Category Archives: Football

Thunder Football rolls over Kalamazoo with ease

September 14, 2017

If you walked into McCully Stadium last week to watch the Thunder practice, you wouldn’t have guessed that they were preparing for a game against Kalamazoo College. That’s because they already had their sights set on Carthage, who the team will play this upcoming Saturday. After beating the Kalamazoo Hornets 60-6 in the 2016 season, it’s easy to see why the Thunder wasn’t worried about the matchup in 2017. The Thunder proved their swaggering attitude was well warranted after beating Kalamazoo 58-6 on Sept. 9, improving their record to 2-0.

Wheaton racked up a total of 516 yards on offense while holding the Hornets to 148 yards. Senior Sola Olateju ran for 87 of the Thunder’s 304 rushing yards and had a 59-yard touchdown on the second play of the Thunder’s opening offensive drive. Junior Stone Watson contributed 67 yards, including his own 59-yard touchdown.

Watson also played as a kickoff returner, taking the opening kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown and returning a total of 115 yards. Sophomore Phillip Nichols returned a punt in the second half for 56 yards, resulting in a Thunder touchdown.

Senior Curtis McWilliams was the starting quarterback for the Thunder, going 4-for-8 with 35 yards. Sophomore Spencer Peterson went 3-for-3 with 44 passing yards. Junior Jesse Furrow lead the Thunder’s quarterbacks, going 10-for-13 with 133 passing yards and one touchdown. On the receiving end, senior Chase White had five catches, totaling 57 yards and one touchdown. Sophomore Adam Terrini put up 72 yards with three catches.

The Thunder defense also had an impressive night. Sophomore Dallas McRae led the defense with seven tackles while senior Luke Sahly and junior Eric Stevenson both had six tackles and a sack each. Sophomore Robby Schwartz had the only interception of the game during the third quarter. Wheaton held the Hornet offense to 42 rushing yards and 106 passing yards.

Saturday’s game was “a great opportunity for a lot of kids to play,” Head Coach Mike Swider said. As many teams do when playing weaker opponents, the Thunder put in several players that normally do not see as much playing time, allowing younger players to gain more experience at the collegiate level.

Yet no time is being wasted reminiscing on the game. “Our kids played well, but now we’ve got to move on. There’s no time to rest,” Swider said. Senior Noah Spielman echoed Swider’s attitude, saying that “Carthage is a totally different team than [Benedictine and Kalamazoo] …” The Thunder will be matching up against Carthage College this upcoming Saturday for their home opener in McCully Stadium at 6 p.m.

Thunder roll to victory in opener

September 7, 2017

The Wheaton Football team began their quest for the National Championship with a bang on Saturday, defeating Benedictine 57-14. Rainy conditions didn’t seem to hinder the Thunder as they gained 545 yards of offense, including an astonishing 331 yards on the ground, while holding Benedictine to 210 total yards.

Senior quarterback Curtis McWilliams made his first start for the Thunder, but rainy conditions and the lopsided score limited him to 11 passing attempts (six complete) for 183 yards and two touchdowns. Senior running back Sola Olateju racked up a remarkable 170 yards and two scores on eight carries.

In addition to holding Benedictine to 210 yards, the Thunder Defense put up seven points on a 95-yard pick-six by Senior DB Tyler Sigler, as well as a safety.

The Thunder special teams were solid as well, as senior kicker Stefan Knoerr made two field goals and five extra points, earning him CCIW Special Teams Player of the Week honors.

The 57 points scored represented the most ever in a season opener in Wheaton’s football program history. In short, the Thunder dominated. Still, as is often the case in season openers, the Thunder showed signs of rust. Wheaton gave up 155 yards on 14 penalties and lost the time-of-possession battle. They will need to improve these stats if they hope to make a deep playoff run.

Overall, Head Coach Mike Swider thinks this game showed what his team is capable of. “We showed our offense is pretty explosive,” he said. “You can see that there’s tremendous opportunity for us to score points and score them quickly.” Yet he cautioned his team about getting too high on themselves. “We can’t look past [our next opponent] … the only thing worse than a team that doesn’t think they can win, is a team that doesn’t think they can be beaten.”

