Returning home: Tigers host Dordt in 2020 football home opener

Dakota Wesleyan University quarterback Zachary Lester throws a pass during a game last season. (Matt Gade / Republic)

The Dakota Wesleyan University football team is returning to Joe Quintal Field.

After spending the first two Saturdays of the season on the road, the Tigers host Dordt (Iowa) for its home opener at 1 p.m. Saturday in a Great Plains Athletic Conference game. It also doubles as DWU’s homecoming game.

DWU (0-2) has won two of its last three home openers, but has fallen to Dordt in each of the past two seasons by a combined 107-45. The Defenders notched a 57-22 win last year, though they trail the all-time series 10-2.

“It’s nice to be at home and be around our guys,” DWU coach Ross Cimpl said. “… Sleeping in your own bed and our guys being able to be on campus. And have a little more comfort level with what we’re doing. Hopefully that’s the case.”

Containing Dordt’s option offense

Dordt’s (1-0) option offense has given DWU fits recently, and the Defenders return dual-threat athlete Noah Clayberg. In a 22-14 win over Midland (Neb.) last week, he lined up as quarterback and running back to complete 11 of 20 passes for 122 yards and rush for 83 more yards, while accounting for two total touchdowns.


In last year’s win over DWU, he threw for 134 yards, rushed for 222 yards and had three touchdowns (2 passing, 1 rushing).

“He fits their offense perfectly, in terms of the option game,” Cimpl said. “It’s really, what do you want to do? It’s an option team, or the options they have on the field. We can try to take him away, but who else is going to hurt you at that point?”

Northwestern’s (Iowa) multitude of weapons hurt the Tigers last week, as dual-threat quarterback Tyson Kooima threw four touchdowns. DWU allowed four touchdowns of 73 yards or longer.

The Defenders present a similar challenge, albeit in a different form. Carter Schiebout and Tyler Reynolds both rushed for 50-plus yards on more than 10 yards per carry against DWU last year, while Levi Jungling had 93 yards and a score a year ago. While Cimpl again preached mixing up the defensive looks and sound tackling, which was missing a week ago, the Tigers also need to stay disciplined.

“Hopefully our guys are understanding that yes, we have to defend what we’re seeing,” Cimpl said. “But on the other hand, we need to be in our spots and give ourselves a chance to defend it, too.”

Neugebauer, Libolt saw increased roles

Mitchell native Spencer Neugebauer and Daniel Libolt combined for four catches for 59 yards in a Week 1 loss to Hastings (Neb.). As the offense’s top playmakers, the Tigers got them more involved in Week 2. Libolt led the team with 53 yards and Neugebauer hauled in eight catches.

“I don’t want to say we want to force-feed guys, but on the other hand, you want to make sure your guys are touching the football as much as possible,” Cimpl said.

Being able to consistently complete passes to one of the best receiving duos in the GPAC could help a run game averaging a conference-worst 2.4 yards per rush. It could also open up opportunities for other receivers, such as Chance Sorensen and Jakob Oxos. Downfield threat Garrett Determan returns this week, as well.


Zach Lester is fourth in the conference with 365 passing yards on 56.4 percent passing. He has two touchdowns and two interceptions, but he’s been one of the most accurate passers since the Dillon Turner era ended.

“If we can put guys in different spots or throw different routes to them, can that help us in the run game because now you have to cover things up,” Cimpl said. “We need to focus on getting those guys the ball.”

What To Read Next
Get Local