As the final buzzer sounded at Methodist University, the Maryville Scots looked back at the previous 9 games of the season, proud of the accomplishments that they had achieved since they kicked off against Berry College in early September. In ten games, they had a 7-3 overall record and a 6-2 record in the conference. There were goals of a third straight conference title in the eyes of the seniors, but that dream ultimately fell short. However, there were still high spirits at the end of the season.
“I think from an outside perspective, 7-3 is a pretty good record,” said senior All-American Rance Hightower. “I think from the inside it is a tough record because we set our goals pretty high to test ourselves but we just couldn’t reach them. I think the freshman and younger players that played got a ton of good experience and they know what it takes to win in the future.
There was a series of ups, such as winning 4 games in a row, and there were lows, such as losing to conference rival Huntingdon College, but at the end of the season, there were many Scots that had achievements they could be proud of.
On offense, sophomore running back Trenton Shuler had a career year running the ball behind a strong offensive line that had two All-Americans, seniors Dalton Stephens and Hightower. Shuler recorded his first 1,000-yard season this year, also leading the USA South in touchdowns. Dominating the ground game has been a strong point in the Scots’ offense the past few years, and Shuler has definitely kept that tradition strong this year.
On defense, the front seven was once again leading the charge for the Scots. In particular, the defensive line made it a habit of causing terror in the backfield. The Scots have not one but two leaders in the Conference in the sack category. Senior All-Conference selection Zach Capehart and junior All- Conference selection Johnathon Clark sacked opposing quarterback seven and eight times respectively.
As always, when the proverbial sun hits the horizon on the season, the big question is what is the legacy that the seniors will leave behind? This year it is a profound question, since this group of seniors is the first group that has received two conference titles in Maryville College football history. This group has been the focal point for the Scots success, and now there are big shoes to fill.
“I think this year’s seniors set a great foundation and legacy for future fighting scots,” Hightower said. “We set a winning tradition and set of standards for future fighting scots to follow. Our hard work and dedication to this program from the start was the reason our legacy will be remembered.”
As the seniors look back on their career, starting with the struggle to win under Coach Ieruli, culminating with the two conference championships, and fading into memory with the 24-23 win over Methodist, there is a lot that these seniors can be proud of. Together, they were the first group to go the Division III National Playoffs. They received two conference championships and have had three straight winning seasons to close out their careers, making them the first group to do that in over two decades. They are the winningest group of seniors in the past 15 years, and there is little doubt going forward: this group is quite possibly the greatest group of players to have ever set foot on Maryville ground, and the future looks bright.