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Following a successful seven-year stint as University of St. Francis' defensive coordinator, Joe Curry enters his inaugural season as head football coach at his alma mater in 2012.
Since his arrival as a defensive lineman for the Fighting Saints in the fall of 1998, Curry has experienced both the highs and lows of USF football during his 11-year association with the program.
As a player, Curry only had the opportunity to celebrate eight victories, while suffering through 24 defeats not to mention the program's only winless season. As a coach, it has run the gamut from a one-win season in 2006 to a trip to last year's NAIA Football Championship Series Elite Eight.
Curry joined the USF coaching staff in 2005 as defensive coordinator under then first-year head coach Mike Uremovich. Just three years into his tenure at USF in 2008, Curry garnered Mid-States Football Association Midwest League Assistant Coach of the Year acclaim after guiding a Saints' defensive corps that led the MSFA Midwest and ranked 14th in the NAIA. The 2008 Saints finished the year with a 7-4 record – a four-game improvement over the previous campaign. Prior to 2008, the Saints had not had a winning season since 1991.
Curry engineered one of the NAIA's top defensive units again in 2011 as USF boasted the eighth-stingiest defense in the nation en route to a school-record 10 victories and a share of the MSFA Midwest title. The Saints' 10-3 overall record marked the program's third winning season in the past four years during which the Saints have compiled a 27-19 mark.
St. Francis also advanced to the NAIA FCS for the first time since the program's second season this past November. There, the Saints captured their first-ever playoff victory – a 21-17 win over No. 6-ranked Morningside College – before falling to top-ranked Marian (Ind.) University 49-7 in the national quarterfinals.
Curry comes from coaching roots having played for his father, Mike, who served as the head coach at Aurora Central Catholic High School for 23 years (1987-2009) before joining USF's staff three years ago as a safeties coach.
Joe Curry was a Chicago Sun-Times and Illinois High School Football Coaches Association All-State selection his senior year as well as a member of the All-Private School League team in each of his three varsity seasons with the Chargers. He also claimed first-team all-area recognition from the Aurora Beacon-News twice and established a school record with his 342 career tackles.
A 1996 graduate of Aurora Central Catholic, Curry began his collegiate playing career at Indiana State University that fall. After redshirting in 1996, he played three games for the Sycamores the following season and made six tackles.
Curry was a mainstay on the Saints' defensive line from 1998-2000. He garnered All-MSFA Midwest League Second Team accolades as a senior in 2000 after gaining honorable mention All-Midwest Intercollegiate Football Conference (MIFC) status in 1998. He was also cited as the Saints' top defensive linemen each of those years.
Curry's leadership qualities gained attention in 2000 when he was selected as a team captain for his senior season.
During his three-year career with the Saints, Curry collected 168 tackles (71 solo, 97 assisted), 15 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks.
Curry began his coaching career at USF the year after his graduation as a defensive line coach. He then ventured to NCAA Division II Ferris State University for the next three seasons, where his responsibilities included coaching the defensive line, recruiting and coordinating team travel.
Curry earned a bachelor's degree in education with a concentration in history from USF in 2001 before gaining a master's in education administration from Ferris State.
He and his wife, Holly, and sons Connor and Cooper reside in Joliet.
Jeff Knowles, a former Saints player and USF graduate, begins his fifth year on the coaching staff and his first as defensive coordinator.
Knowles joined the St. Francis staff in 2008 and tutored the defensive line for two years before coaching the linebackers the following two seasons.
Knowles played his prep football at Providence Catholic High School, where he was a teammate of former USF head coach Mike Uremovich. The two were key players on the Celtics' perfect 14-0 state championship squad in 1994. Knowles was a first-team all-state linebacker on that Matt Senffner-coached club.
Knowles began his coaching career as an assistant to Senffner at Providence in 2004.
He earned his master's degree in education in 2010 from St. Francis.
Knowles is a native of nearby Manhattan, Ill. Knowles and his wife Sarah are the parents of two sons, Gannon (5) and Emmett (2).
A newcomer to the Saints' coaching staff, offensive coordinator Matt McCarthy comes to USF from NCAA Division II Ferris State University, where he served in the same capacity from 2001-2009, before taking on the role of offensive quality control and recruiting assistant at NCAA I University of Cincinnati for two years in 2009 and 2010.
