres’ 27-year run are stunning and mind-boggling.  Kehres finishes his career with a 332-24-3 (.924) overall record, with the winning percentage ranking No. 1 in the history of college football at any level (No. 2? Notre Dame’s Knute Rockne at .881).

The Purple Raiders won 11 D-III national championships (1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2012) under Kehres, losing in the finals five other times as well as in the semifinals four times. To go along with the national success was conference supremacy, with the Purple Raiders claiming 23 league titles, including the last 21 in a row.  Mount Union lost a total of eight conference games with Kehres on the sidelines, and just two since the beginning of the 1992 season.

Perhaps most amazingly, Mount Union finished the regular season undefeated 21 times during Kehres’ 27 years at the school, and haven’t lost a non-playoff game since 2005.

During Kehres’ time at the school, the Purple Raiders went on 54- and 55-game winning streaks.

“Coach Kehres has been an incredible success, not only in winning football games and national championships at an unprecedented level, but also in positively shaping the lives of countless student athletes,” Mount Union president Dr. Richard Giese stated. “His impact on Mount Union has been dramatic, and the entire Raider family will clearly miss him on the sideline.  Larry, his wife Linda, and the Kehres family are a special part of the fabric that makes Mount Union unique, and we are indeed grateful.  We are pleased that Larry will still be leading our entire, highly successful athletic program as director of athletics, and we are appreciative for both what he has done and what he will continue to do for Mount Union.”

The person who will have the unenviable task of stepping into Kehres’ shoes is an individual who is quite familiar with both Larry Kehres the coach and Larry Kehres the person.

In conjunction with Kehres’ retirement, the school announced that Vince Kehres, the now-former head coach’s son, will take over for his father.  The younger Kehres played for the Purple Raiders and has spent the past 13 seasons on his dad’s coaching staff, the last eight as defensive coordinator.

“Obviously Mount Union football has been a part of my entire life,” stated Vince.  “I have a passion for coaching and working with young men and I can think of no better place to do that then at Mount Union.  I promise this program will continue to uphold the values and ideals that have made Mount Union what it is in the world of college football,” said Vince Kehres.  “Our mission remains the same — bring quality young men to this place and allow them the opportunity to grow and be successful on and off the field.”

Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson wins the 2016 Heisman Trophy

LOUISVILLE, KY - OCTOBER 22:  Lamar Jackson #8 of the Louisville Cardinals signals a touchdown during the game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on October 22, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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It was his in September and it was his in December.

Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson completed a storybook season on Saturday night in New York City to become the winner of the 82nd Heisman Trophy as college football’s most outstanding player.

Jackson’s numbers were simply overwhelming in 2016 and put him in a class of his own even if the Cardinals faltered a bit down the stretch in losing their final two games. The quarterback accounted for an ACC-record 51 touchdowns on the year and joined fellow Heisman winners Cam Newton and Tim Tebow as only the third player to throw for over 30 scores and run for another 20. In total, he found the end zone more than all but 38 FBS teams this season.

In addition to becoming the first Louisville player ever to win the award (and first finalist, period), Jackson is just the fourth sophomore to capture the honor and the 10th ACC player overall to win the Heisman. The signal-caller also becomes the youngest Heisman Trophy winner ever at 19 years and 337 days old, beating Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston by five days at the time of his win.

All told, he led the Cardinals to a 9-3 record and finished the season with 3,390 passing yards, 30 touchdowns and nine interceptions to go along with 1,538 yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground.

Jackson finished with 2,144 points and was the overwhelming choice in the Heisman race, winning every single region of the country and finishing with the sixth-biggest win. Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, making the trip to the ceremony for the second straight season, finished as the runner-up with 1,524 points. Voters were only allowed three choices on their ballot.

Oklahoma teammates Baker Mayfield (third, 361 points) and Dede Westbrook (fourth, 209 points) finished back-to-back behind the two ACC quarterbacks. Fellow finalist Jabrill Peppers of Michigan wound up fifth with 208 points.

Washington quarterback Jake Browning (sixth), Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen (seventh), Texas tailback D'Onta Foreman (eighth) and Stanford all-purpose star Christian McCaffrey (ninth) rounded out the voting while Florida State’s Dalvin Cook and San Diego State Donnel Pumphrey both tied for 10th.

