Flash back to 2010, and it's almost like you can find the seed that has grown into this year's SEMO football team. The Redhawks head into the final two weeks of the regular season controlling their own FCS destiny, something that hasn't happened in a long time … eight long years.
One of the cornerstones of this season has been running back Marquis Terry, the pinball machine-like flying object in the backfield that delivers a nasty blow to any defense that doesn't respect him. Whether it was at Charles Drew High School in the Atlanta, Ga. area, Highland Community College in Kansas, or Southeast Missouri State in Cape Girardeau, Missouri — Terry's exchange rate when it comes to rushing yardage has been exactly the same in three different states. He brings four-digit rushing yardage totals wherever he goes, along with a humility that doesn't quit which started started with his upbringing.
See, you don't go from Atlanta to Highland, Kan. without some adjustments, but Terry didn't skip a beat. He accepted the challenge that 12 JUCO running backs would be whittled on the roster to four, and that the Kansas rule was in-staters get preference over out-of-staters, at least that's the way the rule was a few years ago (as the NETFLIX special Last Chance U. touches on).
Terry stuck it out, got used to being 13 hours away from his Georgia home, and flourished, and that set up his ascension at SEMO just a few years later.
"The first time I met Quis, I could tell he was a great guy, but he was a real quiet kid," said standout SEMO O-lineman Drew Forbes. "I know overall we were very excited to have him here, because he said he had offers from other places. He has the mindset that he will play through pain. He rolled his ankle against Eastern Kentucky and the coaches had to hold him back on the sideline. The first thing about him is he always comes up and asks about how you are doing first. How is your day going … that's how he carries himself."
It's the perfect fit. When Terry was in eighth grade in 2010, he told HERO Sports he became committed to becoming a big-time football player, with dreams of playing college football and getting his shot to play in the pros, too. At the very same time eight years ago, SEMO won its first and only Ohio Valley Conference championship and made its only FCS/I-AA playoff appearance since moving up to this level in 1991. Now, Terry's dream and SEMO's 8-year cycle of having winning seasons have converged. See, SEMO has had only four winning seasons since moving to D-I — 1994, 2002, 2010 and this year. Talk about clockwork … though head coach Tom Matukewicz would love to bust that clock with a hammer and have it happen more routinely.
In fact, if SEMO can capture two more OVC victories the next two weeks — at Murray State this weekend and at home vs. Eastern Illinois — it will hit the 9-win mark. That would tie 2010 as the top win total in the 27-year span the school has been in D-I.
Terry — who secured his third straight collegiate 1,000-yard season last week — would love nothing more. He loves the idea of the Redhawks controlling their own future.
"I'd rather bet on us than bet on somebody else doing something for us," Terry told HERO Sports. "I'm glad we have the ability to take advantage of what's in front of us. We just have to finish these games. Things happen in football so you just have to keep going. I keep focusing on getting to the next win. I really don't dwell on the last win."
EDITOR'S NOTE: SEMO head coach Tom Matukewicz talks to HERO Sports' Brian McLaughlin on the FCS Coaches Corner this week.
MCLAUGHLIN: Where Might SEMO Fit Into The Brackets?