ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – It’s a new season, but the goals are as high as ever for the University of St. Thomas football team.
The Tommies enter the 2011 regular season coming off a 12-1 campaign in 2010. They won the MIAC title and finished the season 10-0 for the first time in school history. Glenn Caruso enters his fourth season as the program’s head coach. The Tommies are also coming off two straight years of NCAA Tournament appearances.
Caruso recently said that success started with a change in attitude. Winning consistently became a reality and losing was no longer acceptable.
“We turned around with the attitude and once we got that squared away the success started coming,” Caruso said. “We put a product out there that people started to watch.”
St. Thomas enters the season ranked No. 5 in the country in Division III. They bring back 16 starters from last year and 18 seniors. It’s also the first season where virtually the entire team was recruited by Caruso and his staff. The Tommies host St. Norbert out of Wisconsin at 1 p.m. Saturday at O’Shaughnessy Stadium. Caruso said the team is ready for a game after more than two weeks of practice.
“Our dudes are tired of hitting somebody with the same colored jersey,” Caruso said. “I know they’re excited. There’s a breath of excitement coming into the year.”
They have every reason to be excited with several playmakers back from a team that won the MIAC last year and beat St. John’s for the first time since 1997.
Quarterback Dakota Tracy returns for his senior season after passing for nearly 2,300 yards and 21 touchdowns in duty over the last three years. His favorite target will be Fritz Waldvogel, one of the premiere wide receivers in the country. Colin Tobin is the team’s top returning rusher as he’s scored 27 touchdowns and racked up 2,100 rushing yards over the last three seasons.
The St. Thomas defense will be anchored by a pair of seniors in linebacker Tony Danna and defensive tackle Danny Kane. Danna will likely surpass the 300 career tackle mark this year. Will Baregi, a linebacker, will also be an anchor on the defense.
The Tommies beat St. Norbert in their opener last year 40-7. But if you think it’s going to be easy, Caruso gave reason to think otherwise. St. Norbert finished 7-4 last year and won the Midwest Conference title. Caruso also admits that with the program’s success the last two years comes added pressure.
“Everyone is going to have pressure,” Caruso said. “Our expectations of ourselves are greater than anything that’s going on outside of us. When you have success you expect more, and these kids expect a lot of themselves.”
Saturday is just one of several tough games for the Tommies. They host St. John’s, ranked No. 4 nationally in preseason polls, and travel to Bethel , who knocked them out of the playoffs last year, on Oct. 22.
Tune into St. Thomas football every Saturday on WCCO Radio 830 AM or head to wcco.com for a live stream of the action.