Tradition • Character • Service

Tradition • Character • Service

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Hillsdale's Weatherhead gets late Cactus invite

Hillsdale College's Troy Weatherhead will get at least one more chance to wear the Charger bolts.

He received an invitation this week to play in the Division II All Star Cactus Bowl in Kingsville, TX. The game will be played at 8 EST on Friday night January 7.


WZZM: West Catholic's Pittman says it's Hillsdale or Northwood

Grand Rapids West Catholic's Dan Pittman is WZZM 13's final scholar athlete of the year. In the piece, he says that his college decision is down to Northwood and Hillsdale. C'mon Dan! That should be a no brainer. Pick Hillsdale.

Sporting News: Hillsdale's Andre Holmes pre-draft buzz

For the second year in a row, legitimate NFL buzz is building around a Hillsdale College football player.

I found this blurb from the Sporting News on Andre Holmes' draft prospectus:

"Hillsdale College WR Andre Holmes jumped off the film last year when we were scouting Hillsdale OT Jared Veldheer, a third-round pick of the Raiders who already has become a solid NFL left tackle.

Holmes (6-4, 203) performed even better in '10, catching 104 passes for 1,368 yards and 11 touchdowns. Holmes is a tall receiver with explosive quickness and home-run speed who can turn short passes into big plays. He was more consistent in '10, making big plays in key situations.

He certainly will be at least a late-round pick, but he could fly up boards in the spring with some standout pre-draft workouts."

Read more.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The GLIAC President's Trophy: Rewarding nothing by mediocrity

Over on the message board, an Ashland fan posted the current President's Trophy standings through the recently completed Fall sports seasons. When I saw that Hillsdale was ranked 7th in the conference after Football and Volleyball competed on the national stage on the same weekend and the cross-country teams turned in 3rd (women) and 4th (men) place finishes, I immediately knew something was fishy.

The standings are figured by awarding points for each team's GLIAC finish in its sport. The total points are then added and teams are ranked. It is an easy formula. The results just don't pass the eye test because the standings are all quantity and no weighting for quality.

Field a bunch of sports...even ones that are really bad and you will have a better rating than a school that fields fewer but better programs. This rewarding mediocrity at its finest.

Hillsdale is 47-7 in football (9-3), volleyball (29-2), women's basketball (8-2), and men's basketball (11-0, 7th in the country) this year with the GLIAC's 3rd and 4th place women's and men's XC teams yet only ranks 7th in these rankings.

Of course the basketball seasons are in progress and don't count toward the current rankings, but still, Hillsdale only had the 7th best Fall around the GLIAC?

I am going to put on the Charger mascot head and quote Lee Corso, "Not so fast my friend."

Let's take the current standings on the left and then do an average per sport on the right to get the quality ranking not just the overall point accumulation to see if things change at all.

1. GV - 84.5 pts. (7 teams - 12.07 ave. - new ranking: #1, no change)
2. WSU - 63 pts. (6 teams - 10.5 ave. - new ranking: #3, -1 spot)
3. FSU - 62 pts. (7 teams - 8.85 ave. - new ranking: #4, -1 spot)
4. AU - 61 pts. (8 teams - 7.62 ave. - new ranking: #5, -1 spot)
5. SVSU - 48.5 pts. (8 teams - 6.06 ave. - new ranking: #8, -3 spots)
6. TU - 47 pts. (8 teams - 5.875 ave. - new ranking: #9, -3 spots)
7. HC - 45 pts. (4 teams - 11.25 ave. - new ranking: #2, +5 spots)
8. NU - 44 pts. (8 teams - 5.5 ave. - new ranking: #10, -2 spots)
9. UF - 40 pts. (8 teams - 5 ave. - new ranking: #11, -2 spots)
10. MTU - 37 pts. (6 teams - 6.16 ave. - new ranking: #7, +3 spots)
11. NMU - 36.5 pts. (5 teams - 7.3 ave. - new ranking: #6, +5 spots)
12. ODU - 29.5 pts. (6 teams - 4.92 ave. - new ranking: #12, no change)
13. LEC - 13 pts. (8 teams - 1.625 ave. - new ranking: #14, -1 spot)
14. LSSU - 12 pts. (5 teams - 2.4 ave. - new ranking: #13, +1 spot)

Now that makes a lot more sense. I am much prouder to support fewer good teams, than to have lots of teams that are just okay.

