Season brings football back to NMU: Wildcats gear up for spring season with scrimmages at the Dome

Georgette Breen-Naylor

The Wildcats football team is getting ready to start their spring season, which will consist of 15 practices during the last week of March and up until the third week of April.

The ’Cats held the first spring ball practice in the Superior Dome on Monday, March 25. Last season, the ’Cats finished the season with a 4-7 overall record.

The ’Cats will hold meetings and have practices which are open to the public. After winning only three conference games last year, head coach Chris Ostrowsky said the first goal is to win a conference title.

“Our expectations are, and always will be, to be first in the conference,” Ostrowsky said. “The second goal is to become a playoff team.”

The ’Cats are looking to turn things around this season. Senior wide receiver Christian Jessie said he’s excited for the chance to get better this spring. The ’Cats have not had a record above 50 percent since 2009, when they went six and four. Jesse was selected to the Daktonics Inc. All-Super Region Four first team in 2012. He also led the team in receiving with 501 yards and 33 catches.

“I’m excited about the chance to get better as a team and individually,” Jessie said. “It’s a good time for us to build chemistry.”

Jessie was also the team’s return specialist and received the Player of the Week in the GLIAC conference in November after a 99-yard kickoff return against Ferris State. Senior and captain of the team, defensive back Brandon Parson said there is an urge to get better.

“I’m excited to get back on the field,” Parson said. “Especially since we started to see some success toward the end of last season.”

Parsons said the defense needs to become a better tackling unit and they must really understand the playbook. On the other side of the ball, freshman running back Keon Collier saw time last season in the ’Cats backfield and will be the main ball carrier for the ’Cats this upcoming season after senior running back Prince Young graduated.

“We just need to get healthy,” Collier said. “If we can have a healthy team, we can achieve any goal.”

The ’Cats will also be adding depth to their roster at the quarterback position this spring season. Sophomore Dustin Thomas from Villanova University transferred in for his first season with the ’Cats.

Redshirt freshman Ryan Morley started last season as quarterback before suffering an injury and junior Cody Scepaniak finished the season for the ’Cats.

Thomas said he is excited about the new opportunity here at Northern with the Wildcats.

“It’s been such a crazy ride to get to this point in my career,” Thomas said. “I just want to do whatever I can to help this team win a national championship.”

Thomas started several games for Villanova before separating his shoulder.

The ’Cats will have 15 practices to do as much work as possible before the end of the semester. Jessie said in order for NMU to become a playoff team this year they must play more consistent.

“I think we need to play more consistent as a whole before we can think about becoming a playoff team,” Jessie said. “Focusing on the details this spring would be a good start for us.”

The ’Cats will also be adding some more players to the roster after spring ball. Ostrowsky said the ’Cats have signed 27 student athletes. They also have signed four mid-year transfers, including Thomas.

“It all starts with a great commitment to recruiting,” Ostrowsky said. “Understanding the philosophy and structure in which you go about recruiting is critical.”

The ’Cats will have 15 practices during this year’s spring season. Ostrowsky said he wants to make sure the ’Cats work on the overall team tempo.

“Everything has to be done faster with a greater understanding of fundamentals,” Ostrowsky said.

The ’Cats will conclude their spring season with a final game at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 20. in the Superior Dome.