They say it’s always the rivalry matches that spark some of the greatest games in sports. From the Boston Red Sox versus the New York Yankees to the Minnesota Vikings versus the Green Bay Packers, rivalry games almost always live up to their hype, creating more animosity and entertainment for the fans who watch these games. This Saturday’s Homecoming football game should be no exception as the Gusties will take on their biggest rivals, the St. Olaf Oles.
This historically significant rivalry will be renewed on Saturday, Sept. 28, when the Gustavus football team will host St. Olaf for the 2013 Homecoming game. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m.
The Gusties currently have a record of 1-1 with a MIAC Conference record of 0-1. The Gusties started their season with a home victory against Simpson College two weeks ago with a final score of 28-21. However, last week the Gusties gave up the lead in the fourth quarter and lost on the road against their first MIAC conference opponent of the season, Augsburg College. The final score of that game was 19-16.
“We are making progress. We had a great win week one against a strong Simpson team from Iowa. The loss to Augsburg was a difficult one and we are looking to improve this week as we prepare for our game against St. Olaf,” Head Coach Peter Haugen said.
The Gusties will try to avenge last week’s loss this Saturday against the Oles in what is expected to be a lively crowd full of alumni, as well as current and prospective Gusties.
Entering Saturday’s game, St. Olaf holds a 1-2 record with a MIAC record of 0-1. The Oles hosted Northwestern (Minn.) in their first game of the season and managed a win. Since their home opener, the Oles have lost two straight road games to Luther College and Concordia College.
The Oles will be coming in with a different team than the Gusties have seen in a while. The Oles have new coaches and are running a brand new defensive scheme that the Gusties haven’t seen yet. On top of that, the Oles are also coming in with an offensive squad that will provide a challenge for the Gustie defense as well.
“St. Olaf has a tremendous offensive line and two of the best wide receivers we’ll face this season. They have shown the ability to be very explosive at times on offense,” Defense Coordinator Corey Shea said.
“They have three or four new starters in the defensive secondary but bring back several contributors in the front seven. Their team is very athletic, and they have some explosive athletes in the front seven. They are playing a new defense this season and it will be the first time that our offense has seen this type of defense so we are excited for the new challenge,” Co-Offensive Coordinator Charles Cosgrove said.
The Gustie defense has done very well at creating turnovers, giving their offense a chance with the ball. They have also done well at stopping the run game, making it harder for opposing offenses to score points on the Gusties. This will be put to the test on Saturday.
“Our front seven has done a good job against the run. We’ve gotten a couple of timely turnovers,” Shea said.
It will be important for the Gusties to come to Saturday’s game confident and ready to put in a great team effort in order to pull off the victory in front of the big crowd that is expected to be present on Saturday.
“We just need to play loose and confident, trust our techniques, and give great effort. When we are doing those things, we can be a pretty good defense,” Shea said.
On the other side of the ball, the offense has been productive and managed to score an average of 23.5 points per game so far this season. The offense has been led by Sophomore Quarterback Mitch Hendricks, who is a transfer student from St. John’s University.
Senior Captain Running Back Jeffrey Dubose has also been a big contributor to the offense. In the first game of the season, Dubose reached a significant milestone in his football career at Gustavus by moving past the 2000 yard rushing mark. Dubose has had many carries this season and has thrived in his position as the starting running back. Last week, Dubose managed to run for 227 yards on 37 carries. The Gusties will look to regain their balance attack on Saturday.
“Offensively, our goal is always to have a balanced attack. We got away from our balance a bit last week against Augsburg because we were having success running the football with Jeffrey Dubose behind a veteran offensive line. We have some explosive playmakers on the perimeter that need to touch the football in [Sophomore Wide Receiver] Matt Boyce, [Senior Wide Receiver] Phillip Butler, and [Junior Wide Receiver] Mike Hintze,” Cosgrove said.
Although the Quarterback is young, the coaching staff is confident in his ability to lead the team.
“We are very confident that our Quarterback, Mitch Hendricks, can play the role of point guard and distribute the ball to the [receivers] amongst others. We have to do a better job of maximizing our scoring opportunities and putting teams away when we have the chance,” Cosgrove said.
The Homecoming game is one that football fans will not want to miss. There will also be tailgating at President Ohle’s house at 11:30 a.m. Students need to bring their I.Ds in order to attend the event. Free food will be available until the start of the football game.