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DWU looks to knock off No. 21 Northwestern

The Dakota Wesleyan University football team wants to establish itself as a top program in the NAIA.

The Tigers have an opportunity to move up the ladder this weekend as they take on No. 21 Northwestern College at 1 p.m. today in Orange City, Iowa.

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“This is a game that is going to show what we’ve been working for if we can pull out the win,” DWU linebacker Jeff Maassen, of Brandon, said. “We want to prove what we’ve been saying.”

Northwestern (1-1, 0-1 GPAC) opened the season as the NAIA’s No. 13-ranked team but fell to No. 21 after Doane upset the Red Raiders 34-27 last week.

This is also DWU’s third straight road game, and DWU head coach Ross Cimpl said it’s an ideal scenario for his team.

“We’re very familiar with the road schedule,” said Cimpl, whose team is coming off a 56-15 victory over Briar Cliff University. “Traveling gives the guys more time to focus because we’re going there and have one job to do.”

The Great Plains Athletic Conference matchup is likely to be offensively dominated as the Tigers (1-1, 1-0 GPAC) and Red Raiders rank high in the conference in passing yards per game. DWU quarterback Jon Bane has led the offensive attack to 299.5 yards per game, while quarterback Davis

Bloemendaal has averaged 285 passing yards in Northwestern’s first two games.

On the ground, DWU’s Francois Barnaud leads the GPAC with 353 total rushing yards and averages 176.5 rushing yards per game. Northwestern’s Theo Bartman is third in the conference with 95 rushing yards per game.

With the offensive production from both teams, Northwestern coach Kyle Achterhoff said the defenses have huge challenges ahead of them.

“With teams like this, it might come down to the team who makes fewer mistakes,” he said. “Defensively, the team that gets rolling and makes those stops early is going to have the advantage, but this is a game that could come down to the last possession, too.”

On the receiving end, Tiger wide receiver Anthony Muilenburg has 10 receptions for 220 yards and four touchdowns this season. The Red Raiders’ biggest receiving threat is Ben Green, who has five touchdowns and 279 yards on 16 receptions in two games.

“(Northwestern’s) focus is run the ball and run the play action off that, and that’s something we haven’t necessarily seen,” Cimpl said. “We have to be able to adjust to that quickly.”

Despite having strong offensive possessions this season, both teams struggle defensively against the opponents’ passing game. DWU is giving up an average of 286.5 passing yards per game and Northwestern is giving up 321.

“We have to eliminate big plays and they’re very capable of making them,” Cimpl said. “We have to get pressure on their quarterback and confuse him in the pass game and force him into mistakes. If we can do that, we’ll be pretty successful with that.”

When/Where: 1 p.m. today in Orange City, Iowa.

Last Meeting: Northwestern beat DWU 41-13 on Oct. 27, 2012, in Mitchell.

Coaches: DWU’s Ross Cimpl, second season; Northwestern’s Kyle Achterhoff, fifth season.

Forecast: 62 degrees and clear at kickoff with east-northeast winds at 2 mph.

Last week: DWU defeated Briar Cliff 56-15 at the DakotaDome in Vermillion, while Northwestern fell to Doane 34-27.

Game Notes: DWU’s Francois Barnaud leads the GPAC with 353 rushing yards, averaging 176.5 yards per game. He is fourth in the NAIA in all-purpose yards per game with 271 and fifth in total rushing yards and yards per game. Barnaud averages 7.1 yards per carry this season. … Northwestern running back Theo Bartman is eighth in the NAIA in all-purpose yards per game with 184 and ranks third in the GPAC with 95 rushing yards per game. … This is the 14th meeting between the schools, and the Red Raiders lead the all-time series 11-2. ... DWU’s backup quarterback is freshman Nick Kinder, while sophomore Braden Miltenberger is Northwestern’s second-string QB behind Bloemendaal.

Dakota Wesleyan projected starters

Position: Name, year, height, weight, hometown


QB: Jon Bane, sr., 6-4, 185, Temple, Texas.

