|T. Joe Loiselle, Mike Adams and Zandy Stowell all found their way from Chippewa Falls (Wis.) High School to Macalester. But that's not all they have in common.|
By Adam Johnson
ST. PAUL -- Flash bulbs kept popping, for what seemed like hours, after Macalester beat Trinity Bible 59-0 on Saturday.
Seniors Mike Adams, T. Joe Loiselle and freshman Zandy Stowell were enjoying victory and their combined seven-touchdown performance.
Seven combined touchdowns was an eye popping performance, regardless of the level of the opponent, but it’s the number 2 that truly binds this trio together.
Loiselle grew up in Chippewa Falls, Wi - a working class town of 14,000 known as much for the Leinenkugel’s Brewery as for high school football. A proclaimed football fan since birth, watching the Chippewa Falls High School - known to the locals as (Chi-Hi) – was a Friday night tradition.
“I remember my dad would get home from work and we’d head straight to the stadium.” Loiselle said.
As a young and impressionable kid, Loiselle focused in on the running back position which garnered a majority of the action in the double wing system that longtime coach Chuck Raykovitch - “Coach Rayko” – believed in. At the time the running back wore No. 2 and from that day forward Loiselle had his sights set on wearing No. 2 and playing running back for the Chi-Hi Cardinals.
“I’m sure I had dreams of playing in the NFL back then but my one true goal was to play running back and wear No. 2 for Chi-Hi.” said Loiselle.
Fast forward to 2007, and Loiselle claimed the All-Chippewa County Player of the Year award for his stellar season at running back, where he wore No. 2. Goal accomplished.
As Loiselle looked into his options for college, Chi-Hi junior Mike Adams, a close friend of Loiselle’s was already preparing to slip into the heralded No. 2 jersey for his senior year at running back.
As Adams carried the ball for the Cardinals, Loiselle was
adjusting to college life and football at Macalester. Former
Cardinal teammate Matt Mitchell had chosen Macalester the year
before and was instrumental in getting Loiselle to look at it and
eventually pick it over several other WIAC schools.
“T. Joe had someone he could trust in Mitchell tell him what it was like at Macalester,” said coach Tony Jennison. “When you don’t have that, it’s like flipping a coin.”
Loiselle’s adjustment period was very short. He led the Scots with 227 carries for 964 yards and eight touchdowns in his freshman campaign and he had a friend in Mitchell to ease the transition to college.
Adams finished his senior year at Chi-Hi as a first team all-Chippewa County running back and chose to attend UW-Eau Claire.
As Adams struggled through a frustrating year at Eau Claire, Loiselle was dealt a setback of his own when he suffered a season-ending broken arm in the third game of the season. He turned his time off the field into a full-fledged recruitment of Adams who he knew wasn’t happy at UW-Eau Claire.
“I had no idea what Mac was,” said Adams. “But
I trusted T. Joe.”
Soon after Adams arrived at Macalester, it was time to pick jersey numbers. Loiselle had seniority and a lock on 2 so Adams picked 20.
“I picked 20 because it had a 2 in it and to me the ‘0’ was pretty insignificant,” said Adams.
On Sept. 4, 2010, Adams and Loiselle took the field together as teammates for the first time since high school and led the Scots to a 6-3 finish – their best record since 1986. Loiselle led the team in rushing and Adams did a little bit of everything as the team’s kickoff and punt return specialist as well as spot duty at running back.
“I love playing with Mike Adams,” said Loiselle.
|T. Joe Loiselle got to
Macalester first out of the trio and got first dibs on the
Photo by Ryan Coleman, d3photography.com
In 2011, the team’s record slipped to 4-5 but both Loiselle and Adams claimed individual honors. Loiselle was a preseason All-American, set the school’s all-time rushing record and was named to the Capital One Academic All District team. Adams set the school record with a 97-yard kickoff return.
Throughout the season both Adams and Loiselle kept an eye on their alma mater and realized there was another running back wearing No. 2 – Zandy Stowell – who was having a strong season. Zandy’s father had coached Adams in baseball so on a return visit to watch a game, Adams planted the seed with his former coach.
“I just told him about the experiences T. Joe and I were having and that Zandy might really enjoy it,” said Adams.
Back at Macalester, recruits names for the 2012 season were being thrown around.
“Zandy Stowell at Chippewa Falls had another good game.” A coach announced.
“What number is he?” a player joked.
Obviously he was another alumnus of the No. 2 club. “Chi-Hi No. 2” was turning from a coincidence into a recruiting strategy.
The Scots opened the 2012 campaign with a defeat of Crown 53-6. Loiselle, who exercised his medical hardship season option to return, combined with fellow senior Adams for 150 yards and four touchdowns. Stowell, who saw action in his first game as a freshman had six carries for 20 yards.
“These guys are from the same school, but they are so individually unique,” said Jennison. “T. Joe is smashmouth north and south; Mike is fearless and so dangerous in space and Zandy runs angry and makes things happen.”
At 4-3, Loiselle and Adams know there are only three games left in their college careers.
“It’s fun to be part of turning something around,” said Loiselle. “And it’s great to do it with these Chi Hi guys.”
On Saturday night Loiselle, Adams and Stowell were able to
accomplish something that had eluded them through the first six
games of the season – the trifecta as they call it.
Adams accounted for two touchdowns including a school record 95-yard punt return. Loiselle punched in two short ones from 5 and 12 yards and Stowell piled up 98 yards while scoring the last three touchdowns of the game for the Scots.
“If you hadn’t scored three touchdowns, we would have all scored two,” Adams joked with Stowell reminiscing on the game with Loiselle. “That would have been sweet.”
As for what’s next, there’s a sophomore at Chi-Hi named Kyle Webb who wears No. 2.
“We’ll definitely be in touch with Coach Rayko,” said Jennison.
Seven touchdowns, three guys and one memorable performance for the Chi-Hi guys who all wore No. 2.