LINDSBORG — The Bethany College Swedes find themselves in seventh place in the KCAC, but they’re far from being out of the race.
That’s the beauty of the wide-open conference this season, as it reaches the halfway point this week. The Swedes are 1-2 in the conference, yet just two games back of sole leader Kansas Wesleyan, while five teams have just one loss.
McPherson College is considered in second place at 3-1, while Friends, Southwestern, Tabor and Ottawa are all 2-1.
Friends should have little trouble this week playing winless Bethel, while Southwestern and Ottawa tangle, as do Kansas Wesleyan and Tabor. That means there should be some movement in the standings.
The Swedes can keep themselves within shouting distance Saturday when they travel to Leavenworth to take on the Saint Mary Spires, who find themselves a spot behind Bethany at 1-3 in the KCAC.
Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m.
For the Swedes, it’s a chance to erase the memory of last week’s ugly 35-19 loss to previously winless Avila, a game they led 19-7 before going flat, as the Eagles scored the final 28 points and all 21 of the game’s second-half points.
Saint Mary will enter with some momentum, as it outlasted Sterling 21-20 last week in overtime for its first win when the Warriors failed on an extra point.
So much of what Saint Mary does is predicated on quarterback Mike Keese. He leads the KCAC in total offense with 327 yards a game and is far and away the passing leader with 1,684 yards. McPherson College’s Jake Snodgrass, whose team doesn’t play this week, has passed for 1,174 yards for second.
The Spires also have the Nos. 2 and 3 receivers in the conference, Jerrell Young (41 catches, 544 yards) and Ronnie Cooper (33 catches, 487 yards).
The Swedes have the next two receivers in the KCAC in D’Andre Thompson (30 catches, 300 yards) and Brandon Martino (26 catches, 339 yards).
The Swedes can augment their passing game with the running of Tevis Linnebur, who has taken over the KCAC rushing lead with 547 yards, or 109 a game. He has more than exceeded expectations in replacing preseason All-America candidate Junior Allen, who left the team before the season.
The big edge Bethany should have is on defense, as even though it has just a 2-3 overall record, it still ranks No. 20 in the country in points allowed, giving up just 18.8 a game. Saint Mary averages 26.8 points a game.