In a season that will continue to be fraught with uncertainty and the unknown, the St. Thomas football team began to answer some questions on Saturday at O’Shaughnessy Stadium.
Playing their first game in the Division I Pioneer Football League, the Tommies manhandled Butler, dominating from beginning to end in a 36-0 victory.
Thrilled with the way his team played on both sides of the ball, excited about an enthusiastic turnout (5,051) and humbled by the presence of a approximately 150 former players, Tommies coach Glenn Caruso is downright giddy about one more major happening that took place on
“We were sitting at breakfast this morning,” Caruso said, “and I turned to our coaches and said, ‘Do you know what I am most excited about besides the game? Whatever happens in the game, we get to go home and watch every game that happened in league tonight.’
“We have an actual data point that is countable. It’s just not guessing out of thin air.”
Likewise, the rest of the league can now can see for itself that while the Tommies’ roster is still dominated by Division III recruits, it is a capable opponent.
Butler was picked in the preseason to finish near the bottom of the Pioneer, but the Tommies’ dominating performance surely got some coaches’ attention.
“The diversity of the league, not just by location, but by recruiting because of that location makes it, is so all over the place,” Caruso said. “It’s been a long time around here since we had no clue what to expect.
“There is a novelty and a romance to being uncertain of what is going to go on.”
Senior safety Rian O’Connor, who made his first start due to Luke Glenna having to sit out the first half after getting a targeting penalty last week, said the Tommies’ confidence in their
abilities helps temper any fear of the unknown.
“The mystery is inevitable,” he said. “This was our first home game in two years. On top of that, it was against a new division and a new league against teams we’ve never played against. It would be easy to get nervous about that, but we just focus on ourselves.”
The Tommies had 424 yards of total offense to 278 for Butler. Senior quarterback Cade Sexauer, making his first start, was rock solid. He completed 17 of 24 passes for 194 yards. He
also ran for 31 yards.
Senior running back Tom Loeffler (61 yards) and sophomore Hope Adebayo (75 yards) both ran the ball effectively.
Loeffler’s 2-yard touchdown run in the first quarter got the scoring started for the Tommies. Sexauer threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to fullback Josh Komis early in the second quarter, and a successful 2-point conversation game the Tommies a 15-0 lead.
Loeffler’s second touchdown of the game, a 5-yard run, gave the Tommies their 22-0 halftime lead.
Senior tight end Max Zimmerman caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Sexauer in the third quarter. The Tommies closed out their scoring with 34-yard touchdown run by Adebayo.
The Tommies forced two turnovers on defense, a fumble recovery by Seth Beckett and an interception by O’Connor.
Both O’Connor and Caruso praised the job defensive coordinator Walli Kuchinski preparing the defense.
“When you have Coach K in your meetings every week you just feel so confident in the game plan,” O’Connor said. “When you don’t have to think you can play super fast.”