The Thunder will be back in action on Saturday, as they head up to Michigan to take on Kalamazoo University.

All stats courtesy Wheaton Athletics

Veteran depth and fresh talent

The Wheaton Thunder will be rolling into the 2017-2018 season high and mighty. After finishing 11-2 last year, the Thunder grabbed the top spot in the CCIW preseason poll, receiving 61 points and five first-place votes.

In the postseason last year, the Thunder beat out Huntington College and North Central in the first two rounds of the NCAA DIII Playoffs. Their playoff run ended after losing to Mary Hardin-Baylor in the Quarterfinals.

Coming into the 2017 season, the Thunder boasts an impressive 70 upperclassmen, including 35 seniors — one of the largest groups the team has ever had. Head Coach Mikey Swider feels confident with his large group of older players, saying that the juniors and seniors “know what it takes to win games.”

With several starters from past seasons returning, the Thunder has a lot of talent, experience and leadership to work with. In addition to their returning players, Wheaton will have 28 newcomers to the field.

Two notable returning players include seniors Kyler Kregel, who played center, and Chase Greenlee, a defensive end. Kregel and Greenlee were both named preseason All-Americans by D3football.com. Kregel was named to the First Team, improving from his Second Team selection last year. Greenlee was recognized as a Second Team All American. Last season, he received a honorable mention by D3football.com.

On offense, Wheaton has four returning All-CCIW players from the 2016 year. In addition to All-American Kregel, the Thunder will have six other starters returning. Senior Sola Olateju returns at running back, and at wide receiver, senior Trey Hanley is coming out for his final season after leading the Thunder with 836 receiving yards in 2016.

The most noticeable gap in the offense can be seen at quarterback. According to Swider, there are four contenders for the spot of starter: Senior Curtis McWilliams, junior Jesse Furrow, and freshmen Spencer Peterson and David Beamer.

In the 2015 season, McWilliams missed all of last season due to an injury. Furrow was five-of-six in 2015 and six-of-11 in 2016 for passing with 99 yards and a touchdown last year. Neither Beamer nor Peterson have to taken the field for the Thunder.

In regards to the other side of the ball, Swider stated, “We have a wealth of talent on the defensive line.” Defensive players to watch include Dallas McRae, a transfer from Southern Utah, seniors Chase Greenlee, Noah Spielman, Tyler Sigler and Kyle Fox, junior Eric Stevenson and sophomore Patrick O’Connell. The Thunder defense had more sacks than any other Division III team.

Greenlee lead the defense in sacks with 14 for the 2016 season. He also contributed 61 total tackles. Spielman was equally devastating on defense for the Thunder, getting 41 total tackles while battling injuries throughout the season. In his freshman season, O’Connell came out swinging on the defensive line, recording 36 total tackles and 12 sacks. His efforts gained him recognition on the Second Team All-CCIW.

Southern Utah transfer Dallas McRae will be joining the Thunder defensive line this year. McRae has already proven to Wheaton’s coaches during practices that he can really play based upon what they’ve seen.

Behind the defensive line, the Thunder secondary also has considerable talent. Last season, Sigler transitioned from safety to cornerback — a move that seems to have brought nothing but good things. Swider remarked that “he is arguably one of the best cornerbacks in the country.”

Fox is returning to start at safety after having 44 tackles last year. Alongside him will be fellow senior Nick Blazek, who had 38 tackles and an interception. Safety Corey Kennedy will be one of the new faces on the team, transferring from Northern Illinois.

Swider showed that the Thunder will take no time to celebrate the accomplishments of yesteryear, remarking, “What [we] did last year is great, but this year has yet to be played.”

The Thunder open their season Sept. 2 at Benedictine University, and come back to play their first home game Sept. 16 against Carthage College.