Brandon Misener, the founder of and I were talking about the "balance" of Division II last night. D2 should not just be a participation level of athletics. You don't get any life lessons from sports if you don't face real rigor in their demands we agreed.

Awarding rankings points just for running a team out onto the field flies in the face of that rigor. It's like getting a bonus check for just walking into the office in the morning.

The President's trophy doesn't reflect anything more than the green field day "participant" ribbons. I don't care how many teams you can field. I only care about how good those teams are. Talk about rewarding mediocrity and the wussification of America! There couldn't be a clearer example.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Former Charger assistant Jeff Phelps added to U Minnesota staff

Jeff Phelps, former defensive line coach for Hillsdale College from 2003-2005, has been named to the University of Minnesota's new coaching staff.

Phelps left Hillsdale to join the coaching staff at Northern Illinois and served as defensive line coach for the last 5 season under Jerry Kill, a former Saginaw Valley assistant coach.

Kill was recently named the new head coach at Minnesota and is taking Phelps and a number of other assistants with him.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Doerfler brings home the McAvoy Award

There is not a GLIAC award that I am ever more proud to blog about than a Charger winning the Jack McAvoy Award because it embodies all Hillsdale strives for: character, service, and athletic excellence. It is named in honor of Hillsdale's beloved "Coach Mac" who was head football coach in the 1970's and long-time athletic director. Phil Doerfler, senior center for Hillsdale College is the 2010 recipient.

GLIAC release:

December 13, 2010 For Immediate Release
BAY CITY, Mich. -- Hillsdale College senior offensive lineman Phil Doerfler has been named recipient of the 2010 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Jack H. McAvoy Award as announced by Commissioner Dell Robinson.

The award is presented annually to the GLIAC football player who best combines outstanding character and leadership on the field, in the classroom, and in the community.

A native of Allen Park, Michigan, Doerfler has earned a 3.50 grade point average (4.0 scale) while majoring in biology with a biochemistry minor. He has been named to the GLIAC All- Academic football team three times and was a recipient of the “Scholar-Athlete” Award from the Michigan Chapter of the National FootballFoundation.

Doerfler was a recipient of HillsdaleCollege’s prestigious “Frank G. Brooks”Award for excellence in undergraduate research.

On the field, Doerfler was named a team captain for the 2010 season, earning first team All-GLIAC honors this season, after garnering All-GLIAC second team honors in 2009.

Doerfler helped the Chargers to consecutive NCAA Division II playoff appearances in 2009 and 2010. Hillsdale posted a 26-10 record in his 36 career starts.

“Phil embodies the essence of the true meaning of the word student-athlete,” stated GLIAC Commissioner, Dell Robinson. “He has definitely exemplified a standard of excellence for leadership, academics and athletics that is unmatched. The award speaks volumes to his hard work and commitment and we will look at him as one of our leaders of tomorrow.”

Doerfler has been a leader on the Hillsdale campus and in the Hillsdale community. He is a two-winner of the Hillsdale College football team’s “Urbanick” Award for leadership, scholarship and ability (2009, 2010). Doerfler is an avid volunteer, helping with the Hillsdale College Science Olympiad, as well as working a variety of charity events though his fraternity, Delta Sigma Phi, where he serves as his chapters’ Sergeant-at-Arms.

Doerfler becomes the second Hillsdale athlete to win the award, joining Mark Nicolet, who garnered the award in 2007. Ferris State has had the most recipients of the award (4), with Michigan Tech and Saginaw Valley State in second with two a piece.

The Award is named for former Hillsdale College director of athletics and head football coach, Jack McAvoy, who was instrumental in the founding of the Midwest Intercollegiate Football Conference (MIFC), now known as the GLIAC.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Andre Holmes becomes second Charger in a row to make Texas Vs. Nation Game

Usually an invite to the Division II Cactus Bowl all-star game is big news among Hillsdale College football circles, and it was for a few minutes yesterday. Hillsdale College announced that senior wide receiver Andre Holmes had gotten the invite coveted by most D2 players.

