The weekly preview put out by Brad Monastiere in the HC athletic department
Coming off a well-played, dramatic victory over Michigan Tech in its home opener last week, the Hillsdale College football team knows it can’t take anything for granted in its week 3 match-up with the Northwood University Timberwolves.
The two teams will meet on the Hantz Stadium grass for the first time in nearly four years starting at noon Saturday.
Andy Brown and Jim Eckhardt from WCSR 92.1-FM will have the radio call and all the action live from Midland. Live stats and webcasting of the game will also be available.
Hillsdale comes into the game with a 2-0 record, having scored 37 points in each of its first two games. While the Chargers’ point total has been the same in the first two games, the margin of victory has been very different. Hillsdale wiped out St. Joseph’s College 37-7 in the season opener, shutting out the Pumas over the game’s final 50 minutes.
But last week, Hillsdale needed to recover an onsides kick in the game’s final minute to preserve a 37-35 win over a very tough Michigan Tech team. The win was not only significant because of the quality of opponent, but was the 100th in the head coaching career of Keith Otterbein. This week, Coach Otterbein and his troops travel to a stadium where they’ve had very little success over the years.
The last time Hillsdale left Midland with a win was Oct. 25, 1997, when the Chargers pulled out a 43-40 thriller over the Timberwolves. Since then, Northwood has emerged as one of the GLIAC’s most successful programs, having made four appearances in the NCAA Division II playoffs between 2001 and 2006.
After the 2007 season, Hillsdale College football alumn Pat Riepma stepped down as Northwood’s head coach and now serves as the school’s athletic director. Former offensive line coach Mike Sullivan now leads the T’Wolves, and guided the team to a 23-21 season-opening win at home over Northern Michigan last week.
Northwood is coming off a 2-8 season in 2008, its first losing season since 2001. The Chargers ended a four-game losing streak to the Timberwolves on Sept. 13, 2008, in a 26-7 victory in Hillsdale.
Northwood presents a unique challenge to all of its opponents thanks to its Woodbone offense. The offense is built on the run, and uses elements of the wishbone and veer offenses that gain yards through fakes, deception, excellent blocking by the offensive line, and a quarterback who can make good decisions on the fly.
Spencer Klukowski is Northwood’s veteran quarterback, having played in 25 career games entering this weekend’s matchup. He ranked in the top 10 in the GLIAC in both passing yards and rushing yards in 2008, making him a player the Charger defense has to account for on every single play.
Hillsdale’s defensive discipline and ability to carry out assignments will be a key to this game.
In last year’s game, Hillsdale held Northwood to a 2-for-13 mark on third-down conversions, which was a main reason why the Timberwolves found the end zone just once vs. the Charger defense.
Offense has been the strength of Hillsdale’s 2-0 start to the 2009 season. Quarterback Troy Weatherhead was named the GLIAC Offensive Player of the Week after one of his most well-rounded performances of his career vs. the Huskies.
He completed 24-of-32 passes (75 percent) for 324 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Although Weatherhead has a lot of talrnt around him on offense, he has found a way to maximize that talent and make the Charger offense the most efficient in the conference through the season’s first two weeks.
Charger wide receivers A.J. Kegg and Andre Holmes rank 1-2 in the GLIAC in receptions per game, and each present matchup nightmares for opposing defenses.
If Hillsdale can win this game, it would be the team’s second 3-0 start to a season in the past three years, but just the third such three-game record since 1992.