Perfect storm: Flooding on the QB

Justin St. Peter, Sports Editor

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Dec. 14, 2016

NASA. Boeing Co. Football. John Flood does it all.

The senior defensive lineman is a finalist for the 2016 Gagliardi Trophy, an award that goes to the most outstanding NCAA Division-III football.

To date, 41 ballots have been cast for the award, including one from the fans from Nov. 21-Dec. 5 on d3football.com. The winner had not been announced at press time.

In addition to his athletic accomplishments, he found time to work on projects sponsored by NASA and defense contractor Boeing.

Flood, a math and physics major, has been part of the WIAC Scholastic Honor Roll every year as a Warhawk. His focus on the academic side allowed him to be a part of two major research projects.

This past summer, Flood studied flow separation in aerospace engineering at the University of Arizona that Boeing sponsored.

While playing football and attending to school now, he also is collecting data from a space telescope sponsored by NASA on campus.

Flood said it was a really cool experience and that he really stresses academics.

“The coaching staff here does a great job making sure that you really push yourself in all facets of your life, not just football,” Flood said. “They make sure that you’re a good student in the classroom and fit in in the community and excel in everything you do. That has just really been ingrained in me through Coach [Kevin] Bullis and some of the other coaches on the staff. It is important because now that my football career is over, that is what I have to fall back on.”

Flood started three of his four years on the defensive line for the Warhawks, winning national championships in his first two years with the program and falling short in the national semifinals the past two years.

Now that Flood’s football career has come to a close, head coach Kevin Bullis still recalls how quickly Flood became comfortable in the program.

“John was a young man that came in and was really mature from the beginning,” Bullis said. “He was a hybrid, d-lineman. Even as a freshman, he played two positions on the d-line. He picked it up very well… His skill sets in the sense of his intelligence and football smarts were off the charts. His growth really came in his leadership skills in getting confident leading his teammates.”

Flood tallied 18 solo tackles, 29 total, eight stops for a loss of 47 yards, 4.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and recovered a fumble while playing that hybrid role when Bullis was still the defensive line coach his freshman year. Under former head coach Lance Leipold’s tutelage, the ’Hawks won the national championship.

Flood said he was fortunate to learn from linemen who were veterans of the program.

“It was good for me to get my feet wet that year,” Flood said. “I didn’t start, but I obviously played quite a bit. I really set the foundation for my career. It paved the way for me to be a leader of the team down the road.”

Going into his sophomore year, there were many changes in the football program as Leipold left to head the D-I University of Buffalo program and took many of his top assistants with him. Bullis stayed behind and eventually earned the head coaching position.

Bullis said that although his position on the team changed, the close relationship with Flood remained.

“It’s only been a couple weeks where he hasn’t been a player of mine,” Bullis said. “John is a guy that you could always trust him to be candid and honest with you. He is always forthright. He is a guy that you trust his judgment because of his intelligence and maturity. John is a guy that I hope he keeps in touch with me, I really do, because he is just an excellent human being.”

That praise aside, Flood tallied 12 tackles, 24 total, 8.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, forced two fumbles and recovered two fumbles.

Flood said his favorite play in a Warhawk uniform came that year in the national semifinal game UW-W won 20-14 over Linfield College (Oregon). Flood was able to beat his man and sack quarterback Tom Riddle and strip the ball. The ’Hawks recovered and closed the game out in the victory formation.

Despite losing in the national semifinals to annual foe University of Mount Union last year, Flood tallied 20 tackles, with seven of them behind the line of scrimmage, and five sacks in 12 games.

Coming into his senior season, Flood was named a team captain, which is something he says he took very seriously.

It was a great honor because you spend so much time with the team, they really become your family,” Flood said. “To know they think about you like that, it’s a really cool honor… As the season went on, I embraced it more and tried to be the best leader I could for the team. It was definitely a cool experience though.”

Flood was part of a defense that saw UW-W complete a perfect regular season and get back on top of the WIAC conference. Although they fell to John Carroll University in the national semifinal, Flood still tallied 27 total tackles, 17 of them solo, five tackles for loss and three sacks.

One of Flood’s favorite quotes is what he said last week following the loss, which goes, “some days you eat the bear, and some days the bear eats you.”

Flood explained that his old baseball coach used to use it when taking out a pitcher after a bad outing. When the meaning is analyzed, it makes sense for the way Flood’s career ended.

“Sometimes you can go out there and do the best you can and sometimes someone is just gonna be better than you,” Flood said. “You just got to live with it and accept it. You can go out there the next day and maybe next day you eat the bear.”

Whatever Flood’s next stop is, it’s a good bet that he will be eating the bear.