It was only minutes later that Hillsdale issued another statement informing the public that Holmes would forego the January game in South Texas to play in a different Texas college all-star game.

Holmes, Hillsdale College's all-time leading receiver becomes the second Charger in a row to be invited to the Texas vs. the Nation game. Last season, Jared Veldheer's work at the showcase for pro hopefuls helped to propel him to a third round selection by the Oakland Raiders.

This year's game moves from El Paso to San Antonio and has been officially renamed to the NFLPA Game. The Players Association takes over sponsorship from the Pro Football Hall of Fame who had hosted the game for a number of years.

Last year Veldheer was just one of a handful of Division II players invited and it is likely that Holmes will be too this year. 31 game participants were drafted last season, with Veldheer being the first chosen.

In 2010 Andre Holmes caught 104 balls for 1368 yards and 11 touchdowns.

The game is scheduled for February 5. Get more information at the game's official website.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

New Christmas stuff for Charger fans

Check out the newly added stuff perfect for making any Hillsdale fan's holiday happy. Trick out your iPad or your iPhone. Grab some aprons for your grill. Get kid stuff and hang up a new Charger stocking with care. Shop now.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Hillsdale's Holmes and Weatherhead named 2nd team All-Region

Seniors Wide Receiver Andre Holmes and Quarterback Troy Weatherhead were named to the 2nd team of the Daktronics All-Super Region 3 football team today.



65 Dan Schoen OL 6-1 267 Sr. Maple Grove, Minn. Augustana

14 Michael Ziola PK 5-10 155 Fr. Columbus, Neb. Chadron State

13 Clay Garcia QB 6-0 200 Jr. Alamosa, Colo. Colo. School of Mines

83 Robbin Vinnola TE 6-4 230 Sr. Arvada, Colo. Colo. School of Mines

55 *Cameron Bradfield OL 6-5 295 Sr. Grand Rapids, Mich. Grand Valley State

64 Matt Desotell OL 6-3 300 Sr. Green Bay, Wis. Michigan Tech

5 Phil Milbrath RB 5-9 200 Sr. Norway, Mich. Michigan Tech

11 *Isaac Odim RB 6-0 215 Sr. Rochester, Minn. Minnesota Duluth

10 D.J. Winfield RS 5-9 175 Jr. Mountain Iron, Minn. Minnesota Duluth

86 *Chad Shockley WR 6-0 205 Sr. St. James, Mo. Missouri S&T

78 Orion Matthies OL 6-7 335 Sr. Overton, Neb. Nebraska-Kearney

8 Fred Williams WR 6-0 195 Sr. Milwaukee, Wis. St. Cloud State

74 Joe Bundy OL 6-6 305 Sr. Madison, S.D. Wayne State (Neb.)



38 Kevin Berg P 6-0 185 Sr. Longmont, Colo. Chadron State

94 *Marc Schiechl DL 6-3 260 Sr. Lakewood, Colo. Colo. School of Mines

23 *Grant Crunkleton CB 5-10 180 Sr. Denver, Colo. Colorado St.-Pueblo

26 Lee Meisner LB 6-0 220 Jr. Sterling, Colo. Colorado St.-Pueblo

10 Denzell Blackmon CB 5-10 190 Fr. Chicago, Ill. Concordia-St. Paul

44 Matt Ryan LB 6-2 205 Sr. Howell, Mich. Ferris State

3 *Craig Ray S 6-1 205 Sr. Plainfield, Ind. Indianapolis

93 Todd Storm DL 6-3 230 Jr. Calumet, Mich. Michigan Tech

33 *Kiel Fechtelkotter LB 6-0 220 Sr. Lake Nebagamon, Wis. Minnesota Duluth

20 Travis Brisco LB 6-1 240 Sr. Columbus, Ohio Urbana

4 Daunte Akra DL 6-2 227 Sr. Detroit, Mich. Wayne St. (Mich.)

8 Jeremy Jones S 5-10 190 Jr. Grand Rapids, Mich. Wayne St. (Mich.)

* Top vote-getter at position (where multiple players are selected)



