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Pressure "a good thing" as DWU football prepares for bloodbath with Concordia

It's a bit gruesome but the Dakota Wesleyan University football team is gearing up for a "bloodbath" with Concordia University. A win is essential to make the NAIA playoffs, and to do so, the Tigers will have to counter strength with strength in ...

It's a bit gruesome but the Dakota Wesleyan University football team is gearing up for a "bloodbath" with Concordia University.

A win is essential to make the NAIA playoffs, and to do so, the Tigers will have to counter strength with strength in a Great Plains Athletic Conference football matchup at 1 p.m. today at Joe Quintal Field in Mitchell.

"Oh man, a bloodbath is probably the best way to describe this one," DWU head coach Ross Cimpl said, noting the size of the Bulldogs' defensive linemen that includes a 310-pound nose guard and 6-foot-6 defensive end. "This game is going to be a physical game, these guys pass the eyeball test, even if you don't see them on film. They're a good, physical team and that's what they hang their hat on. We like to think of ourselves in the same category, and when you matchup two teams like that, whoever can take the most punches is going to be successful."

Throughout the week, Cimpl has tried to reassure his players that the pressure from playing a 5-3 Concordia team in a must-win game is exactly what they've been asking for.

"This is an unfamiliar position for our guys," the fourth-year head coach said. "The thing about pressure with this team and this game is simple; I told our senior guys 'Three years ago, how much pressure was on our team? None. There was no expectations. We weren't looked at as a contender to have any shot of making the playoffs.'

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"But now, we're in that spot. That's what these guys have wanted and what these guys have worked for. But all the pressure we're feeling is self inflicted, we wanted to be in this situation, and we can't shy away from it."

With DWU running back John Fabrizius expected to miss his second straight game with a shoulder injury, quarterback Dillon Turner hopes to take pressure off freshman running back Jonathon Withrow. Turner-who has ran for 716 yards and passed for 1,945 yards while totaling 28 combined touchdowns-will try to find a weakness in a Concordia defense that is ranked ninth in the nation in total defense per game, only allowing 298.5 per contest.

"We're ready," Turner said. "We've been preparing all week for this, it's just another game to stay alive for the playoffs. We're looking it like we're 0-0, and we have to go 1-0. We have a chance to show what we can do against a good team, and I feel like we're starting to peak."

Offensively, Concordia will rely on running back Bryce Collins, who has ran for 678 yards and seven touchdowns this season. When the Bulldogs drop to pass, they will rely on the arm of quarterback Garrett Folchert, who has thrown for 748 yards, nine touchdowns and three interceptions.

"Dakota Wesleyan certainly comes after you on defense," Bulldogs head coach Vance Winter said. "They get after the quarterback, and that's been a coach Cimpl staple for as long as he's been there. (DWU linebacker Brady) Bonte is one of the best players in the conference, when you see him on film, he's all over the place. The problem is, we can't just focus on him, because they have some interior lineman playing well, as well."

When/Where: 1 p.m. today at Joe Quintal Field in Mitchell

Last meeting: Concordia University defeated Dakota Wesleyan University 27-19 on Nov. 9, 2014 in Seward, Neb.

Coaches: DWU's Ross Cimpl, fourth year; CU's Vance Winter, seventh season.

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Forecast: 56 degrees and sunny with southwest winds of 10 mph.

Notes: The Bulldogs fell to Morningside College in their last game, 44-21 on Oct. 31. ... The DWU senior class of 2015 set a record for most wins (28) in a four-year span with a 52-17 win over Nebraska Wesleyan University last week. ... Concordia leads the all-time series 8-7. ... Concordia ranks ninth in the nation in total defense per game, allowing 298.5 yards per contest. ... DWU quarterback Dillon Turner ranks third in the nation in total offense with 2,661 total yards accumulated this season. ... The Tigers rank fourth in the nation in total sacks by a defense with 29, and eighth in the country in third down conversions, converting 44.9 percent of their third down opportunities.

Dakota Wesleyan University projected starters

(Position, name, year, height, weight, hometown)

Offense

QB: Dillon Turner, so., 6-1, 220, Salem, Ark.

