After a 75-14 beatdown at the hands of powerful Henderson State last weekend in Arkadelphia, Ark., the McKendree University football team will open the Great Lakes Valley Conference portion of its schedule when it plays William Jewell at 6 p.m. Saturday in Liberty, Mo.
The Bearcats and William Jewell are the first two GLVC teams to play a league contest this season. The other six teams in the conference have one more out-of-league game before diving into the struggle for the GLVC title.
Today's game: McKendree (1-1) at William Jewell (1-1), 6 p.m. at Greene Stadium in Liberty, Mo.
Last meeting: McKendree outscored the Cardinals 35-20 last season in Lebanon in the first game between the teams. The Bearcats scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to pull away. It was one of McKendree's three triumphs in the season.
A look at the Cardinals: William Jewell kicked off its season with a 30-15 loss to Concordia (Neb.) on Sept. 5, then bounced back with a 36-34 win at Valparaiso last Saturday in which it narrowly protected a 20-point lead. Sophomore Thomas Cook Jr. rushed 22 times for 175 yards and two touchdowns in the victory, while senior quarterback Sean Shelton rushed for 120 yards and was 11-for-15 for 120 yards and two touchdowns through the air.
Polar opposites: McKendree relies heavily on the strong right arm of sophomore quarterback Isaac Fisher, who has thrown for 466 yards. Shelton has passed for just 287 yards. The Cardinals, however, have rushed for 407 yards compared to 121 by McKendree. Belleville East graduate Ryan Herring, a junior, leads the Bearcats with 65. William Jewell's Cook has 175 yards --more than McKendree's team.
Fast 15: Junior wideout Dewayne Gatti has been a tremendous addition to the Bearcats. Gatti, who played the previous two years at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut, Calif., already has 15 catches for 234 yards and two touchdowns. Gatti set McKendree single-game records when he had 10 catches for 201 yards in the Bearcats' 32-28 victory over Tiffin in their season opener Sept. 7 in Lebanon.
New man in charge: Mike Babcock is in his first season as the Bearcats' head coach. He was the quarterbacks coach at passing-game coordinator the last four seasons at Division II juggernaut Colorado State-Pueblo. Jerod Kruse is in his fourth season as William Jewell's coach, with a 14-30 career record.
Listening in: Scott Cummings will assume play-by-play responsibilities for the game against William Jewell. It can be heard live on the Bearcat Sports Network at www.mckbearcats.com/listenlive. The broadcast kicks off at 5:40 p.m.
Take a break: McKendree will be idle next Saturday before playing host to Findlay (Ohio) at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 5. That will be the Bearcats' final day game of the season at home. Their final three games at Leemon Field, against Indianapolis on Oct. 12, Quincy on Nov. 2 and Kentucky Wesleyan on Nov. 16, will begin at 6 p.m.