Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

`Team Effort' Helps Aquinas-Mercy Hit New Plateau

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

`Team Effort' Helps Aquinas-Mercy Hit New Plateau

Article excerpt

The Aquinas-Mercy football players heard the voices of their assistant coaches.

"Rush up the hill! All the way!" the coaches exhorted.

In waves, the players ascended with grunts and groans to the top - a symbolic way of looking at their 1995 season.

After years of wallowing in defeat, the Falcons (4-1) have soared to near the top of the area's small-school charts. Their only loss was a 20-19 setback to Archdiocesan Athletic Association rival Cardinal Ritter.

Winning has become contagious at a school that once cornered the market on losing. After a 4-6 mark in 1985, Aquinas lost 39 consecutive games from 1986 until 1990. The Falcons were outscored 1,638 to 127, a 42-3 rate.

"It was a burden, a real problem for us," said Dave Bolderson, in his fifth season as head coach at Aquinas-Mercy. "Losing tends to breed a losing attitude. It got real easy to come out here, put in your time and get beat again."

Eventually, Aquinas snapped the streak, beating Crystal City in the 1990 opener. Ironically, Crystal City had a 32-game losing streak going into that game.

But Aquinas hadn't escaped losing. The Falcons lost the remainder of their games in '90, posted successive 4-6 marks in 1991-92, and went winless in 1993. Last season, the Falcons were 1-9. Something had to change.

"It was a conscious decision on our coaching staff's part four years ago," Bolderson said, "that we were not going to bring up freshmen and sophomores to the varsity, which we had done for a long time. We kept this (current) group of kids together."

It's a group that posted an 8-1 mark its sophomore season.

"The big thing is, these guys know each other," Bolderson said. Of his 26 varsity players, 22 are seniors.

Defensive back Tim Bobbitt said Bolderson is "very considerate of the kids. He understands that we don't have a winning tradition, but each team is different and he gave us our own chance. He cares about each individual. He cares about our grades first, he brings God into the game, and we talk to him frankly about anything you want. …

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