Seniors play key role for JimmiesThe Jamestown College football roster is underclassman-heavy. However, the 13 seniors on the roster have played a large role in the team’s budding resurgence.
By: By Dave Selvig, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
The Jamestown College football roster is underclassman-heavy.
However, the 13 seniors on the roster have played a large role in the team’s budding resurgence.
Lance Johansen, Matt Wilson, Tyler Spanton, Matt Mithaugen and Jay Bachman have all contributed offensively. C.J. Costello, Rob Gibson, Kyle Blumenshine, A.J. Downs, Kenny Allen, Reid Haagenson, Logan Hord and Andrew Hammond are among the team’s top defensive players and punter Craig Anderson has been among the best at his job in the NAIA all season. But coach Shawn Frank says their impact exceeds statistics.
“No. 1, these are good people. A number of them are going to be graduating in December and will go on to be tremendous and productive members of society,” Frank said. “Our institution can be proud of what these young men did on the football field and I fully expect each of them to be successful in whatever they choose to do in the future.”
Frank spoke highly of the entire group, thinking back in particular to a meeting he had with a number of the seniors shortly after being named head coach.
“These guys care about this program and this school. They brought forth some ideas, we listened and I think we were able to come to a consensus and that was really nice to see,” Frank said. “They’re a hungry group of players and people and they’ve shown that with their dedication to this program.”
They’re also a productive group.
Johansen has been one of the top running backs in the NAIA this season with 740 yards rushing. When Johansen isn’t carrying the ball, Matt Mithaugen usually is. He’s run for 362 yards.
Wilson is the team’s leading receiver (24-344). Spanton has 144 yards receiving.
The defense will be hit hard by graduation.
Costello leads in interceptions (3) and is second in tackles (52). Haagenson and Allen are run-stuffing linebackers with 101 tackles combined, ranking third and fourth on the team in stops, respectively.
Downs is fifth in tackles (47) and is an All-American candidate at cornerback. Gibson starts opposite Downs and has 34 tackles.
Hammond (3 sacks, 4 tackles-for-loss, 43 tackles) and Hord (1 sack, 3.5 TFL, 36 tackles) anchor the defensive line for the unit, which is ranked 24th in total defense in the country.
Anderson can’t be overlooked either. He’s ranked 10th nationally in punting (42.2 avg.).
“I feel fortunate in the amount of time I’ve been able to spend around those guys,” Frank said. “The good thing is we still have the opportunity to play two football games together as a team.”
Better than their record
The first of their final two games is today in Madison, S.D., against Dakota State.
It’s a tricky opponent for the Jimmies (3-5).
The Trojans are not as bad as their 1-8 record suggests. They’ve played four ranked teams and boast one of the top quarterbacks in the NAIA. Brandon Large has thrown for 2,421 yards — second-most in the country.
“Their quarterback is a good player,” Frank said. “If you don’t put pressure on him, and he gets in a rhythm, he’s going to pick you apart.”
Large has a nice group of receivers led by Stacey Berg, who has 38 catches for 810 yards and seven touchdowns.
Positive plays on first down on both sides of the ball will be key.
The Jimmies want to run the ball and possess the ball offensively, and put Large and Co. behind the sticks defensively.
“First down is critical for us. If we have success on first down, that will allow us to do some different things,” Frank said.
Beau Eriksson’s first start under center wasn’t a masterpiece statistically, but the game-winning drive he engineered in the fourth quarter to beat Valley City State last Saturday was a thing of beauty, capping it with a go-ahead TD strike to Trent Roemmich.
“He kind of said, ‘The heck with it. I’ll do it on my own. … It was pretty impressive,” Frank said of the redshirt freshman from Devils Lake.
It might take more than 13 points today, though. Dakota State averages nearly 20 and scored 31 against the Vikings Sept. 15.
Sun sports editor Dave Selvig can be reached at (701) 952-8460 or by e-mail at email@example.com