And, finally, a home game after a rousing start on the road for the Central College football team.
The 2-0 Dutch make their Ron and Joyce Schipper Stadium debut in the America Rivers Conference opener with Luther College (0-2) at 1 p.m. Saturday. Central scored a rain-splashed 16-10 victory at DePauw University (Ind.) last week while Luther staged a dramatic comeback bid in a 34-29 setback at St. Olaf College (Minn.).
It's the first of just four 2018 home appearances for the Dutch.
"We're looking forward to it," McMartin said. "We've always played well on the road. It's an opportunity to get closer as a team and that can help bring you together. But when you're on the road, your routine is different and it's a different atmosphere. To play in front of our home crowd is something we're excited about."
On the air and online—The Voice of the Dutch, Trevor Castle, will call Saturday's action on KRLS-FM (92.1), with retired Dutch defensive coordinator Don De Waard providing the color. The KRLS pregame show will air at 11:35 p.m. Central Time The broadcast can also be accessed through www.kniakrls.com or directly at rdo.to/krls. It's also accessible via mobile device with the KRLS app available through iTunes and other outlets.
On Mondays, Castle plays host to McMartin on the KRLS Coaches' Corner at 7 p.m. Those broadcasts are also available on demand through www.kniakrls.com.
Video webcasts with Castle's play-by-play and live stats for all Dutch football home games can also be accessed via the Central athletics website at www.central.edu/athletics or directly at http://portal.stretchinternet.com/central/.
Twitter users can follow Saturday's action through @CentralDutch.
The series—Central escaped the Norse 23-21 last year at Decorah and has won the last nine games in the series. The teams first met in 1928 and Central leads the series 56-22-1.
The Norse—New Norse coach Caleb Padilla spent the past three seasons as the team's defensive coordinator.
"Defensively, on film it looks like they're continuing to play with a similar philosophy," McMartin said.
But there's a new look to the run-heavy option offensive attack Luther has utilized in recent years. While junior quarterback Ian Kuykendall is the team's leading rusher, with 162 yards on 33 carries in two games, he's also completed 22 of 47 passes for 373 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.
"He's more of a complete quarterback," McMartin said. "They've got a good offensive line, good running backs and some talented receivers."
It's still a contrast to the offenses the Dutch typically see, however, which adds a degree of difficulty to this week's defensive workload.
"We've got to completely change gears now," McMartin said. "We've got a lot of stuff to prepare for."
Luther's non-conference slate was not conducive to a quick start. The Norse were overwhelmed by powerful Wis.-La Crosse 52-21 before falling at St. Olaf (Minn.) Saturday, 34-29. But Luther seemed to gain some traction in that one, rallying from a 28-3 first-half deficit, then driving inside the St. Olaf 20-yard line twice in the fourth quarter before faltering.
Senior defensive back Dante Joseph has 17 tackles for the Norse, including 10 at St. Olaf.
"They've played two really good teams," McMartin said. "We know they will be a great challenge for us. Last year the game went down to the wire. We've got to prepare well and have a great week of practice."
Good film review—McMartin saw much he liked in the video from Saturday's win. It was a stout defensive effort in the soggy conditions as Central limited DePauw to 257 yards offense, including just 78 yards on the ground.
"We had some guys make really big plays," McMartin said. "For us, every week is going to be a process of growth and getting better. But I thought we overcame a lot. It was a long trip and we had to block out a lot of other things, the weather, a different environment and even a different time zone, but the guys just came out and played really hard. I was really happy with the energy level, the passion and the focus we showed."
McMartin pointed to strong safety Jordan Borman's (junior, Eagan, Minn.) interception in the end zone late in the third quarter.
"His interception came on the exact play that we gave up a touchdown on (in the first quarter)," he said. "It was just like, hey, we correct, learn, get better and now go make a play that was pivotal in the second half in keeping them off the scoreboard."
Player of the week--Linebacker was an area of concern for the young defense heading into the season and McMartin got some reassuring signs there as well. Sophomore inside linebacker Drew Smith (Joliet, Ill., West HS) notched a career-high 17 tackles and was cited as the American Rivers defensive player of the week.
"The whole defense continued to look good," McMartin said. "Both the inside linebackers and outside linebackers gave a great effort. They're learning things they can improve on and attacking those things. We're seeing a lot of growth and improvement."
The offense was limited by the conditions and a dominant DePauw defense, yet made strides. McMartin wants to see progress in the passing game and quarterback Blaine Hawkins (sophomore, Ankeny) completed 18 of 29 throws for 206 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions.
"There were some guys that made good catches," McMartin said. "That's going to keep coming. It was not an easy day to throw the ball but I thought we made some really good catches in difficult conditions and we made some really good passes. And there were some other opportunities that when we watch the film, we're going to see it and learn from it and as we go forward we can take advantage of."
Borman leads nation—Strong safety Tate Jensen (senior, De Soto, ADM HS), a returning starter, was expected to be in the lineup last week but was held out due to a lingering injury. He should make his season debut this week, McMartin said. Borman has filled in admirably with a team-high four interceptions in two games. That's the most in Division III through two games.
Notes—Central is among 57 Division III teams yet to throw an interception this season. The Dutch did surrender one at Northwestern-St. Paul, but it was negated due to a penalty…Central has a 5-0 lead over opponents in interceptions but has lost four fumbles while recovering one, leaving the Dutch plus 2 in turnover margin…The elements turned Saturday's game at DePauw into one of field position and ball control, McMartin said. Central dominated possession time, controlling the ball for 33:26 of the game's 60 minutes. However, some miscues in the Dutch punting game gave DePauw a 15-yard advantage in average field position, further highlighting Central's stout defensive performance…McMartin predicts that Saturday's game at DePauw will be the quickest Central plays this season. The teams didn't linger in the rain, finishing in just two hours, 39 minutes…Central's broadcast team at DePauw was likely the only one in Division III Saturday that featured a national network TV personality. Central grad Harry Smith '73 of NBC News delighted listeners by filling in as color commentator with Castle on KRLS-FM. Smith played defensive line for the Dutch and his grand-nephews, twin junior offensive linemen Cody Smith (Orland Park, Ill., Carl Sandburg HS) and Carter Smith (Orland Park, Ill., Carl Sandburg HS), play for the Dutch while he also has a grand- nephew on the DePauw roster. Steadfastly objective in his day job as a reporter, Smith was a bit more open about his loyalties during the football broadcast.