Kansas Wesleyan coach Matt Myers knows the Coyotes play Arkansas Baptist on Saturday in their final home game of the season. He also knows it’s Senior Day and kickoff is 11 a.m. at JRI Stadium and the Graves Family Sports Complex.
Beyond that it’s essentially wait-and-see then adjust.
“We don’t have any common opponents so I don’t really know what they’re going to come out and do,” Myers said.
ABC, 1-6 this season, is KWU’s lone non-conference opponent and is coming off a 36-6 loss to Avila last week. The Buffaloes defeated Texas College for their lone victory. KWU manhandled Arkansas Baptist 81-6 last season.
Myers primary concerned, though, is his team. The Coyotes defeated Ottawa 30-13 last Saturday in Ottawa. They’re 7-2 and conclude the regular season with a Kansas Conference game against No. 10 Southwestern next Saturday in Winfield – an NAIA playoff berth still a possibility.
“We just need to focus on ourselves and prepare to win the game based on what we do and adjust as needed,” Myers said. “Execute on a consistent basis no matter who’s in the game so when we go into the final regular season next week, we’re feeling confident. If we go to the playoffs, we’ve got to win out and probably in a big way.”
The first objective Saturday isn’t related to Xs and Os.
“The big thing is to stay healthy,” Myers said. “That will be number one and then make sure that we can go out and get up early on them so we’re not having a long arduous game out with these guys with a big finale coming up next week.”
A large and celebrated senior class will play at JRI Stadium for the final time in their careers. KWU has won 50 games in the last five years and 37 in the last four.
“They’ve done a lot of good things here at Kansas Wesleyan,” Myers said. “I’m just excited to watch those guys perform in their final home game. Everyone should get a lot of reps.”
KWU relied on its running game against Ottawa and the results were impressive – 319 yards on 58 attempts for a 5.5 average. Four Coyotes had at least 54 yards each led by Mark Benjamin (SO/Houston, Texas) with 83 and Nick Allsman (SO/Belleville, Kan.) with 81.
“Some of them are better a past protection than others, some of them have a better handle on some of the different aspects of our run game and pass game,” Myers said of the backs. “But really, it’s keeping them fresh and making sure they’re going out on the field in the areas that they can be successful.”
Quarterback Richard Lara (SO/Bakersfield, Calif.) was 8 of 16 passing for 158 yards.
“He completed some good balls last week,” Myers said. “We didn’t protect him as well as we could have at times so it’ll be distributing the ball and getting it out on time. And making sure he has time to throw it and make good decisions.
“We need to stay on our blocks a little bit longer. We did a good job running the ball and there are some opportunities to get a few more yards out of it. We need to stretch the defense laterally a little bit more to get the ball to the perimeter in different ways.”
The defense was superb once again allowing Ottawa just 235 total yards. KWU opponents are averaging 10.2 points and 203 total yards per game.
Arkansas Baptist quarterback Marlon Patterson Jr. was 11 of 25 for 210 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions against Avila but the Buffaloes finished with a minus-23 yards rushing and 187 total yards. The Coyotes are allowing an average of 85.2 yards rushing.
“That group has a chance to be one of the best defenses we’ve had here at Kansas Wesleyan in points per game and yards per game in the last 20 years,” Myers said. “It’s their individual skill sets and their ability to work together.
“I think the other side of that is how long they’ve been around football. They adjust well in games, they’re good communicators. You can run whatever scheme you want to and run out the guys who can execute it. They’re just very talented human beings.”