Football team builds toward future

Ray Bressette

With two weeks remaining in the Division II football season, NMU has a pair of opportunities to close out a football game and reach three wins in the 2014 season.

This weekend, the Wildcats will have an opportunity to do so as they travel to the No. 5 Ferris State University Bulldogs at noon Saturday, Nov. 7 at Top Taggart Field in Big Rapids, Mich.

Senior defensive lineman Jordan Adediran said his teammates can learn from the trip.

“It’s a good opportunity for us, especially for the young on the team playing against a top tier team,” Adediran said. “It’s good for confidence and development. If we can finish the season with two more wins, it gives us a good start for next season and something to build off.”

Last weekend, after leading the Walsh University Cavaliers 17-6 after three periods the Wildcat defense gave up three third quarter touchdowns to drop their seventh game of the season, sixth by one touchdown or less. Sophomore quarterback Shaye Brown completed 55.4 percent of his passes, throwing one touchdown and two interceptions in the loss. The Wildcats are 2-7 overall, 1-7 in conference play and are last out of the 15 GLIAC teams, and are eliminated from postseason play.

Head coach Chris Ostrowsky said the team will take the positives from the opportunities they face.

“The mindset for us is it’s been a crazy season,” Ostrowsky said. “It hasn’t been a typical season in terms of our struggles and record, and I don’t know how many close games you can play and lose them all. At the same time we have a great opportunity as a lot of our guys are on the shelf who are ready to come up, who I believe can compete at the top of this league.”

The ’Cats’ final road trip of the season will be to Top Taggart Field, a stadium the Bulldogs have called home since 1957 and a place NMU has not won in since 2003.

The Bulldogs’ junior quarterback Jason Vander Laan has thrown for more touchdowns than any other GLIAC quarterback this season with 24. Laan has also rushed for the second most touchdowns among all GLIAC players with 13, and averages the third most yards per game in the conference with 126.3 yards.

Last season, the Bulldogs defeated the Wildcats 35-22 in the ’Cats’ season finale Saturday, Nov. 16 in Big Rapids. Brown threw for 274 yards and two interceptions in the loss.

This season, Ferris is outscoring their opponents 49.4-18.9 on average, while the Wildcats are getting edged by their opponents 22-26.8 on average per game.

Senior defensive lineman Trever Kruzel said he hopes to leave lasting impact on NMU football before his time as a Wildcat ends next week.

“I have two games left to play for NMU, and the big thing is I want to finish strong,” Kruzel said. “In the past, I’ve seen guys finish off the season early and slowly work their way out of the program, but I want to finish strong up until the last play of the last game and be there for everyone.”