Running game gets Gorillas back on track

By: Wayne Gilmore, Team Kong Editor
Nov 1, 2013

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Oh what a difference a week makes!   Seven says ago I was in Seattle for a conference and had a column in my head, just no time to type it.  I pretty much had written that same column a few times over the years and have never published it. 

It is entitled “Smashmouth” and I first wrote it after the 2010 season.  I was frustrated.  It was Coach Rampy’s first season, and I was concerned with the lack of a power running game which we identify with Pitt State Football.  It is my impression that when Pitt State is not physical on offense, they are not a physical team all the way around. 

When I think of Tim Beck offenses the first word that comes to mind is “tough.”  Over the years we watched Tim’s offense philosophy evolve from a split back veer – to an I-formation – to the pistol.  As this development took place, the passing game became more prominent in his offense, but physical running remained.

As frustrated as I was in 2010, the 2011 made me forget those memories. Winning generally does, doesn’t it?   Then last year those thoughts returned, as we seemed to be a pass first team who struggled to run the football.  This season, the Gorillas have been pretty balanced and decided early on a primary running back get the bulk of the carries.  Also, this year Anthony Abenoja has shown he can run with the football as well. 

Then the Fall Classic happened.  After that game last week, my “Smashmouth” column kept running through my head.  As I watched the Northwest game, it was obvious our offensive line was dominated by their defensive line.  We ran for less than a net of 30 yards in that game.  Things were not looking good, with a trip to Missouri Western coming up.

I landed at KCI just as the Western game was kicking off and was able to listen to the entire broadcast.  From the outset the Gorillas ran the football effectively and also threw at the right opportunities. It just was not running the ball with misdirection, it was power football.   It was not “block down, kickout, and lead through with a full back” but it was 2013 power football, which is still outstanding. 

A month ago I wrote about the gauntlet that was October .  Four challenging games away from Carnie Smith stadium.   Going 3-1 is a success.  While no one wanted to lose, the Gorillas learned from this game and these lessons will help them in November and hopefully into December. 

The playoffs pretty much began after the loss at Arrowhead.  With the ridiculous MIAA schedule the Gorillas do not have a strong strength of schedule.  They cannot lose again and expect to make the playoffs.   This is an experienced team and will rise to the ocassion. 

This is Hall of Fame Week at Pitt State and while all the honorees are important, two of the inductees have a special meaning to me.  

Aaron McConnell was the first ‘Teamkong Player of the Year’ winning the award in 2003.  His energy and motor were so fun to watch.  The fact that he was a four time All American says it all on the football field.  However, I will never forget when he was in the backfield and ran the ball against Missouri Western.  Defensive back Pierre Thomas (probably the mouthiest MIAA player I’ve ever seen) went to tackle AMac at the knees, and the 305 pound “running back” hurdled Thomas.  That, and the fact he was on the Cheer squad and could do a back flip says all you need to know about this athletic ability. 

I thought after his professional playing career was over he would have been a great professional wrestler.  I thought his talents and personality would be a perfect fit.  Then several years ago on a Friday afternoon we talked for over an hour about his dream to open a training facility.  He had a dream and knew exactly what he wanted.  Aaron does not lack confidence, he just needed an investor to believe in that dream.  Aaron has parlayed his experience,  his personality and his dreams into becoming a very successful businessman.   Mac Fitness has become a fixture for young and old alike in the Pittsburg area.  My family lives 45 minutes from Pittsburg, but for a semester we drove twice a week to Mac’s for my son Zach to take his middle school age training class.  I believe Aaron made a huge impact on Zach those four months and for that I am forever greatful.  Congratulations, my friend.

Frank Crespino is being inducted to the Hall of Fame in the Meritorious Achievement category.  When I was in high school at Colgan High School Mr. Crespino was the drafting and shop teacher.  He was also the school counselor.  Also during that time he was an assitant football coach at Pitt State.

He atttended St. Mary’s (Colgan) High School and played football at PSU. He also was a student asssitant under Carnie Smith for two years.  He was hired as the head football coach and baseball coach, and was the assistant football coach.  He started a weight program when he was hired in 1961 even when the school did not have the money for traditional weights. In a recent interview he told of how important that weight program was to their success (when many programs did not have a weight program) My dad was a student at St. Mary’s at the time, and Mr. Crespino had a tremendous impact on him.  I believe Frank was a father figure to my dad, and something I know he is tremendously grateful.

Frank Crespino pretty much began the tradition that is Colgan athletics.  Think about it.  Colgan has had 2 football coaches since 1961 – that is 52 years.

Congraulations to Aaron, Coach Crespino and all the honorees.

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