Campus Report from Jason Dannelly 9/10/2007: Haskel/SD Mines and Kansas Wesleyan/Bethel KS

Haskell’s campus is old but that is no surprise. It just seems like if they had a donor that could drop a couple million into the place that it could become a really nice looking campus. There is some obvious updating that needs to happen around campus and with the football stadium.

Most notably the stadium needs some improvements on and around the stands. Most construction managers would look at the stadium as a nice “shell” to start with. Some fresh paint and a power washer would go along ways. Also, some turf or a reseeding of the field would make the game play even better.

Right now the playing surface has a lot of crabgrass on it. Okay … maybe the surface is all crabgrass, but I digress. I am not trying to put down the efforts of Haskell because they already do more than expected as a football staff and school. What I am trying to do is point out the potential this school has to become something really special to Native American students across the country.

In my opinion this is a school that should receive a lot more federal funding than what they get because of what and who they represent. You have to be of Native American decent to go to this school. Period. Because of that I think it makes them special and unique to a culture that is slowly being forgotten. By preserving the values of their culture and working to improve this school I really think that the Midwest and the entire country could enjoy this little “gem” tucked away in Lawrence.

As for the football between Haskell and SD Mines … it was sloppy but it was a competitive game. It just seemed to me like there were a lot of penalties that will hurt both of these schools in bigger games. False starts, off sides, illegal substitutions, etc. There seemed to be no real flow in this game.

At first I thought Mines was going to blow out Haskell as they marched down the field and kicked a field goal on their opening possesion. But that would be all that we would see for a while as they two teams just could not move the ball.

SD Mines is improved and their 2-0 record reflects that. They might end the season with four wins this season, maybe five, if they can capture lightening in a bottle. But in my opinion they did not look like a team that I would consider being in the top of the DAC quite yet. Things are heading the right direction but Mines is still young.

Haskell just does not have the ability to bring in athletes to really make them into a team that can compete with the best in the country. They have good ball players and they play with a lot of heart and pride. But at the end of the day I was not looking at a team that was all that athletic. They have some good ball players and a solid coaching staff but just do not have the “oomph” needed to win 6-7 games.

Haskell is an Independent, but in watching them and knowing the restrictions they have with admissions and scholarships I really believe this school would be a nice addition to the KCAC. It would give them a solid schedule each season and allow them to start some real rivalries within the state of Kansas. Right now it just seems like they are a program that is looking for an identity. Of course that decision is up to the Presidents of the KCAC. If they were to admit them to the conference I would give them a big thumb up.

After the clock hit zero I escaped to make it to I-70 so I could watch Kansas Wesleyan and Bethel in Salina. When I arrived I saw a great small college atmosphere; tailgaters on the grass, plenty of fans, a hot sweaty press box and a beautiful facility.

This season while KWU starts to remodel their football stadium the Coyotes will be playing their home games at Salina Central HS. The facility has turf and great seating for fans. It is also very easy to find if you are an out of towner trying to get to the game.

I came away from KWU/Bethel with two things:

#1 Bethel College is better than I thought they would be.

#2 Kansas Wesleyan’s offense is not as far along as I thought it would be.

Typically KWU can reload at certain positions and be just fine but this year’s offense just seemed out of sync.  That is bound to happen with 8 new offensive starters. The Coyotes are known as a run style football team but that may have to change if they do not improve in the trenches. KWU provided little running room for their backs. The longest running play from scrimmage was nine yards for Valliere. That’s just not enough to get the job done.

I did think when given time QB Drew Dallas looked good throwing the football. His completion percentage was below what most football coaches would want it to be (10-26) but he certainly throws a good ball.

As for Bethel, I really liked the way they moved the football. With a few improvements this offense will be very tough to stop. The Threshers ran the option quite well and I felt their QBs made good decisions when to keep and when to pitch the ball. The tandem of Clow and Rogers proved to be a deadly one as the two QBs combined for 216 yards from behind center.

All-American running back Beau Cox did what I expected. He busted some nice runs and kept the offense moving along. The issue Cox will have this year is that teams are really going to key on him knowing what he can do. He has to avoid contact in the backfield or else he is done. The second back for Bethel, Melton, is a bigger stronger back which will provide Bethel with a guy who can get it done between the tackles.

Keeping these two guys on the field as much as possible will help the Threshers to have opponents guessing at what is next.

Bethel’s defense looked really good in the victory but I am not going to pass judgment on them until they are tested a few more times. The jury is still out in my opinion if Saturday was Bethel being that good on D or KWU being that out of sync.

Bethel can win a conference title if their defense comes to play every week. They have a good offense that provides the balance needed to win the KCAC. But they have to be able to stop teams like Friends from physically dominating them or Sterling from running all over them.

In the end there was a lot of excitement when KWU picked up a fumble and got the score to 13-8. But I just got the feeling from the fans that no one was expecting the Coyotes to pull off the victory. I never heard anyone say it but I felt as if fans of K-dub were thinking “we don’t deserve to win this.”

But what they do deserve is to improve this week and get ready for another game. The season is far from over and I think with some improvements on offense KWU can still be a postseason team.

Next weekend will be a lot of fun for me as I will be in Helena, Montana to watch Carroll College take on Eastern Oregon. Between the football, alums, facilities and fantastic support for VSN I know I will have a GREAT time.

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