September 15, 2010

Central opens league slate

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PELLA, Iowa--The Univ. of Dubuque is Central College's Iowa Conference season-opening football opponent Saturday and the Dutch must prepare for a foe that has provided some of their sternest challenges the past three seasons.

Game time is 1 p.m. at Ron and Joyce Schipper Stadium.

In 2007 Central had to go to triple overtime to overcome the Spartans at Dubuque, 37-34 and the Dutch escaped at home, 24-21, in 2008. At Dubuque last season Central trailed much of the first half and was tied 27-27 midway through the fourth quarter before posting a 41-27 win.

Records--Central is 2-0 after a hard-fought 28-23 victory at Augustana (Ill.) Saturday. Dubuque is 1-1, giving up a late decisive touchdown in a 21-17 defeat at Wis.-Platteville.

Central remains No. 7 in the D3football.com poll. The Dutch open conference play after taking a league-record 30th title last fall. They have won or shared four of the past five crowns.

On the air, on the Web—Trevor Castle will call the play-by-play of Saturday's game on KRLS-FM (92.1) and the broadcast can also be accessed through Central's website at www.central.edu/athletics or through www.kniakrls.com.

A video webcast and live stats can also be viewed at www.central.edu/athletics.

The Spartans—Dubuque has one of Division III's top players in receiver Michael Zweifel. He already has 22 receptions for 345 yards and two touchdowns in two games. Last year Zweifel had 111 catches for 1,522 yards and 15 scores, including a conference record 88 catches for 1,236 yards in league games.

"He's had an amazing career thus far," Central coach Jeff McMartin said. "He reads defenses well, he's got great hands and he knows how to get open. He's everything you look for in a receiver. He's fantastic."

And he's not a one-man show.

"They have another receiver (DeMacus Fleming) who is extremely fast," McMartin said. "He's a deep ball threat."

Sophomore quarterback Wyatt Hanus has completed 35 of 58 passes (60.3 percent) for 571 yards and four touchdowns in two games with just one interception. Running back Justin Spaulding has rushed for 161 yards and three touchdowns on 38 carries.

"They've got a lot of weapons," McMartin said. "They run the ball very well and they have an excellent quarterback who plays well beyond his years. He was really good as a high school player and continues to be really good in college.

"They run an excellent system, they call plays well and they know how to attack people. It's a very sound team that is extremely well coached."

There is quickness and effective strategy on defense as well.

"Their defense is very athletic," McMartin said. "We're going to have to play better this week than we did last week."

The series—Central holds a 53-15-2 advantage in the all-time series with Dubuque, last falling in 1987. The teams first met in 1930.

Getting better—The challenges faced in the Wis.-Oshkosh and Augustana games provided the Dutch staff with plenty to dissect afterwards.

"We have to correct some mistakes if we're going to put ourselves in the position we want to be in at the end of the season," McMartin said. "Credit the opposition. They've done a great job and they're both very tough teams. Still there were also a lot of errors we committed on our own that we need to correct.

"But I think we've grown closer as a team. We'll be able to draw on these experiences as the season goes on and find ways to have success when our backs are to the well. We've had that two weeks in a row now."

Talented tight ends—Central is utilizing its tight ends in the passing game more thus far. In the first two games of 2009, the tight ends had a combined total of one catch. In 2010, they have 12 as Jordan Leuschen (senior, Decorah) and Cody Thie (senior, Ottumwa) each have six catches. McMartin likes seniors Steven Johnson (Deep River, Montezuma HS) and Jason Crall (Albia) as well.

"We've got four really good tight ends," he said. "They're all good athletes who catch the ball well."

Quarterback Nate Snead (junior, Altoona, Southeast Polk HS) completed 20 of 30 passes for 249 yards and McMartin said the receivers should get significant credit.

"Some of the catches they made Saturday were amazing," he said. "We saw some great grabs."

Quarterback Zack Bandow (senior, Manilla, IKM HS), spending time at wide receiver this year, made his first catch Saturday.

First to 100—Saturday Snead became the first Central quarterback to rush for 100 yards in a game—at least in the nearly 40 years that game-by-game records are available. The previous best in that span was 96 yards by Brian Miller against Buena Vista on Nov. 15, 1987. Snead actually gained 123 yards but lost 23 yards after being sacked three times and losing a fumble in his 24 carries. Snead is Central's season rushing leader, averaging 88.0 yards per game. He's also passed for 506 yards.

Stat leaders—Central is the conference leader in rushing defense (28.5 yards per game). Limiting Augustana to a school record minus 32 yards helped the cause. Central also leads in time of possession, averaging 35:57 per game. Snead is the total offense leader after posting back-to-back career highs in the category in the season's first two games. His 349 yards total offense Saturday was just two yards shy of Tim Connell's 2007 record. He has 682 yards in two games. Three-time all-conference pick Kurtis Brondyke (senior, Clinton) is averaging 45.7 yards per punt and would be leading the league except he's only had to punt three times in two games, not enough to qualify.

Notes—Central has suffered five league losses in the last five years and two have come in the conference season opener. In their last 10 league openers, the Dutch are 7-3.

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