LINDSBORG — There may be a sleeping giant residing in Lindsborg.
It’s the Bethany College football team.
The Swedes made the biggest improvement in the KCAC this season as their 35-7 Senior Day domination of Bethel on a cold Saturday afternoon gave them a winning season at 6-5, 5-4 in the conference. They were coming off a 2-9, 1-8 performance from last year, as Manny Matsakis has the program headed in the right direction.
When you look at the fact the Swedes lost in the closing moments to Friends and Sterling and handed KCAC champion Ottawa its only loss, it shows they’re weren’t that far from being a playoff team.
Bethel offered little resistance as the Swedes raced to a 28-0 halftime lead. Exciting flyback Drake Wells rushed for three touchdowns and 122 yards on just 11 carries, while Jake Umphreyville returned from a month-long suspension to throw for 183 yards and a touchdown, that going to Rodney Molette, who finished with 104 yards on five catches. The other Swede touchdown came from its special teams as Joe Bennett returned a fumble 4 yards after Bethel had fumbled a kickoff.
The Bethany defense was virtually immoveable, giving up just 155 yards on 58 plays, less than three yards a play.
“I am proud of how our seniors led their team in the final game of the season," Matsakis said. "These young men were able to establish the foundation for our program as we move into the offseason. Our seniors taught us how to finish and that may be one of the most important lessons a young team can take forward."
While the Swedes do lose a big group of seniors, most of their stars return. And Mataskis proved last year he’s the most dynamic recruiter in the KCAC, swelling the roster to well over 100, which allowed him to fill a full junior varsity team. With his vast contacts from coast to coast and tireless coaching staff behind him, Bethany could very well be a preseason conference favorite next year, considering the teams ahead of them will be hit hard by graduation.
• STATISTICS •
• Bethany Listed First •
First Downs — 22, 12. Rushes-Yards — 48-242; 24-65. Passing — 10-15-1-183; 12-34-3-103. Punts-Avg. — 2-28.0; 5-34.0. Fumbles-Lost — 3-3; 3-1. Penalties-Yards — 13-124; 10-83.
• INDIVIDUAL LEADERS •
• Rushing •
Bethany — Wells 11-122, Eley 13-55.
Bethel — Oliver 9-33, Smith 6-15.
• Passing •
Bethany — Umphreyville 10-15-1-183.
Bethel — Bronson 10-28-3-89, Steed 1-5-0-4, Oliver 1-1-0-10.
• Receiving •
Bethany — Molette 5-104.
Bethel — Foster 4-46.