The number of first-place KCAC football teams is assured of being reduced by one here Saturday afternoon.
McPherson College will host Friends in a game with widespread ramifications. Kickoff has been moved to 1 p.m. from its original 7 p.m. start.
The Bulldogs are tied with Kansas Wesleyan at 2-0 in conference play and the Coyotes have no bargain, as they play arch-rival Bethany College in the 100th game of the heated series in Lindsborg.
Friends is 1-0 in the KCAC, the same as Tabor. Both teams played nonconference games last week.
But Friends may have had the most impressive victory of last week. It stopped Southern Nazarene 17-7 to give the KCAC some much-needed credibility outside the league.
“It’s a big game, we know that,” first-year Mac coach Pete Sterbick said, adding, though, that it’s not any bigger than last week or any bigger than next week, it’s just the biggest game for this particular week.
The Falcons are all about defense, as in addition to stuffing Southern Nazarene last week, they limited Saint Mary’s pass-happy, run-and-gun offense to just two touchdowns in a 36-14 victory the week before.
One of the best defensive players ever to compete in the KCAC is the ringleader of the Falcons’ unit. Dexter Davis, a 6-3 and 230-pound end, was named the NAIA National Player of the Week Wednesday after perhaps the most phenomenal performance of his career. He had five quarterback sacks, five solo tackles and a blocked punt. Southern Nazarene was in the hole on the ground with minus-35 yards rushing.
“He is a great player, probably as good of a pass rusher as we’ll see,” Sterbick said. “He’s athletic and long, and I think he has a better motor than last year.”
But Sterbick said the Bulldogs can’t change what they do just because of one player, because the Falcons have other talented defenders.
“It’s going to be a challenge for our offensive line,” he said. “I don’t think their defense has a weak spot.”
The Friends defense will attempt to slow a Bulldog offense that piled up 520 yards last week in a 40-21 victory over Southwestern. Terrance Jones had a breakout game with 109 yards rushing and a touchdown, while quarterback Jake Snodgrass threw for 234 and just missed a double-double with 99 yards rushing. Havelock Pomele scored two touchdowns for the second straight game, while Paul Rotering caught two TD passes and James Patton had one.
“I thought our offensive line did a great job,” Sterbick said. “We just kept working and sawing wood. We finally broke through.”
Page 2 of 2 - As for the Friends offense, Sterbick said the Falcons feature a playmaker at quarterback in former Trinity Catholic star Derek Racette, son of former Mac College standout Sean Racette.
“He runs around back there and makes plays,” Sterbick said.
The Falcons also have a pair of strong backs, so the Mac defense, which for three quarters last week played especially well, is going to have to gear up for anything and everything.
The Falcons figure to come in highly motivated. They have lost three straight games to the Bulldogs, including two where Friends entered the game ranked in the NAIA poll. The teams last met at McPherson Stadium in 2009, when the Bulldogs unloaded for 60 points in a 60-32 shellacking, which they backed up the following year in Wichita with a 52-20 rout.
“We’re going to find out what we’re made of,” Sterbick said.