LINDSBORG — Bethany College football coach Jamie Cruce obviously hasn’t been around for all 100 years of the Bethany-Kansas Wesleyan series.
But he’s preparing for his 16th Bethany-KW headknocker, so he has more insight than most.
“It’s a big game for the schools and the communities,” said Cruce, who played in the game three times and has been a head coach or an assistant for 12 more. “As coaches, you try to approach every game the same way. But I do get a little more excited when it’s Kansas Wesleyan, probably more when I was a player than a coach.”
The two arch-rivals will tee it up for the 100th time at 7 p.m. Saturday at Anderson Stadium, with numerous pre-game activities designed to bring both sides together in a positive manner and to promote sportsmanship.
Cruce said there actually haven’t been too many outside distractions. He’s more concerned about the game’s implications, as his Swedes are 1-1 in the KCAC, a game back of 2-0 Kansas Wesleyan. McPherson College also is 2-0, while Friends and Tabor are 1-0.
“This is a big week,” Cruce said. “We’ll have a little clearer understanding after this week (since McPherson and Friends also play each other).”
The Coyotes fired the first shot of creating KCAC parity when they upset heavy preseason favorite Ottawa 31-28 in their conference opener. They followed that up by winning a 14-11 defensive slugfest last week from Sterling.
The Bethany defense has allowed only 8.6 points through three games, but will be tested by a quality Coyote offense.
“They have a very talented tailback (Brett Giesen),” said Cruce, whose team is 2-1 overall. “He’s very fast and makes good cuts. I think (Trey) Dallas is playing well at quarterback and they have two quick receivers. They are an uptempo team, maybe not as much as the past, but that’s what we’re preparing for.”
A key for the Swedes will be controlling the football. They managed only 16 points last week against Bethel, though Tevis Linnebur gave them a shot in the arm with 198 yards on 38 carries. “He’s hard runner. We have to keep him healthy,” Cruce said.
Offensive line issues have sprung up for the Swedes, though Cruce said the team should be in better shape than last week. He had to patchwork a group last week that did well running the ball, but struggled in pass protection. Bethany quarterback Darby House is still waiting to have that breakout game, as he hasn’t been over 200 yards in a game after throwing for more than 2,000 last year.
Page 2 of 2 - The Coyotes will have plenty of motivation, as they were blanked 25-0 last year by the Swedes, in Salina no less. Alex Fambrough’s six field goals highlighted the win.