/playoffs/2018/cru-seniors-end-career-in-style

Cru seniors end career in style

More news about: Mary Hardin-Baylor
Mary Hardin-Baylor, including seniors Markeith Miller, Santos Villarreal, Reggie Cole and Raylon Hickey, take the field before Stagg Bowl XLVI. (Photo by Joe Fusco, d3photography.com)
Mary Hardin-Baylor, including seniors Markeith Miller, Santos Villarreal, Reggie Cole and Raylon Hickey, take the field before Stagg Bowl XLVI.
Photo by Joe Fusco, d3photography.com
 

By Adam Turer
D3sports.com

SHENANDOAH, Texas – A year ago, T.J. Josey was in pain.

He was hurting physically, and also emotionally. He wanted nothing more than to be on the field with his brothers. But after three plays in Stagg Bowl XLV, Josey was injured and forced to spend the rest of the game on the sideline, watching his Mary Hardin-Baylor teammates struggle mightily on offense. The Crusaders could not muster a single point against Mount Union.

A year later, Josey opened the scoring for the Cru (15-0), hauling in a touchdown pass from Jase Hammack to cut UMHB’s deficit to 10-7. That score energized the team playing in front of a raucous home crowd in Shenandoah, Texas. This Friday night was a completely different result, as Josey and his teammates hoisted the Walnut and Bronze trophy by defeating Mount Union, 24-16.

“I had a lot of emotion coming into this game. Last year, I felt that I let our guys down, and felt that I could have made a difference in that game,” said Josey. “I just wanted to come out and be the guy that made the difference.”

It was the culmination of the careers of several Mary Hardin-Baylor seniors who redefined the program. They contributed to UMHB’s first national championship as sophomores in 2016, then went out on top as seniors. They played in three straight Stagg Bowls and redeemed their loss from 2017 by defeating the Purple Raiders (14-1) this year. Leaders such as Josey, Markeith Miller, and Raylon Hickey saw their roles grow and evolve during this run.

“A lot of those guys played all three years. T.J. Josey, Markeith Miller, we got familiar with those guys,” said Mount Union linebacker Danny Robinson. “They’re great athletes and they got better each year. They made more plays than us [last night] and they made us not make plays.”

The standard of success has been transformed by this class. They aspired to be the first Cru team to win it all, and reached that pinnacle in Stagg Bowl XLIV. That wasn’t a relief; it was only more motivation to make it the new normal.

“Winning it in 2016 was a moment I’ll never forget for the rest of my life,” said Josey. “Having to watch another team celebrate on the field last year where we had celebrated the year before was a bad feeling. We just wanted to make sure that we didn’t have to feel that feeling again.”

“We felt like we could play with Mount Union. We felt like our team was a team of destiny.”

– Pete Fredenburg, UMHB head coach

So, after falling behind 10-0 on Friday night, the Crusaders remained calm. Their big game experience played a big role in their resilience.

“We always felt like when you get into a game like this with this much significance, the big key thing is to maintain the confidence level you have and don’t panic. Everything’s going to take care of itself,” said Crusaders coach Pete Fredenburg. “We felt like we could play with Mount Union. We felt like our team was a team of destiny.”

It’s debatable whether or not this is the most talented UMHB class, but it is without a doubt the most successful. While prior classes had standout players and put the program on the map as a national contender, they were unable to breakthrough to claim a championship. Those classes--many members of the 2004 Stagg Bowl team were in attendance Friday night--set the stage for the class of 2019 to make history.

“We were the first ones to win it,” said Josey. “We definitely couldn’t do it without the guys who came before us. We wouldn’t be here in the place we are without those guys.”

The maturation of Josey and Miller into leaders was crucial as the Cru welcomed big-time transfers into the program. Quarterbacks Jase Hammack and Luke Poorman and wide receiver K.J. Miller played important roles this season. Hammack and Miller connected on what ended up being the deciding touchdown Friday night. Neither player was on campus a year ago.

“Jase transferring in and K.J. transferring in really gave us a shot in the arm,” said Fredenburg. “But you have to develop a chemistry and that’s what we accomplished with the leadership that we have on our team. That’s what made the difference in my opinion.”

Hammack emerged as the starting quarterback, passing for 18 touchdowns and over 2,000 yards. Miller led the team in receptions and was second behind Josey in receiving yards, while also serving as the top kick and punt returner. The veterans who set the championship standard welcomed their new teammates with open arms and quickly let them know what the expectations were within the Cru football program.  

