Last year's loss to Morningside still on minds of players, coachMorningside recorded a season-low 201 yards of offense in last year’s game against Dakota Wesleyan University.
By: Luke Hagen, The Daily Republic
Morningside recorded a season-low 201 yards of offense in last year’s game against Dakota Wesleyan University.
It was a sluggish performance for the 2011 Great Plains Athletic Conference champion Mustangs, who still managed to eke out a 28-26 win over the Tigers.
“After that game, defensively we kind of talked about how to remember that feeling,” DWU head coach Ross Cimpl said. “We played pretty well and didn’t win the game. Morningside made more plays than we did. … Hopefully, our guys can remember that.”
At 2 p.m. today in Sioux City, Iowa, the No. 19-ranked Tigers (4-1) play No. 4 Morningside (5-0) in a GPAC matchup that will have a large impact on the conference standings. If the Tigers can erase the pain of last year’s loss and beat Morningside, they’ll be back in the hunt for a league championship.
But for Cimpl and the DWU players, it’s tough to forget the way the team lost last season.
Cimpl, the team’s defensive coordinator a year ago, put together a game plan that limited the Mustangs to 33 first-half yards. Despite having a near-perfect first half defensively, DWU trailed 14-7 at the break because of a pair of touchdowns coming from Colby Henderson on defense and special teams.
The Tigers never trailed by more than eight points in the second half, but were never able to overcome Morningside, sending DWU into a nosedive for the final four games of the season. After the loss, DWU went on to win one of four games and finish the year 6-4.
“It was a tough loss and it really boiled down to turnovers,” DWU quarterback Jon Bane said, “and that’s all on me right there. That’s something I’ve been working on. We want to move the chains and put the ball in the end zone when we’re in the red zone.”
Despite struggling in last year’s game against the Tigers and still coming out with a victory, Morningside coach Steve Ryan said the 2011 contest isn’t on his mind headed into today’s game.
“One year to the next is totally different,” Ryan said. “There’s a different coaching staff there, and in all honesty we’re a completely different offense. There’s really not much that we garner from last year’s game. Each year kind of takes on its own identity.”
Cimpl, who still handles defensive play-calling duties, will look to find ways to stop Morningside’s dual-threat quarterback, Joel Nixon.
The 6-foot, 205-pound senior never played a down as a collegiate quarterback before this season. He is averaging 299.6 yards of total offense per game. He is also the Mustangs’ leading rusher with 266 yards on 55 attempts and has completed 80 of 140 passes for 1,232 yards and 15 touchdowns with five interceptions. He has thrown at least two TDs in each of Morningside’s five games this year. In his previous three seasons at Morningside, Nixon was a wide receiver and ranks 16th in school history with 1,352 receiving yards. Including Nixon, the Mustangs have four players with at least 49 rushes this season.
“They will want to get him out and run the ball on some designed runs,” Cimpl said. “He also throws a deep ball really nice and is a guy that’s a really good athlete.”
Morningside, which is averaging 37.6 points per game this season, also tops the league and the NAIA in defensive points (5.4) and rushing yards (43) allowed per game.
Henderson is the leader of the defense and is a game-changing player, Ryan said. The senior defensive back is an All-American and was the NAIA defensive player of the year last season.
“Last year (against DWU), he scored our first two touchdowns in the first half,” Ryan said. “That was huge and critical for our success.”
DWU, averaging 33 points per game, will look to running back Josh Endres and Bane offensively. Endres is the nation’s top running back averaging 164 yards per game, while Bane tops the league in multiple passing categories. The junior QB has completed 80 of 142 passes this season with 11 touchdowns and three interceptions. He’s averaging 326.5 yards per game through the air.
“I would say they have the best throwing quarterback in the conference in Bane and then they probably have the best tandem running back in Josh Endres,” Ryan said. “You’ve got this great combination on offense that allows them to throw and run equally and effectively. So, somehow we have to be able to slow down those two guys.”
If DWU is able to knock off Morningside today, both the Tigers and Mustangs will have one loss apiece, potentially creating a three-way tie for second in the GPAC. Going into today, Morningside and Hastings — the only team to beat DWU — are undefeated.
Despite the magnitude of the game, Cimpl said his players are going into the highly anticipated matchup rather calm.
“It’s tough to read some of these guys,” Cimpl said. “You talk about going to Morningside and playing the number four team and they’re like, ‘All right, let’s go.’ So it’s tough to read these guys, but I think we’re just excited about going to play a team of their caliber.
“It’s one of those things where we’re too young to realize what’s going on. I think that’s a good thing for us. We’re just going in it to play.”
When/Where: 2 p.m. in Sioux City, Iowa.
Last meeting: Morningside beat DWU 28-26 on Oct. 15 at Joe Quintal Field in Mitchell.
Coaches: DWU’s Ross Cimpl, first year; Morningside’s Steve Ryan, 11th year.
