Category Archives: NAIA

Looking at Saturday’s small-college games


Lincoln (0-4 overall, 0-4 MIAA) at Emporia State (4-0, 4-0), 1 p.m. – Emporia State quarterback Tyler Eckenrode leads the MIAA with 1,320 passing yards and 11 touchdowns and is seventh in the nation in total offense at 367.25 yards per game.

The Hornets haven’t started 5-0 since 2003, which was also the last year they won the MIAA. Emporia State’s best start was 8-0 in 1988, something they have a shot at matching if they can beat Lincoln as games against Southwest Baptist, Lindenwood and Truman await.

Fort Hays State (0-4, 0-4) at Truman (3-1, 2-1), 1 p.m. — An unthinkable loss for the Tigers a few years ago is now an upset win to avoid going 0-5. Things couldn’t be worse for second-year coach Chris Brown’s squad.

Southwest Baptist (1-3, 1-3) at No. 20 Washburn (3-1, 3-1), 1 p.m. — Ichabods should bounce back from last week’s loss to Central Oklahoma.

Missouri Southern (3-1, 3-1) at Central Missouri (3-1, 3-1), 1:30 p.m.

Nebraska-Kearney (0-4, 0-4) at Lindenwood (3-1, 3-1), 1:30 p.m.

Northeastern State (0-4, 0-4) at No. 11 Northwest Missouri (3-1, 2-1), 2;30 p.m.

Central Oklahoma (1-3, 1-3) at No. 7 Missouri Western (4-0, 3-0), 6 p.m.


Friends (3-1, 2-0 KCAC) at No. 23 Kansas Wesleyan (3-1, 3-0), 6 p.m. – The Falcons have gone back and forth between quarterbacks this season in sophomore Derek Racette, a dual-threat with 193 rushing yards and 190 passing yards, and senior Jayme Bristow, who has passed for 305 yards. A win by Friends would likely propel them into the NAIA Top 25 and possible sole possession of first place in the KCAC, depending on the outcome of Ottawa’s game at Tabor.

Avila (0-4) at Bethany (2-2, 1-2), 2 p.m. — Into the heart of the season and Junior Allen’s absence is felt.

Saint Mary (0-4, 0-3) at Sterling (0-4, 0-3), 6 p.m. — Saint Mary best 0-4 NAIA team in the country. Seriously. They should pick up their first win right here.

Ottawa (1-2, 1-1) at Tabor (3-1, 2-0), 7 p.m. — Tabor playing inspired football right now, should be an emotional setting for this one in Hillsboro.

Southwestern (2-2, 2-1) at Haskell (0-4), 7 p.m.

McPherson (2-2, 2-1) at Bethel (0-3, 0-2), 7 p.m.

Heart of America

No. 13 Baker (4-1, 3-1 HOA) at No. 11 Midamerica Nazarene (2-1, 2-1), 2 p.m. – MidAmerica Nazarene quarterback Sean Ransburg is coming off a career game against Avila, where he threw for 167 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 105 yards and one touchdown.

Baker defensive backs Emmerson Clarke and Preston Schenck are tied for the league lead with three interceptions each.

Central Methodist (2-2, 2-2) at Lindenwood-Belleville (2-2), 1 pm.

Culver-Stockton (0-4, 0-4) at No. 4 Missouri Valley (4-0. 3-0), 1:30 p.m.

No. 6 Benedictine (4-0, 2-0) at Evangel (2-0, 1-1), 2 p.m.

Avila (0-4, 0-3) at Bethany (2-2), 2 p.m.

Graceland (2-2, 1-1) at Peru State (2-2, 1-2), 2 p.m.


Air Force Prep (0-4) at No. 3 Butler (5-0, 4-0 Jayhawk), 7 p.m. – Based on the NJCAA’s new, computerized ranking system, this is a game that could hurt Butler, win or lose. Because Air Force Prep is not affiliated with the NJCAA, this game won’t count in the rankings and the Grizzlies dropped one spot in the rankings two weeks ago coming off a 77-point win.

Fort Scott (2-3, 2-2) at Garden City (3-1, 2-1), 7 p.m. — Every win is a big step for the Broncbusters, and this is another big test.

No. 13 Hutchinson (2-1, 2-0) at Highland (1-3, 1-2), 1 p.m. — Highland, in my opinion, is the most improved team in the Jayhawk.

Independence (2-3, 0-3) at Dodge City (0-5, 0-4), 7 p.m. — Somebody has to win.