Senior on the sidelines

“Personal glory is a bad motivator. Revenge is a bad motivator. But playing for a cause is the greatest motivator in the world.” — Coach Swider

My four years playing football at Wheaton have been filled with joy and pain, but through the Christ-centered focus of the program and the men in the program I am able to see the constant blessing it has been to me. With only one catch for nine yards my sophomore year as the peak of my career statistically speaking, my time at Wheaton hasn’t been what I had initially envisioned.

 

Before coming to Wheaton, I anticipated being a starting kicker/punter for the Thunder. But after  greater focus was placed on my role as receiver during my first years at Wheaton, I started to transition from punting/kicking into the role of being a receiver. I took on this task and began to enjoy the position. The reason I say I enjoyed it traced back to high school, when we had a predominately run-style offense which meant we rarely threw the ball. As the years went on, I continued to work on this position. Fast-forward to this past year. I felt like I had played well during spring ball which set me up for the opportunity to compete for playing time in the fall. Coming back for summer camp, I was in the best shape of my life. And after what I thought to have been a decent camp, I hoped that all the time, energy and effort invested into this program would finally pay off with the ability to get on the field on Saturdays as a senior. But as it turned out, it wasn’t. I wasn’t as good as the other guys competing for my position. I’m not going to lie, it stung. Had I wasted four years’ worth of lonely hours in summer lifting weights in the gym, all the sprints run under the sun on abandoned fields? All the Saturday mornings at the end of winter running routes? Did it now all amount to nothing?

 

Through my years as a part of this program, I have learned the importance of not finding my identity in anything other than Christ. When I initially was looking at Wheaton for college, the aspect that stood out to me was how Coach Swider spoke of how the program cared more about the spiritual formation of the players than winning, even though they cared a great deal about winning.

 

Now having completed four years in this program, I can undoubtedly affirm the truth in that statement. Wearing the Wheaton football jersey is something I am honored to do, but it doesn’t define me. At my core, I am defined as a child of God, worthy to call the creator of the universe my Father. Don’t misunderstand me, I am far from being finished and continue to struggle daily finding my identity in Christ, but the encouragement and challenges from the people who surround me here on this team and school have been profound in developing  my faith — and for this I am grateful.

 

Despite not getting playing time on the field, Wheaton football gave me so much more. The stats will fade away, but I know the relationships with my teammates will remain. I saw these relationships grow in a  variety of ways. They grew  in weekly small group meetings throughout the year during which we discussed what is happening in our lives. They happened during weekly chapels throughout the season where we worshipped with each other and listened to experiences of seniors in the program instead of practicing for a game the following day. They grew during spring break mission trips  when we labored together and encouraged past football alumni from around the world. These and many other experiences have been where I draw some of my fondest memories of being on this team.

 

A familiar adage says “show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” Because of the friendships I’ve made through football, my future is bright. This is not because I won’t have to deal with adversity or hardship, but because I know that I will have the support and encouragement from these friends whenever I am struggling in the years to come.

 

Through Wheaton football, I have learned what it is like to be surrounded by a band of brothers motivated by a cause: a cause bigger than personal glory and larger than any feelings of revenge. A cause that is blind to individual stats and instead cares about what we can do together. A cause that would wake me  up in the middle of summer to complete a workout at the same time as my  teammates across America. A cause that challenges me to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. A cause that demands devotion to Christ.
The cause of Wheaton football does not end for me as I graduate this year. It is a way of life that has been ingrained in me and players who have gone before me through this program. I have seen and will continue to emulate what it is like to strive towards a life of having a cause.

All work and no play?

Collegiate athletics are intense. This is a well-known fact that only intensifies the higher the level of play. As the division increases (from Division III to Division II to Division I), so, too, do the expectations and pressure. As with any field, the higher the stakes, the more people are willing to cut corners. In all honesty, the potential rewards of keeping a roster spot or coaching position are too good not to.

 

In the world of competition, more seems to always be better. One more sprint. One more lift. One more of whatever will get that team or player an advantage over the opponent. But when does this mentality go too far?

