Simpson vs. Coe Football Preview

by Aaron Young

Not only is it just another football game on a Saturday afternoon, but it is Simpson College’s homecoming game. Not only is it just Simpson College’s homecoming game, but it is the most important game for the Storm football program this season.

And not only is it the most important game for the Storm football program this season, but also for the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Association.

Simpson (5-1, 3-0 IIAC) will be battling and grinding against No. 25 Coe College (6-0, 3-0), who are coming off a big 41-38 overtime win last weekend against the University of Dubuque.

Not only are Kohawks ranked No. 25 in the nation, but are also ranked No. 18 in the DIII Coaches’ Poll.

Coe was not the only team receiving national recognition, however. The Storm received three votes in the coaches’ poll, and if they come out on top Saturday afternoon, the squad could likely see themselves in the top 25 rankings.

At least that’s what IIAC Commissioner Chuck Yrigoyen thinks it as.

“When you have a team receiving votes and you beat a team that is in the Top 20, I think that is going to certainly improve your chances in getting into the top 25,” Yrigoyen said. “If Simpson were 3-0 in the non-conference schedule and undefeated overall, there is no question that they would be in the top 25 right now.”

The Storm suffered their lone loss to Gustavus Adolphus Sept. 8, 35-26. The Golden Gusties are now 2-4 on the year.

Keith McMillan, Managing Editor and National Football Columnist for, thinks that it will take a few more weeks and a few more wins to sneak into the top 25.

“Voters are traditionally slow to pick up on teams with a loss already,” McMillan said. “Right now there are 19 undefeated teams plus a dozen more that have only lost to ranked teams, so I wouldn’t expect an immediate top 25 spot.

“But I also wouldn’t sweat it, because having a direct path to the automatic bid to the playoffs trumps being ranked. Just keep on winning, and the rankings sort themselves out.”

Since that loss a month ago, however, Simpson has outscored their opponents 123-44.

Junior quarterback Taylor Nelson is coming off yet another strong performance and yet another IIAC Football Offensive Player of the Week honor. The West Des Moines, Iowa native threw for 199 yards with a touchdown pass and carried the ball 16 times for 86 yards and a touchdown. Nelson has thrown 1,855 yards total with 16 TD’s through the air and two on the ground with seven interceptions.

Simpson is going to be matched evenly at every single position however.

Coe’s quarterback, senior Jared McNutt, has thrown for 1,359 yards with 11 TD’s on the year. In the running department, the Kohawks’ leading rusher is junior running back Gage Mohs.

The tailback has 543 yards on the year thus far with seven touchdowns.

Their top receiver, who is matching the likes of Simpson receivers senior Taylor Rogers and junior Brad Vogel, is senior wide-receiver Jared Kuehner. The Kohawk receiver has tallied 526 yards receiving with six touchdowns.

On the defensive side of the ball, one can expect the same level explosion from both offenses to both defenses. The Duhawks’ three top defensemen include senior linebacker Zach West, senior defensive lineman Frank Weymiller and sophomore linebacker Gaetano Tartantino. West has racked up 36 tackles with one sack, Weymiller with 32 tackles with two sacks and Tartantino with 26 tackles with two sacks, making them the top three leading tacklers on the team.

Coe ranks third in the country in turnover margin and is in the top 15 in scoring offense and scoring defense. Simpson is 17th in passing offense, fourth in sacks and 20th in tackles for losses.

With both squads being evenly matched, the atmosphere both on and off the gridiron will be at an all-time high. Yrigoyen believes that the game will be the biggest game the Simpson College football program has seen in recent years.

“It’s huge. When you’re looking at my first two years as commissioner, Simpson’s program struggled a little bit and then really broke out last year, improving as a team that was up-and-coming and on the rise,” Yrigoyen said. “They certainly have done nothing wrong this year and they’re in a great position: Big game, game is at home, but that doesn’t mean that their work is done because you got to get through Dubuque the following week and then those three games at the end of the year. It’s a big game and I am sure with it being homecoming, it’s going to make it a terrific atmosphere here.”

Historically, Simpson has had the occasional big season, according to McMillan. In 2003, at 9-1 they earned a first-round playoff game and lost at St. Norbert, 26-21 in two overtimes. The biggest year for the program was in 1997, when the Storm beat UW-Whitewater and Augsburg to reach the final four of a 16-team tournament, and lost to eventual national champion Mount Union. Since then, Simpson was a playoff team in 1991, 1989 and 1988.

Yrigoyen also believes that Saturday’s match-up is arguably the game of the year thus far in the IIAC.

“There’s two undefeated teams, you’re heading into the second half of the year and neither one of these teams want to come out of the game being 3-1 in the conference. There’s no doubt that right now this is the game of the year in the league by the way things have been broken,” Yrigoyen said.

Not only is the game important in the conference, but even regionally and even in through the entire country.

“I think we’re clearly one of the conferences that people have their eye on in Division III,” Yrigoyen said. “Everybody like the D3Football folks, the coaches and everyone in the upper Midwest know that two Iowa Conference teams that are undefeated are going after each other this weekend. And because it’s a big game regionally, it’s got national implications because that team is going to be in the driver seat for automatic qualifier.”

And in McMillan’s mind, this is the game that those outside of Iowa are looking toward to give insight as to who will win the conference and represent the IIAC in the playoffs this season.

“What’s unique about it, from a national perspective, is that a lot of fans around the country who follow their own conference and then they have heard of Coe but don’t know Simpson,” McMillan said. “It’s really an opportunity for the Storm to open some eyes across the country. The spotlight is on this week. These are the games when the best teams shine and the others sometimes wilt under the pressure.”

The Storm will take on the Duhawks at 1 p.m. Saturday at Bill Buxton Stadium. You can follow the game live via web stream through, listen to it on the radio at 88.9 KSTM-FM or through live in-game tweets from @AaronYoung_15 and @StormSports.