SEWARD, Neb. – Let’s try this again. In a matchup originally scheduled to be played on Oct. 10, the Concordia University Football team is set to meet up with Dakota Wesleyan. Kickoff on Saturday is set for 1 p.m. CT from Joe Quintal Field in Mitchell, S.D. Due to a postponement, a cancellation and a scheduled bye, the Bulldogs have played just three games since Oct. 3. The Concordia-Midland contest slated for Nov. 14 was originally postponed (and then canceled) due to COVID-19 concerns within the Warrior program.
Head Coach Patrick Daberkow’s squad hopes to snap a three-game skid. All three losses were suffered while up against the league’s heavyweights: Northwestern (7-1), Dordt (6-2) and Morningside (7-0). Now would be a good time to get the running game going again. Over the past three games, the Bulldogs have produced respective rushing totals of 101, 105 and 15. Concordia’s most recent win came by a 23-3 score versus Jamestown on Oct. 3.
Meanwhile, Head Coach Ross Cimpl’s squad has shown life after it started the 2020 season with three-straight blowout defeats. Dakota Wesleyan owns victories over Doane, 29-6, Briar Cliff, 26-7, and Jamestown, 35-16. In a game played in Bismarck, N.D., the Tigers forced three turnovers (two interceptions, one fumble recovery) while knocking off the Jimmies last week. Turnovers have been a positive for DWU, which owns a plus-seven margin for the season. In addition, the 23 points allowed over the last two outings have represented a major improvement defensively.
Concordia (4-3) at Dakota Wesleyan (3-5)
Saturday, Nov. 21 | 1 p.m.
Joe Quintal Field | Mitchell, S.D.
Webcast/Stats: Stretch Live
Radio: 104.9 Max Country
Commentators: Evan Jones and Ross Wurdeman
*2020 national rank in parentheses
NOTE: 51 of the 95 NAIA football programs that intend to play in 2020-21 have started their seasons.
Offensive PPG: 22.6 (26th)
Defensive PPG: 25.0 (20th)
Total Offense: 357.1 (21st)
Pass Offense: 231.0 (14th)
Rush Offense: 126.1 (29th)
Total Defense: 388.7 (34th)
Pass Defense: 251.0 (47th)
Rush Defense: 137.7 (24th)
Turnover +/-: +1 (T-24th)
Offensive PPG: 19.8 (35th)
Defensive PPG: 36.9 (41st)
Total Offense: 294.8 (32nd)
Pass Offense: 217.3 (20th)
Rush Offense: 77.5 (43rd)
Total Defense: 420.9 (41st)
Pass Defense: 212.3 (36th)
Rush Defense: 208.6 (42nd)
Turnover +/-: +7 (T-6th)
2020 INDIVIDUAL LEADERS
Head Coach: Patrick Daberkow (16-21, 4th season)
Passing: Blake Culbert – 111/224 (.496), 1,525 yards, 9 td, 4 int, 116.4 effic.
Rushing: Jonah Weyand – 124 rushes, 556 yards, 4.5 avg, 8 td
Receiving: Korrell Koehlmoos – 23 catches, 481 yards, 20.9 avg, 3 td
Defense: Lane Napier – 40 tackles, 2.5 tfl’s, sack, pbu
Head Coach: Ross Cimpl (52-43, 9th season)
Passing: Zachary Lester – 135/228 (.592), 1,395 yards, 14 td, 7 int, 124.7 effic.
Rushing: Jamin Arend – 117 rushes, 421 yards, 3.6 avg, 2 td; receiving: 21 catches, 212 yards
Receiving: Spencer Neugebauer – 62 catches, 654 yards, 10.5 avg, 8 td
Defense: Dominick Warmbein – 27 tackles, 7.5 tfl’s, 5.5 sacks
Concordia (4-3, 4-3 GPAC)
9/12 at Doane, W, 24-7
9/19 vs. Hastings, W, 34-28 (OT)
9/26 at Briar Cliff, W, 24-9
10/3 vs. Jamestown, W, 23-3
10/17 at Northwestern, L, 17-31
10/24 vs. Dordt, L, 14-41
11/7 vs. Morningside, L, 22-56
11/14 at Midland, Canceled
11/21 at Dakota Wesleyan, 1 p.m.
