The Golson formula: Oklahoma game key in QB's development

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The Golson formula: Oklahoma game key in QB's development

Following Notre Dame's 30-13 win over Oklahoma, Everett Golson admitted he probably couldn't have quarterbacked the Irish to a such a monumental victory a few weeks earlier in the season. It was Golson's best game to date, with his fourth quarter 50-yard deep ball to Chris Brown standing out.

Golson's confidence was riding high, and understandably so. A week later, that confidence could've been crushed.

A less-than-stellar first half led coach Brian Kelly and offensive coordinator Chuck Martin to remove Golson from Notre Dame's matchup with Pittsburgh, inserting Tommy Rees at the end of the second quarter and staying with him to open the second half.

It was the third time Golson was removed in favor of Rees for performance reasons during the 2012 season, although Martin said the decision wasn't as easy as it was against Purdue and Michigan.

"We had been through it and kinda survived it, so theres almost just (a feeling of) like hey, thats always what gives you the best chance to win," Martin said. "I would say that was the hardest day to figure out what gave us the best chance to win."

After Rees through an interception, Golson jumped back in. And while he threw a nearly-debilitating fourth quarter interception in the end zone, he wound up rallying to lead Notre Dame to a narrow triple-overtime win over the Panthers.

"Being taken out like that at the time, initially it hurt, to be honest," Golson said. "The competitor in me wanted to still be in there, (to show) that I could handle it and come back from adversity. I guess (Kelly) saw what was best, so he took me out.

"The adversitys going to be there, but its about what you do with it after. Ive used that as motivation."

It's tough to get used to being pulled from a game, and in the previous two instances, Golson didn't have the complete trust of his coaching staff and, to some extent, his teammates. But with his performance against Oklahoma, the redshirt freshman earned the total confidence of those around him. That turned out to be key for Golson's strong comeback after his benching, not only that day against Pittsburgh but against Boston College, Wake Forest and USC.

"I went up to him at halftime -- this is when he found he wasnt going in -- and I told him, 'youre going to have to go back in, or at some point this season at least, if not this game," senior wide receiver Robby Toma recalled. " And he actually went back in the game and won us the game. So I think for him to be able to do that really helped him this year.

"Hes always been confident, but to know guys on the team are confident in him now, I think that was the biggest thing for him," Toma added.

Despite plenty of reassurances from his coach, perhaps Golson felt as if he had to look over his shoulder in the weeks prior to Notre Dame's trip to Norman. That's not to say that held him back -- Martin would certainly disagree with that -- but the way Golson played at Oklahoma solidified in his mind he was the No. 1 quarterback, and nothing that happened during a game was going to change that.

"I think once he knew after the Oklahoma game that he was the guy, the confidence level and the trust builds and builds and builds," Kelly said.

Martin, who's been Golson's toughest critic throughout the 2012 campaign, paid Golson a rare compliment after the game in Oklahoma. But Golson is someone who quickly understands what he did wrong when he does it, so often times doesn't need Martin or Kelly screaming in his face about a poor play.

In that same vein, Golson didn't necessarily need Martin to tell him he played a good game at Oklahoma. He already knew.

"He left the field at Oklahoma thinking hey, I really played my tail off tonight for four quarters in a hostile environment," Martin said. " I think he kinda felt like he played a complete game and had the confidence from there that I can do this at this level at a very high level all the time."

After the Oklahoma game, Golson completed 74 of 122 passes for 990 yards with 7 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. There's still plenty of room for improvement -- specifically, in the red zone -- and even on the grandest stage in college football, Golson will still be in the midst of a learning process.

But that comes with the territory for most young quarterbacks. It's been a collective effort to get Golson to this point, where he's the quarterback of a team 60 minutes away from a championship.

"Im very confident not only with myself but with the supporting cast of my teammates," Golson said. "You talk about our team this year, weve always been set at the underdog. And going in to it, nobody would ever saw us at this point.

