Yesterday, Mountaineer Nation lost a member of the family with the passing of former football head coach Bill Stewart to a heart attack.
There was an outpouring of love and memories from Stewart’s peers, former players, and friends throughout the afternoon and evening on Twitter, Facebook, and in the media. Perhaps no moment was as touching as Blaine Stewart’s Tweets yesterday evening.
For former Mountaineer DE Larry Ford, he had a game scheduled with the Kentucky Drillers in the UIFL.
Coach Stewart played a key role in Ford’s recruiting to WVU and meant a lot to him. Like all of Coach Stewart’s former players, Ford was deeply saddened at hearing the news.
We have followed Ford’s football journey since last year as he aspires to someday play in the NFL. Ford was a solid contributor for the Mountaineer defensive line from 2008-10. He tried out for several teams following graduation in different leagues and eventually earned a starting spot with the Florida Tarpons in the UIFL. Halfway through the season, the Tarpons traded Ford to the Eastern Kentucky Drillers although he led the Tarpons’ defensive line.
Ford had two weeks off before he played his first game with the Drillers. In the interim, he has received a lot of interest from the CFL.
For now, after the loss of Stewart, the games go on for Ford. He dedicated last night’s game to the memory of his former coach.
The Drillers faced Lakeland as they fought for playoff positioning. Going into the game, the Drillers had a one-game edge over Lakeland for the second seed in the southern conference and the home playoff game that would come with the honor.
Ford led the Drillers defense in the game, and helped keep the Lakeland offense out of the endzone during the entire second half and most of the second quarter.
As we pointed out in an article about Scooter Berry’s huge game played over the weekend, it is difficult for defenses to sack the quarterback because the ball usually doesn’t stay in his hands for very long.
However, Ford was driven in the game. He tallied four sacks and returned a fumble recovery for a touchdown as the Drillers won 36-20.
We spoke with Ford after the game and he told us what Bill Stewart meant to him.
“He meant a lot to me. He was a great guy. Always had a smile on his face. He used to always tell me that I was a good player, and I would make it to the NFL one day.
“So I’m going to try to make it happen for him.”