September 18, 2007

Mustache men try to revive Lutes

More news about: Bethel | Pacific Lutheran

These guys have matured alright, even if their facial hair may not have.
Scott Westering, center, by D3sports.com

By Adam Johnson
D3sports.com

When Pacific Lutheran head coach Scott Westering opened camp this fall 19 seniors showed up with heart, determination and ... neatly trimmed mustaches.

Make no mistake; there was no Charlie Chaplin preseason contest. These mustaches are symbolic. They are a sign of camaraderie while poking fun at their coach who has seriously maintained the philosophy of a football program that his father built.

In 1999, legendary head coach Frosty Westering was at the peak of his career. The Lutes had just won the Stagg Bowl one season after joining Division III from NAIA, becoming the first team in Stagg Bowl history to claim the crown by winning five straight road games.

Four years later, he retired with a career record of 305-96-7 and a football team built on four simple letters -- EMAL: Every Man A Lute. The philosophy promotes victory on the field as well as the satisfaction of playing to one’s personal potential.

In February 2004, Frosty’s son Scott Westering was hired to lead the team and continue the EMAL philosophy. He had shoes the size of canoes to fill but he was anxious for the challenge. Scott had been on staff since 1981 and offensive coordinator since 1983. He was the likely successor to follow his father.

After mirroring Frosty’s 6-3 record from 2003 in his rookie season as head coach the team fell from “PLU!!” to “PL-Who?”

With a predominantly underclassmen team, the Lutes limped to a 3-6 record in 2005 and a winless conference record for the first time since before his father took over the team in 1972. The team was young, evidenced by their 30 turnovers in nine games.“We were very, very young two years ago,” Westering said. “But it’s been just awesome to watch these guys mature.”

The Lutes bounced back in 2006 but still struggled losing at home to Linfield and Whitworth -- the two best teams in the Northwest Conference -- along with three consecutive non-conference losses to open the season. The team had reduced their turnovers to 29 and had actually increased their takeaways to 37 but they needed to control the ball better.

“These were still valuable seasons and growing seasons regardless of our record,” said Westering.

Fast forward to preseason camp 2007 and that same group of freshmen and sophomores who spent the last two years giving the ball up more than taking it away walked in as seniors looking to make a statement. The mustaches were a rib at their old school coach -- who doesn’t allow long hair or facial hair except for a neatly trimmed mustache because he has one himself. These seniors, Westering’s first recruiting class as a head coach had bonded with each other and their coach.

“Now that’s embarrassing,” Westering said with a chuckle remembering his seniors showing up at camp with feeble attempts at growing mustaches like his.

After posting a 7-11 record and a 4-6 conference mark the previous two years, Westering felt the seniors on this team were ready to show that those tough years were about to pay off and that the 0-4 and 0-3 slow starts were part of the past.

“Their work ethic has been great,” Westering said. “They bring enthusiasm and give it all they got all the time.”

The Lutes opened 2007 with a drubbing of Cal Lutheran 48-17 on the road avenging two straight season opening losses to the Kingsmen. The offense put up its highest point total since Nov. 5, 2005 and most importantly took care of the ball. They had only one turnover against Cal Lutheran while forcing seven.

They backed up their season opening win with an impressive road win at upstart UW-River Falls, 48-37. Again, they controlled the ball and relied on their senior leadership including quarterback Brett Gordon who threw for 304 yards and four touchdowns. Seniors Chase Reed and Craig Chiado both chipped in two touchdowns and the defense held off a late push from the Falcons.

“We have some pretty special players,” Westering said. “We learned we can get in a fight with a giant and compete.”

Frosty picked up his 300 win in the second game of the 2003 season -- Scott may have won the biggest game of his young career in the second game of this season.

The mustaches have since been removed but then again so have the 0-3 starts and the turnovers and all the other negatives that have hurt the Lutes the last few years.

They’ll go for their third straight win to open the season for the first time since 2000 this Saturday against Chapman.

On the field ...

Concordia-Moorhead and Bethel duked it out on Saturday in the longest regular season game ever played in the MIAC and in the end it was freshman Logan Flannery who stole the show. When the dusted settled and smoke cleared, the Royals had notched a 48-45 victory over the upstart Cobbers in three overtimes. Flannery caught three passes for 98 yards including an 85-yard touchdown late in the third quarter on third-and-14. He also rushed 24 times for 93 yards and three touchdowns including the game winner on an 18-yard run in the third overtime.

Off the field ...

Flannery filled us in on life at Bethel and what it's like to log significant minutes as a freshman.

Hardest course this fall: Intro to Psychology
Favorite Holiday: Christmas
Gatorade or Powerade: Gatorade
If you could have dinner with anyone past or present: Barry Sanders
Biggest difference between high school and college football: Size of players
President when I graduate: I'm not even sure. I don't even have a clue.
Favorite TV show: SportsCenter
Early riser or sleep in: Sleep in
2008 Super Bowl Champion: New England Patriots
Last book you read: I'm not much of a book reader...how about the sports page
Closest friend on the team: Trent Pearson and Jeremy Foster
Favorite place to study: My desk in my dorm
Do you read Post Patterns: I've looked over it
Republican or Democrat: Republican
Favorite cold cereal: Reese's Puff
Girlfriend or single: Single
Late night snack: Cheezits
Three words to describe Coach Johnson: Amazing Person, Great Coach
Why Bethel: The environment and the guys on the team and the opportunity to play.

