Category: Football

Grams set to ‘Fly’ as new offensive coordinator

Phil Grams

APPLETON, Wis. — An enduring friendship helped bring Phil Grams to the Lawrence University football coaching staff, and it now has given him a big role in the future of the Vikings.

Grams has been named the offensive coordinator for the Vikings, and he replaces Mark Speckman, his long-time friend and collaborator in the “Fly” offense. Speckman announced in December he was leaving Appleton to be the assistant head coach at the University of California Davis, a Football Championship Subdivision program.

“Phil has a great passion for the game, for the Fly offense and for our team,” Lawrence coach Rob McCarthy said. “He’s a great fit for what we’re doing here, and the direction we want to go. Phil’s expertise in the Fly offense keeps the continuity for the players, and they are excited about that.”

Grams joined the Lawrence staff in 2016 as the running backs coach. He had come to Appleton earlier in the year to work a football clinic with Speckman, and McCarthy broached the subject of joining the Lawrence staff.

“We had the Fly clinic here last spring, and it seemed like a good opportunity,” Grams said. “Then Rob asked me about coaching here. When my wife and I were on the airplane flying back, we said, ‘There’s no way we’re moving to Wisconsin,’ but things just worked out.”

Grams’ wife, Sandy, also joined the staff at Lawrence and works in the Annual Giving office. Their youngest son, Matt, attends Appleton North High School. When Speckman left for UC Davis, Grams was eager for the chance to begin calling the plays for the Vikings.

“I was practically in tears when Rob offered me the (offensive coordinator) job. This is where we want to be,” Grams said. “We love the family atmosphere Coach McCarthy has created with the team and with the football coaches’ families.”

A native of Rockford, Ill., Grams had been living in Sacramento, Calif., for more than 25 years. He amassed an impressive record as a high school head coach and assistant coach in the Golden State.

While running the Fly offense as the head coach at Capital Christian High School in Sacramento, Grams compiled a record of 48-11, including a 22-0 mark in league play. Grams’ teams won four Golden Empire League championships and captured a San Joaquin Section title.

Grams won 2012, 2013 and 2015 Golden Empire League Coach of the Year honors and was the 2014 Max Preps Small School Coach of the Year in Northern California.

Grams also spent 10 years at Granite Bay (Calif.) High School. While at Granite Bay, Grams worked with current Lawrence offensive line coach Mike Lynch as the Grizzlies ran the Fly offense. Grams’ record as an assistant coach is 100-19.

Grams’ ties to California also provide a seamless transition in terms of recruiting. He will concentrate his recruiting efforts on the West Coast, the area for which Speckman was responsible.

“Phil has the California connection with his ties to the West Coast,” McCarthy said. “That will continue to be a strong recruiting area for us.”

Grams is eager to see what lies ahead for a team that posted a 2016 record of 3-7, a two-win improvement over the previous season.

“I am so happy, super pleased to be able to continue what we’ve started here,” Grams said. “It’s an exciting opportunity to be the one calling the offense with this great group of young men.”

Banta Bowl collects award from American Sports Builders Association

Ron Roberts Field at the Banta Bowl was honored with an award from the American Sports Builders Association.
Ron Roberts Field at the Banta Bowl was honored with an award from the American Sports Builders Association.

APPLETON, Wis. — Lawrence University’s Banta Bowl has always been a home to winners, but the facility itself is now a winner as well.

The recently renovated Ron Roberts Field at the Banta Bowl has received an award from the American Sports Builders Association (ASBA). The new-look Banta Bowl, designed by Rettler Corp., of Stevens Point, Wis., and constructed by The Boldt Co., of Appleton, was honored in the Distinguished Field Facilities category.

“It is exciting to be honored with this award,” Lawrence Director of Athletics Christyn Abaray said. “The foresight and vision displayed to show what this could be, and the deliberation and expertise utilized to make the Banta Bowl a reality are commendable and remarkable. We want to thank everyone who supported and continue to support this effort. This is an example of how impactful positive change can be.”

The ASBA, the national organization for builders and suppliers of materials for athletic facilities, presents these awards annually to facilities built by ASBA members and exemplify construction excellence.

The 3,634-seat Banta Bowl, tucked into a natural ravine just south of the Fox River, underwent the major renovation during the spring and summer of 2015.

