Friday, September 30, 2011


It's Homecoming week here at DWU... scratch that. It's the Friday at the end of DWU's Homecoming week, which can only mean one thing... Blue and White Days game tomorrow!

Tomorrow's game is a tough one for the Tigers. Hastings comes to town, and the Broncos don't appear to be the team that they've been in the past five or so years, but it's still Hastings, and we seem to have a history of playing very, very close games with them.

Let's look back, shall we. In 2005, Hastings won by three (32-29) in Hastings. The next year the Broncos won pretty handily in Mitchell, but the next year, the Tigers kicked a field goal as time expired to win 34-31 in Hastings. Then comes the 2008 season. That was the year, if you remember, DWU went 7-3 and (I like to think) barely missed a berth in the NAIA playoffs. Well, if they did, in fact, narrowly miss that berth, it's because of the Hastings game.

That year, the Broncos and Tigers played to double overtime, and Hastings pulled off a 28-27 victory in front of DWU's home crowd at Joe Quintal. I was working at The Daily Republic at the time, and was standing on the Tiger sidelines throughout the game. That was such an intense atmosphere. Everyone was one their feet, hoping and praying Hastings wouldn't score. I think it was the first overtime it looked like we held them because we had their QB scurrying in the backfield, but he threw up a prayer of a pass and someone in a Bronco uniform managed to catch it on the 1-yard line, where they ran in for a TD. The Broncos scored again to start the second OT, and then the Tigers scored, but DWU went for two and the win instead of a third OT, and the run failed, giving Hastings the one-point win. Heck of a game.

DWU picked up its second win against the Broncos in school history last year, and is looking for No. 3 tomorrow. The Tigers are also looking for their first 4-0 start in GPAC history tomorrow, and this is a scary game for that. This is a game DWU *should win, but the Broncos are a strange team. They lost 10-0 to Concordia (we rolled past Concordia), but they shutout Briar Cliff and destroyed Dakota State. Their defense leads the league or is at the top of the GPAC in several categories, and their running game is nothing to sneeze at.

The Tigers will need to be at the top of their game, that's for sure. That hasn't been a problem in the first three games; Jon Bane leads the league in passing and total offense, Anthony Muilenburg is at the top of the GPAC in receptions and receiving yards per game and Josh Endres is first in the league in rushing and scoring (and he also leads the nation on scoring). Oh, and Derek Carlson leads the league in punting. We're going to need all those components, plus a solid defense and steady O-line, to come away with a W. We just need to play like we have been.

Hope to see everyone out at Quintal! Tailgating starts at 11:30 a.m.! Who ya rootin' for?!

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?