In their first season in the Midwest Conference (MWC), the Macalester Scots will have a chance to make history against the Carroll Pioneers. Not only can they stake their claim to the North Division lead, but also will tie a school record with their seventh win. To say the team is excited is like saying it gets a bit chilly in Minnesota in the winter.
Star cornerback Konnor Fleming explains it well. “This is incredibly exciting for us and for the school. This has been the dream we have had since I got here, and now the opportunity is here. This is going to be a great opportunity to prove we are legitimate.”
While the team is fired up, Macalester Scots Coach Tony Jennison enters the contest with his usual cool demeanor. The coach understands the magnitude of the game, but also understands that too much focus on what can be sets his team up for failure in what is now. “I think part of what I need to do as a coach is to keep the team focused on today. Are they practicing well? Are they eating right? Are they getting plenty of rest? If they do not do the things they need to do right now, they will not perform on Saturday.”
This last Saturday the Macalester Scots did a lot of things well. The offense scored three touchdowns in the first quarter and only needed seven total plays to do so. The defense shut down the Lawrence attack, holding the Vikings to just 26 yards rushing and 212 total yards of offense. The performance dropped their yardage allowed to 271 yards per game, ranked 23rd in all of Division-III football. It is an amazing turnaround for a team that struggled last season defensively, but now has become one of the most formidable in the nation.
They will need to be at their absolute best on Saturday, as the Carroll Pioneers are as dangerous as it gets. They are led by senior running back Lamont Washington who is 16th in Division-III with 860 net rushing yards and he also has 13 rushing TDs. On offense is not the only time he is dangerous, as he has returned three kick-offs for touchdowns and he is the No. 1 return man in the country. Coach Jennison is having nightmares about the back already. “He is awfully good. If we can’t stop him we are in for a really long day.”
That will be the biggest task for the Macalester Scots defense on Saturday. Washington is as dangerous as any back in the country, and he must be held in check for the Scots to win. “We have to tackle well and play sound defense. We are going to have to play our best game all season. No disrespect to anyone else, but this is our biggest challenge and we need to be at our best.”
Getting the best out of his team is what Coach Jennison does and he is going to need an outstanding performance from all parts of his team. Carroll is first in scoring offense and first in scoring defense. On top of that they have the best return game in the country and have a quality coverage unit as well. They are the most well-rounded team in the MWC and it is going to take the Scots best outing to pull this one out.
There are two big intangibles the Macalester Scots have going for themselves this weekend. They are on a huge roll, winning their last five games. They have proven they can win a whole lot of ways, close games, strong defensive performances, last second victories, second-half comebacks, big running days, late passes. They have found ways to win, and so there is a lot of momentum for them. Plus winning four games that were close proves to them that they are never out of a game, and that they can do the little things to win.
Secondly, they are at home. The team hopes they will get a raucous crowd for what has to be the biggest game for the school in thirty years. The team could feed off the energy of a large crowd and that could make a real difference in the outcome of the game.
The Macalester Scots football team record for wins in a season is seven. For the seniors who will play their last game at home on Saturday this is a chance to make history. It is a chance to put the team on the map, and stake a claim to the North Division title in their first season in the MWC. A quick start would really go a long way to bringing this victory home, and if they can get a big crowd and keep them into the game, they have a great shot at upsetting the Pioneers.
By Robert Pannier