Renovations began with raising and widening the playing field to accommodate a soccer pitch. The stadium, home to Lawrence football since 1965, now also houses the Lawrence men’s and women’s soccer teams. The natural grass surface was replaced with FieldTurf to allow for more and varied use of the stadium.

The fan experience was greatly improved with aluminum grandstand seating and an LED scoreboard that houses a new sound system.

Fans enter the Banta Bowl through an inviting plaza at the north end of the stadium. The new Gilboy Athletic Center houses Lawrence’s football locker room, an athletic training room, an officials’ room, concessions, ticketing and restrooms. The building was named for Steve ’62 and Joan Gilboy, who provided a leadership gift for the stadium renovation.

The naming of Ron Roberts Field at the Banta Bowl honors Lawence’s legendary football coach and director of athletics, Ron Roberts, at the behest of Tom Rogers ’65, who gave the lead gift for the renovation.

Lawrence surpassed the goal of $4.5 million to renovate the stadium, and the final piece of the renovation is set to be completed in 2017. The original press box will be replaced with a new multi-level facility for game control personnel, the media and coaches. It is expected to be ready for games in the fall of 2017.

“This was an incredibly collaborative endeavor that bore a result of which all involved can be very proud,” Abaray said.

“Thanks to the leadership of Lawrence for this project from the Board of Trustees, President Mark Burstein, and Vice President for Alumni and Development Cal Husmann. In addition, thank you to Mike Szkodzinski, Director of Athletics/Head Hockey Coach at the time of planning and construction, and Rettler Corporation for their significant contribution to the renovation. Finally, thank you to Lynn Hagee, instrumental in the aesthetic appeal of the Banta Bowl, for her assistance.”

The football teams at Lawrence have embraced the Banta Bowl and made it a home to champions. The Vikings, under the leadership of Roberts, captured seven of their 16 Midwest Conference titles since moving into the stadium in 1965.

The Banta Bowl would not have been possible without the generosity of George Banta Jr. ’10. Originally called the Lawrence Bowl, the stadium was an anonymous gift from Banta and was renamed after his death in 1978.

Gostisha, Myers, Straughan chosen for All-MWC football team

Jackson Straughan
Jackson Straughan
Terrell Myers Jr.
Terrell Myers Jr.
Jake Gostisha
Jake Gostisha

APPLETON, Wis. — Three Lawrence University football players have been chosen for the All-Midwest Conference team in a vote of league coaches.

Linebacker Jake Gostisha (Appleton, Wis./East) was a first-team selection, and offensive tackle Jackson Straughan (Heber City, Utah/Wasatch) and cornerback Terrell Myers Jr. (Marietta, Ga./Marietta), were both named to the second team.

Gostisha, a junior, was chosen for the second consecutive year after earning second-team honors in 2015. Gostisha piled up 107 tackles on the season and finished third in the Midwest Conference at 10.7 tackles per game.

Gostisha is the first Lawrence player to record 100 tackles in a season since 2003, and his 107 tackles is the most for a Viking since Jacques Hacquebord had 112 in 2003. Gostisha recorded six double-digit tackle games during the season and had a career-high 15 tackles vs. Grinnell.

Gostisha, who had 6.5 tackles for loss, tied for the conference lead with five interceptions. He also picked up two pass breakups, forced one fumble and recovered another.

Myers was one of just three freshmen named to the all-conference team. He recorded 36 tackles, including 1.0 TFLs, and had a team-high seven pass breakups. Myers recorded a season-high eight tackles at Knox.

Myers also was one of the league’s most dangerous return men and was named the MWC Special Teams Player of the Week following a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown vs. Illinois College.

Myers led the conference and was fifth in NCAA Division III by averaging 32.6 yards per kickoff return. That broke the Lawrence record of 28.5 set by College Football Hall of Famer Scott Reppert in 1982.

Straughan, a senior tackle, was chosen for the second team for the second consecutive season. Straughan, who was paired with four freshmen starters, helped the Vikings finish third in the conference in rushing at 203.9 yards per game.

Big first half propels Ripon over Lawrence

RIPON, Wis. — A big first half, capped by an interception return for a touchdown, led the Ripon College football team to a 34-6 Midwest Conference win over Lawrence University on Saturday at Ingalls Field.

Ripon (2-8, 2-6 MWC) retained possession of the Doehling-Heselton Trophy in the state’s oldest college football rivalry. This was the 116th meeting between the teams in a rivalry that began in 1893.

