Coach Sauter Aims to Grow Football Team During Six-Year Extension

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Coach Sauter Aims to Grow Football Team During Six-Year Extension

Leah Danielson, Special to the Spur

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Head football coach Cory Sauter was rewarded with a six-year contract extension after a record-setting season.

Sauter led the Mustangs this past season to fourth place in the NSIC with an 8-3 record, which set a school record for wins at the Division II Level and tied for the second highest win total in school history.

The team also made history by ranking twice in the Top 10 in the NCAA Super Region 3 rankings.

“I’m really excited about the direction and the future of Mustang Football,” Sauter said. “In my opinion we are just beginning our progress of what we want to get to.”

During Sauter’s six years as head coach, SMSU has reached a record of 29-38, which includes two of the best seasons in team history over the past three years. Sauter’s 29 wins has earned him the rank of second among the 10 head coaches in SMSU Football history.

Senior running back, Davontay Stevens, who led the NSIC in rushing with 1,066 yards on 237 attempts and tied for second with 13 total touchdowns, says Sauter’s coaching style has worked in his favor.

“He’s a guy who will push you to get every ounce of your full potential out of you–on and off the field,” Stevens said.

According to Sauter, the team’s strong performance this past season is a result of several factors. First, the level of student athlete that Southwest Minnesota State has been able to attract has increased. Second, the players have bought into the team’s mentality. And third, the players that stay with the team’s strategy have become great athletes.

To Sauter, victories are all about the team’s mindset.

“We try to take that underdog mentality with everything we do here,” Sauter said. “We want to make sure we’re going somewhere as opposed to hoping for something to happen.”

In order for players to keep the underdog mentality, the Mustangs adopted their 212-degree motto two years ago. Sauter says it’s simply the boiling point of water. It means not being satisfied with being good enough, but striving for the “boiling point” where great things can happen.

Never being satisfied is only part of Sauter’s coaching philosophy. He believes in a combination of hard work on the field, in the classroom, and in the community.

“We really want to develop the total package,” Sauter said. “We want our guys to graduate, we want them to excel in the classroom, and not just be known for what they do on the field.”

Seniors Davontay Stevens and Donovan Woods are proving Sauter’s coaching strategy. Both were named 2015 Academic All-America Division II football first team, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). To be eligible, players must be varsity starters or key reserves, hold at least a sophomore standing, and maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.30.

“He’s not only passionate about his players on the field but making sure they do what it takes to graduate and be a productive citizen after they graduate,” said Stevens.

Before becoming head coach in 2010, Sauter held the position of assistant coach during the 2008 and 2009 seasons. He served various roles, including offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator.

Sauter played four season as quarterback for the University of Minnesota (1994-1997). While still in high school, Sauter was recruited by the Golden Gophers and decided to commit after getting to know the coaches. He not only liked the idea of playing for Minnesota’s home team, but felt his skills matched well with the team’s level.

While at the University of Minnesota, Sauter led a record-setting career. He started in the final 34 games of his collegiate career and finished as the school’s all-time career record-holder for pass completions, pass attempts and passing yards.

After his collegiate career, Sauter continued his career into the NFL from 1998-2003. In 1998, Sauter signed as a free agent with the Arizona Cardinals before playing for the Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears, and Indianapolis Colts. Sauter also spent one season playing for the Barcelona Dragons in NFL Europe.

Sauter can attribute his accomplishments to his personal philosophy of making every day special.

“When you do that over time, you find that life becomes something special,” Sauter said.

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