The same kind of improvement the Central College football team showed last week will be needed as the Dutch open Iowa Conference play at home against Luther College Saturday.
Game time is 1 p.m. at Ron and Joyce Schipper Stadium. Central is 1-1 after a 31-23 triumph over Augustana College (Ill.) Saturday. Luther is 0-2, sustaining a 24-22 loss to St. Olaf (Minn.) Sept. 3 and a 24-13 defeat against NAIA William Penn Saturday.
On the air/cybersphere— Trevor Castle will call the play-by-play of Saturday's game on KRLS-FM (92.1) and the broadcast can also be accessed through Central's website at www.central.edu/athletics or through www.kniakrls.com.
A video webcast and live stats can also be viewed at www.central.edu/athletics. A delayed telecast is offered to Pella Mediacom customers through PTV 12 next Tuesday at 1 p.m. and Thursday at 7 p.m.
KRLS radio also airs the Coaches' Corner featuring Dutch coach Jeff McMartin at Applebee's restaurant in Pella each Monday night at 7 p.m. The show can be accessed online, either live or via podcast.
The series—Central leads the all-time series with Luther, 49-22-1. The Norse last won in 2008, a 26-7 decision. Last year in Decorah, the Dutch were 45-26 winners. Luther dominated the series early, but over the past 30 years, Central owns a 28-2 advantage.
The Norse—Luther, 5-5 last year, has a pair of the league's top players in all-American linebacker Kyle McGivney and quarterback Chris Reynolds. McGivney broke the Division III season tackles record with 198 and leads the league with 36 through two games this season.
Reynolds, a second-team all-league selection last year, is a dual threat quarterback. He's completed 27 of 56 passes for 241 yards and one touchdown with four interceptions in two games. He's also rushed 22 times for 67 yards and a score. Junior running back Dan Ridenour has gained 145 yards on 35 carries while senior receiver Steven Thompson has nine catches for 85 yards.
"Luther's a very talented football team," coach Jeff McMartin said. "We'll have to prepare well for them. Chris Reynolds is an excellent quarterback. He's a senior and a leader of their offense. They do some really nice things with their running game, they have a good offensive line and they have wide receivers who can get open. They're well-coached and run a good scheme."
Junior linebacker Trent Kerrigan supports McGivney. He has 27 tackles in 2011 after making 89 stops last year. Senior defensive back Donterrius Porter is tied for the conference lead in pass breakups with four. The Norse are the league pass defense leaders, limiting opponents to 117.0 yards per game.
"They're big up front," McMartin said. "Their all-American linebacker is obviously talented, but their whole linebacker corps is very good and their defensive backs are fast. They move around a lot and create a lot of confusion. Their special teams give you a lot of different looks as well. You've got to be aware at all times and well prepared."
Luther was outscored in its first two games, 24.0-17.5 and outgained 355.0 yards to 247.5. But McMartin notes it was a difficult non-conference slate for the Norse.
"William Penn is a very good football team," he said. "We scrimmaged them in the preseason so we know how good they are. And St. Olaf comes from a very tough league in Minnesota and is a strong team."
Bouncing back—After a 31-28 loss at Wis.-Oshkosh Sept. 3, Central showed progress last week. Augustana jumped on top, 7-0, but Central was up 14-10 at the half and didn't trail the rest of the way.
Central's rushing total improved from 99 yards to 170, but that was partly a function of being ahead instead of behind, McMartin said.
"We were able to get a lead and use our conditioning to run the football," he said. "When you're in a position like we were in week one, it's harder to do that. I wasn't surprised we could run the ball, the capability was there."
The Dutch reduced their turnover total from five to one, but still had four fumbles, recovering three.
"We've got to take care of the ball," McMartin said. "We put the ball on the ground too many times. We were fortunate to get it back."
Central made progress on defense, despite giving up 416 yards.
"I feel pretty good about the defense," McMartin said. "We had a lot of guys flying around and making plays. That goal-line stand in the fourth quarter was a huge component of the game.
"We can keep getting better. Our goal is to constantly improve and I think we will. I was excited to see the passion and effort our guys showed."
Dutch numbers—It's a little early to put too much emphasis on season statistics, but nonetheless, Central is leading the conference in rush defense, limiting foes to 94.0 yards per game. But the Dutch are ninth in pass defense (298.5 yards). Central is second in pass efficiency (147.2 rating) and is the leader in third down efficiency on offense (18-31, 58.1 percent) and defense (8-30, 26.7 percent). The Dutch also lead in possession time (31:56).
Quarterback Nate Snead (senior, Altoona, Southeast Polk HS) is the league total offense leader (325.0 yards). He's third in passing yards (239.5) and fourth in rushing (85.5). Jeremy Snead (senior, Altoona, Southeast Polk HS) is third in receiving yards (88.0). The Sneads are tied for second in scoring with 9.0 points per game each.
Preston Roberts (senior, Bloomfield, Davis County HS), in his first season as Central's punter, is second in punting yards (42.3).
Climbing the wins ladder—McMartin has tied Rich Kacmarynski for third place on the career wins list for Central coaches. Now in his eighth season, McMartin has a 62-16 mark. Kacmarynski was 62-15 in seven seasons. Hall of Fame coach Ron Schipper posted a 287-67-3 record over 36 years while Babe Tysseling was 91-90-7 in 23 years. Those four are the only head coaches Central has had since 1938.
Notes—A scheduling quirk has the Dutch in the midst of a five-game stretch in which they play four home games. In the final five weeks of the season, Central is at home just once, with three road games and a bye. Central's home-season finale is Oct. 22. .. Iowa Conference teams appeared to have played one of the most demanding non-conference slates in recent years and that's reflected in the statistics. Eight of the nine teams allowed 48 points or more in two games. League teams were 8-10 in two weeks.