College Football: St. Xavier’s Ladd has had a fun run anchoring ‘O’ line
BY STEVE MILLAR For Sun-Times Media October 17, 2013 9:56PM
No. 17 St. Xavier (3-3, 0-1) at Waldorf College (Iowa) (1-5, 0-1)
Kickoff: 3 p.m. Saturday at Bolstorff Field, Forest City, Iowa
Coaches: Mike Feminis, St. Xavier; Kent Anderson, Waldorf
Previous meeting: This is the first meeting between the teams, who are in their first season as conference foes in the Mid-States Football Association Midwest League
St. Xavier preview: The Cougars are banged up and coming off their second straight defeat, a 45-20 loss to St. Francis (Ind.). It’s the first time they’ve lost back-to-back games since 2008. Quarterback John Rhode is not expected to play due to a separated shoulder which means fifth-year senior Joe Gill will get the start. Expect St. Xavier to continue to incorporate speedy freshman Robyn Pondexter into the attack as a wildcat quarterback. Running back Nick Pesek may return from an ankle injury that kept him out of the St. Francis game. The St. Xavier defense needs a big performance after allowing 93 points over the last two games.
Waldorf preview: Waldorf, the first non-ranked NAIA opponent St. Xavier has played this season, is coming off a 65-0 thumping at the hands of William Penn.
What Feminis said: “If we’re going to turn the season around, it has to be now. The guys know there’s no room for error anymore.”
Next week: St. Xavier hosts William Penn.
Updated: November 19, 2013 9:43AM
As an offensive lineman, Tim Ladd doesn’t get as much time in the spotlight as other players on St. Xavier’s offense, but the senior is fine with that.
“For a lineman, our big spirit booster is working a drive,” he said. “Putting the ball in the end zone on our shoulders in the running game. I just love knocking people on their back, blocking downfield and helping our running backs.”
Ladd, a St. Rita product, has plenty of experience with life as an offensive lineman.
“I’ve always been a striper (a player who weighs too much to carry the ball),” he said. “All through youth football growing up, I always was. One of my buddies’ father was a coach of a fifth-sixth grade team and he got us on the team as third graders and I was still a striper.”
Ladd, a 6-foot-4, 290-pounder whose spent most of his time at right guard this year, was selected as a preseason NAIA All-American after starting every game the last two seasons.
He’s the anchor of a young offensive line that features three freshmen starters.
“I try to help out the young guys as much as I can,” he said. “I started a bunch of games my freshman year and I know how hard it can be, especially adjusting to our up-tempo offense. I was happy to be elected as a captain and I’m glad to take on a leadership role.”
Another freshman Ladd’s had a chance to mentor? His brother, Dan, a redshirt freshman who’s a backup quarterback and receiver for the Cougars.
“It’s been pretty cool having him here,” Tim Ladd said. “We haven’t been together on the same team. It’s a nice thing.”
Ladd and the rest of the Cougars are dealing with adversity unlike anything he’s experienced in his time at St. Xavier.
The team is 3-3 and has lost back-to-back games for the first time since 2008.
“Everybody’s just trying to stick together,” Ladd said. “Everyone knows the playoffs start for us this week. We can’t afford another loss. I think everyone’s going to come out (Saturday) and show they have a lot more pride and fight left in them.
“We just have to have confidence and a winning attitude. We’ve got to get that St. Xavier swagger back.”
Ladd said it’s starting to sink in that his time as a Cougar is nearing its end and said he wants “to make it last as long as possible.”
There’s one thing Ladd’s sure of: that he made the right call when he chose his college.
“It’s the best decision I’ve ever made,” he said. “I’m a South Side guy. My uncle (Jim Johnson) was a defensive coach who helped start the program at St. Xavier. All the success we’ve had has been special for our whole family. It’s been a fun ride.”