GAME NOTES: Concordia readies for first road trip of 2016

By Jacob Knabel on Sep. 6, 2016 in Football

SEWARD, Neb. – Following a season-opening home victory over an opponent from the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference, the Concordia football team hopes to slay another member of the KCAC when action kicks off on Saturday. In five days the Bulldogs will travel to Ottawa, Kan., to take on Ottawa University for a 6 p.m. start time in what will be the lone night game of the 2016 season. Concordia and Ottawa have never met on the football field.

In last week’s contest inside rainy Bulldog Stadium, head coach Vance Winter’s squad used a solid defensive effort to claim a 23-7 victory over the University of Saint Mary. The Bulldogs got a pair of touchdown catches from receiver Jared Garcia and a rushing score from running back Bryce Collins on the way to their fourth-straight season-opening victory.

Concordia (1-0) at Ottawa (0-1)
Saturday, Sept. 10 | 6 p.m. CT
Peoples Bank Field – Ottawa, Kan.
Live Webcast: Stretch Internet
Radio: KTMX-FM 104.9 Max Country
Commentators: Jayson Jorgenson and Tyler Cavalli 

*National rank in parentheses

Offensive PPG: 23.0 (46th)
Defensive PPG: 7.0 (T-7th)
Total Offense: 333.0 (47th)
Pass Offense: 160.0 (55th)
Rush Offense: 173.0 (24th)
Total Defense: 259.0 (T-14th)
Pass Defense: 135.0 (12th)
Rush Defense: 124.0 (36th)
Turnover +/-: -1 (T-55th) 

Saint Mary
Offensive PPG: 0.0 (T-77th)
Defensive PPG: 62.0 (T-78th)
Total Offense: 99.0 (80th)
Pass Offense: 60.0 (78th)
Rush Offense: 39.0 (75th)
Total Defense: 633.0 (79th)
Pass Defense: 389.0 (80th)
Rush Defense: 244.0 (70th)
Turnover +/-: -2 (T-67th) 

Individual Leaders

Head Coach: Vance Winter (35-41, 8th season)
Quarterback: Riley Wiltfong – 10/21 (.476), 114 yards, 0 td, 2 int
Running Back: Bryce Collins – Rushing: 27 att, 117 yards, 4.3 avg, 1 td; Receiving: 3 catches, 12 yards
Receiving: Jared Garcia – 4 catches, 78 yards, 19.5 avg, 1 td
Defense: Michael Hedlund – 13 tackles, 1 int 

Head Coach: Kent Kessinger (81-50, 13th season)
Quarterback: Dayton Walter – 11/26 (.423), 60 yards, 0 td, 1 int
Running Back: Ethan Paul-Davis – 17 att, 16 yards, 0.9 avg, 0 td
Receiving: CJ Whitaker Jr. – 5 catches, 31 yards, 6.2 avg, 0 td
Defense: Levi Huneke – 13 tackles, 2 tfl’s 

In the rankings
Concordia received a lofty third-place preseason ranking in the GPAC poll, as selected by the coaches. Media members placed the Bulldogs fifth in the conference. In the NAIA preseason national poll, Concordia earned 18 total points, positioning it just outside the top 25 (listed second among “others receiving votes”). On the other hand, Ottawa University checked in at No. 3 in both the media and coaches’ preseason KCAC polls. The Braves also received three points and were listed among others receiving votes in the NAIA preseason poll.

Alumni tailgate
Concordia is hosting a tailgate from alumni and friends of the Bulldogs prior to Saturday’s kickoff. Additional information can be found HERE.

Taking it to the house
Bryce Collins and Jared Garcia are no strangers to the end zone. Garcia caught touchdown passes of 23 and 15 yards from TJ Austin and Collins ran for a 10-yard score in the third quarter of last week’s season opener. Collins has found the end zone 30 times (28 rushing, two receiving) during his Concordia career. Meanwhile, Garcia hauled in career touchdown receptions Nos. 20 and 21. He’s now within striking distance of the school’s career touchdown reception record of 24 held by Concordia Athletic Hall of Famer Ross Wurdeman, a two-time All-American tight end.

