novakNo matter what the outcome of Saturday's game might be in East Lansing, Dowagiac will be able to hold its head up proud because of one of its alumni.

Archived Story

Scott Novak: Staten does us all proud

Published 10:12am Friday, October 2, 2009

Mark Staten, tight ends /tackles coach and recruiting coordinator for Michigan State, is doing an outstanding job for the Spartans.

Michigan State isn’t exactly off to the type of start it wanted this season having lost three consecutive games, but a win on Saturday over Michigan would fix all that.

I got a chance to spend a little time with Mark, who I have known since he was a “little” Chieftain, while he was at Notre Dame a couple of weeks ago.

After catching up on our families and Dowagiac athletics, I got down to asking Mark about the Spartans and where he thought they stood entering their third season.

He seemed to be pleased with the program, but knew there was still plenty of work to do.
The fact of the matter is, it usually takes four or five seasons before a coaching staff fully has the type of players it wants on their team.

Staten said that while there are still a lot of new faces, there are plenty of returning players as well.

He likes what he sees out of the Spartans.

“The attitude and the toughness is there,” he said. “We just need to keep going forward one game at a time and coach (Harlon) Barnett said earlier during chapel that this is the harvest season. We have sown our seeds and all off season after the bowl and we worked hard during winter conditioning, we worked hard through spring ball and fourth quarter program this summer. Now we are into harvest season.”

I am sure head coach Mark Dantonio and his staff thought the harvest would be a little more bountiful.

After winning its season opener, the Spartans were stung by Central Michigan once again and then dropped two more heartbreakers at Notre Dame and Wisconsin.

Now, the undefeated Michigan Wolverines are coming to town and Michigan State would love nothing more than to knock the Maize and Blue on its backside and out of the ranks of the unbeaten.

Personally, I believe they can do it.

But a word of warning to the Spartan faithful, you had better not let freshman sensation Tate Forcier have a shot at beating you at the end of the game.

I was a little skeptical about Forcier when he came to Michigan because I tend not to believe all the hype about high school prospects.

I also took a wait and see attitude after he played so well against Western Michigan.

But what he did to Notre Dame and then Indiana last Saturday has me drinking the Kool-Aid.

This kid has that “it” factor. He is the real deal.

Now, if he can only stay healthy, Tate is going to do some special things in Ann Arbor.

Michigan State can soothe some of the wounds that have been opened up the past couple of weeks.

Mark talked to me about the quality kids the Spartans are recruiting.

He said that they only want kids of good character.

That character is being tested right now and I think it’s about to shine Saturday afternoon in Spartan Stadium.

Michigan State will give a great effort and Staten will be able to hold his head high when he walks out of that stadium.

Just as all of Dowagiac can hold its head high when it speaks of one of its sons.

Mark Staten should be a role model for our student-athletes. He does things the right way and our community and the Michigan State community are better off for it.

Scott Novak is sports editor of Leader Publications. He can be reached at scott.novak@leaderpub.com or by phone at 687-7702.  Follow me on my daily blog: www.leaderpubsports.blogspot.com

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