Winona LB collects preseason football honors

Posted onJuly 31, 2014 - 03:44:58

When it came to making big plays last season, Collin Corcoran was always in on the action for NCAA Division II Winona (Minn.) State’s football team.

“Collin is a very instinctive football player,” said David Braun, Winona’s co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. “From day one, we knew he had the opportunity to be a special football player.”
Corcoran, a Prairie Ridge grad who will be a junior this season, led the Warriors (6-5) with nine sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss. His 67 tackles from a starting inside linebacker position ranked third on the team.

Thanks to his breakout season, Corcoran has earned plenty of preseason recognition.

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Corcoran was named a first-team preseason All-American by USA College Football and a second teamer by the Lindy’s college football preview publication. He also has been chosen to the Beyond Sport Network’s preseason All-Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference team.
“It’s an honor to represent my team and my teammates and coaches, but it won’t help us win any football games this season,” Corcoran said.

Braun said that attitude is what makes Corcoran and his fellow linebackers a key part of Winona’s success.

“The first thing I told him was how proud of him I was,” Braun said of the preseason honors. “We also talked about realizing the opportunity that was in front of us and the work that was still ahead.”
Braun credited Corcoran’s maturity in accepting the honors but not being overly joyful about them.
The same can be said for Corcoran’s sack total last season.

“Those are because of the work the D-line does,” said Corcoran, who said a large number of his sacks came when he was unblocked.

Braun said Corcoran’s knowledge of the defensive scheme allowed him to make big plays on delayed blitzes , a key piece of Winona’s “extensive pressure package.”

Corcoran had a career-high 16 tackles in the team’s season finale against Concordia-St. Paul and is focused on improving his skills this off-season.

“I’ve really focused on getting off of blocks and using my hands more to my advantage,” said Corcoran, who recently has worked with a boxing trainer in Highland Park. “We did a lot of drills working on hand quickness.”

The Warriors are hoping for a quick start to the season when they open the 2014 campaign Sept. 4 at Northern State in Aberdeen, S.D.

A year ago, the Warriors started the season 0-2 before winning five in a row. They ended the season, however, by losing three of their final four games.

“The biggest thing we’re focused on is consistency,” Corcoran said of the Warriors, who lost only one game by more than 10 points. “We had several games where we didn’t make a play here or there in the fourth quarter.”

Corcoran and his teammates will be showcased on national TV this season as part of CBS Sports Network’s Thursday night D-II football schedule. The Warriors’ Oct. 9 home game against Minnesota State, Mankato will air live on the cable network.

Winona had seven players mentioned on the USA College Football teams, including fellow linebackers Ryan Gerts (63 tackles) and Morgan Weaver (75), who earned second-team recognition.
“We have a lot of experience back,” Corcoran said. “It’s a good core group of guys.”

Barry Bottino writes a weekly column and a blog about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at, check out his On Campus blog at and follow him @BarryOnCampus on Twitter.

Enos close to college home, but in new colors

Posted onJuly 21, 2014 - 07:23:26

Trading purple and white gear for brown and gold has caused some issues for Jason Enos.

From 2007 to 2010, Enos was a four-time all-conference offensive lineman in purple and white for NCAA Division II Winona (Minn.) State, helping the team to 30 wins during that time.

This spring, he is across the state in Marshall, Minn., wearing brown and gold as the first-year defensive line coach for Southwest Minnesota State, a fellow member of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.

“I’m getting a lot of crap right now from my buddies I played with at Winona,” said Enos, a Crystal Lake South graduate. “I’m a Mustang now.”

Coaching was not something that was on Enos’ radar, he said, while starting for two seasons on the offensive line for the Wichita Wild, a Kansas-based indoor football team.

But two months after his playing career ended, Enos said his days included “too much cable TV and too many video games.”

He spent last season as the offensive line coach at NAIA Presentation College in South Dakota, where he coached two all-conference players. When he learned of the job at SMSU, his response was immediate.

“When this job opened up, I jumped on it right away,” he said. “This is probably the best conference in D-II football. We’ll be going to a lot of familiar places. When we go to St. Cloud or Bemidji or Winona, I’ll know where the best restaurants are.”

Enos, who got the job in March, got to know his lineman right away during spring practices in April.

“My favorite part is getting on the field and working with the kids,” he said. “I see myself in some of them, and I see guys I played with or coached with. I didn’t always see myself as a coach.”

Reverting to his home as a player has been helpful while coaching defense.

“I actually play O-line in the drills that we do,” he said. “It helps me see things myself from that perspective.”

Enos said seeing his players through an offensive lineman’s view allows him to help them make technique changes and improve their performance.

Helping SMSU’s players on the field has not been Enos’ only contribution. This spring, a player called him to talk after a death in the athlete’s family.

