THE ULTIMATE TURF WAR NAIA CHAMPIONSHIP GAME Sioux Falls (S.D.) vs. Carroll (Mont.) Barron Stadium
Dec. 18, 2010
SATURDAY, December 18, 2010
2010 NAIA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
Pursuit of perfection
Contributed photos / Carroll Colllege and University of Sioux Falls
Quarterbacks Gary Wagner (left) of Carroll College and Jon Eastman of Sioux Falls will meet this afternoon at Barron Stadium to battle for the NAIA championship.
Sioux Falls, Carroll bring unbeaten records into finale From staff reports This season, the road to the NAIA championship game was paved with perfection. The University of Sioux Falls and Carroll College have both enjoyed unbeaten seasons, rolling off 13 straight wins apiece, while further establishing themselves among the premiere football programs in the nation. Today, however, one of the teams will see its bid for an undefeated season come to a close, when the top-ranked Cougars and the No. 2-ranked Saints face off at 4:30 p.m. to determine the national championship. Sioux Falls is seeking its third straight NAIA title, and is appearing in the championship game for the fifth straight year. The Cougars will carry a remarkable 42-game winning streak into the game. Carroll College is no stranger to success, either. The Saints have won five NAIA titles and are appearing in the finals for the second time in three years. They lost to Sioux Falls in 2008 â€“â€“ the first year the game was played at Barron Stadium. â€œI speak for a lot of guys, especially the seniors, (when I say that) it feels great to get back to Rome,â€? Saints senior defensive lineman Travis Schmidt told the Hekena Independent Record this week. Seeing as how they both have literally been here before, neither team is likely to be wide-eyed by todayâ€™s atmosphere, which will include a national TV audience. (The game is being aired by CBS College Sports Network). â€œOur guys know what to expect and I know this is a great football team that has been there before,â€? said Sioux Falls head coach Jed Stugart. Although todayâ€™s game is a rematch of the 2008 contest, there will be a new twist this time: The teams will be playing on Barron Stadiumâ€™s artificial turf, which was installed this past summer.
TODAYâ€™S GAME: Carroll College, Mont. (13-0) vs. University of Sioux Falls, S.D. (13-0) Barron Stadium, 4:30 p.m., Rome, Ga.
Carroll College head coach Mike Van Diest
University of Sioux Falls head coach Jed Stugart
â€œTurf is great to play on, but we donâ€™t have many players who have had experience playing on it,â€? said Carroll College head coach Mike Van Diest. Though Carroll doesnâ€™t have much opportunity to play on artificial turf, Stugart doesnâ€™t believe that will make much of a difference in todayâ€™s outcome. â€œNot a real change for us, we donâ€™t think Carroll will be at a disadvantage being on the turf,â€? said Stugart. â€œTheyâ€™re a fast, disciplined football team and we know that theyâ€™ll be on turf.â€? With topics ranging from the turf to the importance of special teams, Van Diest and Stugart took part in a conference call earlier this week. Van Diest said in preparation for the game, his team is working on pass offense and defense, along with their kicking game. â€œThereâ€™s a lot that goes into seeing how we match up with their personnel,â€? said Van Diest. â€œThis game could be decided in the special teams
arena, and we know we have to emphasize that,â€? Stugart said. A 4:30 p.m. start today for the title game will also prove to not be much of a factor for either team. â€œThroughout the season weâ€™ve kind of played at all times,â€? Stugart said. Van Diest added he thought the later start time for the game would prove to be good for the team. â€œThis gives us a little more time to catch our breath on (gameday),â€? he said. Sioux Falls is holding onto 42 wins in a row entering the title game, but Stugart said that the Cougars hadnâ€™t thought much about the streak. â€œThey take one game at a time,â€? he said. â€œThatâ€™s not something we talk about.â€? He added, however, that it can be a great â€œmotivatorâ€? for the teams that Sioux Falls has played in the past. â€œYou get used to having that target on your back,â€? he said. Todayâ€™s game between Sioux Falls and Carroll
College is the resumption of a rivalry that is among the best in the nation at any level of football. The Saints lead the series 3-1, having beaten the Cougars in the national semifinals in 2002 (by a score of 20-17) and 2005 (55-0), and for the national championship in 2007 (179). The game three years ago marked the last loss for Sioux Falls, which defeated Carroll in the 2008 national title game 23-7. â€œThe thing we always felt that was so fun about playing Carroll was that you knew it was going to be about the football game. It wasnâ€™t going to be about trash talking,â€? former Sioux Falls head coach Kalen DeBoer told the Great Falls Tribune this week. â€œItâ€™s about going out and playing your game, not about any extra-curricular stuff.â€? Sioux Falls owns four NAIA national championships; Carrollâ€™s won five. DeBoer was an All-American receiver on the Cougarsâ€™ 1996 title team. DeBoer was three times named NAIA Coach of the Year. Van Diest has also won the award three times. In last weekâ€™s semifinals, USF quarterback Jon Eastman completed 19-of25 passes for 242 yards and five touchdowns to lead the Cougars to a 38-0 win over MidAmerica Nazarene. It was Eastmanâ€™s seventh performance with four or more scores this year. Meanwhile, Carroll College rolled to a 27-5 win over St. Xavier. The Saintsâ€™ defense contained the NAIAâ€™s No. 1ranked passing game by holding the Cougars to 194 yards, well under their NAIA-leading aver-age of 363 yards per game. Carroll also used a pounding rushing game in the second half to con-trol the clock. The Saints racked up 292 rushing yards overall, with Jon Camino and Chance De-marais finishing with 128 and 119 yards, respectively.
2010 NATIONAL FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP SPECIAL EDITION Published by Rome News-Tribune, Rome, Ga. Sports Editor: David Dawson Editor: Charlotte Atkins Publisher: Otis Raybon
ON THE COVER The new turf at Barron Stadium will be on display today when the Carroll College Saints face the Sioux Falls Cougars in the NAIA National Championship game. Carrollâ€™s Cory Peterson (pictured on the right on the cover) and Sioux Fallsâ€™ Dominic Studzinski have helped lead their teams into todayâ€™s contest. Player photos provided by the schools.
INSIDE TODAYâ€™S SECTION Page 3
NAIA championship game history A look at the past winners Title-game records Final NAIA poll
A closer look at the Sioux Falls Cougars Roster, team picture, stats
A closer look at the Carroll College Saints Roster, team picture, stats
Depth Charts A look at the two-deep charts for both teams
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