What's good about playing in the Great Plains Athletic Conference? It boasts the defending NAIA national champion in football.
What's bad about playing in the Great Plains Athletic Conference? It boasts the defending NAIA national champion in football.
The University of Jamestown football team travels to Sioux City, Iowa, this Saturday to play unbeaten and No. 1-ranked Morningside College. The Mustangs (5-0) are averaging 61 points and roughly 618 yards of total offense per game, which are just two of eight statistical categories in which Morningside leads the nation.
Morningside hasn't dropped a contest in nearly two years, last losing the national championship to Saint Francis (Ind.) in December of 2017, marking the team's only loss over its last 34 contests. The Mustangs beat up Briar Cliff 49-14 last Saturday in Sioux City, as sophomore quarterback Joe Dolincheck tossed for 342 of Morningside's 583 yards of total offense and junior Arnijae Ponder rushed for 166 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries.
The Mustangs dealt the Jimmies a 49-13 loss last November at a snowy Rollie Greeno Field. One of 15 victories en route to the national title.
"It doesn't really matter if we're playing the 1985 (Chicago) Bears," said UJ football coach Brian Mistro prior to practice Wednesday night at the Jimmie turf field. "It comes down what are we gonna do to execute our stuff the way that it needs to be executed. If you're focused on what the other team is going to do, you're already a step behind."
Jamestown's defensive backfield suffered another blow during last Saturday's 28-21 loss to Doane University in Crete, Nebraska. Senior cornerback Troy Stuard was helped off the field after an apparent head injury and has been replaced on the top of the depth chart with sophomore Jeremy Hautau.
The Jimmies lost starting safety Ross Monson to injury for the season two weeks ago. Senior linebacker Aundre Purnell has been moved to safety alongside junior TJ Milk. Sophomore Jordan Olson is the Jimmies' second starting cornerback.
"Jeremy has played a lot of football for us, so we're going to roll with Jeremy and Jordan," Mistro said. "I like to rotate a lot of guys, so we're going to get some young bucks in there."
Mistro said junior college transfer Nate Holmes and redshirt freshman Kahamar Floyd should see some time in the defensive backfield. Floyd was converted to DB from receiver and has been returning punts.
Jamestown (1-6) was in line for a second consecutive victory last week at Doane until the Tigers scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns. But positives weren't too hard to find.
Senior quarterback Jordan Mann found All-GPAC honorable mention receiver Barry Williams Jr. on a busted coverage for a 55-yard touchdown pass, and Edgeley native Tanner Mathern rushed for a career-high 81 yards on 14 carries.
"They blow a coverage, Barry's open, throw him the ball, he catches it," Mistro said. "Tanner always has run hard. Given the opportunity, with the open holes that he had, he made the most out of what he had in front of him.
"It was very good to see that stuff."
Jamestown will host two of its final three games beginning with Midland University on Oct. 26. But first comes a date with No. 1.
"We need to execute our jobs every single play," Mistro said. "And, you have to do it very well versus a very good team."