Concordia to open season Saturday in Tennessee

Published 10:01 am Friday, August 22, 2008

Get your tickets now. David faces Goliath in McKenzie, Tenn., this weekend.

The Concordia College Hornets — an NAIA hopeful — face NAIA powerhouse Bethel.

“We’re going to a school with tradition that turns out a great crowd,” said Concordia coach Shepherd Skanes. “We’re going to have to go in there, hold our heads up and play through adversity.”

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The two teams enter Saturday’s 7 p.m. kickoff at opposite ends of the spectrum.

The Wildcats are a preseason No. 6 team in NAIA. They went 11-2 and finished No. 5 in the country in 2007. The year before, Bethel finished 10-3 with a No. 7 ranking.

Concordia enters its fourth season of organized football. The Hornets went 6-4 in their inaugural season, but have not been as fortuitous in recent years. Concordia shared the 2008 South East Athletic Conference title with Edward Waters, but finished 2-9. The Hornets finished 2-8 the previous year.

Despite their differences, Concordia is not intimidated.

“Anything can happen. I feel really good about going up there,” said Skanes. “I definitely think we can go in there and do what they say can’t be done.”

Concordia’s players are not intimidated by the task at hand, either.

“They’re good, but the best team’s going to win the game,” said freshman defensive lineman David Geeter. “We all put our pads on the same way.”

Skanes expects Bethel to use a balanced, smash-mouth attack. The Wildcats’ Power-I formation is a stark contrast to the spread offense Concordia runs.

Plays, formations and strategies are not Skanes’ primary concern, though.

“We’re going to a school with great tradition and turns out a great crowd,” said Skanes. “That gives them the extra edge.”

There is hope that the Hornets’ fortunes are turning for the better. The heart of a strong defense returns — including the entire secondary. Aaside from a few tweaks, the summer was injury-free.

Senior quarterback Ken Johnson, a former Southeastern Athletic Conference MVP, returns from a season-ending knee injury last year and is 100 percent.

“Only God knows how glad I am to see him back,” said Skanes.