94 Gregg Berkshire PK 6-2 201 Jr. Ashland, Ohio Ashland

2 Joe Clark RB 5-7 188 Sr. Rochester, Minn. Augustana

51 Tim Hiett OL 6-1 260 Jr. Arvada, Colo. Chadron State

28 Jesse Lewis RB 5-6 178 Jr. Loveland, Colo. Colorado St.-Pueblo

11 Hayden Vavra TE 6-2 250 Sr. Cambridge, Minn. Concordia-St. Paul

70 Tyler Hendrickson OL 6-8 320 Jr. St. Paul, Minn. Concordia-St. Paul

2 Justin Johnson WR 5-11 185 Sr. San Diego, Calif. Fort Lewis

81 Andre Holmes WR 6-5 206 Sr. Elk Grove, Ill. Hillsdale

16 Troy Weatherhead QB 6-3 223 Sr. Grand Rapids, Mich. Hillsdale

74 Garth Heikkinen OL 6-2 290 So. Duluth, Minn. Minnesota Duluth

70 Jeremy Clark OL 6-4 313 Sr. Waukesha, Wis. Minnesota State

79 Joe Long OL 6-6 305 Jr. Lapeer, Mich. Wayne St. (Mich.)

5 Curtis Dewberry RS 5-8 185 Jr. Clermont, Fla. Winona State



24 James Ackel S 6-0 205 So. Riverside, Calif. Adams State

4 Rocco DeLorenzo LB 6-1 230 Jr. Arvada, Colo. Adams State

41 Chris Jansich LB 6-1 243 Sr. Sioux Falls, S.D. Augustana

32 Brody Scheff S 6-0 209 Jr. Waconia, Minn. Bemidji State

90 Rob Wills DL 6-3 262 Sr. Roseville, Minn. Bemidji State

16 Taylor Accardi P 6-2 200 So. Littleton, Colo. Colorado School of Mines

33 Trevor Glomski LB 6-2 240 Sr. Wabasha, Minn. Concordia-St. Paul

90 Zach Moore DL 6-6 260 So. Chicago, Ill. Concordia-St. Paul

43 Justin Victor LB 6-1 215 Sr. Allen Park, Mich. Grand Valley State

84 Mason Brodine DL 6-7 250 Sr. Elm Creek, Neb. Nebraska-Kearney

24 Arthur Hobbs S 5-11 180 Jr. San Diego, Calif. Nebraska-Kearney

20 Sam Kuck S 6-2 206 So. Central City, Neb. Nebraska-Kearney

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Long Distance Dedication to GVSU

Well, well, well...Grand Valley loses a regular season game this year and gets beaten soundly in round 2 of the playoffs. Could they actually be coming back to the pack in the GLIAC as programs like Hillsdale, Wayne State, Ashland, and Michigan Tech continue to ramp up their programs?

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Friday, November 26, 2010

2010 Team Awards

November 20, 2010 - Here is a list of the team award winners for the Hillsdale College football team, as announced at the team's end-of-season banquet on Sunday, Nov. 14.

CAPTAIN'S AWARDS: Troy Weatherhead, Nick Hixson, Phil Doerfler







RALPH MILLER III AWARD (outstanding linebacker): LB Jake Weddle

E.P.E.P. AWARD: HB Kevin Hershock



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Can't Forget about Dre.

Obviously Andre Holmes of Hillsdale had an amazing season. Let's take a look at just how amazing...and historical it was.

It seemed like almost every week toward the end of the season, Hillsdale's Andre Holmes was breaking one Hillsdale College record or another.

When Holmes started the season, he was 6th all-time on the career receiving yards list with 1724 yards and needed nearly 970 yards to pass the other 5 guys on the list topped by Ed House's 2692. When the Chargers' season had finally come to an end last Saturday, Holmes had bested House by exactly 400 yards, setting the new mark at 3092 yards.

