Game Notes: Bulldogs look to hit .500 mark in season finale at Mount Marty

By Jacob Knabel on Nov. 6, 2023 in Football

SEWARD, Neb. – Following back-to-back home clashes with in-state rivals, the Concordia University Football team will wrap up its 2023 season on Saturday with a visit to Crane Youngworth Stadium in Yankton, S.D. The Bulldogs will meet up with Mount Marty, a program that is closing out its third year of existence. Head Coach Patrick Daberkow’s squad looks to finish on a high note and build upon last week’s 55-26 rout of Doane on senior day. Concordia would close out 2023 at .500 with a win at Mount Marty.

The passing game clicked last week as DJ McGarvie threw for 364 yards and totaled five touchdowns (four passing and one rushing). The final result marked the most lopsided Concordia-Doane game since 1996. Prior to kickoff, the Bulldogs honored a group of 21 seniors. It was a proper sendoff for a ’23 squad that had higher hopes for this season. Concordia missed out on a potential seven-win season when it was unable to capitalize on opportunities at home in close losses to Dakota Wesleyan and Midland. The Bulldogs are aiming to finish at .500 or better for the fourth time during Daberkow’s tenure.

Mount Marty is coming off a bye week. Head Coach John Michaletti’s program has continued to show progress since its inaugural season in 2021. The Lancers also have reason to believe their season ledger should show another win or two. They have played a series of close contests against the Nebraska GPAC schools: 28-21 win over Midland, 45-42 loss to Hastings and 21-20 loss to Doane. Mount Marty will counter Concordia’s passing attack with a productive passer of its own in quarterback Ken Gray. This will be senior day for the Lancers.

Concordia (4-5, 4-5 GPAC) at Mount Marty (3-7, 2-7 GPAC)
Saturday, Nov. 11 | 1 p.m.
Crane Youngworth Stadium | Yankton, S.D.
Webcast: Mount Marty Sports Network
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Radio: 104.9 Max Country
Commentators: Parker Cyza and Ross Wurdeman


Team Statistics
*2023 national rankings out of 96 NAIA football programs

Offensive PPG: 28.7 (44th)
Defensive PPG: 33.1 (64th)
Total Offense: 417.6 (20th)
Pass Offense: 279.3 (8th)
Rush Offense: 138.2 (46th)
Total Defense: 433.9 (88th)
Pass Defense: 272.7 (93rd)
Rush Defense: 161.2 (65th)
Turnover +/-: -4

Mount Marty
Offensive PPG: 25.3 (51st)
Defensive PPG: 33.7 (67th)
Total Offense: 328.0 (56th)
Pass Offense: 215.7 (43rd)
Rush Offense: 112.3 (62nd)
Total Defense: 396.6 (71st)
Pass Defense: 228.9 (68th)
Rush Defense: 167.7 (69th)
Turnover +/-: -6


Head Coach: Patrick Daberkow (31-36, 7th season)
Passing: DJ McGarvie – 196/342 (.573), 2,477 yards, 15 td, 10 int, 126.8 effic.
Rushing: Devin Zeigler – 170 rushes, 675 yards, 4.0 avg, 9 td
Receiving: Austin Jablonski – 85 receptions, 1,033 yards, 12.2 avg, 7 td
Defense: Kyle Sterup – 66 tackles, 19 tfl’s, 3 sacks, 2 ff, 1 fr, 1 blocked punt

Mount Marty
Head Coach: John Michaletti (6-25, 3rd season)
Passing: Ken Gray – 162/292 (.555), 2,142 yards, 28 td, 11 int, 141.2 effic.
Rushing: Isaiah Thompson – 130 rushes, 646 yards, 5.0 avg, 4 td
Receiving: Jonah Miyazawa – 40 receptions, 770 yards, 19.3 avg, 10 td
Defense: Joshua Pickthorn – 64 tackles, 12.5 tfl’s, 2 sacks


Concordia (4-5, 4-5 GPAC)
9/2 vs. (1) Northwestern, L, 35-48
9/9 at Jamestown, W, 27-23
9/16 at (19) Dordt, L, 7-38
9/23 vs. Dakota Wesleyan, L, 12-16 (homecoming)
9/30 vs. Briar Cliff, W, 35-23
10/7 at (3) Morningside, L, 6-62
10/14 at Hastings, W, 44-23
10/28 vs. Midland, L, 37-39 (2 OT)
11/4 vs. Doane, W, 55-26
11/11 at Mount Marty, 1 p.m.

