When the Simpson football team takes the field for thisSaturday’s Homecoming game against Loras, the team is playing foranything but personal glory.
“When you put on a Simpson helmet, you’re not only playing foryourself and the guys on this team, but you’re playing for everyguy that ever wore a uniform here,” head coach Jay Niemannsaid.
The players tend to agree.
“There isn’t more importance on the game, but alumni come backand we want to put on a good show for them,” said junior middlelinebacker Chris Kern. “A lot of guys before us busted their buttsin the Simpson uniform … we want to do the same.”
Niemann said Homecoming and Parent’s Day are times when the teamreally wants to put its best foot forward. He said the team triesto show alumni that they have a quality football team and programhere at Simpson.
“A lot of alumni come to games and it still means a lot tothem,” said junior wide receiver Dusty Kain. “They take losses justas hard as we do.”
The Loras Duhawks are coming to Buxton Stadium this Homecomingin hopes of turning their season around.
Loras head coach Bob Bierie summed up their season so far withone word: disappointing.
The Duhawks have had some close games go against them this year,the worst being a 26-21 homecoming loss to Buena Vista in theclosing minutes. The Duhawks jumped out to an early 21-3 leadagainst the Beavers, but couldn’t hold on for the win.
The Duhawks have lost several games by small margins. Besidesfalling to the Beavers by five, they lost to St. Ambrose by two athome and to at Central by a field goal to stand at 3-3 overall and2-2 in the Iowa Conference.
Simpson stands at 3-2 overall and 2-2 in the conference.
Coach Bierie isn’t concerned that this year’s showdown falls onSimpson’s Homecoming.
“Over the years, I’ve lived and learned that once the gamestarts, whether there’s 100 or 10,000 people in the stands, it’sirrelevant,” Bierie said. “Players just play.”
Senior wide receiver Mark Phillips agreed that Homecomingdoesn’t put much extra pressure on the team.
“Homecoming is for fans and alumni,” Phillips said. “To us it’sjust another home game we should win.”
But for Phillips, playing Loras is more meaningful than mostother games.
“It is a little [more important] for me,” Phillips said. “I’mfrom the Dubuque area and Loras was the only other team to reallyrecruit me, so I’d like to do well.”
Simpson is hoping to make this year’s Homecoming their 11th winin a row against Loras. The Storm has won 14 out of the last 15games with the Duhawks. Loras last defeated the Storm in 1993,14-9.
Niemann feels the turnover ratio, offensive red zone efficiencyand solid defense will be the keys to defeating the Duhawks, butplaying cleanly is always what Niemann wants.
“The theme stays the same.” Niemann said.
Saturday’s game begins at 1 p.m. at Buxton Stadium.