Football Preview: Central

Football Preview: Central

INDIANOLA, Iowa — The Simpson football team renews its biggest rivalry Saturday when it travels to Pella to face the Central Dutch at Ron and Joyce Schipper Stadium. The game will air on KNIA 1320 AM/95.3 FM and online at KNIAKRLS.com. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.

Simpson will wear decals representing the Des Moines and Urbandale Police Departments in honor of fallen officers Justin Martin and Tony Bominio, both graduates of Simpson. Martin graduated in 2015 and was a member of the football team as a freshman in 2011. Bominio graduated in 2001 and was a member of both the football and wrestling squads.

The Storm (3-5, 2-4 Iowa Conference) lost a 24-22 heartbreaker to Nebraska Wesleyan last week, missing a 44-yard field goal as time expired after trailing 24-9 late in the fourth quarter. The Dutch (6-2, 4-2) were off last week and are coming off a 51-37 win over Wartburg on Oct. 22.

Saturday marks the 94th meeting between Simpson and Central in a series that began in 1905. The Dutch lead the all-time series 64-26-3 and have won the last two meetings, including a 31-24 win last season in Indianola. Simpson is 14-30-1 against the Dutch in Pella but has split the last four trips. The Storm won 21-18 in Pella in 2012.

ON THE AIR
Back again this season, all Simpson football games can be heard on KNIA 1320 AM/95.3 FM and online at KNIAKRLS.com. You can also download the KNIA app on iTunes and Google's Play Store. Andrew Swadner will have the call with Rick Wilson providing the color commentary.

LIVE COVERAGE
Radio: KNIA 1320 AM/95.3 FM
Audio Stream: www.kniakrls.com
Live Video/Stats: www.central.edu/athletics

QUOTABLE
"I had an opportunity to play in this game in 1996 and 1997. If you have a pulse, you'll be ready to go for this week." — head coach Matt Jeter on the Simpson/Central rivalry.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Central boasts one of the most explosive offenses in the league and has been red hot as of late. The Dutch lead the IIAC in total offense and rank second in scoring, averaging 540.9 yards and 38.9 points per game. In their last two games -- a 43-17 win over Nebraska Wesleyan on Oct. 15 and a 51-37 win over Wartburg on Oct. 22 -- Central is averaging more than 600 yards of total offense. 

• The driving force behind Central's offensive success has been the Riley Gray-to-Sam Markham combination. A 6-1 senior quarterback, Gray has the best TD-to-INT ratio in the conference, tossing 22 TDs against just four picks. He has over 2,000 yards passing on the season and is coming off a five TD performance against Wartburg. In his last two games, Gray has thrown for 670 yards, eight TDs and one INT. Gray's favorite target, Markham leads the nation with 10.4 catches per game and ranks sixth with 126 yards per game.

• While Central has one of the top offenses in the league, it will be going up against one of the league's top defensive units. In Matt Jeter's first season as head coach and defensive coordinator, the Storm allow less than 20 points and 375 yards per game in conference play, both second in the IIAC. Freshman safety Brendan Holmes and senior linebacker Cole Cook are two of the top tacklers in the league. Holmes is third with 84 stops and Cook is eighth with 75.

• Another key to Simpson's defensive success has been the play of senior defensive end Isaac Frazier. One of the top talents in the nation, the 6-4, 215-pounder ranks fourth in Division III in forced fumbles and eighth with an IIAC-leading 10 sacks. Last week he moved into fourth-place in school history with 18 career sacks, passing All-American Dustin Schelling (17.5 from 2003-06). Frazier also leads the IIAC with 12.5 tackles for loss and his next forced fumble with make him the school's career record holder with eight.

• Junior punter/wide receiver Nathan Hawkins proved last week that his remarkable performance against Loras two weeks ago was no fluke. A week after setting a school-record by averaging 52.7 yards on six punts, Hawkins had another banner day and landed on the D3football.com Team of the Week for a second straight week. He boomed three punts of 50-plus yards, including a 70-yarder that is tied for the second longest in school history. He pinned Nebraska Wesleyan inside the 20 five times and also had punts of 52 and 61 yards. In just two games as the Storm's full-time punter, Hawkins is averaging 50.5 yards on 15 punts, putting nine inside the 20.

QUICK HITTERS
Senior running back Jordan Beem needs 163 yards to become the fifth 3,000-yard rusher in school history. He enters Saturday's game with 2,837 … junior placekicker Drew Jensen increased his single-season record for field goals when he connected on a 38-yarder against NWU, making him 11-for-20 on the year … he ranks sixth in Division III in field goal percentage (91.7) and eighth in makes per game (1.38) … wide receiver Jackson Redmond had Simpson's best receiving game in four years last Saturday when he hauled in 13 receptions for 187 yards and a TD … Simpson ranks fourth in Division III in red zone offense, scoring on 92.6 percent of its trips inside the opponent's 20-yard line … the Storm rank eighth in Division III in net punting (37.86 yards per punt) and ninth in kickoff return defense (14.41 yards per return), both of which lead the IIAC.

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