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2015 Football Season Preview - Coyotes Moving Forward

Contributed by admin on Aug 21, 2015 - 04:45 PM
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Kansas Wesleyan Football coach Matt Drinkallprobably described the 2014 season the best – a transition.

"Last year was a transition year," he said. "We knew it going into the season and we knew things were going to be rough."


To pull a positive out of last season, Drinkall points to the invaluable amount of experience that many young players got having to be thrown into key varsity roles right away.


"We had a lot of buy-in to the program last year having to play so many young guys," Drinkall said.


Recruiting improved the team drastically, not only in numbers, but in talent and ability and experience. As of August 5, the roster features 119 players that Drinkall will bring into fall camp starting August 10.


"We feel good about what we did recruiting," he added. "We have brought in a lot more talent, a lot more depth, and a lot more experience. We have 59 freshmen coming into the program along with the 22 mid-year transfers and six more summer transfers."


The Coyotes will be able to run their style of game for the first time in the Drinkall era, as opposed to last season when the Coyotes had to adjust their scheme to match the personnel.


The most exciting news for the 2015 Kansas Wesleyan Coyotes has to be the fact that the team returns to campus for the first time since the end of the 2006 season in the all-new Gene Bissell Field at the Graves Family Sports Complex. Wesleyan's last true home game was October 21, 2006 against McPherson College, a 40-7 victory for the Coyotes. The final game of the 2006 season was played at Salina Stadium, owned by the USD 305, and KWU has played its home games since at Salina Stadium.


The Graves Family Sports Complex is a $7.5 million dollar facility that returns the KWU football, soccer and track teams home to campus, but also includes excellent practice facilities and other amenities that the campus has not enjoyed for many years. The facility includes Gene Bissell Field surrounded by the 8-lane competition-ready Olson Family Track, a separate lighted turf practice field, refinished tennis courts, a new scoreboard and sound system and a new grandstand that seats 2000. Hellas Construction, who also built AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, installed the track and fields at the Complex.


The excitement is building for the 2015 season, one that should see a much improved Coyote Football squad take the field on August 29 for the season opener at Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa.


At quarterback, Wesleyan will see two players get a majority of the workload in returning starter Jake Curran (6-3, 210, Sr., Garden City, Kan. / Garden City CC (Kan.)) and newcomer Kelly Cordova (5-9, 193, So., Frisco, Texas / McPherson College (Kan.)).


"You'll see both Jake and Kelly in the game at some point," Drinkall said. "How much they will play depends on how they practice, but they will both always play every game."


Running back will be an intriguing position for the Coyotes in 2015. With the loss of All-KCAC performer Taylor Sachs, the Coyotes have big shoes to fill, but a solid group of players will fill the void. Newcomer Miles Balthazor (5-9, 200, So., Valley Center, Kan. / McPherson College (Kan.)) and returner Matt Jones (5-8, 202, Jr., Houston, Texas / Galena Park HS) will most likely see a majority of the work load carrying the ball, but with several good runners coming into camp, the starting nod remains wide open at this point. At fullback, Colby Donohue (5-11, 230, Jr., San Antonio, Texas / San Antonio College (Texas)) will be the go-to as a full-time offensive player after splitting time between offense and defense last season, earning Honorable Mention All-KCAC honors at linebacker.


"We have several tailbacks coming in that we feel very good about," Drinkall said. "It will be a very competitive position group for us."


At receiver, several players will see time on the field according to Drinkall. One returning player that has separated himself from the pack is Albert Geason (5-11, 185, Sr., Grand Prairie, Texas / South Grand Prairie HS).


"Albert has had an outstanding spring and summer," Drinkall said. "He's positioned himself for a really nice year for us."


At tight end, Wesleyan returns First Team All-KCAC performer Mitch Kufahl (6-0, 192, Jr., Wheaton, Kan. / Onaga HS) but also look for Kaleb Whitehair (6-2, 192, So., Salina, Kan. / Ell-Saline HS) to fit into the mix as well.


"Mitch is outstanding and is a great fit for our offense," Drinkall said. "But look for Whitehair to come in and also be a standout player for us in that position."


