Jimmies prepare for Monday night football finale
Monday night football won't solely be reserved for the NFL's Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week.
The University of Jamestown is set to wrap up the season in Orange City, Iowa, on Monday, going up against the 7-1 Northwestern College Red Raiders in the fall finale for Great Plains Athletic Conference college football.
The Rams and the Bucs will get underway from Tampa Bay's Raymond James Stadium at 7:15 p.m. on ESPN, while the Jimmies and the Raiders can be watched online beginning at 6 p.m. at the following web address: https://nwcraiders.com/watch
The Jimmies were first scheduled to play Doane University (Nebraska) this Saturday at Bismarck's MDU Resources Community Bowl, and then travel to Northwestern on Nov. 28 to wrap up the season. But Doane withdrew from this week's contest due to issues stemming from COVID-19 and Northwestern agreed to move its game against the Jimmies -- originally scheduled to take place Sept. 26 in Jamestown -- ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.
"I think our guys have been on such a roller coaster this whole entire year that they're ready for anything that comes their way," said UJ head football coach Brian Mistro. "The adjustments that we've had to make on the fly, the personnel changes that we've had to make; our guys are as strong mentally as they've ever been."
Northwestern senior quarterback Tyson Kooima, last season's GPAC offensive player of the year, heads up one of the premier passing offenses in the NAIA. He's averaging north of 308 passing yards per game and has tossed for 2,465 yards and 21 touchdowns, with a majority of that production finding the hands of senior receiver Shane Solberg.
Solberg, producing more than 140 reception yards per game, has hauled in 50 completions for 1,145 yards and 12 TDs. The Red Raiders, ranked 10th last December in the 2019 NAIA top 25 coaches' postseason poll, have rifled off seven consecutive victories since falling 45-31 to two-time defending national champion Morningside in September.
"To be honest with you, there's not much that you haven't been able to prepare for all year," said Mistro, as the Jimmies found out Tuesday they'd be trading in Doane for Northwestern. Doane ends the season at 2-5 overall. "Northwestern is running the same stuff that they ran last year, with a few different things they're trying to do. But we still have to focus on what we need to do, we just know the big-play potential is gonna be there with those guys because if you do miss a tackle they're gone."
The Jimmies are 0-2 against the Red Raiders since joining the conference in 2018, and Northwestern has scored four offensive touchdowns accounting for 35 yards or more against the Jimmies, including a 72-yard pass play and a 70-yard run in last September's 45-6 victory over the orange and black in Orange City.
University of Jamestown starting quarterback Cade Torgerson was scheduled to undergo an MRI on his injured right knee Friday. The junior was injured in the fourth quarter of last week's 35-16 loss to Dakota Wesleyan in Bismarck, but Mistro is hopeful Torgerson will be back on the field next fall as a senior.
UJ backup quarterback Matt Chauvin completed 7 of 12 passes for 58 yards in the final 12 minutes last week, and the senior from Paradise, California, will get his first start for the Jimmies on Monday. Mistro said Chauvin isn't quite as mobile as the fleet-footed Torgerson, but as a student of the game, he's ready to make plays.
"Matt's been playing college football for four years," Mistro said. "He's capable and able to do a lot of things that you want at that position. His hay is gonna be made pre-snap and being able to make decisions quickly.
"I'm excited as heck to see what he does because I know that he's excited and this is what he's been kinda waiting for his whole life."
UJ freshman running back Frankie Ingraldi rushed for 75 yards on 10 carries to lead the Jimmie backfield last week. Freshman receiver Steven Justice hauled in 103 yards and a touchdown but was injured in the second half and isn't listed on this week's UJ two-deep roster.
The NAIA football playoffs are scheduled to begin April 17 with the national championship slated to be played May 10 at Louisiana's Grambling State University. Mistro said finishing the season Monday on the field will be a blessing for the Jimmies (1-6), no matter the opponent.
"I'm still excited that we're playing football, because I know there's a lot of other coaches and a lot of other players that would rather be in our position than not," Mistro said. "So we're gonna go out there and respect the game and respect the ability that we have to continue to keep playing."
GREAT PLAINS ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
Team Conf. Overall
Morningside (Iowa) 7-0 7-0
Northwestern (Iowa) 7-1 7-1
Dordt (Iowa) 6-2 6-2
Midland (Neb.) 5-3 5-3
Concordia (Neb.) 4-3 4-3
Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) 3-5 3-5
Doane (Neb.) 2-5 2-5
Hastings (Neb.) 2-6 2-6
Jamestown 1-6 1-6
Briar Cliff (Iowa) 1-7 1-7
Hastings @ Morningside, 1 p.m.
Concordia @ Dakota Wesleyan, 1 p.m.
Dordt @ Briar Cliff, 1 p.m.
(END OF REGULAR SEASON)
Jamestown @ Northwestern, 6 p.m.