“It’s nice to help them off the field, with school or their family life,” he said. “That’s been one of the most rewarding things. I still call my old offensive line coach at Winona.”

Enos is joining a Mustangs team that enjoyed a 7-5 record last season, its best since 1991, and only its third postseason berth in the program’s history.

“The message from (head coach Cory Sauter) has been ‘we have to be better,’” Enos said. “It’s all about moving forward and outworking what you did last year.”

The Mustangs open the season Sept. 6 at the University of Mary. The schedule also includes a Nov. 8 game at Winona, where Enos will have some company from those same buddies who questioned his loyalty when he joined SMSU.

“They said they’re all going to be there,” he said. “I haven’t thought about that game much. I’m more focused on Sept. 6.”

Barry Bottino writes a weekly column and a blog about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at, check out his On Campus blog at and follow him @BarryOnCampus on Twitter.

Johnsburg's Dixon a summer hot shot in Iowa league

Posted onJuly 19, 2014 - 10:21:47

Johnsburg grad Melissa Dixon put together a monster game recently in the Game Time Basketball League in North Liberty, Iowa.

Dixon, who will be a senior guard this season at Iowa, scored 63 points and hit 13 three-pointers for her Westport Touchless Autowash/Monica’s and Bob’s Your Uncle team in a 97-71 victory against BlendCard.

Dixon, whose point total was a single-game best this summer, is averaging 51 points a game this season in the league for high school, college and professional players. She scored 33 first-half points.

For the season, Dixon leads the league in scoring average and made three-pointers (19).

Last season, Dixon started all 36 games for the Hawkeyes, hitting a single-season school record 97 threes.

She enters her senior season with 210 career threes, the fifth-highest career total in school history.

Barry Bottino writes a weekly column and a blog about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at , check out his On Campus blog at and follow him @BarryOnCampus on Twitter.

Illinois State's Sidor earns summer all-star spot

Posted onJuly 19, 2014 - 10:18:55

Illinois State baseball player Greg Sidor (Jacobs) was chosen for last week’s Midwest Collegiate League All-Star Game.

Sidor, an infielder for the Chicago Zephyrs, has a double, a triple and six RBIs this season in summer league play.

He was chosen one of eight Zephyrs’ players chosen for the game, which was played at Oil City Stadium in Whiting, Ind.

Sidor’s North squad lost, 10-3, to the South stars.

Barry Bottino writes a weekly column and a blog about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at , check out his On Campus blog at and follow him @BarryOnCampus on Twitter.

Huntley's Zobott will be part of UIC's 1st women's soccer team

Posted onJuly 18, 2014 - 03:50:22

In less than 30 days, Rachel Zobott will head off to a new world – college soccer.

At Zobott’s chosen school, UIC, the Huntley graduate won’t be the only new addition on campus.
On Aug. 22, the NCAA Division I Flames will play their first women’s soccer game in school history as a first-year program.

“I wanted to be a part of that,” Zobott said. “That was one of the appeals to it. I wanted to be part of setting a tone and starting traditions for the future UIC women’s soccer teams.”

As one of 20 incoming freshmen, Zobott will be among plenty of new faces on the 25-player roster.
One person who is not new to UIC or Chicago is the Flames’ head coach, Brian Rigby.

Recently, Rigby served as an assistant coach for the women’s programs at Loyola and DePaul. As a player, he spent four seasons at UIC, including two as a team captain in 1996 and 1997.

“They will be part of something special,” Rigby said of his players. “It’s something they can look back on and know … they opened up opportunities for a lot of other women. There’s a lot of excitement on campus, in our community, with our fan base and our parent base.”

Rigby said he pitched recruits on the school’s numerous courses of study.

“I also talked about all of the internship and job opportunities here being so close to downtown,” he said.

UIC will play exhibition games Aug. 12 at Bowling Green and Aug. 16 against IPFW in Chicago before the season-opening trip to Edwardsville on Aug. 22.

“There will be a lot of butterflies,” Rigby said. “That’s to be expected when you don’t know what to expect.”

One expectation he does have, however, is a potentially varied contribution from Zobott.
Though she is listed on the school’s roster as a defender, the 5-foot-10 Zobott could see time at other spots as well.

“I really love her soccer IQ and her versatility,” Rigby said. “Rachel has great knowledge of the game. She can not only play as a center back (on defense) for us, but anywhere in the midfield as well.”

For Zobott, her preference is to play whatever position gives her team the best chance to succeed.

“My first choice would be to play center defense,” she said. “However, in order to help the team, I will play wherever he wants me to play.”

Barry Bottino writes a weekly column and a blog about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at , check out his On Campus blog at and follow him @BarryOnCampus on Twitter. Blogs