Central looking for consistency in homecoming clash

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Consistency is the focus for the Central College football team as it prepares for its homecoming game Saturday with Simpson College.

Game time is 1 p.m. at Ron and Joyce Schipper Stadium as the Dutch make their first home appearance since Sept. 18.

In last Saturday's 52-0 romp at Cornell College, Coach Jeff McMartin saw the kind of intensity he seeks on a regular basis.

"The biggest thing I take away was our guys played with a lot of passion and a lot of emotion. We played Central football. It was high-energy, it was intense, it was hard-hitting. That's our game.

"We need to keep working at that and bring that every week."

Records—Central is 4-1 overall and 2-1 in the Iowa Conference. Simpson was edged by Luther College Saturday, 30-24, and is 1-4 overall with a 1-2 league mark.

Central remains No. 9 in the D3football.com top 25 and jumped four spots from No. 19 to No. 15 in this week's American Football Coaches Association poll. Three Iowa Conference teams are in the AFCA rankings for the first time this year. Coe is No. 8 and Wartburg is No. 24.

The series—Central stopped Simpson 56-24 at Indianola last year and holds a 57-27-3 lead in the series, which started in 1905.

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. A delayed telecast is offered to Pella Mediacom customers through PTV 12 next Tuesday at 1 p.m. and Thursday at 7 p.m.

Young Simpson lineup—Simpson is getting key contributions from its younger players. Freshman Michael Chia leads the running backs with 143 yards on 59 carries while freshman quarterback Taylor Nelson has completed 51 of 98 passes for 529 yards with three touchdowns and five interceptions. And yet another freshman, Brad Vogel, is the top receiver with 16 catches for 182 yards and two scores.

Junior linebacker Braden Everding is the Simpson tackle leader with 42. He's made three sacks and has one interception.

"Simpson is a team that will be a great challenge," McMartin said. "It's a great rivalry. We'll have to put everything we have into getting ready for Simpson.

"We know they'll be fired up to play us. It's a well-coached team."

McMartin noted that Simpson gained 466 yards on the Dutch last year, including 232 yards rushing.

"They're experienced up front and they want to run the ball," he said. "They did a great job of running the football against us last year."

Bouncing back—Central did make some changes following the 37-28 loss at Coe College Sept. 25. Defensive back Jason Breon (sophomore, Anamosa) and linebacker Patrick Kelley (junior, Eagle Grove) were inserted in the starting lineup. Breon recovered a first-quarter fumble while Kelley made five tackles.

Yet McMartin said much of his team's progress was simply the result of being more ready to play and that will remain a focus.

"We'll work this week preparing ourselves mentally as much as physically," he said. "The mental side of the game is so important. We want to improve that aspect. We want to be a team that plays 60 minutes of hard-hitting football."

Homecoming—Like most coaches, McMartin is wary of homecoming week distractions. Yet he said his squad looks forward to Saturday.

"Homecoming is great because we have so many alums and supporters back for the weekend," he said. "It's fun playing with them here and having a great crowd. The players love that.

"But you have to continue to stay in your routine. We really stress the importance of being familiar with the opponent, preparing well and letting the game be the focal point of our week. We've done a good job of that in the past and have played pretty well on homecoming the last few years."

The Dutch have won five of their past six homecoming contests, getting tripped in 2008.

Eisenhower remembers—A win Saturday will assure the Dutch of extending their streak of years without a losing season to 50. Central was 3-6 in 1960. A young high school coach from Michigan, Ron Schipper, took over the following year.

Dutch numbers—Central is the conference leader in possession time (32:56), 3rd-down conversions (52.2 percent, 35-67), fewest penalty yards (39.2 per game) and punt returns (11.5 yards). Mike Furlong (junior, Davenport, Assumption HS) is the individual punt return leader (11.6 yards) and is second in kick returns (25.6 yards). Kicker Jake Viggers (senior, Altoona, Southeast Polk HS) is tops in extra points, hitting 23 of 23. Quarterback Nate Snead (junior, Altoona, Southeast Polk HS) is tied for first in scoring 12.0 points.

Snead is tied for 10th in the NCAA Division III in scoring (13.5 points) and 21st in total offense (294.3 yards).

Notes—Central's 28-point fourth quarter Saturday was eight points shy of the school record for points in a quarter. The Dutch racked up 36 points in one quarter against Dubuque in 1996 and had 56 points at the half …Central has yet to intercept a pass this season…Saturday's whitewashing of Cornell makes 2010 the 24th season out of the last 27 that the Dutch have posted at least one shutout. Since 1961 Central has recorded 104 shutouts, while being held scoreless only 13 times.