SAINT XAVIER UNIVERSITY
THE EYES AND EARS OF THE STUDENTS
(5) Saint Xavier Cougars
(2) Carroll Fighting Saints
The Cougars shocked defending national champion Carroll College (MT) in a stunning 24-20 victory on Dec. 17, 2011, notching SXUâ€™s first-ever national championship appearance and win.
Junior LB Mike Bushnell reacts after teammate, freshman DB Mark Williams, broke up what would have been the goahead touchdown pass.
Photos: Willis Glassgow
Cougars Visit Georgia Schools
Championship Photo Gallery
IN THIS ISSUE
Jimmy Coy talks with The Xavierite
Congrats, 2011 NAIA Champions programs and we reasoned that many of those athletes would like to play collegiate ball. We believed that football would bring with it more resident students and a more active campus life. We knew that our coaches would recruit student athletes who would perform on the field and in the classroom. We envisioned a lot but I must tell you that the current SXU football team has vastly exceeded our vision! Never in my wildest dreams did I envision a national championship for SXU! That is the vision that Coach Feminis and Coach Yanule and the great coaching staff brought to SXU and instilled in the team. The team did this because you believed you could. Congratulations and thank you!
SXU did not win many games in those years. I remember when our goal was to beat Olivet or Trinity International or St. Ambrose or McKendree. Under Coach Fem those objectives became routine and we set our sites on St. Francis of Indiana and Carroll College. But I want you to remember that you stand on the shoulders of those who wore the scarlet and grey before you. Since 1993, SXU has taken the field with the objective of being competitive and coming out on top. Some of those teams did not have the talent to win very often. But they practiced and persevered and kept us in the game for 17 seasons leading up to this magical one. We owe all of those guys thanks! Today and for the rest of your
lives, you are champions! We are so proud of you. We are in awe of what you have achieved. I was in Indy and in Rome and I witnessed the energy, the passion, the drive, the strength, the teamwork, the talent and the execution that made you champions. I hope you will take all of that and use it to better yourselves, your communities and your world. And always remember Saint Xavier University, the place where this magic came together and you achieved beyond our expectations! Congratulations!
Dear Xavierite Readers, I want to add my CONGRATULATIONS to the 2011 NAIA Football Champion Saint Xavier Cougars! The entire SXU community is proud of our players and the football coaching staff and your accomplishment in the football playoffs. The championship game in Rome, Georgia against Carroll College was exciting and well-played by both teams and reflected well on
both programs. The Cougars were excellent on offense and defense throughout a thrilling game, but their goal line stand late in the fourth quarter was incredible. Our defense rose to an incredible challenge and secured the game through athleticism, grit and determination. While our football team is getting a great deal of welldeserved attention these days, it is important to realize the positive contributions of every one of our thirteen intercollegiate teams. The Cougar Athletics program has an enormously positive effect on the University. Our student athletes make significant
contributions to the vibrancy of campus life and school spirit, to the quality of the academic experience, and to the overall visibility of Saint Xavier in the larger community. Our student athletes make positive contributions everyday in the classroom, on the playing fields, and in the social life of the University. As we celebrate the success of the football Cougars, keep in mind the other 225 student athletes who, every day, bring positive credit to SXU. Men’s and women’s cross country and soccer had great seasons during the fall months. Men’s and women’s basketball are currently in season and playing
extremely well. Over the next few weeks make a point of getting into the Shannon Center to catch an exciting basketball game. Softball, baseball, volleyball, and track and field have already begun practicing for their seasons this spring. Cougar Athletics is an almost year round operation and there is a sport for practically every interest. Come on out and support a winning program in any sport! Congratulations again to the football Cougars!
