Football heads to Southwestern in regular season finale

Matt Myers hasn’t been focused on potential NAIA postseason possibilities for his Kansas Wesleyan football team.


He and his staff are more concerned with the No. 25 Coyotes playing well and upending No. 10 Southwestern in their final game of the regular season.


“I don’t look at playoff scenarios,” Myers said of Saturday’s 1 p.m. Kansas Conference contest in Winfield. “We need a lot of help to get us in that position so to me it’s about pride and playing up to the Kansas Wesleyan football standard that’s been here for a long time. Creating a win at the end of the season when technically the game doesn’t mean much to us.”


KWU is 8-2 overall, 7-2 in the KCAC but fourth in the standings behind Bethel, Avila and Southwestern which have one loss each.


“We can’t control (our fate), it was taken out our hands when we got beat by Avila (18-14 on October 8). “We’re three or four plays away from being undefeated this season but our record is what we are, that’s the truth of it.


“I think it’s just general pride in ourselves and the final regular season game against a team that has put up 42 points on us the last two years. I would say that’s more important.”


The Coyotes had won 14 of 15 games against Southwestern before the Moundbuilders won the last two, both at JRI Stadium and the Graves Family Sports Complex.


KWU enters the game having won four in a row since the Avila loss, the latest conquest a 67-10 non-conference victory over Arkansas Baptist on Senior Day last Saturday at JRI Stadium.


The Coyotes had 447 total yards, 238 on the ground, and average 234.4 per game. Three tailbacks have at least 400 yards on the season led by Nick Allsman (SO/Belleville, Kan.) with 742, Mark Benjamin (SO/Houston, Texas) 582 and Tyler Boston (JR/Dixon, Calif.) 404.


“The tailback position is obviously extremely important,” Myers said. “We’re essentially a dive option team so they have to be physical and downhill and make sure they’re making correct reads on our interior run game. They’re talented enough guys that if something isn’t there, they’re good at making something happen post snap if something goes wrong.”


Quarterback Richard Lara (SO/Bakersfield, Calif.) has improved since becoming the starter four games ago. He has completed 53 percent of his passes for 736 yards, five touchdowns and four interceptions.


“The more reps he gets the better he’ll be,” Myers said. “He showed up in August so he didn’t start the season getting a ton of snaps for us while he was learning the offense. Hopefully it culminates in this game and he can go out there and have a big one for us.”


KWU’s defense has been stellar all season. Opponents are averaging 10.2 points and 193.5 yards per outing.


“Our depth helps us maintain those numbers,” Myers said. “We feel comfortable rolling out our two-deep (depth) so it keeps us fresh and healthy throughout the game. We just need to produce and make it happen.”


Southwestern has battled injuries of late, particularly at quarterback. Three have played this season but Myers expects Justin Cagle and Thomas Yam, both returning veterans, to play. Yam has thrown for 972 yards and Cagle 770; he played the entire game last week during the Moundbuilders’ 28-0 victory over Friends in Wichita.


“I’m assuming both will play, I don’t know that for sure,” Myers said. “But who is playing doesn’t concern me. It’s a week where we focus on ourselves, play sound, quality defense and perform up to our standard and I think we’ll be alright.”


Southwestern averages 33.8 points and allows 12.7. Myers, though, relishes the challenge.


“It’s a good opportunity to beat a team we haven’t beaten in two years and kind of play spoiler and ruin their playoff chances,” he said. “More importantly, end the season on a win and get some momentum going into the end of the winter and into the spring.”