Holmes now holds all of the following records:
Most catches in a game: 16 - set last week at St. Cloud
Most catches in a season: 104
Most catches in a career: 219
Most yards in a season: 1368

Make it a Charger Blue Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday at the Team Shop.

Support and show your support for the Chargers with this great holiday sale.

$25 off of $100 order with code LIONS
$15 off of $75 order with code TIGERS
$10 off of $50 order with code BEARS Team Shop

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

2010 Senior Class is 6th winningest bunch in modern Hillsdale Football history

Just some of the seniors responsible for the last 4 years' success - HC Photo

As Thanksgiving Week rolls on, I am taking a daily look back at the 2010 season and giving thanks by focusing on just a few of the great things that happened this year for the Chargers and all of their fans. Today we talk about a group of young men who etched themselves into Hillsdale Football history.

The 21 seniors who were honored before the Tiffin game are the 6th winningest bunch in modern Hillsdale Football history. Over the last four years, Hillsdale amassed a 34-13 record highlighted by the school's first ever Division II playoff bid, first ever Division II playoff victory, and first ever back to back Division II playoff bid seasons. This group was also the first to record 4 straight winning seasons, a feat that hadn't been accomplished since 1993-1996. That class was 27-16-1

Here are the top winningest classes over the last 40 years.

1. Tie: 1980-1983, 37 wins
1982-1985, 37 wins 1 tie
1985-1988, 37 wins 1 tie ( I'll let these guys argue over how the tie for the 1985 title figures into math and which class lays claim to the title.)
4. 1981-1984, 36 wins
5. 1983-1986, 35 wins
6. 2007-2010, 34 wins
7. 1992-1995, 30 wins 1 tie
8. 2006-2009, 30 wins
9. 1987-1990, 29 wins
10. 1988-1991, 28 wins

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Monday, November 22, 2010

2010 in Review: Weatherhead shatters all divisions record

Ever since the Chargers dropped their playoff game at St. Cloud State on Saturday a whole wave of memories from this season have been rolling over me. There were a few "couldas" but mainly a ton of "WOWs".

All this week I will be taking a look back at the individual and team accomplishments that not only stood out this year, but are high water marks in a storied 119 year old program filled with great moments.

Weatherhead shatters all-division record for single-season completion percentage

No quarterback in the history of college football, at any level has completed a higher percentage of his passes than Troy Weatherhead did in 2010. The NCAA counts this as a team record so Matt Bryan, Brad Otterbein, and Mike Blanchard get some credit here too.

The old record was set by Daunte Culpepper and Central Florida in 1997. The Knights completed 302 of 411 passes for a 73.5%. Weatherhead and the Chargers bested that 13 year old record by 2.2% having completed 287 of 379 passes over 12 games.

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Chargers Iced at St. Cloud

Hillsdale College found out after its Friday walk-through at St. Cloud's Husky Stadium that it would be without its work horse running back Joe Glendening for Saturday's game. An Achilles tendon problem suffered against Tiffin was to blame.

But, like record setting quarterback Troy Weatherhead posted on his Facebook page last night, "Don't be surprised if somebody doesn't flip the script and takes a pass on crying 'Uncle'."

Hillsdale could have easily cried "Uncle" after St. Cloud found the endzone on its first two plays. The Chargers could have really folded after they found themselves down 14-0 after the first quarter. They were dropping passes, missed a field goal and the momentum was running downhill in the Huskies' favor.

The Chargers finally answered just into the second quarter when Weatherhead decided it was time to flip the script and found Andre Holmes wide open in the endzone for the touchdown. Colin McGreevy added the extra point to make it SCSU 14 - Hillsdale 7.

The Charger defense got into the act and shortly after giving the ball back to Weatherhead, Troy found a streaking Mike Blanchard down the left sideline that would set up a second Holmes TD. 14-14.

St. Cloud would add a score just before the half to go up 21-14, but Hillsdale came out of the lockerroom on fire and quickly knotted the score again at 21-21 on a Brad Spencer 13 yard swing out reception. The junior had big shoes to fill in that tailback spot but ran with more grit and confidence as the day progressed.