THANKS FOR THE MEMORY As one gets older we reflect on some of the accomplishments of our lifetime. There are many events, family occasions, school functions, and special moments that provide us with a lasting memory. What happened on Dec. 17, 2011, is a memory that will always
be retained by each student-athlete, coach and spectator at the NAIA championship game in Rome, Georgia. They will remember exactly w h e re t h e y we re w h e n t h e championship was won. Some were at Gilhooley’s and others were at home watching the game on television. The football team at Saint Xavier University has provided faculty, staff, fans, friends, students and alumni with a memory that will last forever. Everyone involved will never forget what was accomplished that afternoon when a Carroll pass was blocked and the Cougars let the
clock run out to secure the victory! Many student-athletes have an opportunity to represent their school and participate in athletics. Many teams are fortunate e n o u g h t o w i n c o n fe re n c e championships. Many are fortunate to go into post-season play. Very few are fortunate enough to climb the mountain to get to the pinnacle of what college athletics are all about and that is come home with a National Championship trophy. “We are Number 1” is a phrase that is frequently chanted by teams and fans, but very few get to actually say it and accomplish it. The vast majority of athletes
that participate in college athletics will never experience what our student-athletes did, winning a national championship. Break out the T-shir ts, sweatshirts and buttons so all coaches, students, athletes, staff, alumni and faculty can wear Saint Xavier University letters with pride. When somebody asks, “Did you go to Saint Xavier University?” You can now say, “Yes, home of the 2011 NAIA National Football Champs!” To our football team and coaches thanks for the memory.
The Cougars did something ver y special for Saint Xavier University this year. They brought a National Championship to Chicago for the first time since the 1985 Bears brought home the hardware. Not only did the Cougars bring home a Championship, but they also brought pride and respect to the University. This was the first time a team has won in their first title game appearance since Carroll back in 2002. Everyone at this University is happy to be a Cougar fan. We are proud of the work and the effort the players and
coaches put in this season. It was a remarkable ride and a great couple of months for us Cougar fans. From game one of the season the Cougars gave us something to be excited about and something to hope for, and that was a National Championship. For a couple of us who are just in our first semester here at SXU there is a lot to be excited about and a lot to look forward to with Cougar football. Even though we will be seeing key players leave we have already seen the remarkable talent from guys like Mark Williams and Clayton Fejedelem. Not only will those guys be returning, but almost all of the offensive pieces will be back in place to make another run next year. We would like to congratulate all of the players on a remarkable season, and we would like to wish all the guys leaving good luck with
whatever it is they embark on. Also, we would like to thank the coaches for not only all of their hard work but for all the extra time that they put into this program. If it were not for all of your efforts we would not be in the position that we are in today. This is not just something that we will remember for this year and then forget. This is something that we will be able to remember for years and years to come. All of you have helped to make a great name for this school. Saint Xavier now will not be known for just having a good football program, but a great one. It is because of your efforts that we can proudly say that. It was a great season to follow, because the Cougars showed fight and determination. There were many defining moments in this
season but some that stand out are the first matchup with Marian and the last one. The first one showed us that we can be defeated and we were brought down to earth. However, the second one showed that we have a lot of determination and a lot of fight to show that we are the best. We here at The Xavierite thank you for all that you have done this season, and we are proud to be Saint Xavier Cougars. The players, coaches, trainers, a t h l et i c c o o rd i n a t o r s , Ro b Huizenga--all of you have helped make all this possible and for that, we give our sincerest thanks. You all have forever left your pawprint in Saint Xavier history.
As we enter a New Year that portends greater peace in our world and greater economic opportunity for our graduates, we look forward with additional gratitude and pride to the accomplishment of our Championship Cougar football team. As the song goes, “We are the Champions – we’ve made a few mistakes but we have come through.” And, of course, all of us want to thank you. And so, as we celebrate your victory, we congratulate our players, our coaches and the entire Saint Xavier athletic department on a compelling 24-20 win over defending champion Carroll College (Mont.). December 17 brought us our first-ever title appearance, and our first-ever national championship. We also note your subsequent ranking as No. 1 in the NAIA Football Coaches’ Postseason Top 25 Poll. But we are not alone in reaping the rewards of your success. I am reminded by Sports Reporter Ron Kremer of the Oak Lawn Patch that Saint Xavier University is “the first school from Illinois to win a national collegiate football championship . . . since 1986, and the first school from Chicago to win a national football crown since 1913.” Chicago and Illinois can look to us with pride as well. In all this, however, what strikes me most is not the applause from adoring sports fans – it is the focus, honesty and “grace” with which our players, coaches and staff approach this sport in educating and developing young men of character. Commenting on the strategy of Head Coach Mike Feminis and his staff, Mr. Kremer singled out defensive end Pat Appino – whose five tackles were critical to the victory and earned him the title, Outstanding Defensive Player of the Game. And he credited Coach Feminis for the great care he takes in developing “Champions of Character” – the kind of young men who are team players and understand that their own personal success is best measured by the success of the team. Indeed, there’s something for all of us to learn from that lesson. And so I personally congratulate Coach Feminis and his staff, all of our football players, Defensive End Pat Appino, and Quarterback Jimmy Coy (Offensive Player of the Game) on their singular success. But as I do so, I congratulate as well the administrators, faculty, staff and students of this University – members of the larger “Team” that helped to produce such fine young champions. Our NAIA championship trophy will sit grandly in the Shannon Center as a reminder of the larger triumph that is Saint Xavier University.
