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KCAC football season to extend into spring

Greg Mast
gmast@ottawaherald.com

The KCAC approach to the pandemic has been about looking for solutions.

An athletic task force has been meeting weekly since April to put together plans moving forward for athletics.

“It has been a difficult time,” KCAC Commissioner Scott Crawford said Friday during the annual KCAC Football Media Day. “The spring was challenging. We have dealt with a variety of challenges.

“We are returning to play this fall. The KCAC Board of Presidents has given their support to schedule plans and recommendations that the coaches and the task force has worked on.”

The KCAC will play football and other fall sports in 2020, but with a few twists. The football season will extend into the spring with a break for the holidays, Crawford announced.

The format right now has the KCAC schools playing their schedule through Oct. 31.

“At that point in time we will reevaluate,” Crawford said. “If we have had to postpone some games, we will try to reschedule them for Nov. 7, 14 and 21. We have some built in flexibility to play football in the spring under this plan that was approved by the board.”

That announcement comes on the heels of the NAIA postponing the football playoffs and championship game to the spring.

"Moving the football championship to the spring was the right thing to do for the well-being of our student-athletes," NAIA president and CEO Jim Carr said. "The decision also provides additional flexibility for our conferences and institutions to account for regional differences and plan their regular season accordingly."

The major college conferences are meeting this week to see if they will attempt to play the 2020 season.

Friends football coach Dion Meneley said the key to being successful in the 2020-21 season is staying engaged throughout the process.

Ottawa University’s Kent Kessinger, the dean of the KCAC coaches, said this will be an unusual time.

“It takes three times as long to figure something out now than it did previously,” said Kessinger, who is entering his 17th year as Braves coach. “There is a lot of logistical stuff that goes behind it.

“As coaches, we like to have schedules. Was it going to be a fall season? Was it going to be a spring season? Right now, it is going to be a little bit of both. No. 1 thing I told our guys was to be flexible. That is going to be a key for us.”

Crawford said the KCAC is looking forward to getting back on the field and playing courts.

“I look forward to football as well as our other fall sports to return to campus as a way for the KCAC family to come together,” he said. “To use football, use sport, as a way for us to regain a sense of normalcy.”

The annual meeting was held virtually for the first time. The coaches gave a brief synopsis of their teams and the media and coaches voted on the preseason polls.

The Braves, coming off a 10th-place finish, was selected seventh by the media and eighth by the coaches. Two-time defending KCAC champion Kansas Wesleyan is the favorite in both polls.

Kessinger said the Braves will be a better football team this year than last year. Ottawa returns 28 lettermen and 13 starters.

“We will have a little more quickness and speed, particular at our wide receiver spot than we did a year ago,” he said. “We do have to find a new quarterback. We have a couple of transfers in, one that was able to be with us in the spring.

“Defensively, we have quite a few all-conference guys we will build upon. We added depth to our secondary and linebackers. Some of our new guys will make an impact into our program.”