Defensive back Kory Stamps isn’t concerned about the individual accolades. What he wants is a national championship, something Saint Francis’ football team missed out on last season, when it went 9-3 but lost to top-ranked University of the Cumberlands in the NAIA quarterfinals.
Grand View (Iowa) went on to win the national title with a 35-23 victory over Cumberlands (Kentucky).
My goal is the same as last year. I want to win a national championship, Stamps said. I’m not worried about the individual stuff. That comes with winning and making plays. I want to make plays that help us.
Stamps, a senior, has made plenty of plays throughout his career with Saint Francis; the Indianapolis native has 12 interceptions and 87 solo tackles through 34 games.
His 11 interceptions the last two years are more than any other player in the Mid-States Football Association. His 64 tackles last season, 54 of them solo tackles, ranked fifth among the Cougars.
About those personal successes, Stamps said: It’s comes with good coaching and learning each and every day. It’s being in the right position and learning good, assignment football.
The Cougars, who open practice Monday, have a long history of success but haven’t been to the national championship game since losing three straight from 2004 to 2006.
This year, they have plenty of returning star players, such as Stamps, senior linebacker Keith Harris and junior wide receiver Cam Smith, all of whom were selected to the USA College Football NAIA Preseason All-America Team.
Stamps was a second-team All-American last year, as picked by the American Football Coaches Association. Harris, who played at Elmhurst, was an all-conference first-team pick last year, when he had a team-leading 15 tackles for loss. Smith, who matriculated from Bishop Dwenger, was an all-conference wide receiver after he led the Cougars in receptions (59) and yards (921)
The NAIA football coaches, polled in the spring, had Grand View as the unanimous top-ranked team. Saint Francis was ranked sixth. A new poll will be released Monday.
Oh, I’m feeling pretty good about everything, the team and everyone coming back, Stamps said. We lost a lot, but we’ve got good guys coming in who have been working hard this summer and looking to earn a spot. Everyone is ready to get after it.
Senior linebacker Kyle Mathewson, who played at Churubusco, was an honorable mention on the USA College Football All-America Team, as was teammate Kegan Morris, a senior left tackle.
The Cougars open their season Sept. 4 at Bishop D’Arcy Stadium against Missouri Baptist University, then will play host to William Penn University on Sept. 13.
Under coach Kevin Donley, who has a 158-37 record in 16 years with the Cougars, Stamps said players should be prepared for a tough few weeks of practice before the season gets underway.
Yeah, everyone is going to come out the first week and be excited, he said. But the challenge will be after that first week, when the legs get tired. Then you see who wants it more after that.