Game Notes: Rivalry matchup on tap in kickoff to 2022 season

By Jacob Knabel on Aug. 29, 2022 in Football

2022 Concordia Football Media Guide (PDF)

SEWARD, Neb. – For the second time in three years, the Concordia University Football program will open a season by playing a night game at Doane. The two rivals are readying to square off inside Papik Field at 7 p.m. CT on Saturday. This will be the 67th all-time meeting between the Bulldogs and Tigers, who have been conference combatants going back to the days of the Nebraska Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Head Coach Patrick Daberkow has gone 3-2 in this rivalry series since beginning his tenure in 2017.

Concordia is looking to build upon its 7-3 campaign in 2021 that featured six-straight victories after a 1-3 start. The six-game win streak was tied for the second longest among all NAIA football programs entering the 2022 season. The Bulldogs welcome back seven starters on offense and six on defense. That group includes arguably the NAIA’s top tight end in Garrett Schardt, who is returning for his fifth year inside the program. In order to take a step forward and compete at the top tier of the league, Concordia likely needs to ramp up its offensive production. The ’21 team averaged 23.6 points per game offensively while allowing 19.3.

Doane was built similarly last season in that it tried to grind out victories with a strong defense. Head Coach Chris Bessler enters his fifth season as head coach. Bessler took over the role after serving as defensive coordinator under previous head coach Matt Franzen (now the head coach at Hastings). The anchor for what figures to be another strong Tiger defense is lineman Ty Barbazon, a Second Team All-American last season. Offensively, Doane will try to pound the rock with Frazzie Wynn while working on improving the passing game. Both Concordia and Doane would likely be comfortable with a rock fight on Saturday.

Concordia (7-3, 7-3 GPAC ‘21) vs. Doane (5-5, 5-5 GPAC ’21)
Saturday, Sept. 3 | 7 p.m.
Al Papik Field | Crete, Neb.
Webcast: News Channel Nebraska
Live Stats: Doane Stats
Radio: 104.9 Max Country
Commentators: Parker Cyza and Ross Wurdeman
Online Tickets: Doane Athletics


Team Statistics

*2021 national rankings out of 98 NAIA football programs

Offensive PPG: 23.6 (T-59th)
Defensive PPG: 19.3 (21st)
Total Offense: 314.6 (66th)
Pass Offense: 189.8 (63rd)
Rush Offense: 124.8 (72nd)
Total Defense: 311.7 (25th)
Pass Defense: 204.5 (46th)
Rush Defense: 107.2 (19th)
Turnover +/-: +8

Offensive PPG: 20.4 (73rd)
Defensive PPG: 20.1 (25th)
Total Offense: 289.9 (81st)
Pass Offense: 118.7 (93rd)
Rush Offense: 171.2 (26th)
Total Defense: 312.8 (26th)
Pass Defense: 226.0 (70th)
Rush Defense: 86.8 (9th)
Turnover +/-: +10


Head Coach: Patrick Daberkow (23-25, 6th season)
Passing: DJ McGarvie – 130/243 (.535), 1,484 yards, 19 td, 7 int, 124.8 effic.
Rushing: Jonah Weyand – 143 rushes, 595 yards, 4.2 avg, 3 td
Receiving: Garrett Schardt – 32 catches, 504 yards, 15.8 avg, 5 td
Defense: Lane Napier – 134 tackles, 3 pbu’s, 2.5 tfl’s, 1 sack, 2 fr, 1 ff

Head Coach: Chris Bessler (17-21, 5th season)
Passing: Vaughn Martinez – 88/169 (.521), 927 yards, 5 td, 7 int
Rushing: Frazzie Wynn – 166 rushes, 921 yards, 5.5 avg, 10 td (11 total td)
Receiving: Izaiah Celestine – 23 catches, 299 yards, 13.0 avg, 1 td
Defense: Riley Heithoff – 68 tackles, 16.5 tfl’s, 6.5 sacks, 4 pbu’s, 1 ff


Concordia (7-3, 7-3 GPAC)
9/4 at (3) Morningside, L, 7-63
9/11 vs. Briar Cliff, W, 61-21
9/18 at (19) Dordt, L, 7-27
9/25 vs. (2) Northwestern, L, 7-31
10/2 vs. Dakota Wesleyan, W, 34-0
10/9 at Jamestown, W, 24-17
10/16 at Mount Marty, W, 38-7
10/23 vs. Midland, W, 21-7
11/6 vs. Doane, W, 20-13
11/13 at Hastings, W, 17-7

Doane (5-5, 5-5 GPAC)
9/4 at Briar Cliff, W, 17-3
9/11 vs. (3) Morningside, L, 14-56
9/18 at (2) Northwestern, L, 0-38
9/25 vs. (22) Dordt, L, 7-27
10/2 vs. Jamestown, W, 44-20
10/9 at Dakota Wesleyan, L, 13-17
10/16 vs. Hastings, W, 44-0
10/23 vs. Mount Marty, W, 28-7
10/30 at Midland, W, 24-13
11/6 at Concordia, L, 13-20

In the rankings
Concordia could move into the NAIA top 25 with a strong start to the 2022 season. In the NAIA preseason poll, the Bulldogs picked up three points. The program’s most recent top 25 appearance came in November 2017 when they landed at No. 25. Current Massey Ratings list Concordia at No. 33 and Doane at No. 41. The Tigers last found themselves in the NAIA top 25 in October 2017 (at No. 24). In the 2022 GPAC preseason coaches’ poll, the Bulldogs appeared at No. 4 with Doane coming in at No. 6.

