Southwestern (1-0) at Friends (0-1)
About Southwestern College: Southwestern College started off their 2018 campaign with a bang, beating Graceland University 76-14. Sophomore running back Keyshawn Wyatt had an outstanding day, carrying the ball six times for 96 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Christian Gordon led the Moundbuilder passing attack, going 14 of 30 for 188 yards and three touchdowns. Sophomore linebacker Kerry Coleman was able to stifle the Graceland offense, accumulating five total tackles, two tackles for loss, and one sack.
About Friends University: Friends opened their 2018 season with a 57-3 defeat at the hands of Doane University. Quarterback Dan Dawdy led the Falcons in passing, going 18 of 35 for 112 yards, but gave up three interceptions. Freshman wide receiver Logan Sparkman was one of Dawdy's favorite target, recording four catches for 39 yards. The Falcons defense was led by senior linebacker Matt Washee and freshman defensive lineman Adam Brow, each recording 12 tackles.
Avila (0—0) at #17 Sterling (0-0)
(KCAC Radio Network Game of the Week)
About Avila University: Our newest KCAC member, Avila went 3-8 last season in their final year in the Heart of America Athletic Conference. That included a 1-4 mark at home, while going 2-4 on the road. Interim head coach Marc Benavidez takes over for former head coach Eric Hicks, who resigned in June. In 2017, the Eagles averaged 303.0 yards on offense per game, with 193.1 yards per game (YPG) coming through the air and 109.9 YPG coming on the ground. Their offensive scoring output was 19.4 points per game. On defense, the Eagles allowed 38.3 points per game and 464.1 YPG.
Avila returns several talented starters from last season. Sophomore quarterback Tristan Askan is the top returning signal caller, with 1,116 passing yards and nine touchdowns last season. His top target is Theo Berry, a senior wide receiver, who gained 756 receiving yards and seven touchdowns a season ago. Defensively, the top returning starter is Jamad Thomas, who had 92 total tackles, seven tackles for loss, and one sack in 2017.
About Sterling College: Sterling College ended 2017 as the KCAC co-champion, sharing the title with Tabor College. Their 2017 campaign ended in the first round of the 2017 NAIA Football Championship Series with a loss to Morningside College. Their final record was 9-3, going 4-1 at home and 5-2 away from Sterling. On offense, the Warriors gained 382.8 yards per game (184.3 pass YPG, 198.5 rush YPG) while scoring 30.3 points per contest. The Sterling defense gave up 27.5 points per game last season while surrendering 398.1 yards per game (243.8 pass YPG, 154.3 rush YPG).
Sterling returns several all-KCAC honorees for the 2018 season. Dual-threat quarterback Eric Butler (honorable mention all-KCAC) returns for his junior season after a 2017 season that included 2,001 yards and 13 touchdowns passing, with 617 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground. His top target also returns in junior Darryl Terrell, who was named the 2017 KCAC Offensive Player of the Year. Terrell had 1,045 receiving yards to go along with five touchdowns. On defense, junior defensive back Maurice Rucker returns after recording 43 tackles last season. Rucker was named first team all-KCAC as a returner in 2017.
History: This is the first meeting between Avila and Sterling.
#18 Tabor (0-0) at Saint Mary (0-0)
About Tabor College: Tabor earned the distinction of being 2017 KCAC co-champions last season, splitting the title with Sterling College. The Bluejays had a 8-2 record in 2017, going 5-1 at home and 3-1 away. Coach Mike Gardner returns for his 12th season, recording a 79-32 record in his time at Tabor. Many new faces will be in starting roles for Tabor, as they only return six starters. The Bluejays had a prolific offense last season, averaging 466.8 yards per game (186.3 passing YPG, 280.5 rushing YPG) and scoring 40.5 points per game. On the defensive side, Tabor allowed 346.5 YPG, with a split of 223.8 passing yards and 122.7 rushing yards allowed on average. The defense surrendered 22.2 points per game.
Drevion Cooper, first team all-KCAC in 2017, returns at running back after accumulating 1,248 yards and 11 touchdowns in his junior season (2017). Defensively, the Bluejays bring back two talented senior linebackers in first team All-KCAC honoree Brad Kistner and honorable mention all-KCAC member Kaleb Neuschafer. Kistner recorded 84 total tackles a season ago, including nine tackles for loss and two sacks. Neuschafer made plays all over the field last year, with 49 total tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, one sack, one interception, and one fumble recovery.