TB: Francois Barnaud, jr., 5-9, 200, Belle Fourche, S.D.

WR: Arthur Brown, jr., 6-1, 200, Rosemead, Calif.

WR: Anthony Muilenburg, sr., 6-2, 200, Sioux Falls, S.D.

WR: Mitch Breen, jr., 5-8, 175, Wagner, S.D.

TE: Cody Duerksen, sr., 6-2, 210, Parker, S.D.

LT: Kyle Hencke, jr., 6-3, 260, Sturgis, S.D.

LG: Jake Verry, jr., 6-2, 265, Wernersville, Pa.

C: Eric Witte, sr., 6-0, 270, Huron, S.D.

RG: Skyler Eriksen, sr., 6-0, 260, Presho, S.D.

RT: Spencer Bloch, jr., 6-8, 320, Scotland, S.D.


DL: Eric Gruis, sr., 6-2, 265, Baltic, S.D.

DL: Matt Tuttle, sr., 6-2, 290, Ethan, S.D.

DL: Sam Kiger, so., 6-2, 215, Irene, S.D.

LB: Jeff Maassen, jr., 6-2, 225, Brandon, S.D.

LB: Brady Bonte, so., 6-2, 205, Garretson, S.D.

LB: Adam Bormann, fr., 6-0, 210, Stickney, S.D.

LB: Anthony Cervantes, jr., 6-1, 210, Burbank, Calif.

DB: Tanner Munk, fr., 5-10, 160, Dell Rapids, S.D.

DB: Trevin Island, fr., 5-9, 160, Rialto, Calif.

DB: Matt McManus, jr., 6-0, 175, Alexandria, S.D.

DB: Josh Fiedler, jr., 6-0, 200, Dell Rapids, S.D.

Special Teams

K/P: Dan Porter, so., 6-0, 185, Plattsmouth, Neb.

Northwestern projected starters

Position: Name, year, height, weight, hometown


QB: Davis Bloemendaal, sr., 6-1, 203, Orange City, Iowa.

FB: Jessie Riley III, so., 5-8, 195, Redlands, Calif.

RB: Theo Bartman, sr., 6-2, 223, Rock Valley, Iowa.

WR: Ben Green, jr., 6-2, 170, Sioux Falls, S.D.

WR: Brice Byker, sr., 6-3, 201, Sioux Center, Iowa.

TE: Jacey Hoegh, sr., 6-5, 226, Elk Horn, Iowa.

LT: Brandon Pekelder, jr., 6-4, 286, Hospers, Iowa.

LG: Cody Buskirk, fr., 6-3, 310, Bellflower, Calif.

C: Levi Letsche, fr., 6-1, 284, Marcus, Iowa.

RG: Andrew Hulstein, jr., 6-4, 289, Sioux Center, Iowa.

RT: Marcus VanVoorst, sr., 6-3, 323, Lynden, Wash.


DB: Jermaine Ambrose, jr., 5-9, 192, New Orleans, La.

DB: Justin Wohlert, so., 5-10, 180, Hartley, Iowa.

DB: Jake Zylstra, so., 6-2, 187, Renton, Wash.

LB: Levi Dykshorn, jr., 5-9, 194, Sioux Center, Iowa.

LB: Nate Van Ginkel, sr., 6-2, 204, Rock Valley, Iowa.

LB: Greg Hegstad, jr., 6-3, 201, Sanborn, Iowa.

LB: Brett Coston, so., 5-11, 228, Fort Myers, Fla.

LB: Isaiah Twitty, sr., 5-11, 221, Chesapeake, Va.

DL: Lawton De Jong, so., 6-2, 232, Orange City, Iowa.

DL: Spencer Groeneweg, jr., 6-4, 256, Orange City, Iowa.

DL: Sam Van Ginkel, fr., 6-5, 225, Rock Valley, Iowa.

Special Teams

K: Julian Dittmann, fr., 6-1, 172, Zehdenick, Germany.

P: Levi Ettleman, so., 6-4, 256, Logan, Iowa.

Brooke Cersosimo
Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.