Mac, Bethany to meet for county title

By Steve Sell
November 10, 2016

The McPherson County college football champion will be crowned on Saturday when McPherson College hosts Bethany College in a game that ends the season for both teams.

Fans should take note of a special noon starting time at McPherson Stadium. Join Voice of the Bulldogs Matt Cole for the call at 11:45 a.m. on 96.7 KBBE-FM. The game was scheduled for noon in the event the Bulldogs were going to host a soccer playoff game, but instead they are playing on the road.

The teams are mirror images of each other as both are 1-7 in the KCAC and 1-9 overall. Both have lost some agonizingly close games and believe they should be better than their record indicates.

“My guess is they’re sending the same message as we’re sending to our guys, you want to end the season on a positive,” Mac coach Paul Mierkiewicz said. “We’ve had a lot of positives this season even though our record may not reflect that. We want to end our season the right way and send our seniors off with a win in their final game.”

Mac has only four seniors to be honored, a number that Mierkiewicz hopes will rise as his tenure progresses.

“These guys have done wonderful job of keeping this team together, keeping the guys going,” he said. “It would be a lot easier on them if there were more of them. When we look back four or five years down the road and we’re competing for conference championships, they’ll know they were a big part of the foundation.”

In just two games have the Bulldogs lost by more than two scores. Three of their losses are by a total of eight points, a pair of 3-pointers and another loss by a deuce. Bethany has a one-point loss to Saint Mary and it also led Kansas Wesleyan by 9 points before losing. 

Offense has been a big problem for the Swedes. In five of their losses they have scored in single digits and were blanked last week by Friends.

Mac has been much more prolific offensively than last year, but has struggled all year to stop the run, something the Swedes do best as Nate Ocran is one of the KCAC’s best backs.

“A year ago, especially in the second half, they were really physical with us,” Mierkiewicz said. “They’re very athletic. They are getting very good quarterback play and defensively they bring a lot of pressure.”

Until the last couple of weeks, the Bethany defense had been playing well, but has given up more than 1,100 yards combined in losses to Friends and Tabor.

For the Swedes, stopping Mac quarterback Ed Crouch is priority No. 1. He passed for 340 yards and three scores last week as the Bulldogs put a scare into nationally ranked Sterling as they trailed only by three points after three quarters before losing 44-31. It is hoped Tyrone Campbell can bounce back from his lowest output of the year running the ball as he had only 26 yards after averaging more than 80.