GPAC preseason: 4th
Current Massey Ratings: 33rd

GPAC preseason: 6th
Current Massey Ratings: 41st

Season openers
This will be the fourth season in a row that Concordia has begun the year by playing a conference opponent. The Bulldogs are 2-3 in season openers under Coach Patrick Daberkow. Concordia would like to duplicate the 2020 opener when it won at Doane by a 24-7 score behind 169 rushing yards and two touchdowns from Jonah Weyand. The 2018 opener was also memorable for the performance of Ryan Durdon, who carried the ball 42 times for 250 yards and two touchdowns in the win over NCAA Division III Buena Vista University.

Season openers under Coach Daberkow
2021 – at (3) Morningside, L, 7-63
2020 – at Doane, W, 24-7
2019 – vs. Doane, L, 10-17
2018 – vs. Buena Vista, W, 27-20
2017 – at Kansas Wesleyan, L, 13-28

Making a statement
Concordia made a statement in 2021 by sweeping in-state rivals Doane, Hastings and Midland. Prior to last fall, a Bulldog football team had not accomplished that feat since 1970. Concordia has won five-straight contests against Nebraska opponents thanks to a perfect 5-0 combined in-state record over the 2020 and 2021 campaigns (2020 game versus Midland was canceled). Over those five games, the Bulldog defense has dominated in allowing an average of just 12.4 points per game. At the NAIA level, there is only one Nebraska college football program that has membership with a conference outside of the GPAC. That would be Peru State College. Concordia hasn’t played the Bobcats since the programs met in Peru in 2010. The result was a 13-7 win for the Bulldogs.

Last five vs. in-state opponents
11/13/21 – at Hastings, W, 17-7
11/6/21 – vs. Doane, W, 20-13
10/23/21 – vs. Midland, W, 21-7
9/19/20 – vs. Hastings, W, 34-28 (OT)
9/12/20 – at Doane, W, 24-7

Replacing the incomparable Lane Napier
No one player will be able to replace All-American linebacker Lane Napier, who spent five seasons making tackles from sideline-to-sideline. By the end of last season, Napier had pushed his career tackle total to a GPAC record of 535. In terms of accolades, Napier ranks right up there with the most decorated players in the history of the program. He earned some form of All-America recognition in four different seasons and was a five-time First Team All-GPAC selection. He went out as the 2021 GPAC Defensive Player of the Year.

While all four starting linebackers from last season departed (including second team all-conference pick Caydren Cox), Concordia has typically reloaded nicely at the position. The projected starters at linebacker are Lucas Coe, Michael Grindey and Nick Leader with Michael Doiel playing somewhat of a hybrid linebacker/safety role. A Lincoln Southwest High School alum, Leader is a transfer from the University of Nebraska, where he walked on the football program. As for Grindey, he made 17 stops last season before being slowed by injury. The growth of this unit will be key in attempting to produce the results the defense posted in 2021. The Bulldogs allowed just 4.3 yards per play.

Napier, year-by-year tackle totals
2021 – 134
2020 – 54
2019 – 108
2018 – 142
2017 – 97

And the quarterback will be …
Either Austin Jablonski or DJ McGarvie. Coach Daberkow has stated that the quarterback room is healthier than it’s ever been during his tenure. McGarvie won the starting role in 2021 as a true freshman and tossed 19 touchdown passes (second most in a single season in school history). Meanwhile, Jablonski came to Concordia beginning with the 2022 spring semester. As a walk on at Nebraska, Jablonski had tried out at receiver, but he feels more comfortable at quarterback. He has had an impressive preseason camp and stands at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds. Both Jablonski and McGarvie are local talents having graduated from Lincoln high schools.

Tight end Garret Schardt had this to say about Jablonski and McGarvie during preseason, “They’re both great guys. I love them both. I think they both have their own great things going for them. Austin is coming from UNL. He’s a great athlete. DJ’s got some starting under his belt from last year. He’s a good thrower and a good athlete as well. They’re both really good athletes. We’ll have to see how they compete throughout fall camp.”

Returning beef up front
The coaching staff expects the offensive line to be able to protect the quarterback. The group up front has gotten noticeably bigger and stronger over the past few seasons. This is a veteran group led by fifth-year starting center Johnny Robinson III, a 2021 First Team All-GPAC selection. The three other returning starters are Kaden Peters at left tackle, Christian Schlepp at right guard and Gavin Mull at right tackle. There is still room for improvement as Concordia aspires to boost last season’s average yards per carry of 3.4.