 

A little over a week ago, at Oregon University three football players were hospitalized after going through an offseason workout conducted by the team’s strength and conditioning coach. All were suffering similar symptoms and one of the players was officially diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, a condition in which a person’s muscles break down alarmingly fast. Some of the byproducts of the muscle breakdown include a protein called myoglobin, which is devastating for the body’s kidneys and can lead to kidney failure.

 

According to the Los Angeles Daily News, the players were part of a group instructed to perform “push-ups and up-downs for nearly an hour.” If it seems excessive for a workout seven months away from the official start of college football, that’s because it is. Further validation for this insanity is the fact that a few days later, according to an ESPN report, Oregon suspended their strength and conditioning coach for one month without pay.

 

Oregon certainly did the right thing as the school has now changed its system of reporting going forward to involve the Ducks’ director of performance and sports science. All three players are now listed as “good condition” in the hospital, according to ESPN. But still, this is an issue and a risk to players’ safety and health that should not have occurred in the first place.

 

Overall, this is not to highlight the mistakes of a Division I football program. This is to call attention to the ones who are doing right by the offseason, and using the time for what it’s truly for — time off football. In this instance, the team in the spotlight is Wheaton’s own football team.

 

The Thunder coaching staff understand that their players are student athletes with an emphasis on “student” first. The staff, starting at the top with head coach Mike Swider, desires for Thunder players to use the extra time in the offseason to grow in four areas of their lives: spiritual, physical, relational and academics.

 

For Swider, this growth in the players’ walks with Christ comes before all else. This growth includes 20 football small groups of five to six players within each group. These groups give players a smaller group with which to be transparent with each other and hold each other accountable in a way in which is nearly impossible within the context of the team as a whole. Mission trips and the encouragement to attend a church each Sunday also add to the team’s potential spiritual growth.

 

“The offseason also provides an opportunity for us to increase what we do intentionally to help inspire these kids spiritually,” Swider explained.

 

Of course, the Thunder are also hoping to increase their strength, speed and stamina in the offseason with multiple voluntary workouts per week: four lifting ones and two speed workouts. In a stark contrast from what was witnessed at Oregon, attendance is not taken at these workouts.

 

Relationally, players are expected to spend time not only with their own team, but also with friends outside the team. Upperclassmen also set up different opportunities for team bonding like simply throwing the football around, playing intramural basketball, going dress-up bowling, playing indoor mini golf, three-on-three basketball tournaments and local scavenger hunts.

 

“That’s the first reason they [players] came here,” Swider said, “because they want to immerse themselves into a social community of men that would encourage them to love God.”

 

Many players also study together, and the ones who are doing well help the ones within their same major who are struggling, according to Swider. This teamwork further promotes team bonding.

 

“Our offseason allows them to spend even more social time together,” explained Swider. “It provides our kids an even greater time socially and allows them to do other things, as well as train.”

 

And herein lies what the offseason for college athletics should really be about: “other things.” Of course, it’s important to keep up fitness and strength levels, but the offseason should undoubtedly center around time away from football and the stress — both mentally and physically — that ridiculously difficult offseason workouts can cause. Oregon’s football program is certainly evidence of that.

 

“We’re trying to promote balance and we’re trying to build a culture in which these kids love each other,” said Swider.

 

Hear that? The magical word that should define all offseason sports programs, whether football or otherwise?

 

“Balance.” That is truly the focus of this Thunder football team and something that other programs can learn from as well. By allowing players to step back and enjoy other aspects of campus life, they will undoubtedly come back hungrier than before to compete come spring workouts and the beginning of the season in the fall.

 

“The greatest warriors fight not because they hate what’s in front of them, but because they love what’s behind them,” said Swider.
For the Thunder, much of the team’s success originates in the fact that players’ love for one another is forged in the offseason away from the gridiron. In the fall, Thunder fans are sure to see the fruits of this balance play out in major ways both on and off the field.

Back on the right track

The Wheaton Thunder football team suffered its first loss against North Central College two weeks ago after 27 straight regular season wins, so the team came out with fire this past weekend against the North Park Vikings. With the offense contributing 60 points throughout the entirety of the game, the defense had a wide margin to work with.

