UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio -- The John Carroll Blue Streaks have been consistent players in the NCAA Division III football playoffs under fourth-year coach Tom Arth, but never have they been on more of a roll going into the postseason.
After losing their opening game of the season at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, the Blue Streaks rattled off nine straight wins and capped off an historic comeback at Mount Union to clinch their first outright Ohio Athletic Conference regular-season championship since 1989.
But with a matchup against Olivet looming, the Blue Streaks are focused squarely on the future, not past accomplishments.
“They’re locked in. They’re locked in, absolutely,” Arth said. “That’s the one thing about this group that I think is so special and very different in a lot of ways than some of the other groups that we have had in the past. It’s their ability every, single week to show up and to fight to be the best that they can be. We have truly not worried about who our opponent is and been so focused on who we are and becoming the best team that we can be. That’s all they know, and that’s all they’re going to continue to do.”
After two previous trips to the postseason ended at least three victories shy of the ultimate goal of a national championship, Arth had little trouble getting the Blue Streaks motivated when they entered the film room or took the field for practice at Don Shula Stadium, the very place where they will host Olivet in first-round action today.
“We’re one of 32 schools that gets to come to practice, and that’s something that’s really special, and we’re not taking it for granted,” freshman quarterback Anthony Moeglin said. “To do it in our home stadium is something we’re extremely excited about. We’re excited about the opportunity and are looking forward to taking advantage of it.”
Senior cornerback Mike Hollins added, “It’s a great opportunity, but at this point, our prior experiences don’t mean anything. What we try to do is focus on our process and move forward as a unit and as a group.”
In Olivet, the Blue Streaks take on a team that averaged 32.6 points and 381.0 total yards per game on its way to a 9-1 record and first outright Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association title since 1974.
“We see a very talented group, a group that’s been through a lot,” Arth said. “They’ve certainly shown a resiliency throughout the season to continue to fight and continue to win games. That’s one of the things that I always look for, teams that have been challenged and teams that find a way to get it done.
“That’s what I see in this group. They’re really competitive. They’re a resilient group that has found a way to win games, and we know we’re going to be in for a long battle, hard-fought battle and are just excited about the opportunity.”
Moeglin added, “They’re an incredibly talented opponent. They have some incredible athletes on their team, and they’ve won their conference for the second year in a row now. That’s something that hasn’t been done at that school in over 100 years. They’re going to come in excited. They’re going to come in with energy and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”