“It was an honor to play with those guys because as soon as I came in, they treated me like family,” said Miller. “It feels great to be here and play with people who love football just as much as you.”

After the 2004 breakthrough, it took Fredenburg a dozen years to make it back to the Stagg Bowl. Now, his program has appeared in three straight, with no signs of slowing down. While the 2018 team relied on leaders such as Josey and Markeith Miller, the program is built to sustain longevity at the top. It’s similar to the opponent the Crusaders have faced in the past two Stagg Bowls, the program that Fredenburg (and most other coaches in Division III) has modeled his after.

“They’ve got great players and they’re well-coached,” said Mount Union coach Vince Kehres. “That’s a good formula.”

The Cru earned redemption on Friday night, and now another group of UMHB players knows what it feels like to be a champion.

“After the loss last year, our expectations were to win a national championship. It’s been the goal since fall camp to get here and have another shot at Mount Union because of the way last year ended,” said Fredenburg. “It’s been incredible to watch this team grow and develop, the maturation of guys that were in a backup role last year all of a sudden become big time players, it’s just been awesome. There’s been some adversity but we have just kept driving and working.”

Sep. 13: All times Eastern
Final - OT
Coast Guard 24, at Nichols 23
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Final
Western New England 56, at Westfield State 35
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Final
at Massachusetts Maritime 31, SUNY-Maritime 14
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Final
Becker 12, at Worcester State 10
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Final
William Paterson 28, at FDU-Florham 23
Sep. 14: All times Eastern
Final
at Brockport 14, Framingham State 0
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Final
at Lawrence Tech 34, Wisconsin Lutheran 14
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Final
at Norwich 30, St. Lawrence 24
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Final
Montclair State 28, at Salve Regina 11
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Final
at Utica 26, Buffalo State 15
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Final
at Springfield 21, Kean 14
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Final
at St. John Fisher 35, Bridgewater State 28
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Final - OT
at Mass-Dartmouth 48, Husson 41
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Final
Shenandoah 35, at N.C. Wesleyan 19
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Final
at Endicott 28, Rochester 3
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Final
Cortland 31, at TCNJ 7
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Final
at Salisbury 24, UW-Oshkosh 19
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Final
at Franklin Pierce 29, Curry 27
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Final
at Georgetown 69, Catholic 0
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Final
University of New England 35, at Alvernia 28
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Final
Ferrum 55, at Greensboro 7
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Final
Hamilton 37, at Bowdoin 24
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Final
at Amherst 27, Bates 13
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Union 54, at Anna Maria 7
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at Plymouth State 48, Maine Maritime 6
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Wittenberg 36, at Hiram 12
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at Wesleyan 30, Colby 10
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at Wooster 17, Oberlin 0
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at Hanover 49, Adrian 28
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Guilford 19, at Methodist 14
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Final
at Franklin and Marshall 54, Juniata 0
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Susquehanna 28, at Johns Hopkins 27
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Final
Hobart 38, at Morrisville State 24
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at Lycoming 43, Widener 42
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Final
Ripon 45, at Finlandia 12
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Final
Washington and Jefferson 59, at Thiel 0
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Final
at Westminster (Pa.) 45, Waynesburg 21
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Final - 4OT
Wesley 24, at Delaware Valley 18
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Final
at Alfred 15, George Fox 14
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at Wilkes 30, Lebanon Valley 24
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Final
McDaniel 13, at Moravian 10
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Final
Muhlenberg 38, at Dickinson 9
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Ursinus 48, at Gettysburg 10
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Final
at Washington and Lee 42, Sewanee 7
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Final
UW-Whitewater 20, at Concordia-Moorhead 10
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Final
at St. Scholastica 41, Presentation 13
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Final
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 30, at Northwestern (Minn.) 7
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at Tufts 14, Trinity (Conn.) 8
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Final
Ohio Northern 39, at Muskingum 10
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at Hope 80, Defiance 6
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Final
Trine 35, at Bluffton 20
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at Heidelberg 35, Wilmington 10
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at Middlebury 17, Williams 13
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Final
Linfield 35, at Rowan 14
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Final
Baldwin Wallace 45, at Otterbein 28
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Final
Ohio Wesleyan 42, at Kenyon 0
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Final
at Fitchburg State 12, Castleton 10
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Final
at Central 45, DePauw 19
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Final
