Between them a year ago, the Friends Falcons and McPherson College Bulldogs won 13 football games.
Heading into Saturday as the second half of the season begins, they have exactly one.
Friends’ lone win was 21-6 against Southwestern, while the Bulldogs not only are looking for their first win, they are looking for their first lead of the season.
Kickoff is 1:30 p.m. at Adair Austin Stadium, with pre-game at 1:00. For listeners, it should be noted the game will be carried on KNGL-AM as 1540 FM is carrying the Royals’ playoff game with Toronto.
Bulldog first-year coach Paul Mierkiewicz is no stranger to playing Friends, as he went up against the Falcons when he coached at Hastings College.
Mierkiewicz said not much has changed over the years.
“We’re hoping to get a little more physical at the line of scrimmage because we know that’s what they like to do,” Mierkiewicz said. “It’s a physical brand of football they want to play. We definitely need to be up for the task.”
The Bulldogs are coming off a 58-0 loss at the hands of Ottawa last week, a game in which they were physically dominated from the get-go. Mierkiewiecz admits his threadbare team is starting to show signs of physically slowing down as the Bulldogs have played three teams in five weeks that have been ranked in the Top 25 at one time for another.
Friends, 8-3 last season, is perhaps the biggest disappointment in the KCAC. It lost conference games to Saint Mary and Sterling, though was competitive in both. Last week it was outgunned 27-10 by Kansas Wesleyan, which had a 20-0 lead before turning the game over to its defense.
As Jesse Rogers goes, so do the Falcons. He’s one of the better backs in the league and averages 20 totes a game. No other Falcon has more than 159 yards rushing.
The Falcons have really struggled throwing the football, as Brett Darling and Kris Denton have shared quarterbacking duties. Darling has completed only 43 percent of his passes while Denton is at just 32 percent. Rogers actually is the top receiver out of the backfield with 16 catches, as the Falcons don’t have near the big-play receivers of year’s past.
Friends will still have a physical presence on defense and Mierkiewicz said a goal is for his team to sustain some drives on offense to keep his own team’s defense from having to play so many snaps.