EMPORIA Consider this about Bishop Carroll football coach Alan Schuckman. In the 15 years before he took over the Eagles, Carroll was 46-92. In the 18 years since, they’re 152-40.
So it’s not like he needed a state championship to validate himself as a great coach.
Or did he?
Schuckman finally pushed through to the other side Saturday at Welch Stadium as Carroll walloped Bishop Miege 60-21 to win the 5A title and cap a 13-0 season.
As he told anybody who would listen that the victory and the championship wasn’t about him, the raw emotion of the moment gathered inside him the way hurricane waters pour into low-lying streets.
Finally, he burst.
“We put a lot of work into this,” Schuckman said. “Our families sacrifice a lot and.…”
He needed a moment.
Schuckman’s teams have always eventually run into someone better and been knocked out of the playoffs.
This time, though, there was no one better. No one close, really. This was “The Season Without a Close Game.”
If Carroll hadn’t take its foot off the pedal against Miege, the Eagles might have scored 80 points. Or 90.
Schuckman is the sixth City League coach in the 43 years of the playoffs to win a state championship. He joins Kapaun Mount Carmel’s Ed Kriwiel (nine), Carroll and East’s Chuck Porter (three), Southeast’s Jim Davie and Dennis Cavalier (two) and Heights’ Rick Wheeler (one).
Schuckman is third on the City League’s career win list, behind Kriwiel and Weston Schartz.
He has led Carroll to the playoffs 11 times, including 10 in a row. The Golden Eagles are 80-15 in the past nine seasons.
Yet there was undeniable a hole in Schuckman’s resume, one he has readily acknowledged.
“He told us he wanted a championship really bad,” senior running back Jalen Hernandez said. “He’s been at it for 18 seasons and hadn’t won one yet. He wanted one so we gave it to him.”
Don’t mistake Schuckman for a me-first guy, though. As one Carroll fan after another patted him on the back after Saturday’s win, he made sure to let them know it wasn’t about him.
“I got the greatest coaching staff,” Schuckman said, before the emotions of the day stopped him in his tracks.
Bishop Carroll has an embarrassment of athletic riches these days. And the football team has been at the trough, lapping it up, as much as any other, although it went more than three decades without the grand prize.
“I was looking at a website the other day that said we’ve had 50 state championships at Carroll since our last football championship (in 1978),” Schuckman said. “I think today helps validate where our football program is now. We’re part of a school where the athletic programs are just outstanding and compete at a high level.”
The Golden Eagles have had a winning football record in every season since 1996, after finishing 3-6 in Schuckman’s first year.
Yet Schuckman has coached only three Top 11 players — Beau Bell (2010), Blake Bell (2008-09) and Craig Steven (1997).
His teams normally aren’t star-studded. But they are loaded with good players at every position. And Schuckman and his staff, many of whom have been with him since that first day on the job in 1995, are regarded as notoriously hard workers who pay attention to every detail, big and small.
“We’ve been doing this as players for three years — JV, varsity — and we’re like, ‘When are we going to get a state championship,’ ” junior receiver Bryce Harvey said. “But (the coaches) have been doing it for 18 years and we really wanted to do this for them.”
It’s done. Carroll left no doubt, pounding its way through a perfect season and thrusting itself into the discussion as one of the City League’s greatest teams.
It’s a team whose players heard the naysayers talk about its soft schedule and about how the City League was full of creampuffs.
Exactly the kind of stuff Schuckman wanted them to hear, in fact. Every coach loves to find a chip to place on his players’ shoulders.
“It helped us, helped motivate these kids,” Schuckman said. “Our kids aren’t oblivious to what’s out there, to what people are saying about them. But this group wanted to prove to people that they’re a good football team.”
Schuckman didn’t need to prove to anyone that he’s a good coach. That was determined long ago. But there was one thing that those who assess the greatness of a coach couldn’t mark off their list.
Now it’s been taken care of. Schuckman has his state championship. The nitpickers have run out of ammunition.