Kansas Wesleyan quarterback Johnny Feauto doesn’t know much about the Langston University Lions, not yet at least.
Specifics aside, he does knows the No. 6-ranked Coyote will face a tough task when they play ninth-ranked Langston in the first round of the NAIA playoffs. Game time is 1 p.m. Saturday at Graves Family Sports Complex in what will be the first home playoff contest in program history.
It’s the fourth overall playoff game, the most recent in 2015 when the Coyotes traveled to Ashland, Ore., to play Southern Oregon. The other two games were in Springfield, Mo. (Evangel University) in 2001 and Sioux Falls, S.D. (Sioux Falls University) in 2002.
“Any playoff game you get is going to tough,” Feauto said Sunday afternoon, moments after the pairings were announced before a sizeable watch party crowd in the Student Activities Center. “Sixteen teams in the whole NAIA make this playoff, so that should tell you all you need to know.”
Langston won the Sooner Athletic Conference and is 9-1 after defeating Panhandle State 33-9 Saturday in the season finale. One of the Lions’ victories was a forfeit over Bacone. The loss was NCAA Division I-member Southern 33-18 on Sept. 15.
Wesleyan and Langston had a common opponent this season in Texas Wesleyan – the Coyotes winning 42-7 in Fort Worth in their season opener and Langston winning 55-31 on Oct. 6 in Fort Worth.
Wesleyan wrapped the first undefeated and untied season in program history Saturday with a 34-20 victory over Southwestern in a game at Winfield. Demarco Prewitt, the NAIA’s leading rusher, had 217 yards and four touchdowns, and Shaq Bradford led the defense with 6.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss.
Feauto, who led KWU’s offense to a Kansas Conference-record 597 points this season, says past successes are meaningless.
“Sixteen teams and everybody’s 0-0,” he said. “Everyone’s got to show up or lose a game and you’re out. Our 11-0 season doesn’t mean anything right now. We’ve just got to keep proving to show everybody what we’ve got.”
Feauto helped Fullerton College win the California junior college title last fall and would love to win another championship at Wesleyan.
“I just love this team and I just want to win,” he said. “This season has been truly unbelievable and I appreciate everyone who’s been a part it. We’ve had a great season and don’t want it to end on Saturday, and we’re going to everything we can to keep going.”
Wesleyan coach Matt Drinkall was impressed with what he was initially able to learn about Langston.
“They’re really talented and they’ve put up some huge passing numbers the last couple of weeks,” he said. “We’ve played one similar opponent in Texas Wesleyan and that will be a very, very helpful and useful game to break down.
“That’s the fun part about this, you don’t really know a ton about each other. You see what you can learn in a week.”
One thing Drinkall does know is the Lions have a talented quarterback in Jaylen Lowe, a transfer from Emporia State who leads the NAIA in total offense and ranks second in passing.
“We got a lot of work ahead of us and we get some key guys back healthy and things along those lines,” he said.
Playing at home suits Drinkall just fine.
“Certainly better than having to fly out to Oregon and playing the defending national champs to start off the tournament,” he said. “We’re a tough out at home and we’ve got unbelievable community support and we’re going to have great weather.
“This is a good situation to be in and is going to be a really awesome experience for the entire campus and the entire community. We’ll do it right.”
Several Salina companies are helping sponsor the game by purchasing ticket packages and KWU is selling more opportunities. Contact Director of Athletics Mike Hermann for more information at (785) 833-4410 or email him at [email protected].
Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for students.