Collins is also continuing his ascent up the school’s all-time rushing list. Last week he passed JaMaine Lewis and moved into fourth place (see list below). Collins has a shot to reach the rushing record held by Cleve Wester. A native of Boerne, Texas, Collins is 875 yards shy of Wester, who played in three games for the Detroit Lions in 1987.

Concordia all-time leading rushers
1. Cleve Wester (1982-85) – 3,658
2. Gary Seevers (1953-56) – 3,128
3. Alex Alvarez (1999-03) – 2,959
4. Bryce Collins (2013-- ) – 2,783
5. JaMaine Lewis (2004-07) – 3,731 

Fun with numbers
It doesn’t matter what number senior Michael Hedlund wears, he’s a tackling machine on Saturdays. The pride of O’Neill, Neb., topped Concordia with 13 stops last week while donning No. 49, digits typically worn by tight end Seth Fitzke (out with ACL tear). A year ago Hedlund led the Bulldogs with 105 tackles. He also contributed a pair of sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss. In his career, Hedlund has amassed 167 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and seven interceptions. Concordia fans will have to get used to Hedlund wearing another new number. He will switch to No. 22 for the remainder of this season.

Great Scott
Shane Scott saw his first extensive varsity action last week and took advantage of it. The junior from Ranchos Palos Verdes, Calif., came into 2016 without having registered a tackle in his career. While starting at outside linebacker, Scott made seven tackles and 1.5 sacks versus Saint Mary. He provided the game’s final score late in the fourth quarter when he sacked Spire quarterback Drew Cortez in the end zone. The coaching staff rewarded Scott by naming him the team’s defensive player of the week.

Barnes booms
Not only did Trey Barnes wreak havoc like usual at his defensive end spot (six tackles, one sack) last week, he also showcased a booming leg while handling punting duties. Barnes punted the ball six times for an average of 44.7 yards with a long of 66. He landed two of his attempts inside the Spire 20-yard line. After week one, the Seward High School product is the current GPAC leader in punting average.

Versus the KCAC
According to data that goes back to 1946, Concordia owns an all-time record of 24-6 against teams that currently reside in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference. The Bulldogs still have yet to play four of the 10 KCAC schools, including Ottawa. They have met up with Sterling College 19 times, winning 16 of them. Concordia is also a perfect 5-0 versus Bethel College.

All-time vs. current KCAC schools
Bethany: 0-0
Bethel: 5-0
Friends: 0-0
Kansas Wesleyan: 1-1
McPherson: 0-2
Ottawa: 0-0
Saint Mary: 1-0
Southwestern: 1-0
Sterling: 16-3
Tabor: 0-0 

Coomes bowl?
Concordia graduate assistant coach Wes Coomes, now in his second season working with defensive backs, graduated from Ottawa University in 2014 following two seasons with the Braves, earning all-KCAC honors. As a linebacker at Ottawa, Coomes posted career totals of 134 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, three sacks and two interceptions over 23 games. Coomes helped the Braves to a combined record of 16-7.

Scouting Ottawa
Ottawa will attempt to bounce back from a blowout loss at Morningside last week in another contest included in the GPAC/KCAC Challenge. The Braves have a proud football tradition having won four KCAC titles and having advanced to six NAIA playoffs under current head coach Kent Kessinger. Ottawa features four players who were named to the KCAC’s preseason honor team: offensive lineman Trae Boese, linebacker Levi Huneke, defensive lineman Zach Lanning and receiver Terrance Polk II. Last season Polk II caught 39 passes for 644 yards and six touchdowns. He hauls in tosses from returning quarterback Dayton Walter, who last season threw for 1,173 yards and 12 touchdowns while completing 57.7 percent of his passes. While the Brave defense was shredded last week by Morningside, the 2015 Ottawa team ranked seventh nationally in total defense (292.2) and eighth among all NAIA teams in rush defense (108.6). One key ingredient that graduated from last year’s squad is running back Tanner Staats, who ran for 1,276 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2015. Ottawa has not produced a losing season since going 4-6 in 2007.