Mount Marty (3-7, 2-7 GPAC)
8/26 vs. Culvert-Stockton, W, 28-23
9/2 vs. Briar Cliff, W, 40-14
9/9 at Dordt, L, 20-49
9/16 at Morningside, L, 17-47
9/23 vs. (1) Northwestern, L, 0-42
9/30 vs. Dakota Wesleyan, L, 45-51
10/7 at Jamestown, L, 13-24
10/14 at Midland, W, 28-21
10/21 vs. Hastings, L, 42-45
10/28 at Doane, L, 20-21
11/11 vs. Concordia, 1 p.m.

In the rankings
Concordia landed at No. 6 in the 2023 GPAC preseason coaches’ poll and has been off the national radar this season, in terms of the NAIA coaches’ poll. The program’s most recent top 25 appearance came in November 2017 when they checked in at No. 25. Current Massey Ratings list Concordia at No. 46 and Mount Marty at No. 67 in the NAIA.

GPAC preseason: 6th
Current Massey Ratings: 46th

Mount Marty
GPAC preseason: 9th
Current Massey Ratings: 67th

Last time out
Concordia put together one of its better all-around performances of the season while defeating Doane, 55-26. The Bulldogs turned three Doane turnovers into 20 points and took a 42-10 lead into the fourth quarter. Eight different Concordia players scored touchdowns in the win. Those players, in order, were: Devin Zeigler, Austin Jablonski, Carsen Arline, Luke Lang, DJ McGarvie, Deegan Barnes, Max Bartels and Mason Edwards. In addition to his rushing touchdown, McGarvie threw for four scores. He piled up 364 passing yards while completing 26-of-45 attempts. Austin Jablonski hauled in 10 receptions for 156 yards and a touchdown and Carsen Arline made five grabs for 72 yards and a touchdown. Barnes (team high 11 tackles) got his touchdown on a 21-yard scoop and score in the third quarter. Incredibly, there were 181 plays from scrimmage and Doane threw the ball a whopping 70 times. A fine season for Kyle Sterup continued with five tackles for loss. He even caught a pass for 16 yards and a first down on a fake field goal.

State bragging rights
Concordia went 3-0 against in-state opponents in 2021 while defeating Doane, Hastings and Midland in the same season for the first time since 1970. Those results flipped in 2022 as the Bulldogs went winless against their rivals, falling to Doane, 12-10, Hastings, 21-17, and Midland, 41-31. Concordia finished this season at 2-1 versus those foes while wrapping up the three-game string of rivalry battles. In recent weeks, Concordia toppled Hastings, 44-23, got clipped in double overtime by Midland, 39-37, and then blew out Doane, 55-26. Should Hastings defeat Doane this Saturday, then Concordia, Midland and Hastings will have all gone 2-1 in in-state matchups. The Tigers would finish 0-3 in that scenario.

Coach Daberkow + staff
Patrick Daberkow’s history at Concordia dates back to his first season as a Bulldog football player in 2003. This is Daberkow’s 16th season as part of the program’s staff – seventh as head coach. He served as defensive coordinator for seven years before being named as head coach in December 2016. Daberkow assumed offensive play calling duties in 2022. Meanwhile, his full-time staff includes Defensive Coordinator Corby Osten, Special Teams Coordinator Trent Laune and Assistant Coach Grady Koch (who specializes in coaching the offensive line, among other duties). A couple of significant additions to the staff this season are Kevin Crume (former Nebraska Wesleyan assistant) and Greg Nelson (former Lincoln Lutheran head coach). Daberkow’s record stood at 27-31 at the conclusion of six seasons. His most successful year was a 7-3 record in 2021.

McGarvie breaks school’s major passing records
Lincoln North Star High School product DJ McGarvie made his 25th career start in the matchup with Doane and enjoyed a record-setting day. McGarvie rose to the top of the program’s all-time lists for career passing touchdowns (52) and career passing yards (6,514). The record for passing touchdowns was formerly shared by Jarrod Pimentel and Von Thomas (49 apiece) while the record for passing yards was held by Pimentel (6,435). McGarvie was named the GPAC Offensive Player of the Week on Monday. In his career, McGarvie has completed 555-of-973 passes (.570) while averaging 232.6 passing yards per game (28 career games). McGarvie’s school record of 458 passing yards in a single game came last season against Dordt. He has hit the 300-yard mark in seven separate games in his career (including his 364-yard outing last week versus Doane). On the season, McGarvie ranks first among GPAC quarterbacks (and sixth nationally) for average passing yards per game (275.2). According to Max Preps, McGarvie threw for 3,130 yards and 25 touchdowns in 26 career high school games at Lincoln North Star.