Ripon quarterback Cameron Gruenwald ran 26 times for 121 yards, and Cody Chase had 16 carries for 113 yards to pace Ripon. Gruenwald was just 1-for-5 passing with an interception.

Lawrence quarterback Philip Santiago was 13-for-27 passing for 95 yards and two interceptions. Lawrence (3-7, 2-6) was limited to just 198 total yards.

Ripon put together scoring drives of 65 and 47 yards and led 14-0 early in the second quarter. Lawrence took the ensuing kickoff and Jake Ryan, who finished with a game-high 13 tackles, returned it to the Ripon 48-yard line.

Lawrence converted a fourth-and-five play with a 21-yard pass to Cam Boerm to the Ripon 10. The Vikings faced fourth-and-goal at the one-yard line, and Santiago plowed into the end zone to cut the lead to 14-6.

Ripon drove back down the field and Chase scored from four yards out to push the lead back to 20-6. Lawrence got great field position late in the first half after a short punt gave the Vikings the ball at the Lawrence 47.

Lawrence moved the ball to the Ripon 31, but Santiago’s fourth-down pass was intercepted by Lane Barnes and returned 69 yards for a touchdown and a 27-6 lead. Lawrence drove back down the field but missed a 36-yard field goal on the half’s final play.

The Vikings had another good chance to get back into the game following Cole Erickson’s 79-yard punt that was downed at the Ripon three-yard line. Erickson’s punt broke the school record of 75 yards set by Phil Haas vs. Cornell way back in 1949.

The Vikings forced a three-and-out and another short punt gave Lawrence the ball at the Ripon 28. Santiago went for the end zone on the next play, and his pass was picked off by Armando Mosqued to end the threat.

Lawrence’s Cullen Ellis picked off Gruenwald later in the half for his first career interception, and Hunter Adams finished with 11 stops for the Vikings.

Box score

Football preview: Lawrence at Ripon

APPLETON, Wis. — The Lawrence University football team renews the oldest college football rivalry in the state when it travels to Ripon College on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. Both teams are coming off tight losses where a rally fell just short. Lawrence fell 33-27 at Knox, and Ripon dropped a 31-28 decision at Cornell.


The Week Ahead: November 7-13

APPLETON, Wis. — The Lawrence University football team wraps up its season on Saturday when the oldest rivalry in Wisconsin is renewed at Ripon College. Lawrence and Ripon have been playing football since 1893, and Saturday’s game marks the 116th meeting between the teams.

LU Sports-VikingFootball-PMS294FOOTBALL (3-6, 2-5 MWC)

Opponent: Lawrence at Ripon (1-8, 1-6 MWC)

When and Where: Saturday, Nov. 12, 1 p.m., Ingalls Field, Ripon, Wis.

Webcast: Lawrence at Ripon

Series: In a series that dates back to 1893, Ripon holds a 62-46-7 advantage. Ripon hasn’t lost in the series since the Vikings defeated the Red Hawks 25-22 in the Banta Bowl in 1999. Ripon has won 16 straight in the series, which is the longest win streak by either team.

Fast Fact: The teams play for possession of the Doehling-Heselton Memorial Trophy, which dates back to the 1988 season. The Red Hawks have a 23-5 edge in the series since the inception of the trophy. The trophy is named for long-time Ripon coach Carl Doehling and his Lawrence rival, Bernie Heselton. Heselton got the best of Doehling as Lawrence compiled a 10-6-1 record against the Redmen (as Ripon was then known) from 1938-55.

LU Sports-VikingCrossCountry-PMS294CROSS COUNTRY

Event: NCAA Division III Midwest Regional

When and Where: Saturday, Nov. 12, 11 a.m., Lake Breeze Golf Club, Winneconne, Wis.

Live Results:

Fast Fact: Lawrence competes in one of the toughest regionals in the nation, but the Vikings have a pair of runners looking for a spot in the NCAA Division III Championships. The top seven runners that don’t qualify for the national championships as part of one of the qualifying teams also receive a trip to nationals. Sophomore Josh Janusiak, the Midwest Conference champion, and rookie Joe Kortenhof will lead the charge for the Vikings.

Vikings’ rally comes up short at Knox

GALESBURG, Ill. — The Lawrence University football team’s rally came up short Saturday and Knox College held on for a 33-27 Midwest Conference victory in the Knosher Bowl.