Flannery and the Royals look to avenge last year's only regular season loss this Saturday against Carleton.

Rushing record 4 Beaver

 

UW-Whitewater running back Justin Beaver moved into the top spot in UW-Whitewater and Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference rushing history in Saturday’s 26-16 loss to St. Cloud State. Beaver rushed 24 times for 177 yards, pushing his career total to 4,444 yards. He moved past Chad Wurth's UW-Whitewater record total of 4,301 yards from 2000-03, then moved on to eclipse UW-Stout's Luke Bundgaard (2000-03), who amassed 4,427 yards, for the top spot in conference history.

A wild one

 

Concordia-Moorhead and Bethel duked it out on Saturday in the longest regular season game ever played in the MIAC. When the dusted settled and smoke cleared, the Royals had notched a 48-45 victory over the upstart Cobbers in three overtimes. So much for the Cobbers not having a quarterback; they threw four touchdowns including three from quarterback Jesse Nelson and one from running back Aron Goraczkowski. Bethel countered with star freshman Logan Flannery who tallied four touchdowns on the day including the game winner in the third overtime. The teams combined for 176 offensive plays and 896 total yards of offense.

A decade of dominance

 

With their 62-7 victory on Saturday, St. John’s improves to 60-7-2 all time against Augsburg, including their 10th win in a row against the Auggies. The last time Augsburg upended the Johnnies was a 20-10 loss on Sept. 20, 1997, in Minneapolis. SJU has outscored Augsburg, 476-86 since.

Pin them deep

 

Central had a strong offensive performance against Luther on Saturday which overshadowed the performance of freshman punter Kurtis Brondyke. He averaged 38.0 yards on eight kicks, but more significantly he landed three punts inside the Luther 5-yard line and two punts inside the 1-yard line. He got a big assist on a fourth-quarter punt when his lofty kick was fielded in the air by the speedy Cody Huisman, who raced underneath it and somehow kept his toes just outside the Luther goal line.

Runs for ones

 

La Verne and Cal Lutheran had rough outings Saturday trying to run the ball. Cal Lutheran managed just 33 yards on 29 carries for a 1.1 yard per carry average against Willamette in a 14-7 loss. LaVerne ran into a buzzsaw in Whitworth and managed just one total yard rushing in their 34-0 defeat.

O what a defense

 

Occidental has opened the 2007 season outscoring its opponents 90-0 including a 52-0 win over Lewis and Clark and a 38-0 thumping of Menlo. They will look to extend their scoreless streak after the bye week in a matchup with Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.

Pointers get the points

 

UW-Stevens Point’s 34-0 lead against Lakeland marked the most points the Pointers has ever scored in an opening quarter and matched the most scored in any quarter. After an interception on its opening drive, UW-Stevens Point scored on its next seven possessions with five touchdowns and two field goals. The previous record for points in a first quarter was 29 against Lakeland on Sept. 4, 1976 and the record for points in any quarter was also 34, coming in the third quarter against UW-Oshkosh on Oct. 30, 1993.

Notes, nuggets and things you might have missed

 

• UW-Whitewater’s Jeff Schebler kicked a school record tying 52-yard field goal matching a kick by Bryan Mader, 1997 vs. South Dakota Tech.
• Tim Connell’s 300 passing yards against Luther on Saturday was Central’s first 300-yard passing performance since Jeff Borgman threw for 302 yards against UW-River Falls on Sept. 8, 2001.
• St. Olaf’s 49-point win over Hamline on Saturday is the most lopsided in the series, which dates to 1919, and is the sixth in a row for the Oles.
• Minnesota-Morris kicker Rick Arterberry set a single-game team record by booting 11 extra-point kicks for the Cougars.
• The Blugolds now have a 3-0 start to the season, the first time they’ve accomplished that since 1998.
• Whitworth posted its first shutout since 2003 with a 34-0 defeat of LaVerne.
• Wartburg had nine sacks on the day against Buena Vista which was their largest total since the recorded 10 against Simpson in 2003.
• Cornell dropped its 13th straight game in the IIAC.
• St. Thomas is 0-3 this season having trailed 21-0 in all three games

Game to Watch


Concordia at No. 4 St. John’s, Collegeville, Minn., 1 p.m.:

After beating the Johnnies in Collegeville in 2004, the Cobbers have lost their last two games to St. John’s by a combined six points. Last year, the Cobbers lost by two and the Johnnies used a hail mary in the final 25 seconds to win in 2005 by four points. This year, the Johnnies are favored on paper but you never know how this game will go. The Cobbers are coming off a 48-45 three-overtime loss to Bethel while the Johnnies had an easy time disposing Augsburg 62-7. This game should be a doozy and could shake up the MIAC title hunt if the Cobbers can pull the upset.

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