The Huskies used a combination of bowling ball Dante Steward runs and acrobatic receptions from Fred Williams, regaining the lead and extending it to 35-21 into the fourth quarter. The Chargers kept slugging and when the defense forced a pair of stops in the fourth quarter, Hillsdale drew as close as it would get. Spencer and Weatherhead hooked up on another play similar to the earlier TD swing pass to make it 35-28 with 4:00 left to play

The Chargers just couldn't stop the Huskies as they would add another Steward score to ice things at 42-28.

The Charger defense did a nice job of containing the scrambling abilities of Klaphacke, neutralizing one of the big threats Hillsdale fans feared coming into the game. He picked up 83 yards on 17 but had no big back breaking runs.

Nick Hixson played his last collegiate game and led the team with 11 tackles. A couple of freshman linebackers Devin Moynihan and Jake Weddle had 8 and 7 respectively. Steven Harding, having been asked to step up at a corner position had a big break up and added 6 tackles. Joe Vear had six stops and picked up a tackle for a loss.

Hillsdale ends the season at 9-3. Thanks for all of the hard work Chargers.

Box Score

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Friday, November 19, 2010 Bob Eblen's look at SR3

Super Region Three

1 Minnesota-Duluth (11-0)
2 Augustana (10-1)
3 Grand Valley State (10-1)
4 St. Cloud State (9-2)
5 Hillsdale (9-2)
6 Colorado Mines (9-2)

Random Thoughts

-I get the impression that many people are discounting Augustana's chances in a potential second round match up with Grand Valley State. Do not fall into this trap. The Vikings have a legit defense, and if quarterback Josh Hanson returns from the hand injury that caused him to miss the last couple of games, Augie can play with the Lakers.

-Minnesota-Duluth has been just plain dominant this season, winning every game by 20 points or more. Before Isaac Odim got hurt, the Bulldogs were the favorite in this region and a good bet to win another national title. Without Odim it will be tougher, but this is still a great overall team.

-There are some great running quarterbacks in this region, led by SCSU's Phillip Klaphake (703 rushing yards), UMD's Chase Vogler (545), GVSU's Kyle McMahon (492 and 11 rushing TDs) and Augustana's Josh Hanson (457). Defensive coordinators are going to have to work overtime to scheme ways to control the running QBs.

-With all Augustana and SCSU making the playoffs this year, all four of the former NCC teams (Minnesota State and Minnesota-Duluth being the others) have now made the playoffs at least once since joining the NSIC three years ago.

First Round Games

Colorado Mines at Grand Valley

The Orediggers will be bringing their high-powered passing attack to Allendale, and there-in lies the problem. The way to beat GVSU-- especially this time of the year when it can get cold and windy at Lubbers Stadium-- is to run right at them and keep the Laker offense standing on the sidelines. Mines doesn't possess that capability and its 2010 playoff run will be short because of it. Grand Valley State 37 Colorado Mines 17.

Hillsdale at St. Cloud

The Chargers went to Minnesota last year and knocked off Minnesota State in an opening round playoff game, so Hillsdale has the edge in experience and knows what it takes in the postseason. The Huskies are solid on both sides of the ball, and have been bolstered by the great performance of freshman quarterback Philip Klaphake. But Hillsdale has the GLIAC offensive player of the year in senior quarterback Troy Weatherhead, and his big game experience gives the Chargers a slight edge. Hillsdale 27 St. Cloud State 24.

Full Column

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Charger's get their first taste of Husky Stadium

The Chargers had a light practice this afternoon in order to get accustomed to Husky Stadium for tomorrow's game. The six-year-old turf field is a welcome change from the grass field of Mankato that the Chargers played on during last year's first round playoff victory. The 29 degrees at today's practice is 5 degrees warmer than the expected high of 24 in Saint Cloud tomorrow. The players have meetings for the rest of the night in order to get some last minute game planning worked out to prepare for the big game. Go Chargers!

Week 12 Podcast: Andy Up!

The podcast rolls on into the playoffs with nothing but Andy's.

