Football team plays despite loss

T.J. Gerlach

Despite the death of head coach John Ware, the Missouri Southern football team will play this Saturday’s Homecoming game.

Keeth Matheny, assistant head football coach and offensive coordinator, will assume the responsibilities as head coach. He said the team felt it would be disrespectful to Ware not to play Saturday.

“The team has expressed every interest and every resolve in playing a game that Coach Ware would be proud of not only this Saturday, but each and every Saturday from here on,” Matheny said.

The Homecoming match will pit Southern against the Truman State University Bulldogs, who Ware led for nine years as head coach. He was also on their coaching staff for ten years before that.

“I think that’s a strange irony in a way that we’re playing Truman State,” said Sallie Beard, athletics director. “Aside from Joplin, there isn’t any place else on the face of the earth that will be more touched and more impacted than Kirksville and Truman State’s campus by the loss of John Ware.”

She said she expects a special recognition at Saturday’s game that will bring both universities together.

The announcement naming Matheny head coach was made during a Sept. 27 press conference.

Beard said it was an especially sad day for Southern football because the future offered much promise, but she said she thinks the future is still promising.

“He (Ware) had a vision in that when he structured his staff, he named a man that he had a great deal of faith in as his assistant head coach,” Beard said, “and that man is Keeth Matheny.”

She said she is confident Matheny, the players and the coaching staff will continue Ware’s legacy.

“I expect no less in Keeth that he will continue the legacy that John will leave,” Beard said.

Matheny emphasized he will not hurt anything Ware built in his short time at Southern.

On Sept. 24, the Lions went to Maryville to take on the No. 10 Northwest Missouri State University Bearcats. The Bearcats defeated Southern 38-13.

For the Lions, Dartangan Johnson, junior running back, had 13 carries for 34 yards and one touchdown. Wentric Williams, junior running back had seven carries for 15 yards.

Ronnell Newman, freshman running back, carried the ball five times for 18 yards and a touchdown.

Freshman quarterback Adam Hinspeter completed 22 out of 40 passes for 238 yards.

Colin Bado, sophomore wide receiver, caught seven passes for 44 yards. Tedaryl Mason, senior wide receiver, grabbed six passes for 106 yards, and Dustin Bromley, senior wide receiver, caught four passes for 39 yards.

Defensively, Matt Crane, senior linebacker, and Dennis Johnson, senior strong safety both had 11 tackles each.

Jordan Chapman, junior free safety, earned 10 tackles, and Blake Martin, senior free safety, had eight.

The Lions’ record is now 2-3 overall and 1-2 in the MIAA.

Kick-off for Saturday’s games against TSU is at 2 p.m.