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November 11, 2013
Northwest Conference: The Class of the Nation in Division III Football
Last week, we talked a bit about the fact playing college football at any NCAA level - Division I, II or III - is for a select group of athletes. Only about 6 percent of high school players play the sport at the NCAA level.
This week, we're going to elaborate further on this topic and discuss the quality of our Northwest Conference. Here's a bit of interesting trivia: 11 times in the past 33 years, a NWC football team has reached the Division III/NAIA national championship game, claiming the title nine of those times. With that kind of track record, it could be argued that our conference is the class of the nation when it comes to Div. III football.
The NWC's strength is again reflected in the current D3football.com rankings, in which Linfield is ranked No. 2 in the country and Pacific Lutheran rated No. 15. Linfield, under legendary coach Ad Rutschman - for whom our own Coach Chris Casey played for and coached with - won three national titles in the 1980s (1982, 1984 and 1986), and the Wildcats later won it all again in 2004 under Coach Jay Locey (now an assistant at Oregon State).
As for Division III as a whole, NFL scouts are regulars at the games, looking for a gem like Washington Redskins receiver Pierre Garcon (out of Div. III Mount Union).
The bottom line is this: When we take the field in 2014, we'll be going up against some of the best at our playing level in the country. Are we up for the challenge? We're encouraged by the numbers we have out this year, but we also realize we have plenty of work to do.
Get to Know the Coach: Offensive Line Coach Ken Ingram
In this week's "Get to Know the Coach" feature, I'd like to introduce Ken Ingram, a former offensive line coach at Aloha High School under Coach Casey. Ken is our offensive line and strength and conditioning coach.
Ken worked under Chris at Aloha from 2004 to 2008 before going to Hillsboro High, where he won a Class 5A state championship as head coach in 2009. He remained at Hillsboro through the 2012 season before accepting his new position at George Fox. While at Hillsboro, he was one of the coaches for the annual Les Schwab Bowl high school all-star game in 2010 and 2011.
Ken began his coaching career with three stints as an assistant at Linfield College (1988, 1990-91, 1993). He served as offensive line coach at Sul Ross State University in 1994 and 1995 and Millsaps College in 1996 and 1997 before moving on to Texas Lutheran University for four years (1998 to 2001). He was TLU's defensive line coach and special teams coordinator for two seasons, defensive coordinator for one year, and offensive coordinator in his final season.
A graduate of Hillsboro High, Ken received his bachelor's degree in kinesiology from Linfield in 1988. He and his wife Stacy have three children: Isaiah, Shawna Ashley and Ian.
While our players are dedicated to our "blue collar" work ethic, they also enjoy the camaraderie that comes with being a part of the team. Every now and then, they just need to cut loose and enjoy themselves.
Last week, we hosted a "dance off" to see what kind of moves our guys could come up with. Below is a 40-second video of the winning team from the competition. These guys aren't exactly the best dancers, but you can tell they're enjoying themselves as they "bust their moves."
Team-Building Off the Field
About 5 p.m. this past week I was standing on the track getting ready for my run. It was raining lightly, a bit cold, daylight savings time had ended, and it was already getting dark. As I stretched I looked west and saw the new Duke Athletic Center, now with the windows in and taking shape. The grandstands were getting the final touches by the construction crew, and football players were running sprints across the field. You can almost "feel" the return of football to George Fox.
This past week we crossed the $6 million mark in our efforts to reach $7.2 million to complete the work for Stoffer Family Stadium! The return of football has been one of the most successful fundraising efforts in our history. I hope you will continue to help us reach our goal as we try to raise the final $1 million! Whether you buy a legacy locker, introduce friends to George Fox University, or encourage a student to attend our institution, we want you to know that we appreciate your ongoing support.
A quick construction update: The grandstands are complete and, in the Duke Athletic Center, most of the windows are in, sheetrock is being installed, and electrical and plumbing are far enough along for sheetrock. Externally, more sidewalks will be poured this week if the weather cooperates.