However, that margin was never tested as the defense controlled the Viking offense with ease.

By allowing only one touchdown, which took place in the first quarter, it was easy to see that adaptation was a large part of the Thunder game plan.

“It was great coming out of the gate hot,” said senior linebacker Luke Sahlyz. “Using our frustration from last game was important knowing we have to win out in order to make playoffs.”

However, a hopeful splash in the playoffs may require help from some unlikely contributors. One of those players who came in clutch for the Thunder this past weekend was junior kicker Stefan Knoerr. He was named CCIW Special Teams Player of the Week. Knoerr kicked three field goals and converted all six of his extra point opportunities in the contest.

Playmakers like Knoerr will need to step up their game when the Thunder face better competition come national tournament time.

For now, though, focusing on one day at a time is most important. With a much needed bye week this coming weekend, the team will be able to rest and relax ahead of their final two conference games against Augustana College and Carroll University.

However, what this “rest” might entail is different for each member of the team. Some, like Sahly, are more focused for what will be taking place on the baseball diamond rather than the football field, at least for this upcoming week.

“I was excited to beat North Park, but what got me really pumped was to see the Cubs making the World Series,” Sahly explained. “Having this bye week is great because I get to rest and enjoy my team on the big stage for the first time in my life.”

Happy homecoming indeed

Over the weekend, people of all ages, races and denominations gathered on campus. Their connection? They all graduated from Wheaton College and returned for homecoming to share stories of the past, catch up on campus events and see old friends and their beloved alma mater.

On Saturday, many of these same alumni packed McCully Stadium to cheer on the Thunder as they faced off against the Big Blue of Millikin University. The Thunder built a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, but Millikin answered with two second quarter touchdowns of their own. The Big Blue botched an extra point attempt, though, leaving the score at 14-13. The Thunder then responded with a touchdown of their own, bringing the score to 21-13 heading into halftime.

This score held until the fourth quarter, when Millikin scored their third touchdown and went for two in hopes of tying the game, only to have the pass from quarterback Nicco Stepina broken up by senior defensive back J Moore. Wheaton pushed the lead to nine points with a 23 yard strike from senior quarterback Andrew Bowers to junior wide receiver Trey Hanley with 3:14 left on the clock. On the first play of Millikin’s ensuing possession, Stepina threw a pass into the arms of Wheaton’s sophomore linebacker Eric Stevenson who returned it for a touchdown, sealing a school-record 27th straight win for the Thunder.

The defense played well for the Thunder, as they sacked Stepina seven times on the day and picked him off twice. Wheaton also stopped Millikin on fourth down twice and prevented both Millikin attempts at two-point conversions, the first coming after the aforementioned botched extra point.

Senior linebacker Luke Sahly led the Thunder defense with nine total tackles and was named CCIW Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts. Sophomore punter Zach Feddeler also earned CCIW Special Teams Player of the Week as he landed three punts inside the 20 yard mark and one inside the five, forcing Millikin to start from their own 25 on average.

Alumnus Aaron Messner fondly remembered his time at Wheaton, where he played both football and basketball. He was impressed with how far the team has come since his graduation.

“I was on the ’95 conference championship [football] team, which was the first time we’d won the conference in almost 40 years,” Messner explained. “It’s just been amazing to see how the program has grown since then … to the point where now if they don’t win the conference, it’s disappointing, if they lose a game, it’s disappointing.”

Messner also reflected fondly on his time at the college.

“I was on a conference championship basketball team, and a conference championship football team,” he continued. “I met my wife here, I grew immensely in my faith, so it’s wonderful … It’s very special to be able to come back and remember a very significant and enjoyable season in our lives.”

Head coach Mike Swider was thrilled to see alumni like Messner return.

“To see them come back, and to see how they come back in droves, and to see their loyalty,” he explained, “it makes it all worthwhile.”

The Thunder head to North Central College this Saturday to take on the Cardinals in the annual Battle for the Little Brass Bell.

