by DRAKE LOHSE
Todd Stepsis is taking no prisoners. His pyrotechnical enthusiasm was evident at his 2019 January introductory press conference, and a long, steamy summer has done nothing to dampen his spirit. Drake football is entering the 2019-2020 season with lofty expectations. The Bulldogs flame is still alight from a near upset of Iowa State in Ames back in December.
For those longtime Drake diehards, Todd Stepsis was no unfamiliar name. Stepsis has been the mechanic behind the Bulldogs nationally ranked defense for the past five seasons. The teams 2018-2019 defensive campaign concluded with their ranking at ninth nationally in scoring defense, at 19.1 points-per-game. All told Drake ranked in the top 20 nationally in five major categories: total defense, rushing defense, interceptions, tackles for loss, and defensive touchdowns.
Stepsis is an Ohio native, the son of a coach and a lifelong football fanatic. Before being named to the Drake staff prior to the 2014 season Stepsis spent six seasons as Saginaw Valley State’s defensive architect.
“We decided early on in the search that any candidates we interviewed would need to have energy, passion, and vision.” Those are the words spoken by Athletic Director Brian Hardin just seconds before officially handing Todd Stepsis the reigns as the 27th head coach in Drake Football history. Previous Head Coach Rick Fox departed from his role in early December.
Energy, passion, and vision. Todd Stepsis’ introductory press conference was an exposition of each. Stepsis punctuated his fervor with his booming voice, demonstrated his genuine love for all things Drake with the steel glint in his eye, and methodically laid out his plan for how he would carry a team with such lofty expectations.
And the new coach wasn’t playing any games. Him and his staff quickly sat down to brainstorm. In no time they carved out a plan to make sure their program stayed sharp rather than fall into the lull that can occur in between new coaches.
“We’ve really restructured the routine of the program,” Stepsis said. “So everything, from when we get started in January to training camp has been refocused with the player in mind. As coaches we’ve really taken a backseat. What do we need to do to create the biggest, strongest, fastest player? That’s the question we asked ourselves early and it’s a question we’ve attempted to answer in multiple different ways this off-season.”
Drake fans will get their first peak at the Stepsis-led Bulldogs on August 31st when the team takes on North Dakota. Drake will play their first game in Des Moines when they match up against Truman State on September 7th.