In 2011, he served as the passing game coordinator at Mason (Ohio) High School.
During his four-year playing career at Ferris State from 1995-99, McCarthy served as the Bulldogs' starting quarterback his final three years and twice led FSU to Midwest Intercollegiate Football Conference (now the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) titles. In 1999, McCarthy was a candidate for the prestigious Harlon Hill Trophy, which is awarded to the top football player at the NCAA II level.
Other honors accorded McCarthy his senior year included spots on both the NCAA II and Don Hanson's NCAA Division II All-America Teams and the Kodak Academic All-America Team.
An 11-year coaching veteran at the college and high school levels, Trumane Bell joins the USF staff this fall as tight ends coach.
Bell's most recent stop came as receivers and tight ends coach at Chicago Public League Prairie State Conference champion Morgan Park High School a year ago.
Prior to that, Bell spent five seasons as an assistant at NCAA Division III University of Chicago. During his tenure with the Maroons mentoring tackles, tight ends and receivers, Bell was honored as a member of the University Athletic Association Coaching Staff of the Year in 2010.
Bell has also coached at three other Chicago-area high schools: Bremen (2005-07), Simeon Career Academy (2003) and Carver Military Academy (2002).
Bell played three seasons at University of Nebraska and graduated with a bachelor's degree in sociology in 1993. He then spent two seasons playing for the Amsterdam Admirals of the NFL Europe.
One year after concluding a stellar playing career for the Saints, James Bowman moves to the sidelines as a defensive line coach in 2012.
A four-year letter winner at USF from 2008-11, Bowman earned All-MSFA Midwest League First Team accolades as a junior and senior.
Bowman finished his career with 120 tackles, including 27 tackles-for-loss and 7.5 sacks. Five of those sacks came in his final two years with the Saints.
As a stalwart on the defensive front, Bowman helped to lead a resurgence of USF football as the Saints posted a 17-7 mark over his final two years and earned the school's first NAIA playoff victory.
Bowman, who was a prep standout at Chicago's Fenger High School, studied information technology at USF.
Dan Cepek joined the USF coaching staff in 2010 and will assist defensive coordinator Jeff Knowles with the Saints' defensive line. He will also work closely with special teams coordinator Tom Sallay.
Cepek spent the previous nine years coaching at the high school level at football powerhouses Driscoll Catholic and St. Rita.
Cepek spent eight years at Driscoll and was part of a staff that directed the Highlanders to seven straight Illinois state championships from 2001-07. Driscoll's streak was snapped in the quarterfinals in 2008 and the school closed following that academic year in the spring of 2009.
Cepek tutored the linebackers and special teams in his first four years at Driscoll and then was the assistant head coach and special teams coordinator for his last four years.
In 2009, Cepek joined the staff at St. Rita where he coached the Mustangs' linebackers. St. Rita captured the Chicago Prep Bowl title that season.
Will Cinelli enters his fourth season at USF and will work with the Saints' offensive line in 2012. He coached running backs and tight ends a year ago.
Cinelli completed his bachelor of science degree in the highly-regarded Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in the spring of 2010 before enrolling in graduate school at St. Francis.
A native of Paeonian Springs, Va., Cinelli was a staff member of WNUR-FM, the student-run radio station at Northwestern. He has served as web director for the station and handled play-by-play duties for Northwestern softball and women's basketball broadcasts.
Cinelli also anchored morning and evening newscasts and provided color commentary on men's basketball broadcasts. Cinelli was part of the broadcast team that covered NU's national championship match win in women's lacrosse in 2009.
Cinelli served as play-by-play announcer for the Alaska Goldpanners in the Alaskan Summer Collegiate Baseball League in 2008. He also served an internship at ESPN Radio Boston in the summer of 2007.
Veteran coach Mike Curry begins his third season on the USF staff and will work with the Saints' safeties. Curry, the retired head coach from Aurora Central Catholic High School, is the father of Saints' first-year head coach Joe Curry.
Mike Curry spent 23 years (1987-2009) as the head coach at Aurora Central Catholic and was the head coach at Freeport Aquin Central Catholic High for nine years prior (1978-86) to that.
Curry directed Aurora Central Catholic to the state playoffs seven times in his tenure there and posted 10 or more wins on two occasions (11-1 in 1991 and 10-3 in 1994).