In my office at SXU is the original Cougar football helmet. A salesman gave it to me in 1992 as a prototype of what our helmets would look like. This was before Bruce R. Deaton Memorial Field, before the Shannon Center, and before the Outdoor Sports Center. We had no fight song and no band to play it. Heck, we didn’t even own a football! We had one dorm then-Regina. We started football because there are so many great high school
-Chris Wiseman President
Steven Murphy Vice President for University Advancement And Proud Founder of Cougar Football
Sincerely, John Pelrine, Vice President for Student Affairs
-Bob Hallberg Athletic Director
-Alan Paape, Brandon Swanson and Greg Pilafas The Xavierite Sports Team
The Road to Rome
Junior wide receiver Shane Zackery had a team-leading nine receptions for 203 yards with three touchdowns and was named the offensive player of the game.
Junior Quarterback Jimmy Coy went 24-38 for 229 yards to go along with three touchdowns. Coy was also named the offensive player of the game.
Senior linebacker Michael Prosser had a team-leading 16 tackles and an interception returned for a touchdown. Prosser was named the defensive player of the game.
The Cougars Complete Cinderella Season Saint Xavier scratches and claws to NAIA Championship
The Cougars celebrate after winning their first ever National Championship. Photo: Willis Glassgow
By Brandon Swanson Sports Contributor The Cougars rumbled into the playoffs on a very high note as they were riding a 50-14 victory against Jamestown, which ended the regular season. The first opponent in the playoffs was #13 ranked Bethel University of Tennessee. The Cougars brought out all of their weapons as they totaled 670 yards of offense as Nick Pesek exploded for over 230 yards on the ground and Jimmy Coy went off
with 400 passing yards and threw four touchdowns. Junior wide receiver Shane Zachery also had a monster day as he caught three touchdowns and went over 200 yards receiving. The defense held the Wildcats to less than 100 yards rushing, and the Cougars easily moved on to the Quarterfinals. Here the Cougars would be matched up with #4 ranked Mid America Nazarene University from Olathe, Kansas. This game would prove to be a defensive outburst by the Cougars
as they came up with six turnovers: four fumbles and two interceptions. Neither team was able to get into a first half rhythm on offense as the score at halftime was 13-7 with SXU on top. The second half would prove to be an exciting half of football. Early in the fourth quarter, quarterback Tyler Herl heaved up a 65 yard bomb to wide receiver Austin Conyers to take a Pioneer lead. The Cougars never gave up as they marched down and Jimmy Coy found Wes Gastel for a 23 yard
touchdown pass to take the lead. The game was sealed when Jacob Ghinazzi intercepted Herl and took it back 35 yards for a touchdown. The Cougars next stop was #1 Marian University from Indiana in the Semifinals. This would prove to be the biggest challenge for the Cougars up to this point in the season. They had played against Marian earlier in the season and they had lost 27-9. The Cougars came into this matchup much more focused, and with a much more determined mind-set. The Cougars offense was a little sluggish to begin this game, but the defense kept them in it. Michael Prosser picked off an Adam Wiese pass and returned it for a touchdown to give the Cougars an early lead. The score continued to go back and forth the rest of the way as Adam Wiese had some big passing plays and the Cougar offense got into a groove in the second half. It all came down to the last couple of plays. The Cougars led it 30-27 and Marian had the ball on the SXU one yard line. Adam Wiese fumbled the snap and it pushed them back to the six yard line, then after a penalty and an incomplete pass Wiese threw up a jump ball to the end zone which was tipped and intercepted by Clayton Fejedelem. The Cougars had knocked off
the #1 team and punched their ticket to the National Championship game in Rome, Georgia against Carroll College from Helena, Montana. The Cougars were in the National Championship for the first time ever and they wanted to make the most of it. They had a great first drive which led to a Tom Lynch field goal. On the next possession for SXU, Nick Pesek had some big runs including an 18 yarder. This helped to setup an eight yard Jimmy Coy scamper to the end zone. The Cougars led 10-7 after Carroll quarterback Dane Broadhead found wide receiver Matt Ritter in the end zone for a touchdown. Jimmy Coy then thread the needle to Shane Zachery in the end zone for a touchdown, and the Cougars led 17-14 at half. The Cougars and the Fighting Saints tacked on scores in the second half but in the end it all came down to the last play. It was a fourth and goal from the nine yard line. Broadhead scrambled left, his main target Ritter was covered, he then looked right and threw it across his body and it was knocked down incomplete in the end zone by freshman Mark Williams. The Cougars had won their first National Championship ever! Congratulations to the entire Cougars team after bringing an NAIA championship here to Saint Xavier University.
