MOUNT PLEASANT – Ten seniors instrumental in a rebound season for Iowa Wesleyan College football will play in their final home game Saturday as the Tigers host William Penn University at Evans Field.
IWC will celebrate Senior Day on the day it also has the latest meeting with its most played rival in school history. Iowa Wesleyan and William Penn, two schools separated by 1 1/2 hours, will meet for the 63rd time on Saturday.
Both teams have seen something of a resurgence this season in football fortunes. The Tigers’ three wins this year tie for the program’s best total since the 1997 team went 4-7 overall. IWC has been competitive in almost every game, with last week’s 49-0 loss to St. Ambrose an exception for a team that all season has hovered near the middle of the Mid-States Football Association in most statistical categories.
William Penn also is having what so far is its most successful season since joining the MSFA Midwest League in 2002. The Statesmen are in the thick of the chase for the league title, tied for first with both Quincy University and St. Ambrose at 4-1 in league play. The charge this week for the Tigers will be to stop the Statesmen’s run-oriented attack. Penn runs what might be referred to by some as an old-school option offense, with a fullback and a pair of halfbacks lining up behind quarterback Ryan Van Dalen, who has made the transition from the leader of a passing offense to running the option.
Defensively, William Penn plays from a 4-3 alignment and ranks in the middle of the MSFA in total defense. The Statesmen are 13th in the league in rush defense, allowing 176.9 yards per game, but like most teams contending for a championship are doing well in the turnover category. WPU has recovered the third most turnovers in the league (23) and its +7 turnover margin is also third in the MSFA.
THIS WEEK’S OPPONENT – The Statesmen are knocking on the door of the national polls and broke through in at least one this week, debuting at #25 in the Victory Sports Network Top 25 on Monday. WPU has won five of its last six and could be facing a winner-take-all championship game next week against Quincy, should the Statesmen beat IWC and Quincy defeat St. Ambrose on Saturday.
Head Coach Greg Hafner is in his fifth year and has a 25-28 overall record. The Statesmen have clinched their third winning league record in the last five years and this year will have an overall winning record for just the second time in the last 32 years. The other winning record was a 6-5 season under Hafner in 2005.
LAST MEETING – The Tigers lost to William Penn 41-17 last year in Oskaloosa. IWC had an 11-minute edge in time of possession and an 18-15 advantage in first downs, but the Statesmen made use of a number of big plays on offense, defense and special teams. Jermaine Paul (So.-Houston, Texas) rushed for 97 yards for the Tigers, while Gerald Knighten (Jr.-Bellwood, Ill.) caught a touchdown pass from Aaron Rozanski.
Penn has won nine straight against Wesleyan to open up a 32-24-6 series edge. The Tigers have not defeated the Statesmen since limiting WPU to 99 yards and scoring 17 fourth quarter points in a 27-0 win to start the 1987 season.
SENIORS – Among those competing in their final home game Saturday are Bryan Abihider (Hemet, Calif.), Deleon Bolds (Chicago, Ill.), Kyle DeRossett (Dupo, Ill.), Clint Hunold (Donnellson, Iowa), Scott Knipfer (Cottage Grove, Wis.), Quentin Lang (Bellwood, Ill.), Lonzell Maddock (Seattle, Wash.), Tyler McGuire (Mount Pleasant, Iowa), Mervin (Pep) Shaw (St. Louis, Mo.) and Jerry Wimes (Mount Dora, Fla.). The list of seniors is loaded with players serving key roles on this year’s team and includes eight starters plus the team’s kicker and punter.
DeRossett, Hunold, Knipfer, Maddock and Shaw all will be four-year letter winners, while Bolds, Lang and Wimes will be three-year lettermen. Abihider joined the program last year as a junior college transfer, while McGuire was a four-year letter winner in soccer before joining the team this year.
COMING ON – Abihider, Jaren Maybin (Jr.-Baltimore, Md.) and Lawrence Moore (So.-Country Club Hills, Ill.) have been a version of a ‘Big Three’ for IWC’s offense this year, but receiver Greg Fields (So.-St. Louis, Mo.) has also emerged as a serious threat for defenses to keep an eye on. Fields has 30 catches over the past four games, including 10 catches last week for 75 yards against St. Ambrose. Nine of those catches came in the first half, and for the season now Fields has 38 catches for 342 yards, including a 36-yard touchdown on the Tigers’ first offensive play of the season against Waldorf College.
WARRIOR – A bright spot last week for the Tigers was safety Darious Watson (Jr.-Bellwood, Ill.), who had an IWC team high 12 tackles last week against St. Ambrose. Watson did it despite playing with injuries and also injured a knee during the game and was limping noticeably throughout the contest. The junior now leads the team in tackles and ranks fifth in the MSFA Midwest, averaging 7.7 tackles per game.
KICKING INTO RECORD BOOKS – IWC’s Knipfer will finish his four years with several records for a Tiger kicker. Last season Knipfer broke the school record for consecutive extra point attempts made, running the record to 29 before a miss in midseason. This season he also has tied the school mark for career field goals made with 20. He tied the record Oct. 25 against Trinity International and did not attempt a field goal last week against St. Ambrose. Currently he shares the record with Steve Wasko, who made 20 field goals from 1985-87.
OVER THE TOP – Another way William Penn’s offense mirrors old-time option football: the Statesmen will run and run, then use the big throw deep to keep the defense off balance. Receiver Skyler Crouch has just 17 catches this season, but those catches have gone for a whopping 572 yards, an average of 33.6 yards per reception. Van Dalen and the 6-4 Crouch have connected on a number of “jump ball” throws, including four that went for touchdowns.
TEAM AWARDS – The IWC coaching staff presented awards to the following players after last week’s game against St. Ambrose: offense-Fields and Nate Schrock (Fr.-Mediapolis, Iowa); defense-Watson; special teams-McGuire; offensive scout team-William Cornelious (So.-St. Louis, Mo.); and defensive scout team-Colby Carlisle (Fr.-Lincoln, Ala.) and Corey Liggett (Fr.-Wever, Iowa).
ON THE AIRWAVES – The IWC/William Penn game will be broadcast by KBOE Radio 740 AM in Oskaloosa with Scott Dailey calling the action. A webstream will be available via the Internet at http://http://www.statesmenathletics.com/liveAudio.php.
For more information regarding the IWC football program or any of the Tiger athletic teams, contact sports information director Adam Glatczak (319-385-6306 phone; 319-385-6384 FAX; email@example.com e-mail) or log on to IWC's athletics web site at www.iwc.edu/athletics.