Dakota Wesleyan (3-5, 3-5 GPAC)
9/12 at Hastings, L, 7-45
9/19 at Northwestern, L, 16-50
9/26 vs. Dordt, L, 10-47
10/3 at Doane, W, 29-26
10/17 vs. Midland, L, 14-50
10/24 at Morningside, L, 21-56
10/31 vs. Briar Cliff, W, 26-7
11/14 at Jamestown, W, 35-16
11/21 vs. Concordia, 1 p.m.
Dakota Wesleyan’s fan protocols for Saturday’s game can be viewed HERE. DWU will be limiting capacity and is encouraging fans to purchase advance tickets online through its website HERE. Tickets that were purchased for the Concordia-DWU game that was scheduled for Oct. 10 will be honored this Saturday. Per GPAC guidelines, face coverings must be worn by fans in attendance. Fans of the Bulldogs are advised to check COVID-19 related protocols for each road venue prior to traveling for away contests.
In the rankings
The GPAC Preseason Football Coaches’ Poll was unveiled on Aug. 26. Concordia landed at No. 7 (37 points) while Dakota Wesleyan was placed ninth in the league (22 points). The poll resembled the final 2019 standings. The NAIA has not released a single national poll this year. In the current Massey Ratings, the Bulldogs appear at 36th while the Tigers check in at 59th. Concordia last appeared in the national rankings in the preseason of 2017 when it was rated 20th. Dakota Wesleyan’s most recent top 25 appearance came in October 2017 when it polled at No. 22. The Tigers found their way into the top 25 at least once every season from 2008 through 2017.
GPAC preseason: 7th
Current Massey Ratings: 36th
GPAC preseason: 9th
Current Massey Ratings: 59th
Bulldogs seek winning season
With the Midland game now canceled, Concordia will end the fall campaign this week at Dakota Wesleyan. (It should be noted that institutions are allowed to play official regular season games in the spring, if they choose to do so). What’s at stake on Saturday is a chance to improve to 5-3 and lock up an above .500 season after back-to-back 3-7 records. Since the start of the 2013 season, the Bulldogs have enjoyed winning records in 2013 (7-4), 2015 (6-4), 2016 (7-3) and 2017 (6-4).
Top Seasons, GPAC era
10-2 | 2001 (GPAC champions, NAIA playoff quarterfinalist; final NAIA rank of 7th)
7-3 | 2016 (final NAIA rank of 19th)
7-4 | 2013
7-4 | 2000
6-4 | 2017
6-4 | 2015
Napier closing in on 400
Though injuries have limited linebacker Lane Napier’s production this fall, the All-American is closing in on an impressive career milestone. With 13 more tackles, Napier will reach 400 stops for his career for an average of 100 per season. The David City, Neb., native is already the school’s all-time tackles leader (according to available records). Napier has garnered first team All-GPAC recognition three times and was named an Associated Press first team All-American in 2018 when he led the entire NAIA with 142 tackles. One of the great defensive players in program history, Napier owns current career totals of 387 tackles, 33.5 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, seven pass breakups and one interception.
The passing game has another weapon back on the field with Art Anderson re-emerging. The San Antonio native has been a reliable option in recent years, but he’s been forced off the field for large chunks of this season. Anderson made his presence felt against Morningside by catching six passes for 102 yards and a touchdown. His first score of the season came on a perfectly executed 28-yard strike from Blake Culbert in the second quarter on Nov. 7. Anderson adds a nice compliment to receivers Cayden Beran and Korrell Koehlmoos. In his career, Anderson has caught 76 passes for 724 yards and four touchdowns.
Defense looks for rebound
It's been a tough run the past three games against the GPAC’s top three offensive teams. In those outings, the Bulldogs have allowed respective yardage totals of 557, 497 and 654. That came after Concordia held three of its first four opponents to 265 yards or less. After playing Morningside, the Bulldogs slipped from being ranked 11th nationally in scoring defense to 25th (out of 51 NAIA teams that have played this fall). The defense did manage to keep Concordia in the game at Northwestern by allowing only two touchdowns on the Red Raiders’ seven red zone trips. However, stops have been difficult to come by lately. The Mustangs did not punt a single time in the Nov. 7 matchup (on only time lining up to punt, the snap was muffed).
Schardt states case as GPAC’s top tight end
Due to last week’s postponement, we missed out on seeing a battle between two of the GPAC’s best tight ends in Concordia’s Garrett Schardt and Midland’s Austin Harris (first team All-GPAC in 2019). Through seven games, Schardt has reeled in 22 receptions for 374 yards and three touchdowns. Over the past four games, Schardt has caught at least three passes in each instance. He enjoyed a career day at Northwestern with seven grabs for 132 yards and two touchdowns. Against Morningside, Schardt snared four passes for 65 yards and a touchdown. The Davenport, Neb., native could wind up being the program’s first tight end to earn first team all-conference accolades since Seth Fitzke in 2015.