There’s no feeling like that winning feeling Student broadcaster Brandon Swanson gives his perspective about announcing the big game By Brandon Swanson Sports Contributor On Friday, Dec. 16 we set out on a bus for Rome, Georgia, the host for this year’s NAIA National Championship game between the Saint Xavier Cougars and the Carroll College Fighting Saints. The trip to Rome took over 11 hours, but thank goodness we had plenty of movies to watch. Fellow broadcaster AJ Paape did not embark on the bus ride marathon with me because of prior family plans which forced him to drive to Georgia from Orlando. I thoroughly enjoy the company of my partner, play by play man Alan Paape, but it was
nice to have two seats to myself to lie across and sleep. While on the bus we all thought we had discovered a real life UFO. You are probably laughing and saying, “Brandon you’re crazy!” Well maybe I am, but it looked like a flying saucer was on the back of a truck, covered up and being guarded by as many as 8 police officers. Any ways, moving on with the journey. One of the movies we watched was The Blindside. This movie, in my opinion, is a great inspiration to everyone whether an athlete or a non- athlete. It made me think of all the hard work the Cougars had put in this season. They had finally made it to
the big stage and they wanted the trophy badly. I even referenced the movie in our pre-game show. When we finally made it to Rome, Georgia we were all pretty ecstatic. It was an amazing feeling to be there and know that our team was playing for the National Championship. The next d ay whe n A J and I finally made it out to the Stadium on the campus of Shorter University, we were stunned. It was absolutely beautiful. The field was flawless. They had advertisements throughout the stadium and they even had the CBS Sports logo hung up. It was the real deal. We got up to the press box and
it got even better. The people that greeted us and helped us out were some of the nicest people, they were extremely helpful and they were very friendly. AJ and I had a booth all to ourselves. We got all setup and we tried to take everything in. We walked around a little bit and met some new people. We wanted this broadcast to be the best one yet, and I would have to say we came pretty close to achieving our goal. The Cougars won the toss and got the ball first. They started off their drive with very efficient passes from Jimmy Coy and effective running from Nick Pesek. The defense continued its
dominance throughout the whole game as stud running back Chance Demerais was held under 60 yards rushing. The offense did just enough and was effective throughout the entire game. In the end the Cougars were atop the NAIA as they had become National Champions for the first time in school history. It was a great accomplishment for them and it was an absolute honor to be able to call not just that game, but most of their games throughout the season. The Cougars are a remarkable team and they showed it by becoming the NAIA National Champions.