McPherson rallies into NAIA D2 Final Four


Trailing 78-71 with 51 seconds left, the McPherson College men rallied to beat Dordt 82-78 on Saturday in the quarterfinals of the NAIA Division II national tournament at Point Lookout, Mo.

The win advances the Bulldogs to their first Final Four in school history.

“I’ve never seen anything like it before,” McPherson coach Tim Swartzendruber said. “Our guys were unbelievable, they never gave up.”

Trailing 78-71, the Bulldogs hit three consecutive three-pointers, with Samson Shivers’ three giving them an 80-78 lead with 14 seconds to play.

McPherson native Chris Crawford hit two free throws with two seconds left to seal the win.

“I don’t know how they did it,” Swartzendruber said. “This group is unbelievable … they just make plays.”

Jordan Crawford led McPherson with 14 points and 10 rebounds. There were three other Bulldogs in double figures – Samson Shivers (13), Adam Bruner (12), Aaron Frazier (11) and Chris Crawford (11).

McPherson plays the winner of Northwood (Fla.)-Northwest (Wash.) in one of Monday’s semifinals. The championship game is Tuesday.

Northwest is coached by former Villanova coach Rollie Massimino.





McPherson College making historic run at NAIA DII National Tournament


Lost in all the hullaballo surrounding the Big 12 Tournament, state high school tournaments and Selection Sunday … the McPherson College men’s team is making a historic run at the NAIA Division II Men’s Tournament in Point Lookout, Mo., continued today with a 77-58 win over Warner Pacific (Ore.) in Point Lookout, Mo.

The Bulldogs advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time in school history, where they will take on Cornerstone (Mich.) today at 3 p.m.

McPherson was playing without starting point guard Trent Severs, who injured his ankle in the opening-round win over Embry Riddle.
“We felt fortunate that we could play without Trent, who is our undisputed team leader, and overcome that for a win,” McPherson coach Tim Swartzendruber said. “Warner tried to zone us and we really shot the ball well.”

Aaron Frazier led the Bulldogs with 18 points and Aaron Jackson added 15.

“At the college they’ve got a big stage set up in cafeteria. Packed, from what we hear, the whole campus is electrified by this thing,”  Swartzendruber said. “It’s been a lot of fun.”

And in case you’re wondering … semifinals Monday night, championship game Tuesday.


Looking at Saturday’s NAIA playoff games

We’ve got not 1, not 2, but THREE Sunflower Slate teams playing in the first round of today’s NAIA playoffs. And I like our chances at a clean sweep.

Here’s a look:

No. 12 McKendree (8-2) at No. 6 McPherson (10-0), 2 p.m. - The Bulldogs host an NAIA playoff football game for the first time and bring a buzzsaw of an offense to the table against McKendree, the co-champion from the Mid-States Football Association. McPherson has averaged 53.8 points over its last seven games and quarterback Shane Mascarenas, the KCAC player of the year, lead the nation in passing with 362 yards per game. Mascarenas set the school single-season records in passing yards (3,419) and touchdowns (35).  The truth, that nobody wants to say yet, is that if the Bulldogs lose here this season is a wash. Sad, but true. Although they’re not going to lose. My pick: McPherson 35, McKendree 14

No. 11 Marian (9-2) at No. 8 Ottawa (9-1), 1:30 p.m. – The Braves rallied from 28 points down in the second half of last season’s NAIA playoff opener against Hastings for a 40-34 win, the first playoff victory in school history. Marian, an at-large bid from the Mid-States, is led by its defense, which is 11th in the country in rushing defense (104.5 yards) and 12th in scoring defense (16.8 points). Sophomore wide receiver/punt returner Shane Gimzo is second for Ottawa with 12 touchdowns and has been a great complement to All-American wide receiver Clarence Anderson. My pick: Ottawa 28, Marian 25

No. 17 Georgetown (8-2) at No. 4 MidAmerica Nazarene (10-0) - The Pioneers won the Heart of America Conference by completing their second undefeated regular season in the last three years and are coached by former NFL quarterback Jonathan Quinn. My pick: MANU 14, G’Town 3

That’s all I’ve got for now. TA

Butler in national title game; McPherson, Ottawa to host first-round games

No. 1 BUTLER 48, No. 5 HUTCH 0

NO. 1 BUTLER 48, NO. 5 HUTCH 0

Butler is going to play in the national title game. Sunday’s 48-0 demolition of No. 5 Hutchinson in the Region VI title game made sure of that. We’ve all been assuming since about the beginning of October that the title game will be played, for the second straight year, in the Citizens Bank Bowl at Pittsburg. And I still think that’s a lock. Now, who will they play?

