An emotional season is winding down for first year McPherson College head coach Pete Sterbick, with only one game left for the Bulldogs.
With the implication of two former players in the beating death of Tabor College player Brandon Brown, followed quickly by a tragic accident that took the life of a member of the McPherson College tennis team, this has been an unusual fall for the college. Sterbick feels, though, that his team has handled the circumstances as well as could be expected.
“Just about any new staff is going to come up against challenges in the first season, and there’s no doubt we’ve gone through some unfortunate circumstances,” Sterbick said. “Thankfully, we’ve been fortunate enough to inherit a number of players that really care about this place and were just hungry for the structure and discipline we’ve brought in.
“I think that has helped us endure what has been thrown our way.”
Saturday’s match up with Sterling is a pride game for the Bulldogs, as McPherson enters the game at 4-4 on the season (4-3 KCAC). Mac College is coming off a huge upset of Kansas Wesleyan last week, which knocked the Coyotes down from a close second in the KCAC polls to third behind Ottawa and Tabor.
McPherson was able to employ its ground game successfully last week, as three players rushed for a combined 286 yards, including 149 from Terrance Jones. Sterbick looks for that to continue this week against a Sterling defense that only gives up an average of 123.1 yards per game and is fairly successful at getting into the back field, especially linebacker Brian Noller.
“They play with a high motor as a unit very consistently,” Sterbick said. “Noller is as good of a player on defense as we’ve seen all year, and we will have to account for him.”
Noller is averaging 6.9 tackles a game this season, with 12 tackles for a loss and four sacks. As a unit, the Warriors are holding opponents to 179.4 passing yards this season.
Still, the McPherson offense is as good as they currently rank third in total offense in the KCAC, averaging a total of 414.6 yards per game.
“We established an identity early on within our team,” Sterbick said. “I know we have a group of seniors that want to go out the right way. I look for them to do everything they can to end this season with a win.”
That group of seniors include quarterback Jake Snodgrass, who has put up 1,824 yards passing this season and 476 yards on the ground. He averages 287.5 yards per game coming into Saturday’s showdown with Sterling.
Kickoff from Sterling is set for 1:30 p.m. Saturday.