After the Chargers’ first game in 2011, a devastating loss to Ferris State 20 – 17, new quarterback and redshirt junior Anthony Mifsud wasn’t rattled.
Mifsud knew that although he replaced back to back league MVPs Mark Nicolet and Troy Weatherhead, he had to stay true to himself and his style of game to lead the team to success. That season the Chargers went on to win the 2011 GLIAC Championship.
“The important thing for me is that I don’t have to be Troy, I have to play like me, which means there are things he could do great that I’m not going to be able to do, and I can do some things that he wasn’t able to do,” Mifsud said in a Collegian interview last September. “Yes I want to be the kind of player that he was, but I don’t have to do the same things he did to be like that.”
As Mifsud prepares to play his last college football game this Saturday, Nov. 10, at Northwood University, he can feel confident in the fact that he remained true to himself.
He’ll leave a lasting legacy at Hillsdale, head coach Keith Otterbein said.
“He had big shoes to fill. He didn’t try to be [Weatherhead and Nicolet]. He became his own persona in terms of being a quarterback and didn’t try to be anything he wasn’t. He’s done a good job of changing and evolving the offense,” Otterbien said. “A championship quarterback is an elite category. It hadn’t been done in years. It puts him in a fine era and in exclusive company.”
Many factors have contributed to Mifsud’s development into a championship quarterback, but most say it has to be his work ethic.
“Anthony is a workhorse,” said fellow quarterback and redshirt sophomore Sam Landry. “He is someone you want as your teammate because you know he is always giving his maximum effort and always has the team in mind.”
Landry said Mifsud has been a role model for him on and off the field.
“This year he has been a great example to follow in teaching myself and all of the other quarterbacks what being the starting quarterback entails and what it takes to get there,” Landry said. “He is a great person to have as a workout partner because he is always adding weight and trying to push me and himself to get stronger.”
Mifsud’s younger brother, redshirt freshman CJ Mifsud, said he admires his brothers approach to all aspects of his life.
“He puts everything into what he does, whether it’s working out, doing homework, or summer jobs,” CJ Mifsud said.
Football has been a family affair for the 6’5” athlete since he was young. He can clearly recall his earliest days of playing organized football, over a decade ago.
“Absolutely I remember,” Anthony Mifsud said. “I remember practices really well, especially in the season when it got cold. We always practiced from 6 – 8 p.m., and after a certain date we practiced on a field under the lights and when it was cold, us nine, 10, 11-year olds would huddle up close together.”
Mifsud’s father, David, played wide receiver for the Charger national championship team in 1985. He was Anthony’s coach during his time on Dearborn High School’s varsity squad.
“I think we worked really well together,” Mifsud said of his dad. “I’m not going to say we didn’t bring practice home, because we definitely talked about football at home, but I think we did a good job of maintaing a father-son relationship along with a coach-player relationship.”
Coach Otterbien thinks Mifsud’s background knowledge of football, along with his sheer athleticism, specifically in his footwork, contributed to his success. In Hillsdale’s history, Mifsud is fifth in single-season completions with 206, and sixth in passing yards with 2,511, both in 2011.
“He understands the game very well. He’s one of those typical coach’s kids that’s been around football his whole life, so he got that part of it,” Otterbein said. “He’s worked very hard at all phases; the mental, physical tools to throw it and … certainly his added strength, speed, and quickness have helped him perform at a higher level as he’s gotten older and grown with the program. He’s competitive, athletic, and finds a way to get it done.”
Otterbein said Mifsud really came into his own in the preseason leading up to the 2011 season. He was forced to compete with then-fifth-year senior Matt Bryan for the starting spot.
“I think he really benefited when he was battling for the starting position. I think that was the time when he really developed,” Otterbien said. “They competed all through winter, spring, all through the early camp. It was absolutely neck and neck. No one would separate; they both kind of elevated their game and no one blew it. … I think because of the added things Anthony can do with his feet on the perimeter, that gave him an added advantage and is why we chose him. Once he get that opportunity, he kind of dug into the ground with both feet.”
This season, a highlight for Mifsud included going 12 – 14 as the Chargers defeated Saginaw Valley State University.
As Mifsud prepares to step on the gridiron for his final time, he realizes what he will miss most when the season is over.
“There’s so many special moments but I think one thing I’m going to miss is being in the locker room. Starting Monday night and until Wednesday night … that’s the grind right there and it sounds stressful and it’s not easy but what makes it bearable is having your teammates there … it’s really comforting.”