1 – Chase Catton – JR – WR, 2 – Dave M QB, 4 – Nick Pecho – JR – DB, 5 – Tyler – DL, 7 – Mark Williams – FR – DB, 8 – SR – QB, 10 – Patrick Kelso – FR – WR, 11 – Shane Zackery – JR – WR, 12 – SO – K/P, 15 – Danny Lombardo – FR – DB, 16 – Alex Kolodziej – FR – – QB, 19 – Wes Gastel – JR – WR, 20 – Clayton Fejedelem – FR – DB, 21 – – SR – DL, 24 – Jacob Ghinazzi – SO – DB, 25 – Mike Brown – JR – RB, 27 Hunter – FR – RB, 30 – Cole Midgett – FR – RB, 31 – Ryan Fejedelem – JR A.J. Nichols – SR – K/P, 35 – Jimmy Johnson – FR – DB, 36 – Michael Pros 39 – Kody Kanaga – JR – WR, 40 – Raymond Buell – SO – LB, 41 – Carve – FR – DB, 44 – Bryan Tyzenhaus – SR – LB, 46 – Ben Touzinsky – SR – DL Waller – FR – LB, 51 – Andrew Holden – SO –DL, 52 – Tom Hitz – FR – O Perez – SO – OL, 57 – Matt Munizzi – JR – OL, 58 – Jordan Juarez – FR – L Adam Smith – FR – OL, 64 – Mac Stevenson – SO – OL, 66 – Jackson King 71 – Kenny Smith – SO – OL, 72 – Tyler Smith – JR – OL, 73 – Frank Mark 78 – Anthony LaBanca – JR – OL, 79 – Michael Johnson – SR – OL, 80 – J Palmer – FR – WR, 84 – Nico Krajecki – FR – WR, 89 – Kevin Berrigan – F Mohammed Mahmoud – FR – TE, 98 – Ryan Miles – SO – DL, 99 – Jimmy S
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Design By: Kane McKeown
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Page 5 Photos By: Willis Glassgow wgsportsphotos.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Cougars bring smiles to students’ faces while in Rome Saint Xavier visits students at Midway Primary and West Central Elementary
The football team visited two schools while in Rome, GA before their national championship game. Photo: SXU Athletics
By Greg Pilafas Senior Sports Editor On Thursday, Dec. 15, the Saint Xavier Cougars football team got to experience something that brought smiles to many children’s faces. The Cougars split up into two different groups and went to two separate schools in the Rome, GA area. The offense and the special teams players went to Midway Primary School and the defensive players traveled to West Central
Elementar y. Midway Primar y School has children in Pre-K through third grade and West Central Elementary has children from Pre-K through sixth grade. These students got the thrill of a lifetime as did the Saint Xavier players and coaches. The Cougars got to read books, answer questions and sign autographs for these children. “It absolutely was a great experience to go down there and read to the kids and just hang with them for a little bit out of our
day. All of the kids were absolutely wonderful; you would have thought we were in the NFL or something.” “It meant a whole lot to see these kids take time out of their day to make cards and want our autographs, it was a great experience to go down there with those kids. It was absolutely wonderful,” said senior offensive lineman Michael Johnson. At Midway Primary School, the children waited as the bus pulled up and cheered as the players and coaches got off the bus. The
Saint Xavier fight song was played on the PA system throughout the school as the players and coaches walked into the building. The players and coaches split up into different rooms and rotated every 15-20 minutes to a different classroom. This gave the children a chance to meet as much of the team as possible during the two hours that the Cougars were there. “It was a great experience because we split up the offense and defense and we went to Midway. It was pretty overwhelming how
many kids were there. They set up a tunnel almost for us right when we got there and got off the bus.” “That was a pretty amazing moment, seeing all those little kids. And it was a great experience for sure—to go and visit those classrooms and to spend a little bit of time with some of the kids down in Rome. It was a great experience for all of us,” said Junior quarterback Jimmy Coy. The defense went to West Central Elementary and visited with the kids there for a few hours as well. The defense got to play dodge ball with some of the kids while the Cougars were visiting. “The people down there were one-of-a-kind; they spoke in good tone of us. Their hospitality was a class act.” “Being with the kids just showed us that we were once at this age, so they looked at us as if we were NFL players. It was really special,” said sophomore linebacker Dave Marciano. This was truly an amazing experience for the Cougars players and coaching staff as they got to visit these two schools down in Rome, GA. This was a great moment for everyone involved and the Cougars enjoyed all of their time down in Rome. The Cougs cannot wait to get another chance to visit these kids again as they try to repeat as NAIA Champions.
Key Senior Accomplishments in 2011 #90 Patrick Appino DL
#28 KJ Franklin RB
Appino was named the “Champion of Character” for the Cougars for displaying excellent integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership. Appino is also tied for first all-time in SXU history with six career blocked kicks. He also has 20.5 career sacks which puts him third in school history. He was also named to the Academic All-American College Football first team.
Franklin has been a solid back-up running back for the Cougars for three years. In his senior season for SXU, he had 265 yards rushing, eight touchdowns and 110 receiving yards during the regular season and the postseason for the Cougars. His eight rushing touchdowns was second on the team. In the NAIA Championship game against Carroll, Franklin had the go-ahead score for the Cougars that put them up 24-20.
