TLU's first win is a historic one

Coach Danny Padron said that this is likely his final season with Texas Lutheran.
Photo by DUstin Wyatt

Danny Padron never planned to coach college football.

He was a long-time high school coach in San Antonio and had his mind set on becoming a high school athletic director.

But his son, Andy, a former quarterback at Mary Hardin-Baylor, had dreams of coaching at that level, and if his dad took the job at Texas Lutheran, it would put him in a position to make that dream come true.

Padron also knew Bill Miller, a former baseball coach at Texas Lutheran and the current AD of the school.

“I never thought it would happen, but God had a plan for me,” Padron said. “I’m very grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given. [Bill] had a lot of trust me in to do the job, and I am thankful for that.”

Sometimes the unexpected plans turn out to be the best plans. Padron has enjoyed a wealth of success since taking the Bulldogs job in 2010, and on Saturday night, he became the winningest coach in program history.

Texas Lutheran’s 38-28 win over Trinity on Saturday in the SCAC opener for both teams marked the 39th win in his career, pushing him past the late great Jim Wacker, who coached five seasons at Texas Lutheran and led the Bulldogs to back-to-back NAIA national titles.

It’s a big deal for sure, but it’s not an achievement Padron, a three-time SCAC Coach of the Year, wants all of the credit for.

“It’s a staff honor. That is the way we look at it,” Padron said. “It took me a little longer to get to the record than it did coach Wacker. He did it in 5 years. But to be considered in the discussion with him is an honor.”

Perhaps just as important as making history was the fact that Texas Lutheran finally nailed down its first win of the 2016 campaign. The Bulldogs struggled to an 0-4 start to the season, facing three nationally ranked opponents along the way.

“We knew our schedule was going to be a challenge,” Padron said. “We played some very good football teams, but our desire was to make the playoffs and we had to win those games to give ourselves a chance.”

Texas Lutheran’s hope was to make the NCAA playoffs for the second time in school history -- the first trip came in 2014 -- but that dream has been all but dashed as the Bulldogs don’t play in a league with an automatic bid.

What hasn’t been dashed is the chance to complete another perfect run through the SCAC. The Bulldogs are 10-0 all-time in the league. This is their final go-round in it before moving to the ASC in 2017.

“We have a young team, especially on defense, and our confidence took a hit in those first four losses,” Padron said. “But we’ve been playing better lately. I’ve seen a lot of improvement the last two or three weeks, and beating a well-coached team like Trinity is a big confidence booster for us.”

Padron is confident the improvement will continue as the season rolls on and talked about seeing his team contend for the league title. But he also took time to reflect on his career.

“I’ve enjoyed my years at this school, and this season will probably be my last,” Padron said. “It’s been a gratifying experience to work with great coaches and great players. I’ve enjoyed my years coaching college football.”

Some of that enjoyment comes from getting the chance to coach with his son, who is now an assistant at Bowling Green University in Ohio.

“It meant a lot to coach with him, and I’m proud of what he has accomplished,” Padron said. “He’s a great coach and even better person, which is a credit to his mother.”

No matter what comes next for Padron, it’s clear he has made a difference at Texas Lutheran. The team was 0-10 the year before he took over. Winning has been the norm ever since, and Padron will go down as one of the best.

For now, the focus is on the remainder of the season.

“I just want us to keep getting better in every game,” Padron said. “We know good things will happen if we can make improvements every week.”

Vikings stay in title hunt

Berry kept its hopes for an SAA title alive with a 28-21 come-from-behind win over Chicago on Saturday. Slade Dale helped fuel the comeback, throwing for 319 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 123 yards. Dale also ran for a score.

Dale’s biggest throw was a 30-yard scoring strike to Tristen Cline, who caught his first career touchdown reception and put the Vikings ahead 28-21. Berry had trailed 14-0 at halftime.

Dale has appeared six games and has thrown for more than 700 yards and eight touchdowns to help anchor an offense that averages nearly 250 passing yards per game. The defense hasn’t been bad either, particularly against the run where it’s allowing just 62.2 yards per outing. Berry held SAA rushing leader Chandler Carroll to 21 yards.

The Vikings sit at 5-1 overall and 3-1 in the conference and play at unbeaten Hendrix (5-0, 3-0) next Saturday in a pivotal league game. Berry defeated the Warriors 27-24 a year ago but went 1-2 in the final three weeks as its title hopes slipped away.

Crusaders continue to crush opponents

Mary Hardin-Baylor is not just beating opposing teams this season -- it’s shredding them.

The Crusaders waxed another Saturday, blasting Howard Payne 59-10. It marks the fifth time in as many games that UMHB has put up more than 50 points in a win and the third time this year it has given up 10 or fewer points.

Blake Jackson completed all but one of his six pass attempts for 96 yards and has thrown for just over 1,000 on the season. The rushing attack of the Crusaders has been tough to handle as well, with three players racking up more than 300 yards, including Markeith Miller, who has churned out 459 yards and five touchdowns.

Baylor Mullins picked off the 15th pass of his collegiate career, breaking the school record held by Brett Parker, and now has a team-high three picks this season. He also ranks second on the team in tackles with 34.

The third-ranked Crusaders now turn their attention to one of their biggest challenges of the year, facing unbeaten and 16th-ranked East Texas Baptist on the road in a pivotal ASC showdown.

Pirates make history

Southwestern won an SCAC game for the first time in program history Saturday, rolling to a 37-7 win over Austin.

The Pirates put up 603 yards of offense and allowed only 191, and among the highlights were the first collegiate touchdowns by Alyas Ramirez and Chris Demny, finding the end zone on runs of four yards and one yard, respectively.

Southwestern had lost two in a row and had not scored more than 24 points in a game all season. The seven points were the fewest the Pirates have allowed all year.

Justin Broussard led the way defensively with seven tackles. He also recorded a sack as Southwestern (2-3)  matched its win total from a year ago. Broussard is the second-leading tackler on the team (28) and leads the team in sacks (6).

Sideline notes

Cal Lewellyn picked off three passes to help lead Centre to a 40-21 win over the Majors. Only a freshman, Lewellyn has tallied six interceptions in all this year, which ties him for the most in the nation. He is the only freshman in the country with more than three picks this year.

James Davis turned in one of the best performances of his collegiate career Saturday, throwing for a season-high 321 yards in Sul Ross State’s 52-36 win over Belhaven. Davis, who has thrown for more than 1,100 yards this year,  was 18-of-24 and threw two touchdown passes as the Lobos snapped a two-game losing streak and improved to 2-3.

Despite a 38-28 loss to Texas Lutheran on Saturday in the SCAC opener for both teams, Tommy Lavine came through with a great performance for Trinity. The freshman wide receiver caught eight passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns.

If you have a great story idea or notable accomplishments that deserve a mention in this column, feel free to reach out to me at brian.lester@d3sports.com. You can also follow on Twitter @BLester1993

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Brian Lester

Brian Lester is a reporter in Florida. He has 14 years of experience at newspapers in Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio, spending 10 at The Courier in Findlay, Ohio. Lester also writes an Around the Region column for D3hoops.com and wrote Around the Great Lakes for D3football.com from 2012-14. He is a graduate of Eastern Illinois.

2014 columnist: Justin Goldberg
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2008-11 columnist: Jason Bowen

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