No. 2 Navarro beat Trinity Valley 57-22 on Sunday in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference, so I presume that is the team Butler will face on Dec. 5. Bowl officials are having a news conference on Tuesday, around noon, in El Dorado to make it official. For the uninformed, Butler beat Navarro 16-10 in its season opener Aug. 26 at Cessna Stadium. And that’s the closest anybody has played the Grizzlies all year.

Final thought: If Butler can close this thing out, they’re the greatest BuCo team in school history.

You know I’ll be there.

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It’s all about KCAC women’s basketball

Tried to get these done over the weekend … but ended up realizing I had WAY more to say about KCAC women’s hoops than I originally imagined. So here we go:



STERLING (2009-10: 27-5 overall, 13-1 KCAC, 1st)

Coach: Lonnie Kruse, 30th year

Go-to: Megan Patrick, Jr. 6-0, Forward

Outlook: The Warriors lost KCAC player of the year Cathryn Wiebe, but return four starters off last year’s title team, including All-KCAC picks Megan Patrick and Britany Gasper. Patrick’s younger sister, 5-10 freshman guard Laura Patrick, should contribute right away. Sterling is trying for its 29th straight winning season under coach Lonnie Kruse, who enters his 30th year. Kruse seemed pretty relaxed when I talked to him a couple of weeks ago – rejuvenated even – and I think that not teaching and not having athletic director has really opened up some things for him, time-wise, to work with his team like he wasn’t able to in the past. Which is amazing, considering the success they’ve had. KCAC coaches, you’re warned.

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EVERYTHING you need to know about KCAC men’s basketball



I’ll look at the men’s teams today, and here’s my article on Friends guard Chris Jackson. This weekend, I’ll look at the women’s teams.

And here’s a complete KCAC schedule.

As always, enjoy.

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Is this when Jeran Trotter finally takes over?



People ask me what’s missing for the Friends football team, and my answer is always the same: An elite running back. The same thing that’s been missing the last two years. The Falcons won the KCAC in 2008 behind a great defense, the best offensive player in the league in offensive lineman Jacob Bruster and a smart-as-a-whip QB in Alex Melugin. Last year, their lack of a running back killed them. Cost them a fourth straight NAIA playoff berth.

But maybe not this year. Former Wichita Northwest and Missouri State running back Jeran Trotter appears to have found his form three games into the season — he ran for 240 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries in the Falcons’ 35-21 win at Tabor last Saturday. For his effort, Trotter was named KCAC player of the week. I honestly believe that there’s another playoff spot up for grabs in the KCAC (Nobody is gonna beat McPherson) and Friends, if Trotter keeps playing like this, has a legitimate shot at it. I’ve always thought Trotter could be one of the best RBs in the league if he put his mind to it, and this might be the year he proves me right. We’ll see.


Behind the scenes at KCAC Media Day

The Salina Country Club hosted KCAC Media Day on Friday, and yours truly was there for the third year in a row to survey all the goings on. My biggest surprise of the day was definitely Friends revealing that both starting quarterback Tim Rozzell and two-time all-KCAC defensive back Cole Perry were no longer with the Falcons. Rozzell left the team before spring drills for personal reasons and Perry was kicked off the team in January for a violation of team rules.

Still, Friends is the team to beat. And I understand why. They’ve got some monsters back on defense and if sophomore QB Jayme Bristow can keep his head above water, he’s got enough talent around him to win a title. Ottawa, the defending champ, has talent but no Ethan Haller. McPherson is also loaded with playmakers but an unproven coaching staff is a huge question mark.

Here’s a look at the 10 teams in the order they were picked in the coaches poll:

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Jason Dannelly’s NAIA All-Decade FB team



When it comes to NAIA sports, nobody knows more than Jason Dannelly. So if the man decides to put out an All-Decade team for football, you know we’re going to stand up and take notice. The KCAC put two on here — Ottawa running back Derrick Ward was a first-team pick and Bethel safety Brandon Kaufman was an at-large (the equivalent of 3rd team/honorable mention). Ward, as you already know, won a Super Bowl with the Giants, signed a large free agent deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers …. and dated Khloe Kardashian. On a personal note, my alma mater put three guys on there — first team running back Dusty McGrorty, who played for the St. Louis Rams, second-team safety Nick Daniken (played for the Omaha Beef and picks me up at the Portland airport when I fly to Oregon) and second-team punter Steve Baker (who played for Oakland, I believe).

To me, this is a must-read. I’m just saying. And Friends o-lineman Jacob Bruster shoulda been on there. Big ups to Dannelly for doing this.



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