#46 Ben Touzinsky DL
#79 Michael Johnson OL
Touzinsky was a key defensive lineman for the Cougars for the four years that he has been at SXU. In his senior season, Touzinsky played in 13 games and finished with 31 total tackles to go along with 2.5 sacks and one interception. He had eight tackles for losses this season as well. In the NAIA Championship game against Carroll College, Touzinsky had four tackles and 0.5 tackle for loss in the game.
Johnson has been on the Cougars since the 200809 season and has been a dominating force on the SXU offensive line for four years. Michael was a part of this amazing offense which scored 87 touchdowns this season. This Cougars offense was also ranked number two in the NAIA with 44.4 points per game as well as ranking number three in total offense with 474 yards per game. Johnson was also named a pre-season All-American by Victory Sports Network and (CDS).
#36 Michael Prosser DE/LB
#49 Tom Lynch K/P
Prosser has the record for career sacks with 26. He also is tied for fifth all-time in SXU history with five forced fumbles in his career. He was one of just four NAIA defensive lineman named to the 2011 AFCA-NAIA Coaches’ All-America Team. Prosser also has been named to the Capital One Academic All-American College Division Football First Team.
Kicker Tom Lynch won the Fred Mitchell Award for the second consecutive season this year which is awarded to the nation’s top kicker in FCS, Division II, Division III, NAIA and NJCAA. Lynch has set the career scoring mark for SXU with 359 points on 43 field goals and 230 extra points. Lynch had nine extra and four field goals in a game against Taylor University this season. This was the record for most points in a game by a kicker (21).
Cougars QB Jimmy Coy impressive in first season Junior Quarterback Coy leads SXU to first NAIA Championship
By Greg Pilafas Senior Sports Editor Cougars quarterback Jimmy Coy has led Saint Xavier to their first National Championship in Coy’s first season with SXU. He transferred over from Valdosta State and is one of the NAIA’s top quarterbacks. Coy transferred over to SXU and it seems like a much better fit for him than it was at Valdosta. “I left Valdosta early in the fall last year. It just really wasn’t the right fit for me and I knew I had to make a change so I moved back home.” “When I got back home, I started e-mailing schools in the area and Coach Fem got back to me and I came and visited around New Year’s last year. I liked the coaching staff and the campus and I decided to start last spring,” said Coy. Coy had a tremendous regular season for the Cougars, totalling 3,127 yards passing and 31 touchdowns. He also had 147 rushing yards to go along with another three touchdowns on the ground. In the postseason for Coy, he threw for 1,134 yards and had 11 touchdowns in just four playoff games. He rushed for 122 yards and one touchdown as well in
the postseason. Coy has been consistent for the Cougars all season long and continued his strong play in the postseason. In just Coy’s first season here for Saint Xavier, he won a National Championship and it feels amazing for him. “It’s a pretty amazing thing; it’s a special time for a lot of guys. It was really awesome to see the coaching staff and the seniors that have been here for so long, especially guys like Patrick Appino, Michael Prosser, Ben Touzinsky, Michael Johnson and KJ Franklin.” “All those guys have been working for four or five years for this. To see their reaction to finally going out on top, that was definitely a special day,” said Coy. There are many key seniors on this Cougars team and each one of them will go out a champion after Jimmy Coy led them to their first National Championship. After transferring to SXU, Coy was considered a senior and it looked like he was going to play one season and that would be it. Coy would appeal to the NAIA to gain junior status and was granted one more year of eligibility, meaning he will be returning to SXU next season. This is huge news for all Cougar fans as Jimmy Coy
Junior Jimmy Coy fires a pass against Marian University in the regular season. Photo: SXU Athletics
will be at SXU for one more year. “I’m really excited for it. I have never been able to start two seasons in a row anywhere. I have played receiver, cornerback and I also returned kicks too as a junior in high school, so I did not have two years to start at quarterback in a row, it was the same in junior college too.” “I’m excited to have another
year and to build on the base of things that I have learned already. There certainly is a lot of improvement that I can make, and there are certain things that I need to pick up and improve on next year.” “I think it should help with comfort level, especially early on in the season after having a year like this one under our belt. I’m really
excited for next season; we have a lot of returning starters and a lot of good players back. I think we are all really excited to make another run,” said junior quarterback Jimmy Coy. Jimmy Coy will be looking to improve on his game next season and the whole Cougars team will look to build on this year and try to bring another championship back to SXU.