"But we worked our way up from the bottom, and that just shows great resilience from us and great unity from us. Going in with a great group of guys that I do have does give me a great amount of confidence."

High School Lites Football Roundup: Week 1

High School Lites Football Roundup: Week 1

High School Lites kicked off this week as IHSA football started all over Illinois. The season debut of High School Lites featured highlights from all over the Chicagoland area -- including the show's debut in Northwest Indiana for our Viewer's Choice Game of the Week.

Be sure to follow our Preps account on Twitter @CSNPreps for the latest scores, stats and highlights from the area's best high school teams. 

HIGHLIGHTS

High School Lites Football Montage: Week 1

Highlights: No. 22 Maine South 44, No. 11 Montini 13

Highlights: No. 14 Prairie Ridge 26, No. 18 Cary-Grove 14

Highlights: No. 2 Glenbard West 17, No. 15 Bolingbrook 7

Highlights: Viewer's Choice Game of the Week: Valparaiso 49, Gary West Side 0

CSN Drive: Lincoln-Way East Football -- Episode 2: Ron Tomczak's Legacy Lives On

TOP 25 SCORES

No. 1 Loyola Academy 36, Milwaukee Marquette 7

No. 2 Glenbard West 17, No. 15 Bolingbrook 7

No. 3 Homewood-Flossmoor 56, Downers Grove South 6

No. 4 Glenbard North 35, Naperville Central 6

No. 5 Lincoln-Way East 49, South Bend Adams 12

No. 7 Palatine 28, No. 12 Stevenson 20

No. 22 Maine South 44, No. 11 Montini 13

No. 13 Waubonsie Valley 16, Lake Park 8

No. 14 Prairie Ridge 26, No. 18 Cary-Grove 14

No. 16 Hinsdale Central 42, American Fork (UT) 12

No. 17 Neuqua Valley 35, Metea Valley 7

No. 19 Nazareth Academy 56, Dunbar 12

No. 20 Oak Park-River Forest 21, Simeon 14

No. 21 Batavia 34, Belleville West 24

No. 23 Libertyville 29, Elk Grove 0

No. 24 Barrington 41, Glenbrook South 15

No. 25 Crete-Monee 42, T.F. South 7

Preview: Jose Quintana, White Sox continue series with Mariners tonight on CSN

Preview: Jose Quintana, White Sox continue series with Mariners tonight on CSN

The White Sox continue their series against the Seattle Mariners, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 5:30 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Tonight’s starting pitching matchup: Jose Quintana (10-9, 2.84 ERA) vs. Ariel Miranda (1-0, 5.49 ERA)

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get your White Sox gear right here]

— Channel finder: Make sure you know where to watch.

— Latest on the White Sox: All of the most recent news and notes.

— See what fans are talking about before, during and after the game with White Sox Pulse.

A decade later, Ron Tomczak's legacy lives on at Lincoln-Way East intrasquad game

A decade later, Ron Tomczak's legacy lives on at Lincoln-Way East intrasquad game

When Ron Tomczak passed away suddenly in 2007, Lincoln-Way East head coach Rob Zvonar lost much more than a valuable assistant.

The 69-year-old Tomczak, who spent two-thirds of his life coaching football, had been a mentor and a friend to Zvonar, who leaned on the Hall of Famer for guidance as the young Griffins program took shape in the early 2000s. Zvonar relished having an experienced voice in coaches meetings and the locker room. More than that, he appreciated that same voice calling him "out of the blue" on any given night with words of advice and support.

It's the reason Zvonar made what he called a "no-brainer" decision that fall to honor Tomczak's legacy as a father, coach, mentor and friend a mere six months after the legendary coach's death. So when the Griffins took the field for their annual intrasquad game a week before their regular season began, they did so during the Ron Tomczak Black and Blue scrimmage.

Ten years later the tradition has carried on, and then some.

