When Kansas Wesleyan’s Miles Balthazor and Kelly Cordova go up against their old team McPherson College on Saturday, the Bulldogs will look like total strangers to them.
Balthazor and Cordova left Mac last year after their initial seasons and have been mainstays during the Coyotes’ 4-0 start that has garnered them the No. 21 national ranking. Those four wins already double last year’s victory total, as second-year coach Matt Drinkall has virtually rebuilt the program overnight aided by several transfers who have paid immediate dividends.
Meanwhile the school the former Bulldogs left behind barely resembles the 2014 team. Mac was decimated by a lack of returnees and first-year coach Paul Mierkiewicz practically has a brand-new team on the field.
It promises to be a festive night in Salina as the Coyotes will dedicate their brand-new $7.5 million Graves Family Stadium on the Wesleyan campus. They have been playing their games at Salina Stadium since old Martin Stadium was razed.
Kickoff is 6 p.m.
Balthazor is the Coyotes’ leading rusher while Cordova may be their most versatile performer, splitting time among receiver, quarterback and kicker.
Jake Curran, who sees most of the time at quarterback, has been the KCAC’s Offensive Player of the Week for three weeks in a row and already has 1,233 yards passing in four games, which doesn’t bode well for a Bulldog secondary that is young, small and painfully inexperienced.
Mac enters the night 0-2 in the KCAC, 0-3 overall. It did play its best game of the season to date last week, losing 28-14 to Bethel. The Bulldogs let numerous scoring opportunities get away and the defense held up for the most part, though it was gouged by the run.
Kansas Wesleyan ambushed Southwestern 42-0 last week, the same Moundbuilder team that dominated the Bulldogs 33-7 the week before.