Lions dedicate Homecoming win to Ware

Travis Brown, junior wide receiver, returns the ball during the Oct. 1 game against Truman State University. The Lions beat TSU 41-17.

Travis Brown, junior wide receiver, returns the ball during the Oct. 1 game against Truman State University. The Lions beat TSU 41-17.

T.J. Gerlach

Donning the “JW1%” stickers on their helmets, the Missouri Southern football Lions took on their late coach’s former team Truman State University.

Southern won the game 41-17.

Keeth Matheny, acting head football coach, said the team played the in a classy manner and dedicated the game to John Ware, who died early last week.

“Making Coach Ware proud is about coming out everyday and getting one percent better; about improving everyday in practice, going to class and working toward graduation,” Matheny said.

He said adjusting to the changes in the coaching staff has brought many challenges.

“Challenges are opportunities for growth,” Matheny said.

He said the staff has had to create more time to do the work. Matheny said he has been coming to work earlier in the mornings and staying a little later at night.

Matheny said everyone has had to rely more on each other to adjust.

“One of the things you would definitely be impressed by both as a coaching staff and as a team is the amount of togetherness and unity this team has,” he said. “Every morning the staff is as tight-knit as they can be, and every day at practice, the players are as tight-knit as they can be.”

He said it has been a bonding experience for everyone, including the campus community.

Matheny said he definitely looks at the game differently from the sideline and from his new role.

“You basically end up living and dying with every player on every play,” he said.

He said Scott Bailey, running backs coach, and Craig Knoth, graduate assistant who took over for Ware as offensive line coach, ran the operations in the press box for Matheny.

“[They] worked very, very hard last week on getting a good feel for what they have to do from the box,” Matheny said. “It was a tribute to them that things went so smoothly from the box. I was real pleased with how they did it.”

Matheny said he has talked to numerous coaches, his staff and Sallie Beard, athletics director, for advice during this time.

“Basically, just anyone I can get good advice from, we’ve taken it,” he said.

Matheny said he is excited about where the team is headed.

Against the TSU Bulldogs, Southern earned 465 yards.

Matheny said the game was a special game in that the Lions ran many trick plays they normally would not run, but Ware would have liked to see.

“We’re just going to play basic football from here on out,” he said.

He said from the pre-game memorial for Ware to the numerous good plays the Lions ran, a Hollywood writer could not have written a better script.

“The cover picture of Dustin Bromley (senior wide receiver) after the 80-yard touchdown, pointing up to the sky, I don’t know how you can get better than that,” Matheny said.

Bromley caught four passes against the Bulldogs for 114 yards and one touchdown.

He was second only to Colin Bado, sophomore wide receiver, who caught 11 passes for 145 yards and one touchdown.

Matt Farrell, freshman tight end, caught two passes for 24 yards and one touchdown.

Freshman quarterback Adam Hinspeter completed 23 of 31 passes altogether, earning 329 yards.

On the ground, Dartangan Johnson, junior running back, carried the ball 16 times and gained 74 yards. Junior running back Wentric Williams had seven carries, earning 20 yards.

Allen Barbre, junior tackle, also rushed for a touchdown.

On defense, Jordan Chapman, junior safety; Matt Crane, senior linebacker; Atiba Bradley, senior linebacker and Jason Phelps, senior linebacker, all earned six tackles. Keith Wyatt, freshman cornerback; Dennis Johnson, senior safety and Joe Bettasso, senior safety, earned five tackles each.

Crane also earned a sack. B.J. Russow, sophomore defensive end; Devin Rutledge, junior tackle and Joey Wagner, sophomore defensive end, all earned two sacks against TSU.

Chapman intercepted three TSU passes out of the air for Southern and returned one for a touchdown.

“[Chapman] did an awesome job,” Matheny said. “Not just that, but he dedicated that to coach (Ware).”

Brian Ward, co-defensive coordinator, said Chapman has great instincts for football comes to the games well prepared.

“He puts himself in good position to make plays,” Ward said. “[Chapman] flies around the field.”

He said Chapman is able to catch the football better than many of the other defensive players.

“When he gets the opportunity to get his hands on the football, he does,” Ward said. “I don’t believe he’s dropped an interception opportunity this year yet.”

Chapman was named the Wilson/MIAA defensive player of the week Oct. 3.

Ward said he was excited to see the defense respond to some “unexpected adversity” against the Bulldogs.

“If you measured it from gun-to-gun, all 60 minutes, it probably was the best performance we’ve had,” he said.

Saturday, the Lions will face their first road game under Matheny’s command. They travel to St. Joseph to play Missouri Western State University.

Matheny said it will be a nice opportunity for the Lions and it can be a “statement game” for them.

“It’s tough to win on the road in this league,” he said. “But we feel if you prepare and you take the business-trip approach, you can be successful.”

Southern’s record after beating TSU is 3-3 overall and 2-2 in the MIAA.