Central football team back at home for explosive Simpson
PELLA—After a persistent Dutch defense held off the University of Dubuque, the Central College football team faces another home-field challenge, this time meeting a red-hot Simpson College squad that is making noise in the Iowa Conference football race.
Game time is 1 p.m. Saturday at Ron and Joyce Schipper Stadium. Central is 2-2 overall and 1-0 in conference play after knocking off defending league champ Dubuque, 31-24. Simpson is 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the league, stunning Wartburg College with a dramatic 20-19 triumph in Indianola.
On the air/on the Web—Trevor Castle will call the play-by-play of Saturday’s game on KRLS-FM (92.1) and the broadcast can also be accessed through www.kniakrls.com or through Central’s website as part of a video webcast at www.central.edu/athletics.
The series—Central ruled the red zone for a 37-14 victory at Indianola last year. The Dutch scored five touchdowns and a field goal in six trips inside the Simpson 20-yard line while the defense denied the Storm on four of six red zone opportunities. Central holds a 59-27-3 lead in the series which dates back to 1905. The Dutch haven’t lost to Simpson since 2008.
Storm on repeat—For the second straight year, Simpson orchestrated a double-digit comeback and blocked Wartburg’s potential game-tying extra point in the final seconds to shock the Knights.
“Simpson made a lot of plays in critical situations and found a way to win,” coach Jeff McMartin said. “Any time a team does those things it gives them great confidence.”
Thirteen starters return from a much-improved 2011 club that placed fifth in the league and broke even at 5-5 overall after notching a 2-8 mark in 2010.
“They had a great season last year and in the second half of the season they were as good as any team in the conference,” McMartin said. “Watching them on film, they get better every week and they’re definitely a team that has a great chance to compete for the conference championship.”
This year’s Storm boast a powerful passing game. Simpson leads the league averaging 367.75 yards in the air per game, which ranks second in NCAA Division III statistics through Sept. 29. The Storm are also tops in league passing efficiency (159.3).
“They have a great quarterback and great receivers and run a good scheme,” McMartin said. “They’ll hit you from a lot of different angles and they can hurt you with everybody.”
Junior Taylor Nelson (5-11, 180) runs the show at quarterback. He’s thrown for 13 touchdowns while completing 90 passes on 154 attempts with five interceptions (.584).
“Nelson is very mobile and tough to tackle,” McMartin said.
Nelson’s favorite targets are all-conference wide receivers Taylor Rogers (6-4, 205) and Brad Vogel (5-7, 165). Rogers has 25 receptions and five touchdowns, averaging 114.2 yards per game.
“Rogers is a Division I transfer,” McMartin said. “He’s big, tall and fast. He can jump out of the building. He’s a real weapon.”
Vogel has 23 receptions with seven touchdowns and an average of 131 yards.
“He’s probably one of the fastest players in the whole conference speed-wise,” McMartin said. “He can really get going.”
On the ground, Simpson averages 60.8 yards per game. Running back Michael Chia (5-10, 185) gets the most chances with 84 yards on 37 carries and one touchdown.
Simpson’s defense leads the league in sacks (4.25 per game) and is limiting opponents to 19 points per game. Senior linebacker Mark Cronin (6-1, 215) has a team-high 30 tackles with 22 solo stops.
“Simpson has nine seniors starting on defense,” McMartin said. “They have a lot of experience and they really tee off on the line of scrimmage. Their linebackers can run and their d-backs don’t give you anything. It’s a powerful defense.”
Timely turnovers—Central’s defense was on the field for 100 plays Saturday and while the Dubuque offense charged to 537 yards, the Dutch picked off four passes. Sophomore cornerback Spencer Boeyink’s (Pella) fourth-quarter interception return for a touchdown secured the win. Originally listed as a 94-yard return, after a review of the play it was officially changed to 95 yards, breaking Jody Bandy’s 1994 school record.
“Getting turnovers are huge,” McMartin said. “Turnovers are probably still the most important stat to look at.”
Brendon Boerm (freshman, Traer, North Tama) had his first collegiate start at quarterback after spending most of his time at receiver. He threw nine passes, completing three for 28 yards, and rushed for 65 yards and a touchdown.
“Brendon moved the team well and made good decisions and good plays,” McMartin said. “The game plan we put in place suited him well and he executed it well, especially for not having a lot of reps at quarterback.”
Defensive lineman Danny Samson (junior, Baxter, CMB HS) was used as a goal-line quarterback, powering into the end zone for Central’s first touchdown. The Dutch will also have Aaron Eiseler (sophomore, Mesa, Ariz., Red Mountain HS) and Jack Flaherty (senior, Burlington) available against Simpson. Eiseler completed eight of nine passes at Albion (Mich.) Sept. 22 but did not play in last week’s game. McMartin has not yet named a starting signal-caller for Saturday.
Central tallied a season-high 325 rushing yards against the Spartan defense. It’s the squad’s second-highest production on the ground in the past three years.
“Our offensive line did a great job and we utilized all of our running backs,” McMartin said. “We felt like we had options to attack in difference places of the field.”
The Dutch will need to infiltrate Simpson on the ground and in the air.
“We don’t want to get too one-dimensional,” McMartin said. “We’ll continue to find ways to be effective passing and running the ball.”
Tough defense and error-free football will be key week-to-week.
“We need to play great defense and keep big plays to a minimum,” McMartin said. “We need to execute, focus, and eliminate turnovers and eliminate penalties. We have to continue to get better at those things.”
Notes—Central, Simpson, Coe College and Loras College have the early lead in the conference title hunt with 1-0 records. Only two teams will remain unbeaten after Saturday as Coe and Loras face off at 1 p.m. in Dubuque…Central is slow out of the gate, with opponents outscoring the Dutch 52-17 in the first quarter. But the squad roars back at the end with a 51-24 advantage in the fourth quarter…For the second week in a row running back Josh Osborn (sophomore, Burlington) posted a pair of career-bests with 135 rushing yards on 17 carries…Blaine Forsythe (sophomore, Pella) received conference football special teams player of the week honors. He averaged 40.2 yards on four punts and had one touchback and one inside the 20-yard line. Forsythe is second in the league and 19th in Div. III with a 40.6 average…Central is 125-23 at Schipper Stadium. The last time the Dutch lost a home game was Nov. 6, 2010 to Wartburg…Boeyink’s game-winning interception return was named the D3football.com Play of the Week (http://d3football.com/awards/playoftheweek/2012/week5). A spinning 61-yard TD jaunt by Josh Osborn (sophomore, Burlington) following a downfield pitch by Boerm was a play of the week nominee.