Football recap

Winning is important, but it isn’t everything, as we all know. If you talk to good coaches who genuinely care for their players, they will acknowledge that people are what really matter.

This was evident at the football game on Saturday afternoon as the Thunder gave former offensive coordinator Josiah Seers a rough time when he returned to Wheaton as an opposing head coach, beating his Benedictine Eagles 26-7. After the game however, both coaches shook hands and congratulated each other, not as rival coaches, but as old friends and partners.

The two teams combined for seven turnovers, two missed PAT attempts and 13 penalties. However, the Thunder defense was fairly solid all around, forcing three turnovers, allowing 298 total yards and seven total points. The Thunder offense struggled early on to find any sort of rhythm as turnovers and poor protection cut short many of their drives, which limited them to 12 points in the first half.

Senior quarterback Andrew Bowers had an impressive game and completed 19 of 29 passing attempts for 261 yards and three touchdowns — two to junior receiver Chase White — and was very effective at avoiding the rush, taking only one sack despite being under pressure most of the day. Bowers entered the season in a competition with fellow senior Johnny Peltz for the starting quarterback position, with the two alternating starts, until head coach Mike Swider deems one has won the job. Peltz has a tough act to follow.

After the game, both head coaches commented on Seers’ return to Wheaton. In his postgame address to his players, Swider recognized that Seers’ return had a “huge potential for distraction,” but he praised his team for handling it well and ultimately coming away victorious. Swider acknowledged it was difficult playing against the Thunder, “It’s never easy and it’s a difficult thing.”

Seers had nothing but good things to say about his return to Wheaton, and what this place had meant to him. But when he was offered to be Benedictine’s new head coach, the opportunity proved too good to decline.

“I love Wheaton, it’s a great place,” he said, “but the opportunity to lead a program was a special one and I’m glad I have it.”

It is evident that despite taking a position at a different school, he still has a special relationship with the people of Wheaton College. During my interview with him, at least two people came up to him, as if they were seeing an old friend again at a high school reunion, picking up right where they left off.

“Wheaton is a tremendous school,” Seers said. “I’m fortunate and grateful to have been a part of it.”

Although Seers and Swider are now rivals on the field, it is clear that they still value each other’s friendship and reflect fondly on the time they spent together. The Thunder return to the field with Peltz at the helm on Saturday as they host Kalamazoo College at 1 p.m.

“Let’s roll.”

If a fan or outside observer is around one of Wheaton’s many sports teams long enough, these words are sure to be repeated countless times. For the Thunder football team, though, this phrase has become more than just eight letters. It has become a game plan. It has become a mentality. And, most importantly, it has become a lifestyle.

For those unaware, these words stem from one of the worst tragedies the United States has suffered in recent memory. Amidst the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, aboard one of the flights hijacked by terrorists was a man by the name of Todd Beamer.

A ‘93 Wheaton graduate and multi-sport athlete of baseball and basketball, Beamer was on a business trip for IBM on that fateful September morning. After the hijackers took over the plane, Beamer contacted the GTE airphone supervisor and explained the situation.

After this conversation, Beamer led a mini-revolt with a few other passengers to crash land the plane in a Pennsylvania field, 25 minutes from the presumed destination of the White House or Pentagon. The crash landing had no survivors. Yet before the passengers rushed the cockpit, the last words the airphone supervisor heard were Beamer’s as he boldly proclaimed, “Let’s roll.”

This past weekend, on the 15th anniversary of the tragedy, CBS Sports created a two-and-a-half minute mini-documentary video about Todd Beamer’s heroism and the legacy his actions left behind at his alma mater. The feature aired on national television during the Autotrader College Football Today show before the kickoff of the SEC Game of the Week featuring Kentucky and Florida.

In the clip, CBS Sports interviewed the Thunder’s captains, including seniors Caleb Ashby, Johnny Peltz, Peter Gibson and Daniel Gray. Each player explained what “Let’s Roll” means to him and how it has impacted his time as both a member of the Thunder football team and as a part of the Wheaton community.

