FORT WAYNE – Saint Francis sophomore Kory Stamps was still basking in the glow of a defensive backs dream game; a 21-0 shutout victory over Taylor and three interceptions, including one for a touchdown.
This is a game Im going to remember, he said.
Now, if future opponents can do the same.
It all boils down to respect, Stamps said. And somewhere along the line, Taylor didnt respect the 5-foot-8, 178-pound sophomore from Indianapolis Lawrence North.
Last year I was fighting injury, and people lost respect for me, Stamps said. This year Im just trying to earn my respect back. Once Im healthy, no one can physically dominate me. And Im just trying to earn some respect for next year for my team and my coaches.
It was the second consecutive year in which Taylor was victimized by a three-interception performance. Last season in Upland, Cougars linebacker Justin Juarez had three picks.
It was with 4:05 remaining in the third quarter when Stamps got the individual hat track on an under-thrown ball at the 5-yard line. Before that, he had two in the first period. The second was an easy one in the end zone when the receiver went one way and the ball went another, and the first was for a 38-yard touchdown return when he miraculously stayed in bounds after catching the ball in front of the Taylor bench.
I broke on the play and pushed the receiver, Stamps said. The ball came up with the contact, and then I saw the ball and looked down to see where my feet were, so I caught the ball first and tiptoed.
The rest was 38 yards of green.
Its the best feeling in the world, Stamps said. All you have to do is sprint. Theres always one person coming back, so you know youll have to make one cut. I made that one cut and the touchdown was just there. The feeling was great.
And to think he almost became a receiver.
In the spring we were talking about moving him over the offensive side, Saint Francis coach Kevin Donley said. We didnt know we were going to have (Tracy) Hathaway hurt. We didnt know we were going to have (Antoine) Galloway hurt. So we kept him on defense, but we considered moving him.
Stamps says he would have gone to the other side if necessary. But there was that unresolved respect factor.
In high school I played slot receiver and outside linebacker, so I didnt have a set position, he said. My first year here I played cornerback. I had an OK season. Then they moved me over to slot to see what was going to be better. We talked it over in spring ball. I didnt like offense. I wanted to go defense. I asked them to give me another chance. Then Tracy got injured, so it was my time to step up. Im just trying to prove a point.
Saturday, his pick provided six of them.
Note: Saint Francis maintained its No. 6 ranking in the weekly NAIA poll.