September 27, 2011

Taking a last chance

More news about: UW-Stevens Point
Cory Flisakowski
Cory Flisakowski's return came at the right time for UW-Stevens Point. More photos like this.
Photo by Larry Radloff, d3photography.com 

Cory Flisakowski would've been content with returning from a long hiatus to become water boy for the UW-Stevens Point football team. He's much more than that.

Flisakowski, 28, is the starting running back for the Pointers and has rushed for 174 yards in three games. He earned his first touchdown on a 1-yard plunge in Saturday's 14-3 win at Albion.

"I really came into this year with no expectations," Flisakowski said. "The whole time I never played this game for stats, accolades, awards or trophies.

"Honestly, if coach would've said,  'You're good enough to carry the water,' I would done it with pride."

Flisakowski had been out of football since the 2005 season, when he was hampered by hamstring injuries and at one point he played through throbbing pain that destroyed his nerves from his neck down. Flisakowski, who played one season at the University of Illinois, where he was on a Big Ten championship team. He wanted to come back home and decided to join the Pointers and played there from 2002-05 before the pain was intolerable, despite still having one more year of eligibility remaining.

"When you can't carry a jug of milk, wincing in pain," Flisakowski said. "You know there is something wrong."

After football, something was missing as well. Flisakowski did whatever he could to try and keep his mind occupied, even if it meant working brutal hours at various jobs.

"There's nothing greater then to take a handoff and run, whether its a 1-yard gain or 70-yard touchdown," Flisakowski said. "Believe me I tried. I dabbled in a lot of things. I tried working 100 hours a week, I will push my self and nothing. Nothing compares to be able to put the pads on and being able to run the football. "

Over the years, the itch to play became greater and greater. Flisakowski couldn't even watch football on Sundays because he knew a lot of people that he played with at Illinois that were competing in the NFL.

Then after continual coaxing by Pointers coach John Miech, Flisakowski decided it was time to complete his football career.

"You finally got to point, now it's now and never," he said. "I don't expect to come back and rush for 8,000 yards. It's one more opportunity to be part of a team, be something great. I just wanted to go out there and put the pads on again."

What further inspired Flisakowski to play again was the loss of his good friend Pete Friedrich. To pay tribute to his fallen friend, he writes his name on his wristband and knew that Friedrich would've played a big role in his return to the game. "If he would be here, he would've grabbed me, threw me on the field and said 'You're going to play.'"

But it wasn't that easy for Flisakowski to get back to the gridiron. He was required to be insured so he works a full time job as a laborer from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Friday to be able to don the purple and gold. He'll sleep a few hours, go to classes towards his elementary education major, go to practice and then go to work again.

"I'm still healthy, still kicking, still running, still happy as a lark, being out there, being part of a team," Flisakowski said. "It's definitely an adventure, there are times I'd like to shut my eyes and sleep for 20 hours. I just don't want to miss it."

Things are certainly different for Flisakowski this time. At the start of camp after getting his equipment,  Flisakowski was misidentified as someone else.

"I was walking off and the starting left tackle and says 'Coach, how's it going?,'" Flisakowski said. "This is going to be a long road, I thought. Actually, it turned out really well. They've accepted that I might be old, but still have some gas left in the tank. I know that I pretty much destroyed body last time played, my shoulders pretty much gone. I came name more body parts that don't hurt than do hurt. When you're waking up sore,there's probably not a better feeling. It's good knowing you can still can hang with 19-20 year olds."

Flisakowski knows his playing days will be over after this season and doesn't know if coaching football is in his future plans, in the meantime the aches and pains will have to wait until the last second ticks off the clock for the Pointers

"If it hurts, It'll have to wait until after the season, it's strap it up and go," Flisakowski said.

Kniffin sets school touchdown mark

Puget Sound junior wide receiver Adam Kniffin has established a top feat as he caught three touchdown catches Saturday in an 66-48 loss at Whittier to become the school's all-time leader in touchdowns with 22 to break a 42-year old record held my Dan Thurston. Kniffin is also the Division III leader in receptions per game as he averages 12.

Not bad for a someone that didn't line up at receiver until last season. Kniffin was a safety/quarterback in high school and played safety as a freshman.

"The new coach came in and decided to play me at receiver," Kniffin said. (At first) I made a lot of mistakes, I just improved. The biggest thing didn't run good routes, wasn't really focused getting a good break and didn't created good separation."

He certainly doesn't have that problem these days.

"I watched a lot of film, coaches helped me out," Kniffin said. "It was being open to what everyone else was saying and trying to take it all in kind of helped me out in that area."

The record is great Kniffin said, but he would trade all of those touchdowns for wins as Puget Sound fell to 0-3.

"It's Kind of hard, just want to be able to help the team win more games this season," Kniffin said. "If I catch no touchdowns or more touchdowns, whatever it takes to help the team win, that's what I want to do."

Westminster improves to 4-0

Westminster (Mo.) is now 4-0 and 3-0 in UMAC play after topping defending champ Greenville 45-28. The Blue Jays snapped a four-game skid to Greenville and are now 4-0 for the first time since 1998. Westminster piled up 551 yards against Greenville, the most since 2007. Sophomore Scott Rodgers tossed for 409 yards in the win.

The Blue Jays are also on top of the Divsion III in turnover margin with a plus 3.5 per game and Rodgers is third in the nation in passing efficiency with a 196.86

Behind the number

56 Amount of points Dubuque piled on Central in its IIAC win Saturday to improve to 4-0 overall. It was Central’s first loss to the Spartans since 1987 and the most points the Dutch have yielded since a 61-6 defeat against St. Ambrose in 1951. Dubuque also piled up 550 yards on offense.

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Josh Smith photo

Josh Smith covers high school and Division III athletics for the Daily Jefferson County Union in Fort Atkinson, Wis. He has won multiple awards for reporting and photography and contributes to multiple publications in addition to his duties at the Daily Union, including D3football.com beginning in 2012. He graduated from UW-Whitewater with a degree in print journalism.

2011-12 columns: Jason Galleske
2010: Tim Walsh
2003-09: Adam Johnson
1999-2000: Don Stoner 

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