Millsaps 35, at Westminster (Mo.) 10
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Olivet 54, at Concordia-Chicago 24
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Final
at UW-Stevens Point 31, Wabash 28
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Final
Carleton 20, at Lawrence 10
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Final
at Simpson 27, Chicago 23
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Final
at Greenville 31, Kalamazoo 17
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Final
Concordia (Wis.) 31, at Augsburg 0
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Final
at Martin Luther 34, Rockford 20
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Final
at Lake Forest 44, Grinnell 0
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Final
Bethel 38, at UW-River Falls 20
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Final
at St. Norbert 27, UW-Eau Claire 21
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Final
at Crown 23, Beloit 6
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Final
Aurora 48, at Elmhurst 22
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Final
Howard Payne 56, at McMurry 37
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Final - 2OT
at UW-La Crosse 33, Illinois Wesleyan 27
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Final
at Knox 44, Iowa Wesleyan 0
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Final
at Nebraska Wesleyan 25, Illinois College 20
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Final
Gustavus Adolphus 41, at UW-Stout 31
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Final
at WPI 6, RPI 3
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Final
St. Olaf 33, at Luther 20
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Final
at La Verne 43, Willamette 33
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Final
at Pomona-Pitzer 20, Lewis and Clark 0
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Final
at Pacific Lutheran 17, Cal Lutheran 10
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Final
Hartwick 30, at Alfred State 20
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Final
at Western Connecticut 41, Dean 16
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Final
Alma 35, at Manchester 7
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Final
Randolph-Macon 30, at Averett 27
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Final
Albion 48, at Franklin 26
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Final
at Berry 34, LaGrange 9
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Final
at Anderson 27, Cincinnati Christian 23
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Final - OT
Hampden-Sydney 27, at Christopher Newport 24
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Final
Carnegie Mellon 31, at Geneva 6
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Final
Marietta 44, at Capital 7
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Final
Bridgewater 37, at Stevenson 22
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Final
at Centre 27, Maryville (Tenn.) 22
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Final
at Grove City 26, Bethany 15
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Final
Austin 27, at Southwestern Assemblies 26
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Final
at Loras 42, Benedictine 14
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Final
at Hardin-Simmons 16, Trinity (Texas) 10
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Final
at Dubuque 37, Pacific 26
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Final
at Buena Vista 27, Concordia (Neb.) 24
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Final
at Birmingham-Southern 45, Huntingdon 13
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Final
at Eureka 41, MacMurray 24
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Final
Hendrix 26, at Texas Lutheran 23
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Final
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 56, Albright 15
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Final
Valley City State 67, at Minnesota-Morris 7
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Final
at Wartburg 38, Monmouth 9
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Final
Rose-Hulman 30, at Rhodes 0
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Final
Hamline 31, at Macalester 27
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Louisiana College 20, at Belhaven 14
Final
at Texas A&M-Kingsville 72, Sul Ross State 0
Final
at Redlands 58, Puget Sound 7
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Sep. 15: All times Eastern
Final
at Coe 38, Cornell 0
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Sep. 5: All times Eastern
Final
Johns Hopkins 17, at Randolph-Macon 12
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Sep. 6: All times Eastern
Final
Delaware Valley 37, at Kean 7
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Sep. 7: All times Eastern
Final
at RPI 52, Allegheny 14
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Final
North Central (Ill.) 43, at Christopher Newport 13
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Final
Wesley 69, at Franklin Pierce 0
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Final
at Muhlenberg 45, TCNJ 26
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Final
Ithaca 66, at St. Vincent 28
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Final
at Washington and Jefferson 16, Wittenberg 8
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Final
at John Carroll 21, UW-Stevens Point 7
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Final
Centre 45, at Hanover 31
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Berry 31, at Maryville (Tenn.) 10
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Final
at Bethel 42, Simpson 10
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Final
Wheaton (Ill.) 38, at Monmouth 0
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Final
St. John's 14, at UW-Stout 7
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Final - OT
at UW-La Crosse 21, Concordia-Moorhead 14
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Final
Whitworth 50, at La Verne 24
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Final
at St. Thomas 69, Trinity International 3
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Final
at UW-Whitewater 42, Dubuque 7
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Final
Mount Union 66, at Rose-Hulman 14
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Final
Hardin-Simmons 64, at Sul Ross State 0
Box Score Photos