Curry led Freeport Aquin to a 68-26 record and two state championships in his nine-year run. The Bulldogs captured those Class 1A titles in 1981 and 1986.
Curry and his wife Liane have three sons – Tom (36), current USF Head Football Coach Joe (34) and Bill (32) – and a daughter, Marci (31).
Mike and Liane are also the proud grandparents of seven.
Joining the USF staff as wide receiver coach this fall, Roy Cutshaw brings two years experience at a successful prep program in suburban Milwaukee.
Cutshaw spent the past two campaigns coaching quarterbacks, wide receivers and special teams at Muskego (Wis.) High School.
With Cutshaw as a member of the coaching staff, Muskego notched a 7-4 record in 2010 and followed that with a 9-2 showing last season. Muskego reached the second round of the playoffs both years.
In addition to his coaching duties, Cutshaw served as Muskego's recruiting liaison between his players and college coaches.
Cutshaw attended Elmhurst College, where he split time at quarterback in a triple option offensive scheme. He graduated with a degree in business adminstration and a minor in sports management in 2001.
A newcomer to the USF coaching staff, Mike Harris makes the move to Joliet following a three-year stint at the NCAA Division III Apprentice School in Newport News, Virginia.
In his post at the Apprentice School, Harris coached defensive line, secondary, running backs, as well as special teams. He also handled a variety of administrative responsibilities including recruiting coordinator, equipment manager and video coordinator.
Prior to his arrival at the Apprentice School, Harris served a one-year internship in 2007 coaching the secondary and special teams after a three-year stint as a student assistant coach at his alma mater, Guilford (N.C.) College.
A 2007 graduate of Guilford with degrees in computing & information technology and criminal justice, Harris played strong safety/outside linebacker in Guilford's 3-3-5 defense in 2003.
Nick Mayerik begins his first campaign with the USF coaching staff this fall.
Mayerik's most recent coaching stint came at South Central High School in Union Mills, Ind., in 2010. That year, he helped lead South Central to a sectional championship.
His first collegiate coaching stop was as a two-year graduate assistant at NAIA rival Marian (Ind.) University from 2008-09.
A wide receiver at MSFA rival Saint Xavier University from 2002-05, Mayerik gained his initial football coaching experience as an assistant at Morton High School in Hammond, Ind., from 2005-07.
Ron Novak joined the USF coaching staff a year ago and will primarily be used in a recruiting capacity.
Novak has spent the past 10 years on the football coaching staff at Providence Catholic High School in nearby New Lenox. He served as the Director of Football Operations and Co-Director of the Youth Summer Camps and Youth Coaches' Clinic in the 2007 season for the Celtics.
Novak has spent most of his time at Providence tutoring the running backs and helped direct the 2004 team to the Illinois 6A championship.
Novak also has served as an assistant track and field (jumps) and girls basketball coach at Providence in recent years. He also co-founded the Providence Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005.
Tom Sallay begins his seventh season of college coaching at USF and will work with the cornerbacks this season after tutoring the safeties for several years. He will also continue to coordinate and oversee USF's special teams.
Sallay came to USF after spending the previous four years coaching football and basketball at Bloom Township High School in Chicago Heights.
Sallay served as head sophomore football coach from 2003-2005 and head sophomore basketball coach from 2002-2006.
Prior to his stint at Bloom, he spent one year as the head freshman baseball coach at Lincoln-Way Central High School. Sallay began his coaching career at Highland High School in Ewing, Mo., while he was attending school and playing football at NAIA Culver-Stockton College.
A 1997 graduate of Thornton Fractional North High School, Sallay earned his B.A. in education from Culver-Stockton in 2001. He and his wife, Alex, reside in Joliet.
Another newcomer to the USF coaching staff, Brian Van Acker sports an impressive resume as a college lineman.
Van Acker was a two-time All-Mid-American Conference First Team center at Northern Illinois University in 2004 and 2005. He capped his career in 2005 blocking for All-American and former Chicago Bears tailback Garrett Wolfe.
Prior to the 2005 season, he earned inclusion on the Rotary Lombardi Award watch list and was ranked as the No. 18 center in nation by The Sporting News.
Van Acker's first coaching experience came as an assistant coach at Herscher (Ill.) High School in 2007.