Game Notes: String of in-state clashes begins with trip to Hastings

By Jacob Knabel on Oct. 9, 2023 in Football

SEWARD, Neb. – In-state rivalries make up the bulk of the remaining schedule for the Concordia University Football team. A string of three straight games versus Nebraska GPAC opponents will begin this Saturday with a trip to Hastings. The Bulldogs are looking to quickly turn the page after the 62-6 drubbing they were handed last week by No. 3 Morningside. Head Coach Patrick Daberkow’s squad stands at 2-4 following the loss. Concordia and Hastings will meet on the gridiron for the 56th time in series history.

It was another forgettable trip to Elwood Olsen Stadium. Two early lost fumbles allowed the Mustangs to quickly build a 10-0 lead. The deficit ballooned to 24-0 by the end of the first quarter. The Bulldogs still have yet to earn a win over Morningside since 2003 (lone series victory). Blowout wins in conference play have been the norm for the Mustangs, who currently share first place in the GPAC standings with top-ranked Northwestern. Concordia has slipped into a tie for seventh place in the GPAC.

This is year three for Head Coach Matt Franzen at Hastings. He previously served as the head coach and then the director of athletics at Doane. The Broncos ticked upward in 2022 while going 7-4 for the program’s highest win total since a 9-3 mark in 2009. Like Concordia, Hastings is looking to bounce back from a lopsided loss (45-7 at Northwestern) to one of the conference’s heavyweights. The Broncos began this season at 3-1 before the current three-game skid (which includes losses to Briar Cliff and Dordt). Hastings crashed Concordia’s homecoming in 2022 with a 21-17 victory at Bulldog Stadium.

Concordia (2-4, 2-4 GPAC) at Hastings (3-4, 2-4 GPAC)
Saturday, Oct. 14 | 1 p.m.
Lloyd Wilson Field | Hastings, Neb.
Webcast: Hastings YouTube
Live Stats: NAIA PrestoStats
Radio: 104.9 Max Country
Commentators: Parker Cyza and Ross Wurdeman
Online Tickets: HomeTown Ticketing (also sold on site)


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

Offensive PPG: 20.3 (61st)
Defensive PPG: 35.0 (72nd)
Total Offense: 387.0 (31st)
Pass Offense: 246.3 (23rd)
Rush Offense: 140.7 (43rd)
Total Defense: 427.8 (78th)
Pass Defense: 255.7 (85th)
Rush Defense: 172.2 (68th)
Turnover +/-: -7

Offensive PPG: 20.0 (62nd)
Defensive PPG: 34.0 (68th)
Total Offense: 283.3 (73rd)
Pass Offense: 202.1 (53rd)
Rush Offense: 81.1 (79th)
Total Defense: 384.4 (63rd)
Pass Defense: 225.9 (63rd)
Rush Defense: 158.6 (60th)
Turnover +/-: Even


Head Coach: Patrick Daberkow (29-35, 7th season)
Passing: DJ McGarvie – 131/219 (.598), 1,468 yards, 6 td, 7 int, 118.8 effic.
Rushing: Devin Zeigler – 112 rushes, 500 yards, 4.5 avg, 6 td
Receiving: Austin Jablonski – 53 receptions, 558 yards, 10.5 avg, 3 td
Defense: Kyle Sterup – 42 tackles, 12 tfl’s, 2 sacks, 1 ff, 1 fr

Head Coach: Matt Franzen (at Hastings: 12-16, 3rd season; overall: 77-65, 14th season)
Passing: Eli Nappe – 102/191 (.534), 1,156 yards, 9 td, 5 int, 114.6 effic.
Rushing: Brett Simonsen – 100 rushes, 255 yards, 2.5 avg, 3 td
Receiving: Ethan Wilborn – 24 receptions, 313 yards, 13.0 avg, 5 td
Defense: Arjee Mack-Myers – 42 tackles, 9.5 tfl’s, 5.5 sacks, 2 ff


Concordia (2-4, 2-4 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, 1 p.m.
10/28 vs. Midland, 1 p.m.
11/4 vs. Doane, 1 p.m. (senior day)
11/11 at Mount Marty, 1 p.m.

