The Buena Vista football team will take the field inside of J. Leslie Rollins Stadium for just the second time this season and the first time since its season-opener back on September 1 when it plays host to Wartburg College (2-2, 0-1 IIAC).
BVU will be playing to even its league record after suffering a 51-0 defeat in the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (IIAC) opener a week ago to Coe College. The Knights are also coming in after a loss, as Simpson College edged them in the opener, 20-19.
“We had our best Tuesday practice of the year this week,” said BVU head coach Jay Anderson. “We’ve put the Coe game behind us, and we’ve given Wartburg 100 percent of our focus, and I’ve been pleased with how the guys have come out and are working hard.”
The team, which has been held scoreless throughout the first half in each of its first four games, is looking for a fast start and to be able to establish its run game early on, which Anderson hopes will lead to consistency the rest of the way.
“Against a defense like Wartburg has, you’ve got be able to run the ball and be effective with it,” he says. “We showed signs of getting the ground game going against Coe last week, and we need to build off that and be more consistent with it.”
The Knights currently lead the conference in rush defense, allowing a league-low 17 yards rushing per contest. BVU, which is averaging 80.8 yards per contest, did rush for a season-high 128 yards against the Kohawks a week ago, making the Beavers the first team this season to post more than 100 net yards against Coe this season.
Senior running back John Hill (Webster City, Iowa/Webster City) carried the ball 16 times for a season-high 96 yards, while sophomore Dylan Barrett (Harlan, Iowa/Harlan) added 45 more yards on just seven carries. Sophomore quarterback Bobby Brown (Storm Lake, Iowa/Storm Lake) has thrown for 484 yards and a pair of touchdowns this season, but has been intercepted eight times. Logan Lehrkamp (Carroll, Iowa/Carroll) and Adam Cave (Harlan, Iowa/Harlan) have led the receiving corps to this point, as each has posted nine catches and one touchdown grab.
Wartburg is allowing 211 yards per game through the air, but has picked-off six passes this season, and has registered three sacks.
“This will definitely be the fastest defensive team we’ll go up against all year,” Anderson adds. “We’ll have to be smart with our play calling, as some of the slow developing plays will be tough to execute well.”
Linebacker Ryan Billings leads the Knights, defensively, with 26 total stops this season, including 7.5 for a loss. He’s also tallied a pair of sacks, has one interception and one fumble recovery. Cornerback back Spencer Capitani has 21 stops and has covered the pass well this season, registering an interception, two pass break-ups and three passes defended. Safety Jared Wauters and cornerback Riley Anderson have also been strong in the secondary with two interceptions apiece and six combined passes defended.
BVU, defensively, will look to slow down a Wartburg offense which is averaging 211 yards on the ground and nearly 197 more through the air this season.
“They (Wartburg) really feed off the success from the perimeter run,” says Anderson. “They have a lot of success running the vertical pass of that. We’ll have to really focus on our gap assignments up front and make sure our secondary is getting their eyes where they need to be.”
Reese Thompson has been the leader of the ground game for the Knights early on, rushing for 249 yards and four touchdowns on 50 carries. Connor Dahlstrom is averaging 44.5 yards per contest and has scored one touchdown.
Quarterback Logan Schrader has completed 65 percent of his attempts through the air this season for 787 yards and five touchdowns, while being intercepted just three times. He’s also carried the ball 50 times and has 84 net yards.
Donald Miller has hauled in 17 catches to lead the receiving corps, while Curt Hruska and DJ Looft are close behind with 13 and 12, respectively. All three players have also tallied on touchdown apiece.
Linebackers Nick Plueger (Le Mars, Iowa/Le Mars) and Brady Randall (Storm Lake, Iowa/Alta) have been all over the field this season, leading the league in tackles per game at 14.5 and 13.2, respectively. Freshman strong safety Kyle Arnold (Johnston, Iowa/Johnston) is third on the team and also in the top-10 of the conference, averaging 7.8. He’s also recorded one of the team’s two interceptions.
For the Beavers, they averaged nearly 26 points in conference home games last season, and Anderson says the team is more than ready to be back on its home turf.
“It’s going to be great being back at home,” he says. “It’s been so long since we’ve played here, that it hardly feels like we’ve even had a home game. It’ll really be nice for our players that don’t get the luxury of traveling with the team to get back out there on the sidelines.”
The game kicks-off at 1:00pm and will be broadcasted locally on the radio by tuning into 97.5FM KBVU. The game will also be televised live in the Storm Lake area on BVU’s University Cable Network. A live web stream of that broadcast will also be available at http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/bvu.portal#
This Saturday is also Take a Kid to the Game Day, with all children through eighth grade who attend the game with a paid adult, will be admitted free of charge.
Check out photos of our student-athletes in action in the Beaver sports photo galleries.