It will be time to answer a lot of questions for each team when the Bethel College football team hosts Ottawa University at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Joe W. Goering Field, Thresher Stadium in North Newton.
The game will mark the debut of Terry Harrison as the Threshers’ 23rd head coach in the team’s 104 year history.
With the new head coach, the Threshers will be debuting new offensive and defensive schemes.
The game also is the season opener for the Braves.
“Things have been going really well,” Harrison said of the team’s pre-season. “It’s been new for everybody. The kids are embracing the changes. We’re trying to change the culture on the football field and off and we’re excited about that.”
The team didn’t have a scrimmage with another team this season, but did have an intra-squad scrimmage to prepare for things.
“That’s something we’re going to do in the future,” Harrison said. “We just weren’t able to do that this year. The kids have been doing a good job, they just haven’t faced adversity yet. How you handle adversity determines the outcome.”
Bethel is coming off a 1-9 season while Ottawa is coming off a 3-8 season.
The Braves return 15 starters from last season — six on offense, seven on defense and two on special teams.
Ottawa is led by sophomore running back James Reeder, who was named to the All-KCAC pre-season team. A first-team all-conference selection last season, Reeder had 976 yards rushing on 188 carries with two touchdowns. Reeder also caught 20 passes for 115 yards.
Expected to start at quarterback for the Braves is junior Connor Kaegi, who transfers from Arizona Western College, which finished 9-1 and fell in the National Junior College Athletic Association championship game.
Also returning is receiver Dylan Foos, who had 16 catches for 165 yards.
Among the top defensive returnees include linebacker Rodney Latham, who had 66 total tackles last year with three sacks and a fumble recovery; and Jerrell Taylor, who had 47 total tackles, three interceptions and a fumble recovery.
“I don’t know much about them,” Harrison said. “I don’t have any game film on them. I know, based on what coach (Kent) Kessinger said at media day, they are going to put more ‘helium’ in the ball, meaning they are going to throw it more.”
Bethel fell to Ottawa 34-10 last year. Bethel stayed close in that game until the fourth quarter, when the Braves made a 20-7 run to close out the game.
“That’s important,” Harrison said. “You have to be able to continue to play hard into the fourth quarter.”
Bethel has lost the last 11 meetings against Ottawa. It’s the first time the two teams met in the season opener since 1969.
Harrison reports no major injuries entering this week.
GAME DAY – The game will be Webcast on ESPN3.com as part of the KCAC’s game of the week package. The first 150 fans in attendance will receive an “ESPN Thresher Gameday” shirt.
The game will have extended media time outs because of the Webcast.
The game can be viewed at http://www.espn.com/watch/_/id/3430269/ottawa-university-vs-bethel-college.
The game also will mark the dedication of the new turf, which was done during the summer. Fans can get a piece of the old turf, which was installed in 2005, for a freewill donation.
The Bethel softball team is selling rally rags.
The BC Booster Club is holding a membership drive before the game. Hamburgers and hot dogs will be available.
The softball team will hold a scrimmage at 11 a.m., and the volleyball team will host an alumni match at 3 p.m.
The Office of Student Life is holding cornhole competitions and other games beginning at 5 p.m. in the tailgating area of the parking lot.