FORT WAYNE – Having lost 81 of the last 87 games after disembarking from their buses, rarely is it a good time for visiting teams to come into Bishop DArcy Stadium. But this Saturday the task becomes even more daunting for Concordia University.
First of all, there is the long-awaited 7 p.m. kickoff, which marks the first night football game in Saint Francis history.
Then there is homecoming – always an emotionally charged atmosphere.
And because Concordia comes to town with a 0-3 record and has lost the three by an average margin of nearly 30 points, the visitors from Ann Arbor, Mich., could be considered the easiest mark thus far on the Saint Francis schedule. As additional proof, they lost to the Cougars 69-0 last year.
But what trumps all other items is this: Since a 15-14 home loss to Saint Ambrose two weeks ago, Saint Francis coach Kevin Donley has not been a happy man.
Ive been angry because were so much better, Donley said.
If I think were making progress toward our potential, I can live with the outcome, and Im going to make sure we do (reach their potential).
Often a coach who emphasizes his teams positives rather than dwells on their negatives, Donley said with assurance that his team knew that he was upset with the loss to Saint Ambrose, when they let the visiting Bees take the lead with 1:45 remaining in the game.
They knew it. They knew it, Donley said. It starts here – all my responsibility. But it rolls downhill – to coaches, to players.
And we all have to assume responsibility as a team.
Saint Francis watched a 14-7 lead evaporate in the late stages when Saint Ambrose scored a touchdown with 1:45 remaining, then converted the two-point conversion for the win. It was the first time the Cougars lost to Saint Ambrose.
We gave the football game away, Donley said. We had no business losing it. We played sporadically. We played stupidly. We made dumb mistakes. We extended their drives with penalties in conversion situations.
Now, after Saint Francis loss to the Bees, here comes Concordia into a hornets nest. But the Cougars have some of their own issues.
Linebackers Brody Kalbaugh and Quinn Doan are out – Kalbaugh, indefinitely with a fractured leg suffered on the final play against Saint Ambrose. Defensive end Rex Drabenstot is out. Cornerback Tracy Hathaway is out for the season with a torn ACL.
The starting quarterback position is still up in the air. Josh Miller is listed as the starter on the depth chart, but he was removed from the game two weeks ago, while David Yoder and Wesley Hunsucker saw limited action. All three threw interceptions.
Its just not clicking right now. I dont know what its going to take to get it like that, starting center Brice Darling said. Coach Donley always says you have the size of your bucket; are you going to fill it up with all your potential or not? I just kind of feel that right now, were not overflowing our buckets. I think its there. I think its going to start clicking.