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Local colleges

  • Adversity unable to slow Cougars
      Saint Francis’ up-and-down nature, as well as a couple of three-game losing streaks, were taken care of last week in the form of a 42-20 home win over the other Saint Francis, the one from Illinois.
  • Cards face Zips’ stingy defense
    Challenges still lie ahead for senior running back Jahwan Edwards and the Ball State football team.
  • College football preview: Saint Francis at Robert Morris
    When: 2 p.m. Saturday Where: Arlington Heights, Ill. Records: Saint Francis (3-4, 1-1 MEL), Robert Morris (6-1, 2-1) Rankings: Robert Morris No. 12 Radio:
Saint Francis
at Saint Xavier
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Chicago
Radio: 1450 AM
Laura J. Gardner | The Journal Gazette
Saint Francis center Brice Darling hopes to teach math after his playing days are over.

Cougars count on center to lead line

– When it’s all said and done, and the years of pushing human beings from within the football trenches are a distant memory, Saint Francis senior center Brice Darling wants to teach mathematics.

Go figure; which is precisely the objective.

“I want to coach, and get into that; and I’m pretty good with numbers,” Darling said. “There’s also a big market for it. There aren’t a whole lot of math teachers out there that are unemployed.”

So not only does he understand the X’s and O’s of football, he’s got a firm concept on the X’s and Y’s of advanced algebra and secant trigonometry.

“He makes the entire line smarter,” offensive line coach Trevor Miller said of Darling. “You can have players on the line who aren’t as intelligent if your center can set the protections, set the scheme. Basically he connects both sides of the line. What he does is he puts you in a position to execute your schemes.”

With three capable quarterbacks returning this season, a stable of quality running backs and a plethora of wide receivers, the Cougars came into 2012 well-stocked in the “skill” positions. The area of concern was the offensive line, since one starter from last season returned.

And it wasn’t the 6-foot-3, 271-pound Darling, who was a backup to three-year starter Wyatt Tuggle.

“I’ve played the position my whole life, so it’s not anything different for me,” Darling said. “I’ve been second string for what, four years now? It’s been pretty natural. I’ve had to become more vocal, and I’m not really a vocal guy. I’m a pretty smart guy, I think, so I think it’s been pretty natural.”

The group of starting linemen, along with their backups – and their backups – rang up 627 yards of total offense in the Cougars’ last encounter, which was a 76-14 pasting of Concordia, Mich.

And in the center of it all – quite literally – was Darling.

The lopsided win took the sting out of a home loss to Saint Ambrose two weeks earlier, when the Cougars scored 14 points and lost by a point.

A bye week ensued, followed by the week of preparation for Concordia.

“These past two weeks have definitely been a huge improvement for us,” Darling said. “We just went back to straight basic stuff, trying to jell as a unit. Like we said the other day, you’ve got five people. If one person doesn’t do their job, we all fail. For a lot of people – four out of five on a test – that’s 80 percent. That’s a pretty good grade. But for us, that’s failing.”

Darling is being humble. Eighty percent, for him, is not the norm.

“He is a math whiz,” Miller said.

“He takes a lot of interesting classes. He spends a lot of time taking upper-level math courses that I don’t think most people would do very well in. He’s pretty much a straight-A guy. I don’t know how many B’s he’s gotten, but there haven’t been many. His GPA is 3.89.”