St. Francis Eyes Win No. 500
TRAVERSE CITY – History can be made for the Traverse City St. Francis football team Friday night at Thirlby Field.
A program steeped in tradition, with six state championships and three runner-up finishes to its credit, St. Francis can add another feather in its cap with a win over Marquette in its season opener. A victory Friday would give the Gladiators win No. 500 – a feat achieved by only a select few schools in state history.
“It puts into perspective for the kids just what kind of program that they are a part of and the generations that have come before them,” coach Josh Sellers said.
For many Gladiators, winning is a tradition that goes back generations.
“We’ve got a couple of young men in our program who are third generation Gladiator football players, and at least their dads could put the pads on right now and with the terminology they know the plays and what was expected,” Sellers said.
“It would be very important to me because I know it started a long time ago,” added senior Tyler Revett said. “My grandpa played and my dad played – I’m a third generation. So this is a very big deal to us as a team and as a program.”
Fellow senior Ryan Lints is another third-generation player, with his father and grandfather both suiting up for the Gladiators.
“I’m really proud because my grandpa – he played in 1951 – that was his freshman year – that’s like, one of the first times we started recording our games,” Lints said, “It’s cool to see how we have progressed through the years in my family.”
Sellers has followed in the footsteps of his father, Larry Sellers, who led the Gladiators from 1973-2000 and then again in 2002. Larry Sellers guided St. Francis to state titles in 1992 and 1999 and amassed a career record of 234-58.
“I grew up on the practice field with him every day, I learned a lot from him and I’m very honored to be able to carry on the tradition here,” Sellers said.
Sellers, who led St. Francis to state championships in 2003 and 2005, hopes that his current players can carry on that tradition.
“Maybe when they have kids and they are sitting around reminiscing they can look back and talk about how much fun, hopefully, they had in our program and maybe add to that next generation of the program and keep that legacy going,” he said.
When St. Francis accomplishes the milestone, it will join Cadillac and Traverse City/Traverse City Central as area programs with 500 or more programs wins.
As for Friday’s opponent, this marks the third and final season that St. Francis will open its year against Class A Marquette. The Gladiators have won decisively each of the last two years, winning 42-0 and 40-14, respectively.
“They’re playing a team out of Wisconsin next year, but they are very large,” Sellers said. “They’ve got a tailback who is sneaky fast. They lost their quarterback, of course, to Mt. Pleasant, but we got to be ready to go.”
“We played them last year, they had some big guys up front,” added Lints. “We wore them down a little bit, but they’ll definitely be coming back for revenge. Because we beat them pretty handedly, so we have to be looking out for that.”
Kickoff Friday is set for 7 p.m.