RB: Jonathon Withrow, fr., 5-10, 170, Kimball, Neb.

WR: Hayden Adams, so., 6-2, 185, Villa Park, Ill.

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WR: Kodi Larson, jr., 6-2, 205, Tyndall

WR: Dustin Livingston, jr., 6-0, 190, Irene

TE: Tyler Fortuna, so., 6-4, 220, Gillette, Wyo.

LT: Calvin Hunhoff, sr., 6-3, 260, Bertrand, Neb.

LG: Taylor Haley, sr., 6-0, 275, Winner

C: Jon Knight, sr., 5-11, 265, Pocatello, Idaho

RG: Zach Duin, fr., 6-0, 255, Minneapolis, Minn.

RT: Trevor Wietzema, fr., 6-3, 285, Worthington, Minn.

Defense

DL: Brady Mudder, jr., 6-3, 240, Garretson

DL: Cohl Ratermann, jr. 6-5, 305, Colome

DL: Sam Kiger, sr., 6-4, 255, Irene

OLB: Brady Bonte, sr., 6-2, 220, Garretson

ILB: Austin Van Poole, so., 5-10, 225, Yuba City, Calif.

ILB: Adam Bormann, jr., 6-0, 225, Stickney

OLB: Dillon Rork, fr., 6-1, 205, Grand Island, Neb.

CB: Cody Bonte, jr., 6-1, 190, Garretson

S: Cody Reder, jr., 6-0, 185, Philip

S: Charlie LaRoche, so., 5-10, 205, Lower Brule

CB: Trevin Island, so., 5-10, 160, Rialto, Calif.

Special teams

K/P: Daniel Porter, sr., 5-11, 190, Plattsmouth, Neb.

H: Luke Stephens, jr., 6-2, 185, Chico, Calif.

LS: Brady Mudder, jr., 6-3, 240, Garretson

KR/PR: Dustin Livingston, jr., 6-0, 190, Irene

Concordia University projected starters

(Position, name, year, height, weight, hometown)

Offense

QB: Garrett Folchert, sr., 5-10, 190, Ogallala, Neb.

RB: Bryce Collins, jr., 5-9, 205, Boerne, Texas

FB: Erik Small, jr., 6-1, 240, Anaheim, Calif

WR: Vincent Beasley, fr., 6-2, 185, Pearland, Texas

WR: Jared Garcia, so., 6-3, 200, Pearland, Texas

TE: Seth Fitzke, jr., 6-5, 250, Seward, Neb.

LT: Hallick Lehmann, jr., 6-5, 280, Albion, Neb.

LG: Trey Anderson, jr., 6-0, 255, Lincoln, Neb.

C: Austin Taylor, so., 6-1, 275, York, Neb.

RG: Keddrick Fuselier, so., 6-1, 300, Houston, Texas

RT: Ben Balduc, sr., 6-2, 290, Roanoke, Texas

Defense

DL: Clint Gardels, sr., 6-6, 245, Wilcox, Neb.

DL: Ron Jackson, jr., 5-10, 310, Houston, Texas

DL: Trey Barnes, jr., 6-2, 245, Seward, Neb.

LB: Clay Mauro, sr., 6-1, 225, Ely, Nev.

LB: Michael Hedlund, jr., 6-1, 220, O'Neill, Neb.

LB: Brandon Namuth, sr., 6-2, 220, Lawellen, Neb.

LB: Tait Sibbel, sr., 6-3, 215, O'Neill, Neb.

CB: D'Mauria Martin, so., 5-11, 190, Converse, Texas

S: Matt Keener, jr., 5-10, 190, El Segundo, Calif.

S: Le'Dontrae Gooden, jr., 5-10, 190, Sacramento, Calif.

CB: Christopher Hendricks, jr., 5-9, 175, Cedar Park, Texas

Special teams

P: Sandy Fisher, sr., 6-0 175, Lakewood, Colo.

K: Adam Meirose, sr., 5-10, 190, Lincoln, Neb.

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