The offensive line will be drastically improved from a year ago. Drinkall points out that the line will be noticeably bigger and deeper on the line. Mario Soto (5-11, 290, So., Santa Paula, Calif. / Santa Paula HS) returns for his sophomore campaign and will be an anchor on the line. Several players will also compete for time at tackle for the Coyotes and a strong group of incoming freshman will help shore up the line.


"We will be noticeably different on the line from where we were a year ago," Drinkall said.


The defensive line also gets a big positive boost from the recruiting trails. After having just five true linemen all of last season, the Coyotes expect nine players to see significant amounts of playing time with a total of 16 players vying for a spot in the rotation.


Expect to see returners Garett Walker (6-3, 241, Jr, Hugoton, Kan. / Hugoton HS) and Kretien Webb (5-11, 266, So., Menifee, Calif. / Paloma Valley HS) to see significant time along with Jonathan Meketuk (6-1, 251, Jr., Lochbuie, Colo. / Weld Central HS) and Christian McQueen (5-11, 216, So., La Verne, Calif. / Bonita HS). Webb was on his way to an outstanding freshman campaign last year before suffering a season-ending injury against Tabor. Newcomers Marquil Jones-Walker (6-5, 213, Sr., Wichita, Kan. / Friends University (Kan.)), Marcus Bradley (6-1, 271, Sr., Dallas, Texas / Bethany College (Kan.)), Darius Jiggetts (5-10, 254, Jr., Wichita, Kan. / Independence CC (Kan.)), Peter Timoti

(6-0, 310, Fr., Yorba Linda, Calif. / Valencia HS) and Josh Davis (6-0, 278, Fr., Gardena, Calif. / Junipero Serra HS) will also help solidify the defensive line this season.


"Garett Walker had an unbelievable spring for us after playing defensive line for the first time in his life last season. Kretien Webblooks great coming off his injury, and transfers Marquil Jones-Walker and Marcus Bradley will be nice fits for us," Drinkall said.


At linebacker on the outside, it comes down to two players vying for a starting role in Mitch Persinger (6-0, 217, So., Liberal, Kan. / Hugoton HS) and newcomer Kenneth Wells (5-10, 192, Sr., St. Louis, Mo. / Central Methodist University (Mo.)). Persinger played tight end for the Coyotes last season, but transitioned to defense in the spring and has been outstanding at the outside backer position according to Drinkall.


At inside linebacker, returner Troy Ward (5-9, 213, So., Manhattan, Kan. / Manhattan HS) will compete for a spot along with seasoned veteran Matt Myers (5-10, 220, Sr., Salina, Kan. / Southeast of Saline HS) who returns from a season-ending injury.Tanner Ranieri (5-11, 191, Jr., Seneca, Kan. / Nemaha Valley HS) will also fit into the mix at the inside linebacker position.


The biggest improvement from last season on the defensive side of the ball comes in the defensive backfield. A pair of transfers,Sequente Marks (5-10, 170, Sr., Wichita, Kan. / Friends University (Kan.)) and Tyrone Wright (6-2, 205, Sr., Wichita, Kan. / Friends University (Kan.)), will provide immediate assistance at corner and safety, respectively. Returner Michael Guerrero (5-10, 187, Jr., Amarillo, Texas / Caprock HS) will look to fit into the mix as well. Guerrero made the transition late last season to the defensive side and has seen great improvement since the end of the season.


"Guerrero is getting better and better with every second," Drinkall said. "Marks and Wright will be of immediate help to us as well."


Look for returners Eric Reed (5-8, 166, Jr., Denver, Colo. / Manual HS), Sam Pierce (6-1, 176, So., Newton, Kan. / Newton HS),Blake Harris (6-0, 190, Jr., Copperas Cove, Texas / Copperas Cove HS) and Jacob Griese (5-10, 186, Fr., Houston, Texas / Mayde Creek HS) to fit into the mix as well. Griese made the change from quarterback to defensive back in the off-season after redshirting last season.


"Pierce has made a ton of improvement for us over the summer," Drinkall said. "Jacob will be a load for us in the back end for the next four years. He is one of our most physical defensive backs."


The Coyotes will step out of convention on special teams this season. The punting duties will be handled by both quarterbacks out of the offensive formations by design.


"Jake and Kelly will do the punting for us this year as we don't have a true punter on the roster," Drinkall said.


