Friday, August 29, 2014

Braves to see different Bethel College team

By Greg Mast/Herald Sports Editor | 9/27/2013

The Bethel College football program hit rock bottom by the end of last season when it played Ottawa University.

Bethel’s year started with the resignation of its coach a few weeks before the season started. Players then defected. Injuries and lack of depth caught up to Bethel, which had less than 40 players in the finale.

The Bethel College football program hit rock bottom by the end of last season when it played Ottawa University.

Bethel’s year started with the resignation of its coach a few weeks before the season started. Players then defected. Injuries and lack of depth caught up to Bethel, which had less than 40 players in the finale.

Fast forward to the 2013 season. The Threshers have a coach who understands how to build a program. He has depth and talented players this season.

It has resulted in a 1-2 start and the Threshers are averaging 34 points a game coming into today’s game against No. 12 Ottawa (2-1) at Peoples Bank Field. Kickoff is at 6 p.m.

“Bethel is not the team we played against last year,” Ottawa coach Kent Kessinger said. “They have some good football players. Their record is not great, but they have been putting up points and yardage.

“They have numbers and depth. It was pretty rough deal at the end of last year. It is a whole different ball game this year.”

Ottawa will have to deal with an offense that can move the ball. The Threshers are ranked 15th in the NAIA averaging nearly 400 yards per game.

“They look a lot more athletic,” Kessinger said. “Offensively they have a good quarterback. They like to throw the ball a lot. They will spread you out and go four or five wide. I like what they do with their receivers.

“On defense, they have young guys, but do have a mixture of guys that played in the conference a little bit.”

Bethel coach Marty Mathis came from Marian University where he was part of a program that went from having no football to a national title in 2011.

“He knows a little bit what he is talking about,” Kessinger said.

Ottawa expects to get a good effort from Bethel.

“We will have everybody’s best effort,” Kessinger said. “Coming in as the returning conference champion, it puts a big target on us.

“Our guys have to relish that. To be the king of the hill, you have to stay on top of the hill.”

Ottawa is still growing as a team. The Braves are coming off their best offensive game in a 41-15 win over Bethany.

“We are trying to take each day and get a little better,” Kessinger said. “We have guys that are inexperienced and gaining knowledge day in day out. It is nice to see them grow. It is nice to see how quickly our team has come together.

“We are doing a little switching here and there to make sure we got the base offense and base defense figured out. Our special teams have been strong.

“We need to gain more depth so we can give a guy a spell here or there. Defensively, we have been on the field for a lot of plays. We need to put guys in. We need to get three and outs. Offensively, we need to sustain drives and continue to put up points.”

Ottawa scored 34 points and nearly 300 yards of offense in the first half against Bethany.

“We finally broke out of our shell last week,” Kessinger said. “It was nice to see us move the ball fast and gain some yardage. Defensively, we did a good job of gang tackling.

“We need to put 60 minute games together. If we get up, we can’t let up. There is too much parity in the conference right now. People can come back at anytime.”

Ottawa’s goal is to win the conference and receive another playoff berth and to do that it must take care of business each week.

“Our job is to push ourselves, build, grow and develop, and be a playoff team,” Kessinger said. “If you want to go the playoffs, the best way is to win every game. That is why Bethel is the biggest game on our schedule.

“We want to defend our turf. Since 2008, we have only lost to Baker and Georgetown on our home turf. We want to keep it that way. The crowd supports us.”

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