Lawrence (3-6, 2-5 MWC) got a late touchdown to cut Knox’s lead to six, and the Vikings’ defense forced a three-and-out to get the ball back. Knox intercepted a pass on the second play of the final drive to seal the victory.

Lawrence quarterback Philip Santiago went 17-for-33 passing for 170 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Santiago also carried the ball 16 times for 97 yards and a pair of scores. Cam Boerm caught six passes for 75 yards and two touchdowns for the Vikings.

Running back Braeden Westfall and quarterback Matt McCaffrey did all the damage for Knox (2-7, 2-5). Westfall had 29 carries for 176 yards, and McCaffrey ran 19 times for 52 yards. McCaffrey completed 17-of-25 passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns.

Knox took control of the game by scoring 19 unanswered points to turn a 14-7 second-quarter deficit into a 26-14 lead in the final seconds of the third quarter.

Lawrence then moved 81 yards in 13 plays for a touchdown to get back into the game. Boerm caught a 13-yard touchdown pass to trim Knox’s lead to 26-21 with 11:12 left in the game.

The Prairie Fire answered with a 65-yard scoring drive of its own. Malik Hamilton caught a 15-yard pass from McCaffrey to push the lead back to 33-21 with 7:43 left.

Lawrence methodically marched down the field with another 13-play drive that went for 81 yards and a touchdown. Santiago did the honors with a one-yard plunge that trimmed the lead to 33-27.

After the Lawrence defense forced a punt, the Vikings got the ball back near midfield. A sack on the first play pushed the ball back to the 30-yard line, and Santiago was intercepted on the next play.

Lawrence jumped out to the early lead when Santiago hit Boerm with a 19-yard touchdown pass to cap an eight-play, 78-yard drive for a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter.

Quinn Sharp then intercepted Santiago and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 7-7. Lawrence quickly grabbed the lead back when Santiago scored on a one-yard run on the first play of the second quarter to cap a 48-yard drive for a 14-7 edge.

Box score




The Week Ahead: October 31-November 6

APPLETON, Wis. — The Lawrence University volleyball team gears up for the Midwest Conference Tournament this week, and hockey looks to win the Battle of Highway 41 trophy in a busy week for the Vikings.

LU Sports-VikingHockey-PMS301HOCKEY (0-2-0, 0-0-0 NCHA)

Opponent: Lawrence vs. Marian (0-2-0, 0-2-0 NCHA)

When and Where: Friday, Nov. 4, 7 p.m., Blue Line Ice Center, Fond du Lac, Wis., and Saturday, Nov. 5, 7 p.m., Appleton Family Ice Center.

Webcast: Lawrence at Marian (Friday); Marian at Lawrence (Saturday)

Series: Marian holds a 52-16-6 lead in the series, which started in the 1992-93 season. Lawrence has fared better against the Sabres in the last three seasons with a 2-4-0 mark.

Fast Fact: Lawrence took No. 1 UW-Stevens Point to overtime before falling 3-2 this past Saturday. The Vikings’ win over No. 2 St. Norbert in the 2013-14 season remains the highest-ranked opponent the Vikings have defeated. The Vikings are playing for the Battle of Highway 41 trophy this weekend with the Sabres. Marian has a 6-1 edge in the series and currently has possession of the trophy after winning in a shootout after the teams split the games in 2015-16.

LU Sports-VikingVolleyball-PMS294VOLLEYBALL (11-15)

Opponent: Lawrence at Midwest Conference Tournament

When and Where: Friday and Saturday, Nov. 4-5, Small Center, Mount Vernon, Iowa. Semifinals Friday, Lawrence at Cornell (21-6), 7 p.m., St. Norbert (14-14) vs. Grinnell (14-10), 4:30 p.m. Championship Saturday, 1 p.m.

Webcast: Midwest Conference Tournament

Series: Cornell holds a 5-2 edge in a series that started during the 2000 season.

Fast Fact: This is Lawrence’s first trip to the Midwest Conference Tournament since it went to its current four-team format for the 2008 season. The Vikings finished in a tie for fourth place in the standings but won a tiebreaker with Ripon to knock the Red Hawks out. An automatic berth in the NCAA Division III Tournament goes to the tournament winner this weekend.


Opponent: Lawrence at Badger Open

When and Where: Saturday, Nov. 5, 8 a.m., UW Natatorium, Madison, Wis.

Webcast: None.