Senior linebacker Michael Prosser Shines in Final Year as a Cougar Prosser has been dominating opposing offenses for years
By Alan Paape Sports Correspondent The Cougars defense played a huge role throughout the 2011 season and one can argue that without the amazing play of the defense the Cougars may not have won this year’s National Championship. One of the leaders on that defense was senior defensive end Michael Prosser. Prosser was a four year starter at the Defensive End position for the St. Xavier Cougars defense, but before he even stepped on Bruce R. Deaton Memorial field he played high school ball at Hononegah High School in Rockton, IL. Prosser states, “What really attracted me to SXU was the player and coach interactions. It was a very laid back, family like environment, but then when it came to football they still got down to business.” In the four years that Prosser played for the Cougars they had a combined record of 47-7 and made the playoffs in three of the four years. Over the last three years the Cougars solidified themselves as an NAIA powerhouse making it to the semifinals two of the years and winning their first National Championship last season. On the defensive side of the ball, Prosser had the best season of any Cougar, tallying 98 total tackles, 47 of which were solo, 23 tackles for a loss, 10 sacks, 2 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, 2 blocked kicks and one defensive touchdown to top it all off. In the middle of November,
Senior Michael Prosser against Marian University. Photo: SXU Athletics
Prosser moved from defensive end to middle linebacker and he continued to shine in that role. Prosser ranks fifth in the NAIA with tackles for losses with 21.5. Prosser is number eight in total sacks with 10.0, number 16 in tackles for losses per game game with 1.5. Prosser averages 0.7 sacks per game and that ranks number 15 overall in the NAIA. Also in 2011, Prosser was named to the Capit al One Academic All- America College Division Football First Team, was awarded the Outstanding Player Award in two of the Cougars’ four playoff games, was named to the 2011 Mid-States Football Association (MSFA) All-Mideast League First Team, was named MSFA player of the week twice,
and became Saint Xavier’s all time sack leader with a career total of 26. Prosser passed the former leader, Nick Block, who finished with 23. Prosser is also tied for fifth all-time in Saint Xavier history with five career forced fumbles. Every person has a role model or a support group that helps them throughout their life and Prosser states, “If it wasn’t for my father over the years of pushing me to reach my goals, I would not be in this position today. I appreciate everything my parents have done for me.” In his final year as a Cougar, P ro s s e r b e c a m e a Na t i o n a l Champion. “There couldn’t be a better feeling or capper to my senior year. The rest of the team and I have been striving for this goal for
years and to finally get there and on top of that bring it home to St. X is a tremendous achievement for all of us.” Prosser also stated that this championship was not one year in the making, “The players before me had a vision along with Coach Fem that they could become a Championship caliber team, and with the many sacrifices made and the determination over the years, being able to win it all affects everyone involved.” “Besides winning a National Championship, I would say my favorite moments over the last four years are the long bus trips to games. We are all crammed on these buses where we would goof off, watch movies, sleep on the floor, pull pranks, etc. We grew
closer and bonded on those trips,” said Prosser. After leaving his mark on St. Xavier University and the NAIA, Prosser will be graduating this year along with many other teammates, and his plans for the future do not necessarily involve football. “My future plans are to own and operate restaurants, bars, catering kitchens and flipping houses. I grew up in those businesses and it’s what I love to do,” said Prosser. With Prosser graduating, this opens up the door for many of the underclassmen to make an impact on this team. One obstacle facing the Cougars next season will be replacing one of the best players the school has ever seen but if there is any team that could do it, it’s the Cougars. As stated before the Cougars will be losing many keys on defense such as: defensive lineman Ben Touzinsky, defensive lineman Patrick Appino and linebacker Brian Tyzenhaus. The Cougars will be looking for defensive back Mark Williams and freshman defensive back Clayton Fejedelem to build on the outstanding freshman season that they had and help to lead the defense in the years to come. The future is extremely bright for the Cougars as they look to repeat their historic 2011 season in the year 2012. This team is loaded with talent and they will have to have some players step up in key areas with the departure of these very important seniors. This does not look to be a problem for the Cougars.
