Monday, September 19, 2011

Three-plus weeks in...

I had every intention of updating this blog much sooner, I promise. Things move at a much faster pace in the fall than they do in the summer, that's for sure!

Where to begin. How about with football and the Tigers' second-ever 3-0 start? That's right, the DWU football team is 3-0 for the second time in GPAC history and for the second straight year. And they are a dominant 3-0 at that. The Tigers have arguably one of the best passing attacks in the league this season, led by quarterback Jon Bane. He leads the league in passing (297) and total offense (313.3) per game and has nearly 900 passing yards after three games. Add to that a pair of solid receivers (Anthony Muilenburg leads the GPAC in catches per game (8) and and receiving yards per game (93.3) Euedell Clayton is tied for second in catches (5.33) and is third in receiving yards (79.3) per game) and it all comes together nicely.

Muilenburg and Clayton aren't the Tigers' only threats through the air, though. Josh Endres (yes, the running back ) had a HUGE game Saturday and is ninth in receiving yards per game (52.3) and Nate Ovenden has also made some big catches.

A solid offensive line helps, too. The Tigers fought through, and are still fighting through some injuries, but the O-line hasn't given up a sack in two games, and is giving Bane plenty of time to air out the ball. Major contributors include freshman center Kyle Hencke, junior Nathan Little, senior Mario Palencia, along with Spencer Bloch, Kevin Calsbeek, Jake Verry and others I'm sure I'm forgetting.

Speaking of Endres... he ran for 186 yards and caught 11 passes for 115 more yards and four touchdowns. He leads the GPAC in rushing and scoring per game, and is also No. 1 in the NAIA in scoring per game at 16 points. DWU's running game was pretty slow the first two games, but it flourished thanks to Endres Saturday in a 45-14 win against Briar Cliff.

I was asked Saturday if I thought the Tigers' schedule has allowed them to go 3-0, or if they are that good. I really do think they are that good, although we haven't had a major test yet. Morningside at home on Oct. 15 will probably be our first big test, as Hastings (1-1) lost to Concordia this weekend (and we rolled past the Bulldogs). I have noticed, however, that we seem to get off to slow starts, and that will hurt us against good teams. In all three games in the first quarter we get into scoring position and then stall, or we fumble or get a big penalty. If we can quit that, we'll be even better.

Since I brought up Morningside... they lost Saturday! The GPAC race is now wide open, I think. Morningside, which is/was No. 3 in the nation, lost to unranked Nebraska Wesleyan. Northwestern is currently 1-2 as it lost to Morningside last week and then was upset 20-8 by Doane College, which is undefeated and receiving votes. It will be interesting to see what the polls do when they come out this afternoon. Midland was No. 11, and I bet will vault into the top 10. I think we should crack the top 15, or at least the top 21 (we were No. 21 in last week's poll). Northwestern should drop even farther (was No. 16), and Morningside would (I would think) drop out of the top 10. Oh, and Doane should jump into the top 25. Busy, busy week for GPAC football in the rankings!

Other thoughts... the volleyball team got off to a 7-3 start, but has now lost its last four and is 7-7. Freshman Danielle Bird is going to be a very, very good volleyball player for us. She and/or senior Larissa Veldhuizen have led the team in kills in all 14 games.

The men's soccer team could surprise some people. They are 2-3, and all three losses have been by a single goal, and two in overtime (or double OT). That includes a 3-2, double overtime loss to No. 10 Kansas Wesleyan. Top-ranked Hastings edged KWU 1-0, so that bodes well for us.

I swear I will be better about updating this throughout the fall. No, for real.

Who ya rootin' for?

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