By RICK PETERSON
Now in his 20th season as Washburn University's head football coach, it's probably hard for local fans to remember Craig Schurig being anywhere else.
But if not for a nine-year stint as an assistant at Pittsburg State, Washburn may have never happened.
"Probably nobody remember that any more because I've been here so long, but that's kind of where I got my football knowledge, under Chuck Broyles,'' said Schurig, whose 7-2 Ichabods will go on the road to face the 7-2 Gorillas in a 1 p.m. MIAA game Saturday at Carnie Smith Stadium.
After serving as a volunteer assistant at his alma mater, Colorado School of Mines, in 1992, Schurig went to Pitt State, where he coached tight ends, defensive backs and the punt team during a stint from 1993-2001 before landing the head coaching position at Washburn.
And although he wants to beat Pittsburg State as badly as any other team on the Ichabods' schedule, Schurig still has fond memories of his time in Pittsburg.
"You want your team to play well because you remember your time there,'' he said. "My three kids, Samantha, Mitchell and Michael, were all born there and that's where I really started my coaching career, so any time you go back you want to play well and show that you've kind of taken what you learned and done well.''
While on Chuck Broyles staff at Pitt State Schurig was part of Gorilla teams that played for the national championship in 1995, won four MIAA championships and advanced to the NCAA Division II playoffs eight times.
"I learned a lot from just how they ran the program,'' said Schurig, who is 9-8 against Pittsburg State. "Chuck did such a great job with just the total program, how your recruited, how you trained, putting a system in place on offense and defense and special teams.
"His philosophy was to have a physical team that was sound in what you did and to try to beat people and not try to trick people and that if you hit it that way you could be successful in this conference.''
Schurig was named Washburn's coach on Dec.. 28, 2001 and the rest, as they say, is history.
Schurig is now the winningest coach in Washburn history with a 128-87-0 record and his Ichabods have won an MIAA title, made it to the D-II playoffs three times and played eight postseason games overall.
Schurig admits that he didn't realize when he got the WU job in 2001 that it would most likely be the only head coaching job he'll ever have.
"You hope, but coaching is such a fickle career,'' he said. "Typically at our level it's not as fickle as it is say in the NFL or Division I where it's like week to week, but you usually have a five-year plan and then it's a 10-year plan and then you go on from there.
"We've been so fortunate with the backing from the boosters and the administration from (athletic director) Loren Forre' and the trust he puts in our staff. And I've been really lucky because I've basically had two staffs. I had a staff for about eight or nine years and now we've had this staff for eight or nine years and that makes it really special.''
"We've obviously done well enough here to keep the job and really the program I feel like each year we've done something to improve it, either from a fan base or a facility or how we train or how we get the guys ready. You've always looking to get better.''
-- Washburn enters Saturday's game on a four-game win streak, including a 35-0 romp against Northeastern State last Saturday at Yager Stadium.
-- Ichabod senior quarterback Mitch Schurig has completed 144 of 212 passing attempts for 1,973 yards and 20 touchdowns, while sophomore Taylon Peters leads the team with 521 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 107 carries.
Senior James Letcher Jr. has caught 47 passes for 650 yards and seven TDs while former Hayden standout Brooks Peavler, a senior linebacker, is the Ichabods' leading tackler with 48 tackles (39 solo) while Malick Fall is eighth in the nation in sacks at 1.11 per game.
-- Pittsburg State is coming off a 26-20 home win over Central Oklahoma, the Gorillas' third straight win.
-- Pitt State quarterback Mak Sexton has completed 151 of 244 passes for 2,065 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Tyler Adkins has rushed for 518 yards and five touchdowns on 112 carries while Jalen Martin has 771 receiving yards and four TDs and Elijah Harris 28 catches and six TDs. P.J. Sarwinski leads Pitt State with 66 tackles.
-- Washburn will return to Yager Stadium on Nov. 13 for Senior Day, hosting Missouri Southern.