LEBANON — There's only one more game this season for the McKendree University football team, but retiring coach Carl Poelker said there's still plenty for which to play.
The Bearcats can seal a .500 record in their first season in the Division II Great Lakes Valley Conference with a victory over St. Joseph's at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
McKendree, which will honor its 16 seniors before the game, is 3-6 overall and 3-4 in the GLVC. The Pumas are 5-5 and 4-3.
"Right now, we could finish in the upper half of this conference," Poelker said. "That's been our goal, and it's been the goal of the seniors. We've had ups and downs, and boy, you talk about being banged up.
"But I have so much respect for these kids. This is one of the best senior classes I've ever had. They just keep leading. They go to work every day and practice --and practice hard."
Poelker, who announced his resignation in October, said he will try to keep his mind on the game. However, he's certain emotions will overtake him.
"Just like I told the seniors in practice (Thursday), the thing you do is you focus on the task at hand," Poelker said. "You've got to make certain that you stay focused and you don't put the cart before the horse --and do the things we're supposed to be doing.
"At some point in a ballgame, the emotional part will kick in."
McKendree and St. Joseph's never have met on the football field.
Saturday's Game: St. Joseph's (5-5) at McKendree (3-6), 1:30 p.m.
Last game: St. Joseph's defeated Missouri S&T 41-22; McKendree drubbed Central State 34-13.
St. Joseph's players to watch: QB Billy VandeMerkt (190-for-322, 2,190 yards, 24 touchdowns, 95 carries, 399 yards, 4 TDs); RB Braxton Shelton (93 carries, 393 yards); WR Julian Walker (79 catches, 917 yards, 10 TDs); WR Joey Bishoff (35 catches, 348 yards, 5 TDs); LB Joel Wimbly (81 tackles).
McKendree players to watch: RB Cameron James (92 carries, 446 yards, 7 TDs); RB Jacob Wagner (51 carries, 288 yards, 2 TDs); QB Isaac Fisher (62-for-119, 846 yards, 5 TDs); WR Pat Doty (35 catches, 449 yards, 1 TD); LB Bryce Colvin (69 tackles); DB Jamison Wilson (60 tackles, 5 INT).
Notes: Wilson was the GLVC Defensive Player of the Week against Central State, with nine tackles and two interceptions. ... McKendree has scored in double figures in 148 of its last 158 games. ... Follow the action on the Bearcats Sports Network at www.mckbearcats.com. Joe Zydlo will handle the play-by-play.
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2665.