Storm football preview against Wartburg

by Tyler Crandell

In anticipation for the football game this Saturday against Wartburg, the numbers 38 and 37 might come to mind to a lot of players and fans of both Simpson and Wartburg.

This was the score of the last meeting between the two teams that Simpson won in overtime, beating the nationally ranked Knights for the first time since 1997.

The Storm came back from 17 points down in the fourth quarter to send the game into overtime, which they won in dramatic fashion by a blocked extra point.

“It is hard not to think of last year’s game against them,” Blake Heitmeier said, senior defensive back for the Storm. “We know they remember it. We are ready for it to be a very physical and high energy game.”

It is the conference opener for both teams, who have had a somewhat similar start to their seasons.

Both are 2-1 coming into their first conference game and each have a blowout win; Simpson’s 54-0 runaway against Eureka, and Wartburg’s 73-0 victory over MacMurray.

“We take every game seriously, but when conference play begins we know it is really time to buckle down and execute,” Heitmeier said. “Wartburg is a big rival, so that always adds some intensity.”

According to both Heitmeier and teammate Taylor Rogers, senior wide receiver, this week of practice seemed to go by a slow in anticipation for the game.

“We are excited and just want to get out there on the field and play,” Rogers said. “We know it will be an intense game especially with how last year went.”

The Storm is confident in their game plan going into Saturday.

“We have added new wrinkles to our plays that we usually run since their defense is different than most defenses we usually go against,” Rogers said. “We have some new plays that will be effective because of the way they are planning on guarding us.”

The Storm’s offense, led by junior quarterback Taylor Nelson, has some serious weapons in receivers Rogers and junior Brad Vogel. Nelson has 10 passing touchdowns so far, six to Vogel and three to Rogers, and is ranked third in the nation averaging 341 passing yards per game, doing so with 32 less attempts than the leader.

On the defensive side, senior Mark Cronin is leading the way with 24 total tackles. Him and the rest of the Storm defense have held opponents to 313 offensive yards per game.

The Knights are a little more run heavy than the Storm averaging 227 rush yards per game compared to 86 for the Storm.

The Knights quarterback, freshman Logan Schrader, is less of a passing threat than Nelson, but expect him to tuck it and run this Saturday.

“Their quarterback can run a bit and also pass,” Heitmeier said. “We will take advantage of his inexperience as well as the rest of their teams inexperience since they are younger than us. The majority of our starters are juniors and seniors on both sides of the ball so that is definitely an advantage.”

What it all comes down to is how the teams play on Saturday. It will be a competitive and physical game as both teams try to win their conference opener.

Kickoff at Buxton Stadium is at 1 p.m. and it is expected to be a great day for football with sunny skies and the temperature around 75 degrees.