All had incredible seasons but none could come close to the eventual winner in Jackson, who threw, hurdled and stiff-armed his way to the trophy and into college football history.

Former Baylor QB Jarrett Stidham announces transfer to Auburn

STILLWATER, OK - NOVEMBER 21:  Jarrett Stidham #3 of the Baylor Bears scrambles with the ball against the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the second quarter at Boone Pickens Stadium on November 21, 2015 in Stillwater, Oklahoma.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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Former Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham has traded ‘Sic ‘Em’ for ‘War Eagle.’

The highly prized quarterback recruit announced on Twitter Saturday evening that Auburn would be his next college destination. Stidham did start three games as a freshman for the Bears last year (12 touchdowns, 1,265 yards) but broke his ankle and missed the remainder of the season. He ended up leaving the program as a transfer over the summer following the firing of Art Briles in Waco and sat out all of 2016.

Stidham will have three years of eligibility remaining and provides a big boost to Gus Malzhan’s offense. The Tigers struggled at the quarterback position when starter Sean White was hurt and were mostly focused on running the ball when he was under center anyway.

Now with Stidham in the fold, Auburn could sport one of the more dangerous backfields in the SEC with the signal-caller providing a threat through the air to go along with tailbacks Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson.

Texas A&M and Florida were other schools reportedly in the mix to land Stidham but, in the end, he is headed to the Plains.

Army ends 14 game losing streak with turnover-filled victory over No. 25 Navy

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 10: Andrew McLean #58 of the Army Black Knights tackles Zach Abey #9 of the Navy Midshipmen in the first half at M&T Bank Stadium on December 10, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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The streak is over.

After 14 consecutive losses, countless heartbreaks and some of the most amazing moments in college football on either side, Army finally chased away their demons and beat rival Navy 21-17 on Saturday night in Baltimore.

Turnovers were the hallmark in the game for both sides: a whopping seven combined, along with a handful of other close calls that nearly added to that total. Three of the first four drives in the game ended with a giveaway and a pair of fumbles in the third quarter by Army allowed their rivals to quickly get back into a game they had nearly given away early on.

It was still a rough first half for Navy starting quarterback Zach Abey, who was in the stands at this game last year and was the team’s third-stringer most of the season under center. However the signal-caller pressed into starting duty because of injuries picked things up after halftime and helped the Midshipmen storm back to take the lead in the fourth quarter with a 41 yard touchdown to cap a run of 17 straight points.

But Army would not be denied a victory, which included an appearance by President-elect Donald Trump in the stands and in the CBS broadcast booth. The team put together an 80 yard drive over 12 plays that featured a key 4th down conversion before Ahmad Bradshaw (51 yards rushing, one touchdown) plowed through the defense to find the end zone from nine yards out. That helped the Black Knights re-take the lead with just six minutes remaining.

Navy would go three-and-out on the next drive thanks to a big defensive stand and Army milked away the rest of the clock to secure a win that was their first in the series since 2001.

That set off a raucous celebration that included a field storming by hundreds of cadets and, no doubt, plenty of cheers from the armed forces around the world looking on.

Is this the year? Army jumps out to two-score halftime lead over No. 25 Navy

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 10: Army cadets take the field before the start of the Army Black Knights and Navy Midshipman game at M&T Bank Stadium on December 10, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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There are few traditions in college football quite like the annual Army-Navy game and the pageantry was in full force once again on Saturday afternoon from Baltimore.

Army kicked off the scoring for the third season in a row in this rivalry game after recovering a Navy fumble and marching right down the field with a 14 play, 66 yard drive that culminated in a touchdown.

While the early score was notable, turnovers dominated first quarter play with three of the first four drives from the teams ending in a giveaway. The quarterbacks combined to complete just a single pass to their own team all half but completed three to the opposing defenses in the form of three ugly interceptions. Army’s Xavier Moss forced the first fumble of the season from Navy fullback Shawn White for the first quarter’s other turnover as well.

Army’s triple option looked to be the superior attack for most of the half, with the Black Knights picking up six of their seven third downs and converting the other on fourth down. Andy Davidson punched it into the end zone both times and finished with 15 carries for 50 yards.

There’s still a lot of football left to be played but the best Army team in nearly a decade certainly is looking primed to end Navy’s long winning streak in convincing fashion based on how the first half went.