Thousands from the Frankfort community gathered in the team's stadium last Friday night to watch the 2016 Griffins take the field for the first time, and also to honor the legacy of a man instrumental toward helping build the program into one of the premier teams in Illinois. 

Tomczak coached at T.F. North for 16 seasons, earning 89 victories in his tenure. He coached the Meteors to a pair of playoff berths, including a 10-2 season and berth in the state semifinals with his son, Mike, under center. Mike went on to Ohio State, leading the Buckeyes to two Big Ten championships before a 15-year NFL career with stops in Chicago, Green Bay, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

Ron continued his coaching career at Lincoln-Way East in 2001, serving as an assistant under Zvonar one year after the program’s inaugural season. Ron's son, Steve, was also an assistant at East during that time, and when Zvonar approached him and the Tomczak family about honoring their father at the annual scrimmage, they were thrilled.

"Coach Z was gracious enough when my father passed to say, 'This is what we're going to do, and we're going to do it every year really big and make it a big celebration,'" said Steve, who runs Body Tech Total Fitness in Frankfort, where Ron also worked in his later years. "That's the type of person (Zvonar) is, the type of man he is. He said as long as I'm here we're going to do this."

Added Ron Jr.: "Coach Z, I think my dad taught (Zvonar) a lot when he initially started, and he looked to my dad as a mentor."

Ron was a perfectionist, a trait that's easy to see has rubbed off in the way Zvonar leads a Griffins group with state-title aspirations in 2016.

Ron Jr. recalled his father putting together practice plans for the fall as soon as the Fourth of July rolled around. Months before the official start of the IHSA season he had the equipment room organized to a fault and his practice plan for two-a-days completed. Ron spent just as much time with the scout kickoff team as he did with the first-team offense, and he always made time to coach up anyone who asked for it.

"If anybody wanted to work he was there," Ron Jr. said, "if there was one kid or there were 40 kids out there."

When he returned to Lincoln-Way East as an assistant - he also taught driver's ed at the school - his passion, drive and work ethic rubbed off on the rest of the coaching staff.

"Most men his age would be retired on the golf course," Zvonar said, "and he was still coming out here in his late 60s coaching football. He meant so much to me as a mentor."

It's why simply honoring Ron, who was inducted into the IHSA Football Coaches Hall of Fame in 1986, with a scrimmage in his name wasn't enough. Zvonar makes a point each season of instilling in his team the importance Tomczak had on both him and the program. Though the 118 players on this year's East team are too young to remember Tomczak, they understand what he meant to the program because of Zvonar.

The highlight of the night is a spaghetti dinner inside the stadium, with proceeds going directly to a scholarship in Ron's name. Candidates from the team submit letters, must be in good standing academically and have an eye toward playing football collegiately. The coaching staff then selects candidates to present to the family, which makes the final decision in May on one to two players to receive the scholarship.

"I don't want to just say, "Hey, it's the Ron Tomczak scrimmage,'" Zvonar said. "We've got to go back and talk about who he was and what he stood for. And if we can continue to pass his legacy down to other generations, we sure will."

Added wide receiver Nick Zelenika, whose brother John - now at Illinois Wesleyan - was awarded the scholarship in 2015: "Coach Z talks a lot about him. He got this program rolling. He set the example for this program. Coach Z looks up to him as a role model, and we have a ton of respect for him. He definitely set an example for our high school."

The Tomczak family has been an integral part of the Lincoln-Way East program, and the impact Ron had during his time will continue to help define its future successes. It will also come full-circle next season when his grandson, current sophomore starting defensive back Jake, joins the varsity team. Another one of his grandsons, Max, will start at Lincoln-Way East next fall. But even when the last Tomczak has played his final snap for the Griffins, Ron Tomczak's legacy will live on each year as a reminder of what it takes to build a winner, and how to do so the right way.

"He was near and dear to our hearts," Zvonar said. "And as long as I'm here we'll always remember him.”