Running game seeks return to form
The running game has been limited in recent weeks while the level of difficulty has ramped up. Over the first seven games, the Bulldogs have produced respective rushing totals of 229, 175, 157, 101, 101, 105 and 15. Concordia would love to get redshirt sophomore running back Jonah Weyand going again. He burned Doane for 169 yards and two touchdowns and Hastings for 177 yards and five touchdowns. On the season, the Crete High School product has rushed for 556 yards and eight touchdowns. He ended a three-game scoring drought by rushing for the game’s first touchdown versus Morningside. The Mustangs held Weyand to 37 rushing yards on 17 carries.
Koehlmoos moving up school receiving list
Junior receiver Korrell Koehlmoos is moving closer to the top five of the program’s all-time receiving list, in terms of career receiving yards (see below). The native of Pilger, Neb., caught four passes for 74 yards on Nov. 7 while moving his season totals to 23 and 481 (three touchdowns). Koehlmoos may have an outside shot of climbing all the way to the top of the program’s all-time receiving yards list – or at least becoming the fourth receiver in program history with 2,000 career receiving yards. The career leader, Jared Garcia, is a graduate assistant at Midland and coaches the receivers and tight ends.
Most Receiving Yards, Career
2,495 – Jared Garcia (2014-17)
2,458 – Ross Wurdeman (1998-01)
2,011 – Clarence Woods (1984-88)
1,974 – Eric Pralle (1987-91)
1,880 – Travis Soukup (1991-94)
1,692 – Jim Young (1964-67)
1,347 – Korrell Koehlmoos (2018-- )
Concordia could help itself out if it can find ways to create more turnovers. Bulldog games this season have not been particularly turnover-happy – for Concordia or its opponents. The Bulldogs have intercepted five passes and have recovered three fumbles this season. Meanwhile, Concordia has turned it over only seven times (four interceptions, three lost fumbles). Jayzen Armstrong came up with an interception and recovered the muffed punt snap in the Morningside game. Armstrong is one of five Bulldogs with exactly one pick this season.
Three GPAC teams in playoff?
With a 16-team playoff format in the NAIA, there is not much margin for error. The GPAC appears to have a shot at landing two or three teams in the playoff that will begin in April 2021. The leading contenders within the conference are Morningside (7-0), Northwestern (7-1) and Dordt (6-2). The Bulldogs are likely out of the running after having suffered their third loss of 2020. In recent years, the GPAC has been a two-bid league.
Series vs. Dakota Wesleyan
Three-straight wins over Dakota Wesleyan have given Concordia an 11-9 lead all-time in the series. The first two meetings occurred prior to the formation of the GPAC. The Bulldogs defeated the Tigers, 36-29, in 1984 and then fell to them, 28-21, in 1985. The two programs finally met again in 2000 as GPAC members. Each of the last three meetings have been contested in Seward. Concordia has not had much luck when playing in Mitchell. Dakota Wesleyan has beaten the Bulldogs each of the last five times the two sides have played in South Dakota. The most recent Concordia win at Dakota Wesleyan came in 2007 when Concordia Athletic Hall of Famer JaMaine Lewis ran wild for 261 yards and four touchdowns.
Scouting Dakota Wesleyan
The vintage Dakota Wesleyan teams of the recent past have featured high-powered offenses. It was a chore dealing with four-year starting quarterbacks Dillon Turner (10,704 passing yards and 3,215 rushing yards for his career) and Jon Bane (9,224 passing yards, 83 touchdown passes for his career) over an eight-year stretch. Reclaiming that identity has not been easy. The Tiger offense averaged 20.4 points in 2018 and 21.6 points in 2019 (the two years following Turner’s graduation). Dakota Wesleyan got out to a rough start this season before winning three of its past five outings, including two in a row. The playmaker to watch out for is senior receiver Spencer Neugebauer, who has 176 catches for 2,351 yards and 15 touchdowns on his career ledger. On the other side of the ball, the Tigers rank ninth in the GPAC in rush defense (208.6/game) and have allowed 45 points or more five times this season. Considering its history of results in Mitchell, Concordia expects a battle on Saturday. From a head coaching perspective, there’s plenty of mutual respect between Ross Cimpl and Patrick Daberkow.