PELLA —Two tradition-drenched football programs find themselves in the unusual position of still seeking a first win while entering the second week of the season as Augustana College (Ill.) visits for Central College's home opener Saturday.
Game time is 1 p.m. at Ron and Joyce Schipper Stadium.
On the air/cybersphere— 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.
KRLS radio also airs the Coaches' Corner featuring Dutch coach Jeff McMartin at Applebee's restaurant in Pella each Monday night at 7 p.m. The show can be accessed online, either live or via podcast.
A Half Century of Winners—This weekend Central is commemorating the 50th anniversary of coach Ron Schipper's first game at Central and a half century of gridiron success. Schipper piloted Central to 36 consecutive winning seasons from 1961 until his retirement following the 2006 campaign. Central players from the past 50 seasons will be recognized prior to the game, with the 1961 squad highlighted.
Openers--Augustana (0-1) dropped its season opener last Thursday night to Dubuque, 18-13, while Central's fourth-quarter rally stalled in a 31-28 setback at Wis.-Oshkosh Saturday. It was Central's first loss in a season opener since 2004, when Augustana handed the Dutch a 38-7 defeat in the head coaching debut of Central's Jeff McMartin.
The series—Central and Augustana met in the season opener from 2002-05, with each team winning twice. Central holds a 5-4 advantage in the all-time series, which began in 1930. The teams have met three times in NCAA Division III playoff action, with the Vikings prevailing in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl in 1984 and sneaking past the Dutch in the 1985 national semifinals at Rock Island, Ill. Central secured a Stagg Bowl berth in 1988 with a double overtime win over the Vikings at Pella.
Central outlasted Augustana 28-23 last year at Rock Island.
Division III dynamos--Augustana and Central are both playoff regulars. Central has made 20 appearances with a 21-19 record while Augie has made the field 15 times with a 22-11 mark. The Vikings won NCAA titles in 1983, 1984, 1985 and 1986 with Central claiming the 1974 national crown. Since 1975, Central entered 2011 with the second-highest win percentage of any U.S. college or university since 1975 at .809 (309-72-1) while Augustana was tied for eighth at .766 (281-85-1).
The Vikings—Rob Cushman took over as head coach after serving as defensive coordinator from 2008-10. He was head coach at Eastern Oregon University from 1997-2001, posting an 18-31 record. He then was 34-21 in five years as the first coach at Feather River Community College (Calif.).
Augustana, 6-4 a year ago, suffered its opening-week loss in a manner similar to Central. The Vikings trailed 18-0 before scoring 13 unanswered points in the second half, but couldn't convert its final scoring opportunity. Central fell behind Wis.-Oshkosh 14-0 in the first five minutes and was down 31-14 in the fourth quarter, rallied with a pair of late touchdowns, but came up empty on its last possession.
"Augustana is a very good football team," McMartin said. "They'll be really hungry for a win. They played a tough game with Dubuque and had some things that didn't go their way at the start. I'm sure they feel very much like we feel. They had some shots to win and just need to fix a few things to be right where they need to be.
"It's going to be a tough game and we'll have to play very well."
Against Dubuque, Augustana senior quarterback David Lee completed 18 of 32 passes for 146 yards with one interception. Last year he threw for 2,411 yards, completing 61.5 percent of his passes with 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
Last year Lee riddled Central for 314 passing yards, completing 28 of 46 passes. But the Dutch sacked him five times and held the Vikings to minus 32 yards rushing.
However it will be a rebuilt Central defense that will be challenged by Lee and the Vikings Saturday. Complicating matters is that because Cushman is in his first season, McMartin is unsure what to expect from the Vikings. He anticipates some similarities from last year on defense since that's where Cushman called the shots, but last week's game against Dubuque offers the only hints of what to look for offensively.
"We don't know much about what to expect, but you always look for changes when there's a new person making decisions," McMartin said. "We do know they're a well-coached team and they'll be fired up to play us."
Junior Brett McWilliams rushed for 68 yards on 17 carries last week while senior wide receiver Zachary McCullough had six pass receptions for 40 yards and senior tight end Keith Abbey had five catches for 32 yards. Sophomore outside linebacker Erik Westerberg had a team-high 10 tackles, including six unassisted stops. Junior inside linebacker Joe Weber had 56 tackles last year, including a team-high 16 tackles for loss. Senior free safety Ben Hall had four interceptions.
Lessons learned—There's little time to dwell on Saturday's loss in Wisconsin.
"We've got to bounce back and get ready for Augustana," McMartin said. "We've got to learn from this and prepare to play again."