The Man Behind the Magic
Coach Feminis celebrates with his players after a thrilling 24-20 victory over Carroll College. Photo: Willis Glassgow
Head Coach Mike Feminis guides Cougars to a Championship
By Greg Pilafas Senior Sports Editor Saint Xavier Cougars head coach Mike Feminis has been at Saint Xavier since the year 1999 and the Cougars have had 12 winning seasons since then. Coach Feminis has now guided this Cougars football team to a National Championship. Coach Feminis was a linebacker at the University of Saint Francis in Joliet, IL; he played for USF from 1986-89. Feminis put his name in the record books as a linebacker with the most tackles in a game with 29 as well as most tackles in his career with 469. Feminis played every game during his career at St. Francis with 41 career starts. He was also named the NAIA defensive player of the year by USA Today in 1989. After Coach Feminis’s football playing career had ended, he would become a linebacker coach for St. Francis between 1990 and 1993. He was then promoted to defensive coordinator from 1994-1998. Coach Feminis was named to the USF Athletics Hall of Fame in 1996. He then brought his coaching talents to Saint Xavier and began his coaching tenure in 1999. When Coach Fem got to Saint Xavier, he would have to play his Alma mater in the year 2000 for the first time. “Probably the most difficult game I ever had to coach was in 2000 when we played St. Francis for the first time and I was going against my mentor--plus we were playing at Joliet Memorial Stadium where I had played and coached for 13 years.” “We won a thrilling game in the last minute 20-13 but it was truly bittersweet. I will always have a special place in my heart for my Alma mater. In fact, one of my
best friends and former roommate is USF’s Athletic Director (Dave Laketa). I pull for them every week except for one during the season and honestly hope they go 10-1 every year,” said Feminis. Before Coach Mike Feminis took over the reins as the Cougars head coach, SXU had won a total of eight games in six seasons spanning the years 1993-1998. Ever since then, Coach Fem has gone 116-41 since he started at SXU in 1999. When asked how he rebuilt the football program and turned them into winning team, Coach Fem stated, “I came in with a philosophy that we were going to build our team primarily with Chicago area kids who would not receive NCAA Division 1 scholarship offers.” “It might sound simplistic but the reality is that 99% of the high school kids will not be playing Division 1 football because there just aren’t enough scholarships out there. I grew up in this area and played my high school and college ball in the area so I know how much talent there is right here in our own backyard.” “A lot of our competitors feel the need to go to California, Florida, Georgia and Texas to recruit players, but for us Rockford and Northwest Indiana is about as far as we go to actively recruit guys outside of the Chicago area. And we’ve been very fortunate to recruit some great kids.” “With only 24 scholarship equivalencies at our level, you can’t afford to have too many “misses” because if you do the record will show it. I feel like we have the best coaching staff in the country at the small college level and of the 13 on staff only 3 (including myself) are full-time.” “Our par t-time coaches basically make enough to fill their gas tanks back and forth from their full-time jobs, so they certainly aren’t doing it for the money. With that said, coaches can draw up plays forever but you better have good
players to execute those plays and we’re certainly fortunate to have a lot of talented kids,” said Feminis. This SXU football team is truly amazing and they have been guided by an amazing coach who has made winning the norm around the Saint Xavier campus. Coach Mike Feminis can now call himself and his team NAIA Champions after the Cougars defeated Carroll College of Montana 24-20. Coach Mike Feminis can take some time to relax and enjoy this amazing feeling of being NAIA Champions. Coach Fem has an amazing family that he can celebrate with now. “I’m the luckiest guy in the world because I have a wonderful wife Meredith who understands the demands of being a coaches’ wife. She is extremely supportive and understanding of the time commitment I have to make in my job and she accepts this while working full-time herself and basically taking care of our three daughters pretty much by herself from August thru December.” “My girls (Gianna, Francesca, and Sophia) are awesome and I wouldn’t trade them for anything
Coach Feminis and QB Jimmy Coy Celebrate with the trophy. Photo: Willis Glassgow
in the world--and they, along with Meredith, love going to Cougar football games. I work with 80 football players every day and come home to a cheerleading squad every night so it can’t get any better than that.” “My number one fan is still my mother Carmella who lives and dies with Cougar football. I think she has literally missed maybe
Coach Feminis gets a gatorade bath after the Cougars won. Photo: Willis Glassgow
2 or 3 games that I’ve played or coached--she’s as loyal as it gets,” said Feminis. Coach Feminis has a tremendous family that he can go and celebrate with now after the Cougars won their first NAIA title ever. This was the first National Title in the athletic programs’ 41 year history.
Cougar football win first-ever national championship