By Jeff Wald

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s a safe bet that the St. Thomas football team will be a motivated bunch when the squad hits the football field in August for the start of the fall season.

The Tommies entered the 2013 season a top-five ranked team and a contender to return to not only the NCAA Division III playoffs, but a legitimate threat to get back the national title game. Instead, St. Thomas suffered tough losses to St. John’s and Bethel, and did not receive one of the few at-large berths to the postseason after an 8-2 regular season.

That ended a streak of four straight years in the playoffs. It was especially disappointing after making a run to the 2012 national title game. In the last four years, the Tommies have gone 50-5 overall, made the semifinals in 2011 and the quarterfinals in 2009 and 2010. It was the first time since Glenn Caruso’s first season as head coach that St. Thomas lost more than one game in the regular season.

Early last week, Caruso announced its 2014 schedule and it presents one notable change. A two-year agreement with UW-River Falls is over, and the Tommies have entered a new two-year agreement with UW-LaCrosse. The most interesting side note to the switch: The Tommies won’t be facing one of the more highly-touted wide receivers to come out of Minnesota in recent memory. Andre McDonald, who saw sporadic time with the Gophers, is now at UW-River Falls and will play football.

St. Thomas starts the season with three straight home games before hitting the road for three of four contests in October. The Tommies will host UW-Eau Claire in their season opener on Sept. 6, then host UW-LaCrosse on Sept. 13. LaCrosse finished 2013 with a 3-7 record against one of the tougher schedules in Division III. Three of the seven losses came to Division III champion UW-Whitewater, North Central, which went 13-1 and UW-Platteville, which finished 10-2. LaCrosse also lost to Division II Missouri S&T.

St. Thomas gets an early bye before starting its MIAC season Sept. 27 with one of its biggest games of the season. The Tommies will be looking to avenge one of its two losses form 2013 when rival St. John’s comes to St. Paul in coach Gary Fasching’s second season.

The next four games after that are at St. Olaf, home against Augsburg, at Hamline and at Bethel.

The Tommies have another big home game Nov. 1, hosting Concordia-Moorhead. St. Thomas will host Gustavus Nov. 15 in its regular season finale.

St. Thomas caught a bit of a break with its scheduling in 2014 as six of its 10 games are at home and their toughest road test, without question, will be Oct. 25 at Bethel.

Look for updates on the St. Thomas football program as we get closer to the season as well as when Caruso announces his next recruiting class.

2014 St. Thomas Football Schedule (By Week)

Sept. 6: UW-Eau Claire
Sept. 13: UW-LaCross
Sept. 27: St. John’s
Oct. 4: at St. Olaf
Oct. 11: Augsburg
Oct. 18: at Hamline
Oct. 25: at Bethel
Nov. 1: Concordia-Moorhead
Nov. 8: at Carleton
Nov. 15: Gustavus

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