Concordia all-time passing yards leaders
1. DJ McGarvie – 6,514
2. Jarrod Pimentel – 6,435
3. Von Thomas – 5,662
4. Rod Giesselmann – 5,519
5. Kurt Earl – 4,158

Concordia all-time passing touchdowns leaders
1. DJ McGarvie – 52
2. Von Thomas – 49
2. Jarrod Pimentel – 49
4. Rod Giesselmann – 47
5. Kurt Earl – 37

Jabo passes Korrell
The 2022 season saw Korrell Koehlmoos enjoy the greatest campaign ever for a Bulldog receiver as he caught 95 receptions for 1,024 yards and 12 touchdowns (all school records for a single season). A year later, Austin Jablonski has broken one of those program standards as he pushed his season receiving yards total to 1,033 following his 10-catch, 156-yard outing versus Doane. There has not been a single GPAC team that has been able to shut down the Lincoln Pius X High School alum. Jablonski is the current NAIA leader in receptions (85) and receiving yards per game (114.8). Now in his second season as a Bulldog, Jablonski has totaled 121 catches, 1,516 receiving yards and 10 receiving touchdowns in 19 games.

Jablonski game-by-game receiving numbers
9/2 vs. Northwestern: 9 for 122, 2 TD
9/9 at Jamestown: 5 for 85
9/16 at Dordt: 10 for 75
9/23 vs. DWU: 15 for 142
9/30 vs. Briar Cliff: 8 for 78
10/7 at Morningside: 6 for 56, TD
10/14 at Hastings: 11 for 162, 2 TD
10/28 vs. Midland: 11 for 157, TD
11/4 vs. Doane: 10 for 156, TD

Sterup: the TFL king
The play of Kyle Sterup all fall should lead to First Team All-GPAC accolades and perhaps even All-America consideration. He moved into a tie for first this season among all NAIA players in tackles for loss with five more stops in the backfield last week. Sterup has registered 19 tackles for loss in 2023 and has been the MVP of the Concordia defense. The Osceola, Neb., native has had a knack for making the big play. He forced a fumble of Northwestern at the goal line in week one, blocked a punt in the win at Hastings and caught 16-yard pass for a first down on a fake field goal this past week. Over the past two seasons as a defensive end, Sterup has recorded 30.5 tackles for loss.

Around the league
Morningside’s run of 12 straight GPAC titles has ended. The Mustangs were upset last week by Dordt, 28-24, while Northwestern stayed unbeaten with a 49-28 win over Dakota Wesleyan. Those results mean that Dordt has become a serious NAIA playoff contender at 7-2. Should the Defenders defeat DWU this Saturday, they should draw strong consideration for the 20-team playoff. Northwestern (10-0, 9-0 GPAC) will receive the league’s automatic bid while Morningside (8-2, 7-2 GPAC) remains a likely at-large qualifier. Following the top three teams, the standings are jumbled with five teams sitting somewhere between 4-5 and 5-4 in league play. Concordia could finish as high as tied for fourth in the GPAC.

Seniors set to play final game
This will be it for the seniors who are set to graduate this coming May. The group is 21 deep (as listed below). Each of those Bulldogs had their names called prior to kickoff this past Saturday. Many of the seniors played a key role in the 2021 season that resulted in a 7-3 overall record. Said Coach Daberkow on senior day, “That’s always bittersweet. It’s awesome because it’s such a blessing to coach them and be able to share four and sometimes five years of college football with these guys. That’s not something everybody can do. I don’t think the average person understands how much work it takes to win in this game. It’s a credit to them to finish the right way.”