Probable starting offensive line
LT – Kaden Peters (6-3, 270)
LG – Toby Hager (6-2, 265)
C – Johnny Robinson III (5-9, 290)
RG – Christian Schlepp (6-1, 265)
RT – Gavin Mull (6-3, 250)

The NAIA’s best tight end?
College Football America judges Garrett Schardt to be the top tight end in the entire NAIA leading into the 2022 season. Schardt seems likely to be the team’s No. 1 target in the passing game. In four seasons, he’s accumulated 72 receptions for 1,188 yards and nine touchdowns. The Bruning-Davenport-Shickley High School alum has picked up back-to-back First Team All-GPAC awards and has the versatility to split out into the slot. At 6-foot-3, Schardt can catch the ball in traffic and has shown an ability to run past defensive backs. He’s the program’s most productive tight end since All-American Ross Wurdeman tore up opposing defenses in the early 2000s. Wurdeman has been chosen as part of the 2022 Nebraska Football Hall of Fame class.

Koehlmoos rising on all-time receiving lists
Korrell Koehlmoos possesses by far the most experience within the receiver group. The 6-foot-1 native of Pilger, Neb., is back for his fifth season of college football. On the program’s all-time receiving lists, Koehlmoos ranks sixth in receptions (126), sixth in receiving yards (1,870) and sixth in receiving touchdowns (12). Koehlmoos is on the verge of becoming the fourth player in school history to crack 2,000 career receiving yards. He’s also likely to serve as the team’s punter once again.

Receiving yards, career
1. Jared Garcia – 2,495 (2014-17)
2. Ross Wurdeman – 2,458 (1998-01)
3. Clarence Woods – 2,011 (1984-88)
4. Eric Pralle – 1,974 (1987-1991)
5. Travis Soukup – 1,880 (1991-94)
6. Korrell Koehlmoos – 1,870 (2018-present)

Zeigler’s turn
With Jonah Weyand having graduated, 5-foot-6 Devin Zeigler appears primed to fill the void at running back. Coach Daberkow has referred to Zeigler as one of the hardest workers he’s ever had in the program. He may be small in stature, but the Houston native packs a punch. Zeigler ran for 335 yards and a touchdown last season as the No. 2 back. Also factoring into the mix at running back is sophomore Mark Arp and freshman Carter Seim. The latter ran for more than 5,000 career yards as a Nebraska eight-man high school football star. The running game could use more juice after it averaged 124.8 yards per game last season. The program’s most recent 1,000-yard rusher was Ryan Durdon with 1,247 in 2017.

Kicking game
The place kicker position has been a focus this preseason. All three Bulldogs who handled field goal or kickoff duties (James Araya, Daniel Cantu and Jorre Luther) have moved on. Concordia has tried out defensive back Dylan Smith and a member of the men’s soccer program, Ty Harold, at the kicker spot in August. Punter is more settled with Koehlmoos handling that position. The Bulldogs have an experienced long snapper in Toby Hager to help smoothen the transition process at kicker.

Series vs. Doane
Doane had Concordia’s number prior to the last two seasons, triumphing in 13 of the 14 meetings from 2006 through 2019. The two rivals first met in 1935 and have played each other 66 times. Doane leads the all-time series, 42-21-3. The Bulldogs have enjoyed more success in this rivalry under Patrick Daberkow, who is 3-2 against the Tigers. Concordia defeated Doane in 2017, 2020 and 2021. The victory in ’17 ended what had been an 11-game series win streak for the Tigers.

In last season’s matchup in Seward, the Bulldogs erased a 13-7 deficit in the fourth quarter thanks to a seven-yard touchdown connection from DJ McGarvie to Cayden Beran and a 23-yard interception return for a touchdown by linebacker Jorge Ochoa. Concordia’s defense limited Doane to 264 total yards and ruled the day in a 20-13 win for the home team. Running back Jonah Weyand rushed 26 times for 112 yards and a touchdown. McGarvie threw for 131 yards with tight end Garrett Schardt posting 59 receiving yards on three catches. All-American linebacker Lane Napier recorded 14 tackles and an interception in the final home game of his incredible career. Up front, Jordan Kavulak wreaked havoc with 2.5 sacks.

Scouting Doane
Doane will likely try to do many of the things Concordia wants to do – establish the run game on offense and play stout defensively. Head Coach Chris Bessler and his staff have had no trouble constructing a stingy defense in a unique alignment. They will continue to try to energize an offense that will lean upon running back Frazzie Wynn, who rushed for 921 yards last season. Wynn and All-American defensive lineman Ty Barbazon are the headlining returners. At safety, Donte Wiggins III picked up Honorable Mention All-GPAC honors last season. Barbazon posted 13.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks in 2021. Barbazon and company ranked ninth nationally last season in rush defense. A major question offensively is whether Doane can improve a passing game that ranked 93rd in the NAIA in ’21. The top two on the QB depth chart are Michael Pulliam and Karsen Reimers. If the recent past is any indication, Saturday’s contest will be a low-scoring defensive battle that could be swung by a key turnover as last season’s matchup came down to.