Football Preview: Wartburg

Football Preview: Wartburg

The Simpson football team hits the road for the first time in American Rivers Conference play when the Storm travel to Waverly to take on the Wartburg Knights on Saturday, Sept. 29. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Walston-Hoover Stadium.

The game can be heard on KNIA 95.3 FM, and online at KNIAKRLS.com. Andrew Swadner and Rick Wilson will have the call. Fans can also video stream the game on go-knights.net.

The Storm (2-1, 1-0) were idle last week following a 27-21 win in the A-R-C opener against Nebraska Wesleyan on Sept. 15. The defending conference champion Knights (3-1, 2-0) are coming off a 42-14 win at Nebraska Wesleyan.

GAME INFO
Simpson (2-1, 1-0) at Wartburg (3-1, 2-0)
Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
Walston-Hoover Stadium
Waverly, Iowa
Live Audio | Live Video | Live Stats

PARKING ON GAMEDAY
Due to construction on Bremer Ave. and multiple home athletic events, Wartburg is offering alternative parking options for traveling fans here.

FIRST AND 10
Simpson is looking to improve to 3-1 on the season, which would be the team's best start since starting 3-0 in 2014 … a win would give Simpson its first 2-0 start to conference play since 2012 … the Storm led Nebraska Wesleyan 27-14 for most of the game on Sept. 15 before a late score by the Prairie Wolves made things interesting in the final minutes … Simpson secured its second win in a row when Prince Krah knocked down Jonathan Curti's desperation pass on fourth-and-one from the Simpson 38.

WARTBURG SERIES NOTES
Simpson and Wartburg are meeting for the 74th time in a series that began in 1944 … the Knights lead the all-time series 45-26-2 and have won five in a row … Wartburg defeated Simpson 40-31 last season in Indianola … Simpson's last win in the series came in 2012, a 20-19 triumph in Indianola … Wartburg has had the upper hand in the series over the last 20 years, going 18-2 during the stretch.

ABOUT THE KNIGHTS
Wartburg is coming off back-to-back blowout wins in conference play, shutting out Buena Vista 63-0 on Sept. 15 and rolling Nebraska Wesleyan 42-14 on Sept. 22 … reigning league offensive MVP Matt Sacia earned A-R-C Offensive Player of the Week honors for his efforts against the Prairie Wolves, throwing for 330 yards and three TDs on 21-for-28 passing … Wartburg ranks No. 1 in the league in total offense (446.0 ypg) and total defense (228.5 ypg) and is averaging 52.5 ppg over their first two conference games.

PLAYING BY THE RULES
Simpson is among the nation's best when it comes to playing clean football. The Storm rank fourth in the country in fewest penalties committed, getting flagged just eight times in three games. Simpson has accumulated just 60 penalty yards on the season, 30 in the opener against Bethel and 30 in the win against Nebraska Wesleyan. Simpson went without a penalty in the win over Chicago.

VALUING THE FOOTBALL
Saturday's game features two teams who haven't lost a fumble this season. Only 18 other teams in Division III can say the same. Wartburg is also among the nation's best in fewest turnovers lost, turning it over just twice in four games.

CONFERENCE HONORS
Two Simpson players earned American Rivers Conference Player of the Week honors for their efforts in the 27-21 win over Nebraska Wesleyan. Punter Nathan Hawkins averaged 46.6 yards on seven punts to earn Special Teams Player of the Week honors. He pinned NWU inside its own 20 four times, had two punts of 50-plus yards and a long of 55 that was fumbled to set up a Simpson TD. Linebacker Michael Connor made 13 tackles to earn Defensive Player of the Week honors. He had a crucial sack that helped stall NWU's final drive.

BUNTING BACK ON TRACK
After failing to reach the 100-yard mark for the first time in five games in the season-opener against Bethel, senior running back Cam Bunting has come back stronger than ever. He ran for 176 yards and a touchdown against Chicago in week two, then racked up 159 yards and three scores against Nebraska Wesleyan in week three. Bunting has eclipsed 100 yards in eight of the last 10 games and now has 1,470 yards for his career. Maybe most impressive, he has at least one rushing TD in eight straight games dating back to last season.

A-R-C PASSING LEADER RETURNS HOME
Simpson first-year starting quarterback and Waverly native Tanner Krueger has taken control of offensive coordinator James Hoffman's offense in 2018. The junior leads the American Rivers with 256.3 passing yards per game, 23 more than Wartburg starter, Matt Sacia. Krueger is completing 57.7 percent of his passes with six TDs and 4 INTs. Krueger will be making his first start in his hometown, where he was a first team all-district quarterback as a senior for the Waverly-Shell Rock Go-Hawks.

SAFETY TANDEM PICKS OPPONENTS
Junior strong safety Ryan Lehr and junior free safety Brendan Holmes makeup arguably the best pass defending duo in the conference. Lehr made two interceptions in the opener against Bethel and Holmes snagged one against Chicago, giving each nine career picks, good for sixth in school history. Prior to the Nebraska Wesleyan game, Simpson had gone four straight games with either Lehr or Holmes making an interception.

TURNOVERS TELL THE TALE
Winning the turnover battle is an emphasis for any football team, and Simpson is no different. In the two-plus seasons since Matt Jeter has taken over as head coach, Simpson has won the turnover battle seven times, going 6-1 in those games. Simpson has tied its opponents in turnovers nine times, going 4-5. And in the seven times Simpson has lost the turnover battle, the Storm are 0-7.

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