Rivals Bethany, KW throw down on Saturday

By Steve Sell
October 20, 2016

LINDSBORG — It’s “Wesleyan Week.”

No matter how the season is going for the Bethany College football team, the game with Kansas Wesleyan is the one that matters most. 

While some might think county school McPherson College would be the Swedes’ biggest rival, there’s no question the Bethany-KW rivalry is by far the most intense in the KCAC.

The teams clash at 6 p.m. Saturday in Salina.

It’s the beginning of a three-game gauntlet for the Swedes, who follow up this game with Friends on the road and then Tabor at home before closing at McPherson College, maybe the best 1-win team in the country.

Bethany scored its first win of the season last week with a 28-20 success against Southwestern, holding off a second-half Builder charge. The Swedes were comfortably in front at half, 28-7, but an injury to quarterback Darius Handcox in the third quarter slowed the momentum.

According to published reports, Handcox could be cleared to play by Friday, but Isaiah Salazar is expected to start the game.

The Swedes will have their hands full. Kansas Wesleyan is an offensive juggernaut, leading the conference in scoring at just under 40 points a game. The Coyotes are flush with speedy, sleek backs and receivers, including two former Swedes — LonDarius Thomas and Kelton Evans. Confident quarterback Wes Geisler has flourished since taking over for the injured Kelly Cordova, the one-time McPherson College standout.

The Swedes will counter with running back Nate Ocran, who has cobbled together three straight 100-yard rushing performances despite playing with a cast to protect his broken hand.