Kicking duties will be split between three players, all with a different task. Tony Gallegos (5-8, 190, Sr., Bell, Calif. / LA Harbor College (Calif.)), who played soccer for the Coyotes last season will handle kickoff duties. Most likely, Cordova will be kicking extra points and offensive lineman Mark Ayala (5-8, 283, So., Santa Paula, Calif. / Santa Paula HS) will be the field goal kicker.


The Coyotes will open the season in August for the first time in school history when they hit the gridiron on August 29 at Waldorf College.


The season opener will be played in Forest City, Iowa with kickoff slated for 7 p.m. from Bolstorff Field on the Waldorf campus. The contest will also be the first-ever meeting between the teams. Waldorf is affiliated with the North Star Athletic Association. The Waldorf game came about after an originally scheduled contest against Haskell Indian Nations University was dropped from the schedule when Haskell made the decision to suspend its football program for the 2015 season.


The next week, September 5, the Coyotes will host Midland University in the KCAC/GPAC Challenge Series game. It will be the first-ever meeting between the Warriors and Coyotes. Kickoff for the game is scheduled for 7 p.m.


After a bye week on September 12, the first mid-season bye week for the Coyotes since 1999, Wesleyan opens conference play at home on September 19 at 6 p.m. against Sterling College. The game will be Community Day.


Wesleyan then heads to Winfield on September 26 to face Southwestern College in a 6 p.m. kickoff against the Moundbuilders.


The Coyotes return back home for back-to-back home games the next two weeks. October 3 will be Homecoming for the Coyotes as Wesleyan welcomes McPherson College to the Graves Family Sports Complex for a 6 p.m. kickoff. The following week will be Wesleyan's first afternoon game of the season as the Coyotes host Friends for Youth Day on October 10 in a 3 p.m. kickoff.


Road contests against nationally-ranked Tabor (October 17) and at arch-rival Bethany (October 24) are next on the schedule for the Coyotes. The Bethany game will be the 103rd all-time meeting in the series between the schools. Bethany holds a 56-41-5 lead in the series.


Wesleyan returns home on October 31 to host Bethel College at 1:30 p.m. for Military Appreciation Day, before heading back on the road to face nationally-ranked Ottawa on November 7 at 1:30 in Ottawa. The Coyotes will wrap up the regular season on November 14 against Saint Mary at home in a 1:30 kickoff.

Football selected fifth by coaches, sixth by media at KCAC Football Media Day

Contributed by admin on Aug 21, 2015 - 04:46 PM
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WICHITA, Kan. – Kansas Wesleyan was picked to finish on Friday afternoon at KCAC Football Media Day at The Hotel at Old Town Conference Center. 

After finishing 2-9 last season in head coach Matt Drinkall's first season, the Coyotes have drastically improved through recruiting for the upcoming season and look to continue to move forward with the Coyote football program.


Ottawa was the pick by the coaches with 89 points and eight of ten first place votes, followed by Tabor with 79 points and two first place votes. Friends was third, Sterling was fourth, Wesleyan fifth, Saint Mary sixth, Bethany seventh, McPherson eighth, and Bethel and Southwestern tied for tenth.


There was a tie for first place in the media poll between Friends and Tabor, both tallying 137 points, but Friends held the tiebreaker with nine first place votes, while Tabor had six. Ottawa was picked third, followed by Sterling in fourth, Saint Mary in fifth, Wesleyan in sixth, Bethany in seventh, Bethel in eighth, Southwestern in ninth and McPherson in tenth.


Drinkall hopes that around 130 will report for fall camp which starts Monday.


Kansas Wesleyan will open the season on August 29 at Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa. The game marks the first time in school history that Wesleyan will open the season in the month of August. The home opener is the following week on September 5 when KWU hosts Midland (Neb.) University at 6 p.m. in Salina.




1. Ottawa – 89 (8)
2. Tabor – 79 (2)
3. Friends – 76
4. Sterling – 66
5. Kansas Wesleyan – 54
6. Saint Mary – 49
7. Bethany – 47
8. McPherson – 30
9. Bethel – 25
9. Southwestern – 25


1. Friends – 137 (9)
2. Tabor – 137 (6)
3. Ottawa – 126
4. Sterling – 87
5. Saint Mary – 81
6. Kansas Wesleyan – 76
7. Bethany – 61
8. Bethel – 57
9. Southwestern – 42
10. McPherson – 21