Football heads on the road Saturday to face McPherson



Matt Myers‘ message this week to his Kansas Wesleyan football team in advance of Saturday’s game at McPherson essentially encompassed two words – consistency and execution.


“I’m preaching daily, consistency on what we’re doing,” he said of the Coyotes who play McPherson in a 1 p.m. Kansas Conference game. “It’s consistency and then it’s execution. We need to execute the entire game.


“We’ve given up leads in the fourth quarter, unfortunately, and not performing late so now it becomes finishing the game with a high level of intensity. I think if we did that we’d be in a different spot.”


KWU enters the game with a 4-2 record after an 18-14 loss to Avila last Saturday at JRI Stadium. McPherson is 2-3 – each of the losses by one point. The Bulldogs fell to conference leader Bethel 14-13, Southwestern, which is tied for second, 23-22 and Tabor 17-16.


The Coyotes played well enough defensively against Avila allowing 279 yards on 77 plays but the offense finished with 226 yards (92 rushing, 134 passing) on 56 plays. Quarterbacks Tony White (SR/Cincinnati, Ohio) and Richard Lara (SO/Bakersfield, Calif.) were a combined 11 of 23 passing with a touchdown and an interception.


Avila’s defense notched two safeties after tackling KWU ball carriers in the end zone.


“The most important thing offensively is that we distribute the ball across the field,” Myers said. “We need to get the ball to our playmakers and the quarterbacks need to make good decisions. Just do your job consistently throughout the game and do it with purpose and we’ll be alright.”


Myers saw some encouraging signs during this week’s preparations.


“We had a really good practice (Thursday), I thought it was one of the best offensively we’ve had,” he said. “Hopefully the pressure’s off now and those guys can go play and have fun.”


The Coyotes will be without starting center Trace Ott (SR/Orange Beach, Ala.) who suffered an injury against Avila. Nolan Harris (SR/Lexington, Mo.) moves from right guard to center.


“We practice for this and we work with different groups in practice so the scheme is easy enough,” Myers said. “It’s concept-based so we’re not drawing up new stuff every week. We get the snap delivered and we’ll be okay.”


McPherson’s coming off a 31-22 victory over Friends last week in McPherson. The Bulldogs average 21.8 point and are allowing just 18.8 points.


“They’ll be talented,” Myers said of the McPherson defense. “They’ve shut down some teams that have quality offenses. They’re similar to us.”


Tailback James White leads the Bulldogs’ offense. He averages nearly 153 yards rushing per game and a whopping 9.7 per carry. He had 69 yards on just five carries against Friends, scorched Ottawa for 279 and had 186 against Southwestern.


“He’s fast and strong and will run through tackles,” Myers said of White. “If our intensity level isn’t high enough it could be a tough day for the defense. But we’ll be fine, we’re a veteran group and we’re getting guys back healthy.”


McPherson quarterback Tristan Szabo has completed just under 50 percent of his passes for 943 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions. Aidan Frieson’s the top receiver with 17 catches for 315 yards.


“Their quarterback makes good decisions,” Myers said. “They utilize a lot more routes in the short passing game with their backs out of the backfield trying to get those guys the ball. It just poses a challenge to stay disciplined.


“Offensively and defensively they’re similar to us. We’ve seen it, it’s not like it’s something new. We’ve just got to go execute and perform.”