John Gould Proves to Have Midas Touch for St. Thomas Tommies
One of the most popular figures in Greek mythology was that of King Midas. As legend tells, the King of Phrygian was able to turn anything he touched into gold. This unique talent enabled his realm to become the wealthiest and most powerful in the known world.
The St. Thomas Tommies have their own gold-maker. No, this quarterback with the Midas touch does not turn footballs into hurling gold nuggets or turn the Tommies stadium into the Field of Aura. Instead, all John Gould does is find ways to make play-after-play, turning St. Thomas into a likely NCAA Division-III National Champion this season.
While the comparison to Midas may be a bit strained it does have some validity. Gould is the English name for gold, and so it is easy to start the comparisons from there, but there is a great deal more that adds to the legend of John Gould.
It begins with his rise to become the St. Thomas Tommies starting quarterback. Last season, Gould was the backup on a team whose offense was struggling at times to find its identity. Some may quibble with the scores that the Tommies produce in games, but Head Coach Glenn Caruso wants a team that is efficient and focused on doing their jobs each and every time they take a snap. Last season, his team was having a little trouble generating that kind of efficiency.
In the seventh game of the season, with the Tommies trailing Bethel 21-0 at half, it was time for a change. It was time for a new touch to transform the dynamics of the offense.
John took over the quarterback duties in the second half of that game and, despite the fact that St. Thomas lost, they had found their starting quarterback. Gould helped the Tommies to outscore the Royals 24-14 in the second half, posting an impressive 12-17 for 121-yards and 2 TDs. He now had his hands on the reins of the offense and the coaches had the utmost confidence that he could do the job.
“The coaches told me to run the offense. Nothing was going to be different. They just wanted me to make the plays they called, and always had confidence in me that I would make plays.”
Make plays is what the then junior did. He led St. Thomas to three victories to close the season, earning the Tommies a spot in the Division-III playoffs. During that stretch, St. Thomas scored a remarkable 175-points, and Gould was clearly running the offense according to the efficiency that his head coach demands.
In the first round of the playoffs, the St. Thomas Tommies drew Wartburg. This was an incredible back-and-forth battle that saw St. Thomas fall behind 13-0, only to see them charge back to take the lead 14-13. Wartburg retook the lead to end the half and the two teams each scored 17-points in the second half, making the score 37-31 Wartburg.
After kicking a field goal that brought St. Thomas to within six-points, the Tommies recovered an onside kick with just 49 ticks left on the clock. It was third down and seven when Gould faded back to pass. He saw an open receiver but Logan Pitz made an outstanding play to pick off the ball and end the season for St. Thomas.
The 2014 campaign ended in a disappointing way. John had played exceptionally well, passing for 1,429-yards and 16-touchdowns with a very impressive 65.6 completion percentage. For a guy who started just four games those were very impressive numbers, but there is only one number that truly matters to John Gould and that is wins.
“I am not concerned about stats at all. I just want to do my best to help the team win. If I had five yards passing and we won that is all that would matter to me.”
A disappointing end to the season might have disrupted the confidence of many young men, but not the man with the golden touch. John remained focused. He had a taste of the playoffs and intended to lead his team to a National Championship this season. So far the results have been nothing short of spectacular.
Gould opened up the non-conference portion of the season by throwing for 612-yards and 4-touchdowns through the first two games combined. The Tommies outscored their two opponents 112-14, and it was clear that this team was focused and that the efficiency that Coach Caruso was seeking was running like a machine.
In the third week of the season St. Thomas travelled to St. John’s. This was a chance for a little sweet revenge, as their arch-rival had defeated the Tommies in St. Paul the previous year. That victory had enabled St. John’s to be crowned conference champions and the Tommies were not going to let that happen again. St. Thomas won 35-14, but John did not have one of his better games. It was a learning experience that has inspired him since.
“The victory is what matters, but I expect a lot from myself. I want to contribute and help the team win.”
Since then the Gould touch has clearly been on display. The St. Thomas offense has scored at least 38-points in their last eight games, and in six of those games they scored at least 54. John has been a major reason for that success, throwing for 2,493-yards and 23-touchdowns. His 173.8 passer efficiency ranks him ninth in the country, demonstrating that he not only makes plays, but that he does it with precision and accuracy.
That John Gould has excelled this way should come as no surprise. The senior has loved playing football since the second grade and grew up enjoying the sport his older brother helped to inspire him to play.
Coming out of St. Thomas Academy (Mendota Heights, MN), John had the opportunity to play elsewhere in college, but St. Thomas clearly became the choice. His dad was a graduate of the school and Coach Caruso gave Gould the opportunity to play quarterback, a decision he must be truly happy about now.
It was not a hard decision to make for John, however. He loved the atmosphere of the school and it gave him the opportunity to grow and mature into the position. That maturity has led to him adopting a level of excellence that his Head Coach has inspired.
“It is all about buying into the program and buying into Coach Caruso’s philosophy. Not only being great on the field but off the field too. Trying to be the best at all you are doing. He really pushes the idea of knowing your role on the team, so as freshman we are all scout players. So seeing how hard the older guys worked really pushes us, especially the younger players to want to get into that role.”
Truly no one works harder on the field than John Gould. The senior understands that his position as quarterback and as a senior has made it essential that he carries himself in a manner that will inspire others to follow his direction. This means that he has to give his all in everything he is doing, even at practice. Fortunately for John, that is not a problem at all.
“I think a lot of people say they don’t like practice because it’s a pain, but I like practice a lot. I love being out there with the guys, having a good time, and being in the locker room. I try to cherish every moment in practice and in the locker room.”
The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference boasts a lot of great quarterbacks. That would lead many signal callers to want to pad the stats and set goals that would put them on par with QBs like the Gusties Mitch Hendrix. To John Gould, his goals are to make sure that he is playing mistake free football.
“I want to focus much more on setting goals to be as precise as possible. To not overthrow receivers or not get sacked. My goals are to perform at the highest level I can to help this team win.”
Win is exactly what the St. Thomas Tommies have been doing a lot of since he took command of the offense. The Tommies are 14-1 in his 15 starts, including 11-0 this season, and he is a huge reason why the team is in line to win it all. Bethel University Head Football Coach Steve Johnson agrees.
“He’s a very special young man. With him at quarterback that is a National Champion right there.”
The praise is appreciated and humbling to the senior, but John quickly deflects the praise off of himself and onto the people that he feels are the real heroes of this offense.
“I would not be in the position that I am without the great O-Line that we have, the great running backs and receivers. Me trusting in them and knowing they have my back makes the job a whole lot easier.”
The back is what many opponents are seeing of John Gould as the St. Thomas Tommies are leaving their opponents in their dust. This is a team that clearly has all the talent needed to win it all and it is their starting quarterback that has been a key piece to their success. It is true that John Gould cannot turn objects into gold simply by touching them, but don’t be surprised if his arm turns his team in a National Champion.
By Robert Pannier
Images Courtesy of St. Thomas