Forecast: Temperature at kickoff 69 degrees with southwest wins at 14 mph. Chance of isolated thunderstorms is 30 percent.
Game notes: Morningside is the defending Great Plains Athletic Conference champion. … Morningside holds the all-time series against DWU with a 10-4-1 edge. … Last season, DWU held Morningside to a season-low 201 yards of total offense. … This is Morningside’s homecoming game. … DWU’s Derek Carlson was named the GPAC offensive player of the week for his four-touchdown performance against Dordt. … DWU linebacker Brady Bonte was named the conference’s defensive player of the week. … Morningside’s Cole Boger was named the NAIA national special teams player of the week for blocking a punt and scoring a touchdown in last week’s win over Doane.
Dakota Wesleyan projected starters
Position: Name, year, height, weight, hometown
QB: Jon Bane, Jr., 6-4, 185, Temple, Texas
HB: Josh Endres, Sr., 6-2, 215, Ethan, S.D.
WR: Arthur Brown, So., 6-1, 200, Rosemead, Calif.
WR: Dimitri Fahey, So., 6-2, 165, Rapid City, S.D.
WR: Mike Brown, Jr., 5-9, 190, Palmdale, Calif.
TE: Cody Duerksen, Jr., 6-2, 210, Parker, S.D.
C: Eric Witte, Jr., 6-0, 270, Huron, S.D.
LT: Nathan Little, Sr., 6-3, 290, Aberdeen, S.D.
LG: Kyle Hencke, So., 6-3, 260, Sturgis, S.D.
RG: Skyler Eriksen, Jr., 6-0, 260, Presho, S.D.
RT: Spencer Bloch, So., 6-8, 320, Scotland, S.D.
DL: Eric Gruis, Jr., 6-2, 265, Baltic, S.D.
DL: Preston Liebelt, Jr., 6-0, 270, Prairie City, S.D.
DL: Craig Henglefelt, Jr., 6-6, 250, Alexandria, S.D.
LB: Jeff Maassen, So., 6-2, 225, Brandon, S.D.
LB: Mike Barnaud, Sr., 5-10, 220, Belle Fourche, S.D.
LB: Anthony Cervantes, So., 6-1, 210, Burbank, Calif.
LB: Brady Bonte, Fr., 6-2, 205, Garretson, S.D.
DB: Andrew DeVaney, Fr., 5-10, 175, Sioux Falls, S.D.
DB: Dustin Bergmeier, Sr., 6-0, 190, Omaha, Neb.
DB: Matt McManus, Jr., 6-0, 175, Alexandria, S.D.
DB: Josh Thompson, So., 5-10, 170, Lead, S.D.
K: Dan Porter, Fr., 6-0, 185, Plattsmouth, Neb.
P: Derek Carlson, Sr., 6-4, 205, Sioux Falls, S.D.
Morningside projected starters
Position: Name, year, height, weight, hometown
QB: Joel Nixon, Sr., 6-0, 205, Wakefield, Neb.
HB: Josh Gaedke, Jr., 5-10, 200, Colo, Iowa.
FB: Joel McCabe, Jr., 6-1, 225, Jefferson, S.D.
WR: Kyle Schuck, Jr., 6-2, 180, Cherokee, Iowa.
WR: Travis Hantleman, So., 6-4, 190, Ringsted, Iowa.
TE: Austin Klett, Jr., 6-3, 230, Everly, Iowa.
C: Josh Steinberg, Jr., 6-4, 325, Osage, Iowa.
LT: Byron Klaunberg, Fr., 6-4, 235, Ogden, Iowa.
LG: Joe Brummer, Fr., 6-2, 255, Harlan, Iowa.
RG: Nolan Long, Jr., 6-5, 315, Sidney, Iowa.
RT: Cole Albright, Sr., 6-2, 296, Bronson, Iowa.
DL: Marcus Smith, Jr., 6-0, 210, Crete, Neb.
DL: Bret Doorenbos, Jr., 6-2, 255, Boyden, Iowa.
DL: Keith Chvatal, Sr., 5-10, 230, Wahoo, Neb.
LB: Taylor Johnson, Sr., 6-0, 215, Arlington, Neb.
LB: Chris Calvillo, Sr., 6-0, 220, Sioux City, Iowa.
LB: Aaron Roberg, Jr., 6-0, 225, Grand Island, Neb.
LB: Sean Elliot, Sr., 5-11, 220, Spencer, Iowa.
DB: Jared Goforth, Sr., 6-0, 195, Polk City, Iowa.
DB: Trevor Strong, Jr., 5-10, 170, Fremont, Neb.
DB: Ben Rickord, Sr., 5-11, 180, Dakota Dunes, S.D.
DB: Colby Henderson, Sr., 5-11, 180, Wakefield, Neb.
K: Ty Littzen, Fr., 5-6, 140, Fort Dodge, Iowa.
P: Jordan Sitzman, Jr., 6-1, 180, Le Mars, Iowa.