“‘Let’s Roll’ gets more meaningful every year as you grow within the program, but this year especially, people don’t take it for granted,” Gray explained. “This year, having Dave on the team, it really makes you think about it more every time you say it.”

Dave? Even though the name might not mean much to a casual Thunder football fan, the freshman quarterback has already made quite an impact on the team in his first month in the program. His last name explains why: Beamer. As in, the son of Todd Beamer.

“It’s more personal now,” said Gray, Dave’s small group leader. “It means a lot more now when Coach Swider gives his big speech during the beginning of the year about what ‘Let’s Roll’ means.”

Only three years old in 2001, Dave Beamer is now a member of the Thunder, following in his father’s footsteps as a gifted athlete. A high school multisport athlete, Dave wrestled in high school, too.

Simply stepping onto campus, the presence of Dave’s father can be felt. This is especially true of one of the school’s most popular buildings, used by students to congregate or work on homework: the Beamer Student Center. In fact, in the lower level of the center, one of the children portrayed in the sculpture in Wheaton’s Lower Beamer depicts Dave as a young boy.

With Wheaton’s connection to 9/11, it’s easy to see how challenging it is to cover this topic in a less-than-three-minute video. Even though Gray mentioned it might have been beneficial for the clip to have a bit longer to capture the full breadth of the story, the piece did receive the approval of perhaps its most important critic.

“It was a great depiction of what it means for everybody on our team,” Dave explained. “It was very accurate, which was nice to see.”

Thunder football head coach Mike Swider and assistant coach Josh Aldrin were also featured in the video. Swider actually narrated the entire video. In Swider’s own words, “Todd’s son, David, will play football for us at Wheaton, proof that faith, family and character, conquer.”

For Dave, the chance to become a part of the culture surrounding his father’s famous phrase has been an emotional experience.

“Coach Swider’s been doing this for a long time,” he explained, “so it’s been really cool to step into this culture [surrounding ‘Let’s Roll’] and be a part of it.”

Even today, 15 years later, these words are no less powerful than the day they left the mouth of Todd Beamer. Although the phrase is most commonly uttered by Wheaton’s football team, the syllables are far-reaching from coast to coast in the United States.

“Having Dave on the team has helped us see what ‘Let’s Roll’ means,” Gray said. “To us as a team and to us as a school and to us as a nation.”

Find the clip on the Wheaton Athletics page or by searching “Let’s Roll Wheaton” on YouTube.

Football recap

The Thunder football team put its full firepower on display Saturday afternoon as they crushed Kalamazoo College 60-6. The Thunder rushed out of the gates to take a 28-0 lead at the end of the first quarter and never looked back, going into halftime up 41-0. Kalamazoo did not even get on the board until the final few minutes of the third quarter, by which point the Thunder were up 50-0 and had already pulled the majority of their starters.

Senior quarterback Johnny Peltz started and went 16 for 21 passing, with 265 yards and four touchdowns — each to a different receiver — and one interception. Peltz is currently locked in a competition for the starting quarterback spot with fellow senior Andrew Bowers. The two will continue alternating starts until coach Swider determines who will clinch the job.

Swider still has yet to make the call.

“We got [Peltz] a start, and he played well, and we expected him to,” Swider explained. “We expected Andrew [Bowers] to play well last week, and now both of them are playing well, so you just gotta keep playing them both.”

Peltz accepted the decision. “Whatever the coaches decide is the best for the team, and that’s the way we’re gonna go,” said Peltz. “We’ll support one another either way.”

Sophomore quarterback Jaelin Goldsmith had the opportunity to be on the receiving end Saturday. He scored three total touchdowns, one rushing and two receiving. All in all, seven different players found the endzone for the Thunder. The win pushed the team’s record to 2-0. Overall, during their first two games, they have outscored opponents 86-13 and outgained their opponents 1089-494 yards.

The Thunder will take the field again this Saturday as they travel to Wisconsin to take on Carthage College at 1 p.m. Their next home game is Saturday, Sept. 24 against Elmhurst College.