Football faces no. 1 scoring offense

Sophomore Renard Johnson tries to break a tackle during Southerns 17-3 loss against Missouri Western. Johnson rushed for 46 yards.

Sophomore Renard Johnson tries to break a tackle during Southern’s 17-3 loss against Missouri Western. Johnson rushed for 46 yards.

Bragging rights and momentum will be on the line this Saturday. The Lions will face off against the No. 3 ranked Northwest Missouri State Bearcats in their final game of the season 7 p.m. at Hughes Stadium.

The game will be as much a mental test as a physical one as Head Coach Bart Tatum faces off against his former team.

If Northwest Missouri wins it can clinch a conference title as the lone unbeaten team in the MIAA. Already, they’ve clinched a share and are undefeated in conference at 8-0.

Northwest (9-1, 8-0 MIAA) has cruised through its schedule this year after a season-opening loss to then No. 8 ranked Abilene Christian. The Bearcats destroyed University of Nebraska- Omaha 42-0 Sept. 27. Facing then No. 6 Pittsburg State at home Northwest maintained their dominance with a 35-10 victory.

The veteran Bearcat team boasts eight senior starters on the offensive side of the ball, with just one underclassman, right tackle Jason Wiseman.

Fans will want to watch for hefty five-foot-eight 220-pound senior fullback Brant Gregg to open up lanes for junior running back LaRon Council, who averages 5.4 yards per carry and is top in the MIAA in scoring, running off with 13.8 points per game.

Stopping the run won’t be the only difficulty facing the Lions this week as they face the number one scoring offense in the league with 41.4 points a game.

On defense the Bearcats began the season allowing 30 points a game through three contests, since then the defense has buckled down allowing just 8.3 points a game.

The defense, is led by a secondary that leads the conference in yards allowed and has grabbed 10 interceptions. Anchoring the secondary is sophomore Aldwin Foster-Rettig who leads the team in tackles with 50 including 30 solo.

The Bearcats will use a lot of man on man defense which has junior wide receiver Johnny Johnson predicting the Lions passing offense will have opportunity to make plays.

“We do it in practice all the time but we have to translate what we do in practice to the games,” he said. “We’re going to throw everything we have at them,” Johnson said.

The Bearcats are tops in the MIAA in 11 different categories including the most important, scoring offense and defense.

The Bearcats also lead the conference in pass offense, total offense, punt return average, first downs, third down conversions as well as pass defence efficiency, rushing defense, total defense, punt return average and sacks.

Tatum was assistant head coach and offensive coordinator under the tutelage of Mel Tjeerdsma. The Bearcats head coach is arguably the best in the MIAA with a record of 153-39 over his 15-year stay. He’s led the Bearcats to two national titles as well as runner up the previous two years.

Tatum said that preparing for the Bearcats won’t change even with his previous post at Northwest Missouri.

“I’m so far separated from that right now,” Tatum said. “I still have great relationships with those people.”

While an assistant coach at Northwest Missouri, he recruited several current starters for the Bearcats.

“I’m really happy that they’re having a great career, I just hope they don’t have a good Saturday,” he said.