Hastings (3-4, 2-4 GPAC)
8/26 at Peru State, W, 37-31 (OT)
9/2 at Dakota Wesleyan, W, 24-17
9/9 vs. (3) Morningside, L, 18-55
9/16 vs. Jamestown, W, 17-10
9/23 at Briar Cliff, L, 16-19
9/30 vs. (14) Dordt, L, 21-61
10/7 at (1) Northwestern, L, 7-45
10/14 vs. Concordia, 1 p.m.
10/21 at Mount Marty, 1 p.m.
11/4 vs. Midland, 1 p.m.
11/11 at Doane, 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. 54 and Hastings at No. 56 in the NAIA. The Broncos last appeared in the NAIA top 25 in 2017, landing at No. 19 in mid-October of that season.

GPAC preseason: 6th
Current Massey Ratings: 52nd

GPAC preseason: 5th
Current Massey Ratings: 56th

Last time out
It wasn’t pretty as Morningside pummeled the Bulldogs, 62-6, in Sioux City, Iowa. Concordia got off to a rough start with two early lost fumbles and never recovered. The Mustangs outgained the Bulldogs, 597-314, and got a strong performance from quarterback Cash Parker, who threw for 284 yards and four touchdowns. Concordia finally got on the board late in the third quarter when DJ McGarvie’s 15-yard touchdown pass to Austin Jablonski capped a 16-play, 75-yard drive. The Bulldogs made just one other red zone trip the entire afternoon. Morningside converted 29 first downs and went 7-for-11 on third down attempts. On a positive note, Concordia found some traction in the running game as Devin Zeigler carried the ball 16 times for 70 yards and Mark Arp ran for 58 yards on 12 rushes. McGarvie finished 19-for-37 for 179 yards through the air. Jablonski (six catches for 56 yards) was the top target while Daylan Russell and Max Bartels notched three receptions apiece. The defense was led by nine tackles from CJ Dyhrkopp.

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 will have an opportunity to avenge those losses over the second half of this season as it gets ready to take on Hastings (Oct. 14), Midland (Oct. 28) and Doane (Nov. 4) over its next three outings.

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.

Jabo featured in Omaha World-Herald
Some well-earned publicity came the way of Austin Jablonski last week as the Omaha World-Herald released a profile written by Gene Schinzel. That piece can be found HERE. Jablonski was quoted as saying, “At the end of the day, it ended up being Concordia and I’ve really enjoyed my time here. My focus is on winning and being the best teammate I can be.” Jablonski continues to lead all NAIA pass catchers with 53 receptions (for 558 yards and three touchdowns) on the year. He made six grabs for 56 yards and a touchdown last week at Morningside. Concordia had the nation’s 2022 leader for catches in Korrell Koehlmoos, who reeled in 95 receptions (a school record). In addition, Jablonski ranks as the Bulldogs’ third leading rusher with 149 yards (on only 15 attempts). The former walk on at the University of Nebraska started the first two games of the 2022 season at quarterback before settling in as a receiver. Jablonski accomplished the unique feat last season of throwing, running and catching touchdowns. Over two seasons as a Bulldog, Jablonski has pulled in 89 catches for 1,041 yards and six touchdowns.

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

McGarvie primed to move to No. 3 on all-time passing list
Lincoln North Star High School product DJ McGarvie made his 22nd career start this past Saturday. On the program’s all-time lists, McGarvie continues to rank No. 4 for both passing yards (5,505) and passing touchdowns (43). There are only four players in program history to have reached 5,000 passing yards. Next up for McGarvie to pass is Rod Giesselmann (5,519), a 2023 Concordia Athletics Hall of Fame inductee. McGarvie’s school record of 458 passing yards in a single game came last season against Dordt. McGarvie ranks second among GPAC quarterbacks for average passing yards per game (244.7) in 2023. 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. Jarrod Pimentel – 6,435
2. Von Thomas – 5,662
3. Rod Giesselmann – 5,519
4. DJ McGarvie – 5,505
5. Kurt Earl – 4,158

Concordia all-time passing touchdowns leaders
1. Von Thomas – 49
1. Jarrod Pimentel – 49
3. Rod Giesselmann – 47
4. DJ McGarvie – 43
5. Kurt Earl – 37

Around the league
Morningside has won 12 GPAC titles in a row and is currently tied with fellow perennial conference powerhouse Northwestern at the top of the standings. Both teams sport 5-0 conference marks and are primed to make the NAIA playoffs once again. Those two sides will meet in Orange City, Iowa, on Oct. 28. The biggest surprise team of the first half of the season has been Dakota Wesleyan, which has started 5-1 (4-1 GPAC) while finding ways to win tight games (four straight wins by seven points or less). In an upset this past week, Midland grinded out a 10-7 victory on the homefield of 14th-ranked Dordt. The Defenders are tied for third place in the GPAC with Dakota Wesleyan. Those two sides carry the strongest hopes of a potential third NAIA playoff bid for the GPAC. At the bottom of the heap, Doane (0-6, 0-5 GPAC) remains in search of its first win of 2023.