Another Snead record--McMartin would like to see a bit more offensive balance. Quarterback Nate Snead (senior, Altoona, Southeast Polk HS) shattered the school single-game total offense record. He completed 23 of 40 passes for 291 yards with three interceptions and two touchdowns and also rushed for 66 net yards on 26 carries despite losing 21 yards on sacks. Snead's 357 yards of total offense topped the mark of 351 set by Tim Connell Oct. 27, 2007.
But Central mustered only 99 yards on the ground overall. The only other ballcarrier was running back Ross Doehrmann (junior, Williamsburg), who had 33 yards on 12 tries.
"Some of it was the score," McMartin said, noting that the Dutch trailed the entire way and were forced to throw. "But there are some things we can do to improve and I'm confident that we will."
McMartin saw enough positives in other areas to be hopeful as well.
"We've got a lot of work to do but we've got guys that can get better, I'm encouraged by that," he said. "I believe we can continue to improve."
McMartin was unhappy with the number of big plays allowed—three of four Wis.-Oshkosh touchdowns came from outside of the red zone, including pass plays of 84 and 51 yards. But he also saw flashes of defensive promise.
"I thought the defense did a great job in the second and fourth quarters of getting the ball back for the offense and giving them opportunities to come back. It's a credit to the defense that we still had a chance at the end."
New kickers—A big concern prior to the season was replacing a pair of graduated four-year standouts at punter and placekicker. The Dutch went with senior Preston Roberts (senior, Bloomfield, Davis County HS) at punter and freshman Kevin Sheldon (West Des Moines, Valley HS) as the placekicker, with mostly positive results.
Roberts, who also plays wide receiver, averaged 47.2 yards on four punts, with two inside the opponent's 20-yard line and a long of 64 yards. Sheldon averaged 49.6 yards on kickoffs and made all four extra-point tries but missed a 26-yard field goal.
"I thought we were competitive in the kicking game," McMartin said. "Our kickoffs and extra points were good. We've got a lot to build on with Kevin.
"And Preston had some good punts. We'll have to keep working on it. He has a lot of ability and we have some depth there, too. We feel good about it."
2011 Central College football schedule
0-1 overall, 0-0 Iowa Conference
Sept. 3 Wis.-Oshkosh Oshkosh, Wis. L, 31-28
Sept. 10 Augustana (Ill.) Pella 1 p.m.
Sept. 17 Luther Pella 1 p.m.
Sept. 24 Dubuque Dubuque 1 p.m.
Oct. 1 Coe Pella 1 p.m.
Oct. 8 Buena Vista Pella 1 p.m.
Oct. 15 Loras Dubuque 1 p.m.
Oct. 22 Cornell Pella 1 p.m.
Oct. 29 Wartburg Waverly 1 p.m.
Nov. 12 Simpson Indianola 1 p.m.
QB 6 Nate Snead (sr., 6-2, 225)
RB 34 Ross Doehermann (jr., 6-0, 200)
SB 41 Preston West (sr., 5-8, 230)
TE 22 Cory Nikkel (sr., 6-1, 220)
WR 3 Jeremy Snead (sr., 6-3, 230)
WR 11 Mike Furlong (sr., 6-0, 190)
LT 61 Garret Albers (sr., 6-2, 250)
LG 56 Colton Smith (sr., 5-11, 255)
C 68 Casey Tanner (sr., 6-2, 270)
RG 60 Nate Rouse (sr., 6-1, 290)
RT 62 Nathan Wolff (sr., 6-5, 270)
DE 30 Holden Blythe (sr., 6-3, 220)
NG 94 Brady Hill (sr., 6-2, 250)
DT 14 Danny Samson (so., 5-11,250)
DE 9 Brady Wilson (sr., 6-2, 230)
LB 23 Seth Carson (jr., 6-0, 230)
LB 42 Ryan Steinkamp (sr., 5-11, 215)
LB 48 Keith Rush (jr., 5-10, 185)
CB 20 Jason Breon (jr., 5-11, 165)
CB 1 Adam Petz (sr., 6-0, 190)
SS 28 Ryan Schmidt (sr., 5-10, 180)
FS 4 Jake Petersen (sr., 5-10, 195)
Kickoff: 16 Kevin Sheldon (fr., 5-11, 165)
PAT/FG: 16 Kevin Sheldon (fr., 5-11, 165)
Holder: 11 Mike Furlong (sr., 6-0, 190)
Punter: 24 Preston Roberts (sr., 6-2, 210) or 2 Blaine Forsythe (fr., 6-2, 195)
Punt return: 11 Mike Furlong (sr., 6-0, 190)
Kickoff return: 11 Mike Furlong (sr., 6-0, 190) or 27 Josh Osborn (fr., 5-10, 190)
Punt snapper: 18 Mike Young (so., 5-11, 185) or 92 David Young (sr., 6-2, 220)
PAT/FG snapper: 72 Adam Dubois (sr., 6-2, 270)