Carsen Arline
Hunter Cole
Carson Core
Michael Doiel
Christian Dyhrkopp
Mason Edwards
Arcellous Heard III
Gabe Knisley
Jaxson Kant
Jordan Kavulak
Luke Lang
Caleb Matlock
Karsten McCarter
Gavin Mull
Charles Nshimiyimana
Devin Rathman
Christian Schlepp
Brady Soukup
Tyler Walford
Isaac Wilson
Devin Zeigler

O-line draws praise from Daberkow
The offensive line that Concordia has started in for the majority of this season (listed below) has featured four juniors and one senior in fifth-year Bulldog right guard Christian Schlepp. The line includes Cohen Carpenter and Blake Schlegel at the tackles, Tyler Walford at left guard and Jackson Anderson at center. Those five players average a weight of 277 pounds. Seward’s own Nathan Miller started at tackle last week versus Doane. Others who have seen action up front include Toby Hager, Seth Moore and Nick Sazama. Daberkow has used as many as nine offensive linemen on the field at once in what the program dubs its “Rhino Package.” That formation was put to use on Devin Zeigler’s game-winning touchdown at Jamestown. Concordia also completed a fourth-and-one pass for a gain of 15 yards to tight end Daylan Russell out of that formation versus Briar Cliff.

Said Daberkow after the win over Doane, “Any time you have success on offense, you look at the offensive line. DJ makes so many good decisions. Jabo (Austin Jablonski) is such a tough target. If teams take away Jabo, we have other guys who can hurt you. It’s truly a team effort. You can do a lot of things when your o-line is playing well.”

Projected starters
LT – No. 54 Cohen Carpenter, Jr. (6-4, 250)
LG – No. 69 Tyler Walford, Jr. (6-3, 300)
C – No. 56 Jackson Anderson, Jr. (6-1, 245)
RG – No. 58 Christian Schlepp, Sr. (6-2, 265)
RT – No. 74 Blake Schlegel, Jr. (6-6, 325)

Scoop and score
Two freshmen have found the end zone over the past few weeks on scoops and scores. Freshman Will Potratz turned up in the right place at the right time for a touchdown in the 44-23 win at Hastings on Oct. 14. The fumble in that instance was caused by Devon Polley. Then last week, freshman Deegan Barnes picked up a fumble and raced 21 yards to the end zone. Penetration in the backfield by Carson Fehlhafer led to the fumble. Concordia has often struggled to win the turnover battle, but it came away at plus-three last week in the rout of Doane.

Feel-good moments
Senior day brought about multiple feel-good moments for Concordia Football. Following the Deegan Barnes touchdown, Charles Nshimiyimana added the PAT in his first varsity college football action. Nshimiyimana was hoisted onto the shoulders of his teammates following the PAT and led the postgame celebration in the locker room. A native of St. Louis, Mo., Nshimiyimana was born and raised in a refugee camp in Uganda before his family moved to the United States. It’s only recently that he began playing football.

As the Bulldogs filtered out of the locker room following the win over Doane, a crowd gathered between the Walz Complex and PE Center buildings. At that time, fifth-year Bulldog Carson Core dropped to a knee and made a marriage proposal to Concordia softball alum Jerzi Rowe. Judging by the cheers from the crowd, her answer was indeed ‘yes.’ Core is a Seward High School product.

Series vs. Mount Marty
The two programs first met in 2021, which was Mount Marty’s first season of college football. The Bulldogs have had the upper hand in the first two matchups with wins by scores of 38-7 (in Yankton) in 2021 and 47-24 (in Seward) in 2022. In last year’s clash, DJ McGarvie threw for 235 yards and three touchdowns and Devin Zeigler ran for 113 yards and two scores. One of the highlight plays of the contest was an 86-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Jayzen Armstrong.

Scouting Mount Marty
It didn’t take long for Mount Marty to achieve a competitive standard after engaging in collegiate football for the first time in 2021. Head Coach John Michaletti took the reins of the program and has lifted the Lancers to a 3-7 record in 2023. That mark could easily be .500 or better considering its lost three times by margins of six points or less. Mount Marty quarterback Ken Gray will test a young Concordia secondary that has often surrendered large yardage totals. In terms of passer efficiency, Gray ranks No. 2 among GPAC quarterbacks. Gray will throw it up to returning Second Team All-GPAC receiver Jonah Miyazawa, who averages nearly 20 yards per catch. The offensive line is anchored by Aniel Pastrana. Defensively, linebacker Joshua Pickthorn leads the way with 12.5 tackles for loss. Both Concordia and Mount Marty are looking for momentum heading into the offseason.