Fast Fact: This is the season opener for the Lawrence fencing team, and it’s the debut for new head coach Michael Hall. Hall was hired as the team’s full-time head coach recently and replaces Steve Amich, who had served as the team’s coach for most of the past two decades.

LU Sports-VikingFootball-PMS294FOOTBALL (3-5, 2-4 MWC)

Opponent: Lawrence at Knox (1-7, 1-5 MWC)

When and Where: Saturday, Nov. 5, 1 p.m., The Knox Bowl, Galesburg, Ill.

Webcast: Lawrence at Knox

Series: In a series that goes back to 1935, Lawrence holds a 36-23-2 advantage over the Prairie Fire. The Vikings hold an 8-5 edge in the series since the 2003 season, but Knox has won the last two meetings. Lawrence has scored more than 60 points twice against Knox. The Vikings posted a school-record 67 points against Knox back in 1981 and scored 62 at Knox in 2011 in a game that featured a Lawrence record 573 passing yards.

Fast Fact: Lawrence put up some big numbers against Grinnell this past Saturday as the Vikings rolled up 622 yards on offense, just 47 shy of the school record of 669. Lawrence also had 442 rushing yards, just 46 yards away from the record of 488. Rookie quarterback Philip Santiago and rookie running back Wasonu Allen both went over 100 rushing yards. Allen had a team-high 146 on just eight carries, and Santiago had 140 on six attempts. Three of Santiago’s seven pass completions went for touchdowns.


Event: Lawrence vs. Beloit

When and Where: Saturday, Nov. 5, 1 p.m., Boldt Natatorium.

Webcast: None.

Fast Fact: Lawrence split its first dual meet of the season this past weekend against Ripon. The Lawrence women rolled to an impressive victory, and the Viking men were edged by the Red Hawks. Danielle Millin led the Vikings by winning a pair of events and swimming on a winning relay.


Big plays, ground game lead Vikings to rout of Grinnell

APPLETON, Wis. — A powerful ground game and big plays led the Lawrence University football team to a 53-7 Midwest Conference rout of Grinnell College on Saturday on Ron Roberts Field at the Banta Bowl.

Lawrence posted 442 rushing yards with a pair of 100-yard rushers, and the Vikings finished with 622 total yards. The win was No. 500 in Lawrence football history, which dates back to 1893.

Rookie running back Wasonu Allen had eight carries for 146 yards and two touchdowns for Lawrence (3-5, 2-4 MWC). Freshman quarterback Philip Santiago ran six times for 140 yards and a touchdown. Santiago also completed 7-of-12 passes for 180 yards and three touchdowns. Donnel Haley added 76 rushing yards on just nine carries for the Vikings.

Jacob Bernholtz had 22 carries for 96 yards to pace Grinnell (0-8, 0-6).

Linebackers Dan Rothbauer and Jake Gostisha spearheaded a Lawrence defense that limited Grinnell to 291 total yards. Rothbauer finished with 19 tackles, including 3.0 tackles for loss. Gostisha had 15 tackles, including 1.0 TFLs, an interception and a pass breakup. Safety Dante Reese collected his second interception on the season and finished with four tackles.

Lawrence got on the board with 6:50 left in the first quarter when Santiago broke through up the middle and went 80 yards for the touchdown. The 80-yard run ties the second-longest run from scrimmage in Lawrence history and gave the Vikings a 6-0 lead.

After Gostisha’s interception stopped the next Grinnell drive, Santiago hit Chris Shaw with a 74-touchdown pass and Lawrence led 13-0 late in the first quarter.

The Vikings tacked on two more touchdowns in the second quarter as Trevor Spina sprinted in from five yards out and Santiago hit Cam Boerm with a 20-yard scoring pass for a 25-0 lead.

Lawrence led 25-7 at the half but quickly expanded that lead in the third quarter. Santiago found Cole Erickson on a 31-yard touchdown pass on Lawrence’s first drive of the quarter. Allen then burst up the middle on a 23-yard touchdown run, and the Vikings led 39-7 after three.

Reese’s interception set up the next Lawrence touchdown as the Vikings took over at their own 33-yard line. Freshman Jack Marinich capped a nine-play, 67-yard drive with his first career touchdown on an eight-yard scoring run early in the fourth quarter for a 46-7 edge.

Allen capped the scoring with a spectacular 54-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter for the final margin.

Box score