Scots Saturday Preview: Macalester Scots Invade Wisconsin to Take on Beloit Buccaneers
Riding a three-game winning streak the Macalester Scots cross the border into Wisconsin for the second weekend in a row, this time to face the Beloit College Buccaneers. This battle of North Division combatants pits the 4-1 Scots against the 2-3 Buccaneers in a game that seems to be a clear mismatch in favor of Macalester. But don’t tell that to Coach Tony Jennison.
The Macalester Coach is notorious for his fervent dedication to take no team lightly in anyway, and this has been one of the keys to the team’s continual success. He understands from his early days as coach of the Scots that even a struggling team is dangerous. Seven years ago he was the coach of such a team, but he has quickly transformed the Scots into a rising program that is turning into one of the better programs in all of Division-III football. He now sees a rising program in its infant state at Beloit.
“I had a chance to meet (Beloit) Coach Duerr this last summer, and he is a really quality guy. He has a real level headed approach, and in my experience those guys seem to do real well,” Coach Jennison explained about his adversary this weekend. “I know they have a smaller roster (33 players), but they have done a nice job, already winning two games. He is doing a really great job there, and obviously his players believe in him and what he is doing. I can’t imagine another team in the country with just 30-something players playing as well as they are.”
There is clearly a healthy respect there for Coach Duerr. In his first season as head coach of the Buccaneers he has quickly began to turn around a program that had won just one game in the previous two seasons. As Coach Jennison pointed out, the Buccaneers have already won two this season with just 33-players on their roster, which is quite amazing considering the lack of depth.
A key to this week’s game will be the first half. Beloit has been outscored 89-34 in the first-half of their games this year, a fact that the Scots Coach recognized would aid his football team greatly if his team can jump out in front early. “That’s always to your advantage when you can score early, because you force them to play catch-up and they become much more one-dimensional. Plus, this always helps with the confidence when you can score early.”
Scoring early is what the Scots did last weekend as they got two quick touchdowns from their dynamic duo of Zandy Stowell and Samson Bialostok on their way to a 28-20 victory over Ripon College. The Scots were facing a triple-option team for the first time since Coach Jennison took over Macalester’s program, and he and his coaching staff saw some real challenges in facing a team that ran this style of offense. “It requires a lot of discipline to defend them. Fortunately we have a very smart group of guys that learn quickly, and we got the lead early so that we were able to make them more one-dimensional in their game plan, at least for the first 29 minutes of the game.”
Controlling the game is what the Scots were doing until a late 80-yard touchdown pass cut the lead to just seven points with 20 seconds left in the half. “That seemed to deflate our team heading into half-time, and we came out a little flat to start the second-half,” Coach Jennison remembers. Flat is how they were initially after the break, giving up the tying touchdown early in the third quarter.
Momentum is a funny thing in sports, and Ripon must have been feeling the momentum was completely with them after tying the score, while Macalester had to be feeling like the field was titling against them at that point. That is when Bialostok and his offense took charge and took back command of the game. The senior QB and his junior tailback moved the ball down the field methodically, taking 6:33 off of the clock on a 16-play drive that gave the team back the lead. The Coach recalls how the drive resurrected his team’s enthusiasm, “They were feeling a little deflated on the sidelines. It was awfully quiet and you could sense the team was feeling like the game was getting away from them. However, a few first downs and guys were much more vocal on the sidelines. That drive changed the momentum of the game for sure.” Stowell scored on a one-yard burst, and the Scots had a lead they would not relinquish.
Momentum is what the Macalester Scots have as they enter this contest in the midst of one of the best seasons in school history, giving them a real good shot at eclipsing the school record for wins in a season (7). Behind Defensive Coordinator Marshall Mullenbach and his staff, the Scots are playing some of the best defense in the country. They are ranked 32nd in Division-III football in yards allowed per game (283.2), and the 14.6 points allowed per game average is 26th. Their offense is developing its identity quickly, but the defense is proving that they have arrived and that they are ready to do battle now.
Beloit is where Macalester was five seasons ago. They are an up-and-coming team that will be a real contender in this conference under Coach Duerr. They are just not there now. The Scots are no longer up-and-comers. They have arrived and they are for real. They have a real shot at being 6-1 when they face Carroll University on November 1 in a game that should be for the North Division title. Expect them to take care of business in Saturday’s game.
By Robert Pannier