Last spring, Taylor University athletics decided the football team needed a coaching change, and revamped the entire coaching roster, hoping to rebuild to lead the team to an eventual winning record.
In this past season, the Trojans fell short of that goal. The team played their last game this past Saturday in an away game against Siena Heights University, losing by a score of 51-23. Siena Heights, now ending with a regular season record of 5-5, put up 10 or more points in each quarter of play.
The Trojans went into the game with a 2-2 record when playing away games. They are now 2-3 in away games, having their two highest scoring outputs in the second and third quarter, scoring seven points in each quarter. Sophomore Steven Ellis recorded 74 yards rushing with two touchdowns, along with freshman Jacob Cleaver recording one score.
Ellis gives input into this season, the new coaches, and the feeling of playing in a new year.
“Personally, I think it went well,” he said. “I transitioned from receiver to running back, so it was a little bit of a change.”
Change was nothing new to Ellis. In high school, he was a triple-option player, so he knew what he was getting into transitioning to a running back. Once playing, it became apparent he could fit into that position.
In his 10 games played, he’s gathered seven rushing touchdowns and over 400 total net yards,all of which are career numbers for him. He has now tied with most rushing touchdowns on the team, and second-most on the team with rushing attempts.
Ellis, Along with senior Josh Saltzgaber, both had input on the switch from former Head Coach Ron Korfmacher to new Head Coach Aaron Mingo.
Ellis seems to enjoy the new-look coaching staff.
“Korf was great, but the new coaches have a ton of passion,” Ellis said. “Mingo is great, knows a lot about the offense. Their relationships with us (players) have been so good.”
Fifth-year senior Saltzgaber felt caught off guard with the whole switch.
“I was upset … just sad that there was change happening,” Saltzgaber said. He played his first four years with Korfmacher and became comfortable with how things were.
Throughout his five years in the football program, Saltzgaber transitioned from an offensive player to a defensive player. In this past season, he has garnered career highs in tackles and games played on the defensive side of the ball. He has been a productive performance to his game, and through the stats, it has shown.
The Trojans are in a prime position to turn this program around into a powerhouse in the NAIA.
Mingo is a player-favorite and should be a notable name to look for in coming years.
“One of the number one things for me was to earn the trust of the guys on the team and the program,” Mingo said. “I wanted to get our guys focused off the scoreboard. I think that the score can get in the way of playing football in a way that makes us successful”.
Mingo just now completed his first year as the Trojans’ 14th head coach in the program’s 73-year history. He describes it as incredible, as well as being very grateful.
“(The first year) was a whirlwind situation, the way I, as well as the other coaches coached, is a huge learning curve,” Mingo said. Each coach on staff is new to the program. Mingo has talked to previous coaches, most notably former head coach Ron Korfmacher.
Mingo is excited for how things are turning out to be with them, as he continues to learn and create relationships with them in years to come.