MOUNT PLEASANT – Coming off one of the more memorable victories in the program’s recent history, the Iowa Wesleyan College football team now looks to build momentum as it heads into its Homecoming game Saturday against Waldorf College at 2 p.m. at Mapleleaf Stadium.
The Tigers defeated St. Francis (Ill.) last week, 24-21, getting the first career collegiate win for first-year Head Coach Kent Anderson. IWC scored the winning touchdown with 22 seconds left in the game as Kevin McConnell (So.-Kansas City, Mo.) hit Marc Ballatori (Fr.-Tequesta, Fla.) for a three-yard touchdown pass, capping an 11-play, 71-yard drive in the final three minutes.
Wesleyan also got a much needed boost after an 0-4 start to the season that included three games against teams ranked nationally in the polls of their respective national affiliation. Included were a pair of losses to St. Francis (Ind.) and McKendree by a combined score of 128-10 going into last week’s game at St. Francis (Ill.). But the Tigers played almost error-free football against the Fighting Saints, with zero turnovers and just three penalties in the game, and McConnell led four long scoring drives in throwing for a career-high 255 yards. For his efforts the sophomore quarterback was named Mid-States Football Association Midwest League Offensive Player of the Week.
THIS WEEK’S OPPONENT – This week the Tigers will be facing a team that is currently in much the same situation that IWC itself was in last week. Waldorf comes into Saturday’s game with a 1-3 overall record and has lost its last three games. Last week the Warriors were defeated by Grand View, 70-0. The Vikings piled up 587 yards of offense, including 463 yards rushing, while Waldorf had just 86 yards of offense and turned the ball over four times. Grand View led 42-0 at halftime and 63-0 after three quarters.
The Warriors got their lone win in their season opener, defeating Trinity Bible (N.D.) 63-7. Waldorf rung up 530 yards rushing and 701 yards of total offense, and Deonte Lewis rushed for 194 yards in the game. Greg Youngblood is in his fourth year coaching the Warriors and has a 5-30 record. He’s had the tough task of continuing Waldorf’s move from the junior college ranks to playing against four-year colleges, a change that took place in 2003. The Warriors are again playing their traditional double-slot option offense and 3-4 defense. Thirteen freshman and sophomore starters dot the first string on the Warriors’ depth chart.
The Tigers and Warriors have one common opponent so far this year. IWC lost at Trinity International 16-6 in its season opener, while Waldorf lost at home to TIU 23-21 two weeks ago.
SERIES HISTORY – The Tigers and Warriors are meeting for the sixth time in a series that began in 2005 and has been played every year since. IWC leads the series 3-2 and has won the past two meetings. Last year the Tigers spoiled Waldorf’s Homecoming, winning 26-14 in Forest City. Jaren Maybin rushed for 155 yards and scored three touchdowns, and McConnell added 90 yards rushing. Wesleyan scored all 26 of its points in the first half and held on as the teams battled a muddy field that had been drenched with heavy rains two days before the game. Waldorf’s last win in the series was a 14-7 victory at Mount Pleasant on Sept.1, 2007, in IWC’s season opener. An interesting note in the series is that the road team has won all five meetings so far coming into today.
HOMECOMING HISTORY – Iowa Wesleyan is playing its 86th Homecoming football game and is 42-39-4 all-time on Homecoming. The Tigers last won on Homecoming on Oct. 8, 2005, when they defeated Olivet Nazarene, 24-17. Last year on Homecoming IWC was shut out 31-0 by Quincy.
IWC has played its Homecoming football game every year but two since the first one, a 7-0 loss on Oct. 19, 1923, to State Teachers College (now the University of Northern Iowa). Wesleyan did not play a Homecoming game in 1943 and 1944 during World War II, when the school did not field complete 11-man football teams.
BURYING THE PAST – After getting his first win as IWC head coach, Coach Anderson told his team that they were to bury the past, and the team did exactly that this week. On Tuesday the team had a ceremony at its own practice field, dug a hole in the ground and literally buried the game ball from Saturday’s game against St. Francis. IWC campus chaplain David Wagner delivered a eulogy, and the ball even arrived to practice in a hearse. The ceremony was done tongue-in-cheek, but Anderson said it also served to reinforce the new era for Tiger football and that the team needs to forget about the program’s past struggles as it continues to build.
SPECIAL TEAMS – One of the more unsung heroes from Saturday’s win for IWC was Kris Dolinsky (Fishers, Ind.). The freshman kicker/punter hit all three of his extra point attempts and also booted a 21-yard field goal, his second straight game with a field goal made. Dolinsky also punted five times for a gross and net average of 35.6 yards, helping the Tigers do much better in the field position battle than they had in recent weeks.
ON THE AIRWAVES – Saturday’s game will be aired online from the IWC Web site at http://www.iwc.edu/onlinemedia, with IWC student Casey Mangold calling the play-by-play. KIOW Radio 107.3 will also be broadcasting the game back to Forest City, with Waldorf radio voice Orin Harris calling the game. A live Web stream will be available at www.kiow.com.
Complete IWC-Waldorf Game Notes