Zeigler/Arp: 1-2 punch
Running backs Devin Zeigler and Mark Arp have been consistently productive this season behind an offensive line that has shown improvement from a year ago. Zeigler and Arp combined for 128 rushing yards on 28 carries last week against national powerhouse Morningside. On the year, Zeigler has piled up 500 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 112 carries. Meanwhile, Arp has toted the rock 58 times for 242 yards and two touchdowns. Both backs are averaging north of 4.0 yards per carry. The team’s average of 3.9 yards per rush attempt is a slight uptick from 3.8 in 2022. In his five seasons at Concordia, Zeigler has carried the ball 381 times for 1,503 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Next in line: Gideon Stark
The next quarterback in line after DJ McGarvie could be Gideon Stark. Bulldog fans got a look at Stark on homecoming Saturday (Sept. 30) as he threw the ball three times and completed one pass for 10 yards. A native of Magnolia, Texas, Stark has plenty of connections to Concordia. His father Paul played football and his mother Kim played volleyball at Concordia. The 6-foot-7 quarterback also followed his older sisters to Concordia. Kara and Shelby have both been members of the Bulldog volleyball program. Gideon graduated from Concordia Lutheran High School in Texas and is majoring in Business Administration. Gideon possesses a big arm and the ability to make downfield throws.

O-line made up of upperclassmen
The offensive line that Concordia has started in recent weeks (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. Others who have seen action up front include Toby Hager, Nathan Miller, 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.

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)

Youth movement in secondary
The secondary includes fifth-year Bulldog Carson Core (Seward High School product) at corner – and then a whole lot of youth. The defensive backfield two deep lists a number of players who are either freshmen or sophomores in Deegan Barnes, Braxton Borer, Daylan Henson, Luke Penrod, Will Potratz and Calvin Sassaman. Those Bulldogs have also contributed on special teams. Barnes blocked a punt in the 35-23 win over Briar Cliff. A starter this season for the first time in his career, Henson picked off a pass versus Briar Cliff. One void in the secondary had to be filled with the injury of Gabe Knisley.

Series vs. Hastings
The Broncos have owned the all-time series with a record of 37-17-1 versus the Bulldogs. However, the series has been very competitive recently with Concordia winning six of the past 10 meetings (see history below). The 2019 matchup resulted in the largest point differential in series history with Concordia blowing out Hastings, 44-0. The matchups since then have been much closer. In last season’s matchup on homecoming in Seward, the Bulldogs let a 17-2 second half lead slip through their fingers. Concordia was plagued by four turnovers in a frustrating defeat. On the other side, the win helped fuel Hastings to a 7-4 campaign. The Broncos got the victory with the help of three total touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) from quarterback John Zamora.

Last 10 meetings
2022 – Hastings 21, Concordia 17 (Seward)
2021 – Concordia 17, Hastings 7 (Hastings)
2020 – Concordia 34, Hastings 28 | OT (Seward)
2019 – Concordia 44, Hastings 0 (Hastings)
2018 – Hastings 21, Concordia 13 (Seward)
2017 – Hastings 38, Concordia 18 (Hastings)
2016 – Concordia 31, Hastings 28 (Seward)
2015 – Concordia 28, Hastings 3 (Seward)
2014 – Hastings 48, Concordia 43 (Hastings)
2013 – Concordia 26, Hastings 21 (Seward)

Scouting Hastings
Hastings underwent an impressive turnaround from 2021 to 2022 as Head Coach Matt Franzen’s program went from 2-8 to 7-4. However, it’s been a rough go of late as the Broncos have dropped three in a row, including a 19-16 loss at Briar Cliff that saw the Chargers rally from a 16-6 fourth quarter deficit. The team’s most heralded returners are First Team All-GPAC defensive lineman Laython Shaw and Second Team All-GPAC running back Brett Simonsen. Nationally, Hastings ranks 63rd in total defense and 73rd in total offense. With a strong finish to the season, The Broncos started out 3-1 with wins over Peru State College, Dakota Wesleyan and Jamestown. The first two victories both came in overtime. Hastings could achieve back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since going 6-4 in both 2011 and 2012.