About University of Saint Mary: The 2017 season ended with a 4-7 record for Saint Mary and coach Jay Osborne. The Spires went 3-3 in Leavenworth, but 1-3 on the road. Offensively, Saint Mary averaged 416.7 yards per contest, with 335.4 of those yards coming from the passing game, and 81.3 yards coming on the ground. USM averaged 24.8 points scored per game. On defense, they allowed 401.5 YPG (213.9 pass YPG, 187.6 YPG) while surrendering 33.1 points per game.
Drew Cortez comes back for his senior season, as the quarterback earned honorable mention all-KCAC honors in 2017 with 3,637 yards passing and 24 touchdowns. One of his favorite targets, junior wide receiver Bryan Barnhart (2nd team all-KCAC), also returns to follow up a season that included 594 receiving yards and three touchdowns. On defense, senior linebacker Chanderl Cocklin is back after recording 73 total tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss in 2017.
Bethany (0-1) at McPherson (0-0)
About Bethany College: Bethany had a rough opening weekend, losing 75-7 to #12 Benedictine in Atchison. The Swede offense was led by wide receiver Jafar Thomas (four receptions for 51 yards) and running back Ly'tavious Anderson (ten carries for 33 yards, one touchdown). Defensively, junior linebacker Nicholas Pearce led the team with nine tackles.
About McPherson College: The Bulldogs finished the 2017 football season with a 3-7 record. McPherson went 3-2 at home, but 0-5 on the road. Head coach Paul Mierkiewicz enters his fourth season, with a good amount of experienced players returning (60 letterman). McPherson averaged 377.7 YPG on offense last season, earning 220.1 yards passing and 157.6 yards rushing per game. The offense also scored 32.8 points per game. The Bulldog defense gave up 429.7 yards to opponents on average (296.9 yards passing, 132.8 yards rushing), while giving up 35.3 points per contest.
McPherson returns two 1,000-yard passers in Ed Crouch (redshirt junior) and Jake Tiernan (junior). In addition to gaining 1,000 yards each, both quarterbacks scored 12 touchdowns through the air in 2017. Jackson Goodmiller (first team all-KCAC in 2017) returns for his senior season at wide receiver, after a season that included 527 yards and eight touchdowns. Charles and Chandler Tisby lead the defensive line.
#21 Kansas Wesleyan (0-0) at Texas Wesleyan (0-0)
About Kansas Wesleyan University: Kansas Wesleyan compiled a 8-3 record in 2017, going 5-1 at home and 3-2 away from Salina. Matt Drinkall (5th year as head coach) brings back 16 starters from that 2017 team. The Coyotes averaged 434.9 yards per game on offense (257.4 YPG passing, 177.5 YPG rushing) and scored 36.7 points per game. Defensively, KWU gave up 371.3 yards per game, allowing 184.5 yards through the air and 186.8 yards on the ground per game. Opponents were held to 24.9 points per contest against the Coyotes.
The offense brings back several all-KCAC team honorees in 2018. Trenton Poe-Evans (all-KCAC first team as a tight end in 2017) returns for his junior season, looking to follow up on a season in which he scored 16 touchdowns and had 845 yards receiving. Junior running back Jerrod Ferguson (all-KCAC second team) also returns after rushing for 551 yards and five touchdowns. Pierce Williams (48 total tackles, four tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, one interception in 2017) leads the defense in his senior season.
About Texas Wesleyan University: The Rams went 1-10 in 2017, their first football season in 75 years. That record included the team going 1-4 at home and 0-6 on the road. Joe Prud'homme leads Texas Wesleyan in his second year as head coach. Last season, the Rams averaged 220.5 YPG on offense, gaining 123.1 yards passing and 97.4 yards rushing per game. Defensively, TWU allowed 405.3 YPG (233.6 pass YPG, 171.7 rush YPG). The offense scored 11 points per game, while the defense surrended 40.6 points per game.
Redshirt senior Jemarcus Jones returns as the leading ball carrier for the Rams, after rushing for 713 yards and one touchdown last year. On defense, Texas Wesleyan returns their leading tackler in redshirt senior Michael Miller (58 total tackles, two tackles for loss, two interceptions) and a disruptive defensive lineman in redshirt sophomore Matthew Shelby (49 total tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, one fumble recovery).
History: This is the first meeting between Kansas Wesleyan and Texas Wesleyan in football.