Andy Losik hosts.
Andy Rennecke - St. Cloud Times gives some insight into the Huskies.
Andy Brown - WCSR Radio gives us a report from the road with the team.

Click to listen.

Otter is a hands-on coach

Thanks to Andy Brown for sharing this picture of Hillsdale head coach Keith Otterbein unloading luggage at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport this morning. Hillsdale landed at 11:15 local time and is headed up to St. Cloud.

Replacing Emoji... Tony Nicolette breaks down SCSU vs. Hillsdale

#5 seed Hillsdale (9-2) at #4 seed St. Cloud State (9-2)

For the second straight season, Hillsdale will hit the road bound for Minnesota and a first-round playoff tilt. And for the second straight year, they'll face an NCC club coming off a second-place finish in the NSIC. The Chargers will head to the shores of the Mighty Mississippi in St. Cloud to tangle with Coach Scott Underwood's Huskies, who are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2004. Coach Keith Otterbein's group proved worthy of last year's trip, snaring an overtime victory at Mankato in a physical grudge match. Are they up to the task once again?

If they are, they'll have to find a way to contain SCSU quarterback Phillip Klaphake (pronounced KLAP-hockey). The red-shirt freshman took like a fish to water in his first season running the Husky offense, leading the NSIC in total offense and setting a school record in the same category in the process. The nation's fifth most efficient passer, Klaphake led the Northern Sun in total passing yardage (2,490), touchdowns (23), and completion percentage (65.7%). But don't be fooled into thinking he just sits in the pocket all day, as he also led the SCSU ground attack with more than 700 yards and nine touchdowns rushing.

The Huskies are balanced on offense, averaging 202 yards per game on the ground and 230 via the air. The bulk of the ground work his handled by Klaphake, especially considering that injury has turned his backfield into a carousel of cast members. Look for Damon Treat and Mike Walker to see much of the action on Saturday, along with Dante Steward used primarily as a short-yardage option. None of these three has played a full compliment of games this season, and it seems unclear which will prove to be the go-to guy in the ground game if Klaphake isn't able to shoulder the load.

There is not doubt who the go-to guy will be when the Huskies throw the ball. Fred Williams leads the country in touchdown receptions with sixteen, and is eighth overall nationally raking in 116.9 yards per game. Williams is an All-America candidate and will have to draw plenty of attention from the Hillsdale secondary.

On defense for St. Cloud, keep an eye on Joel Godfredsen and Josh Popanda up front, as each has more than eight sacks on the season. Tyler Niedfeldt leads the Huskies with six interceptions, but the linchpin of the secondary (and probably the defense as a whole) is safety Tony Kubes who leads the team in tackles and is the on-field general.

While the SCSU offense is certainly potent, Kubes and the rest of his defensive mates will more than have their hands full with a Hillsdale offense that only averages about ten fewer yards per game than the Huskies, and led the GLIAC in passing at more than 262 yards per game. St. Cloud will be forced to reckon a Hillsdale offense that is led by the nation's most efficient passer in GLIAC Player of the Year Troy Weatherhead, who set a conference record this year by completing nearly 78% of his passes. Weatherhead totaled more than 2,800 yards through the air, and threw 22 scoring tosses in the process. Nine of those touchdowns were hauled in by Andre Holmes, who was seventeenth in the country with more than 105 yards receiving per game. This tandem has terrorized GLIAC defenses for the last couple of seasons, and Holmes should present match-up problems for the Husky corners with his 6'5" frame. In addition, Mike Blanchard is solid threat opposite Holmes, making double-covering the big guy far less appealing.

While Weatherhead is a terrific passer, he doesn't do much for the Chargers in the run game. That, of course, is left to sophomore Joe Glendening who set a school record for carries this year on his way to 1,483 yards and fifteen touchdowns rushing. The Hillsdale ground game is all about moving people out of the way and letting Glendening do his thing. The Chargers use a senior-laden offensive line to handle the necessary dirty work, and should be an advantage as the game wears on given how physical and athletic this group is.

The defense will have its work cut out for it trying to contain Williams and Klaphake. Safeties Nick Hixson and Joe Vear lead the team in tackles and seem to be all over the field on nearly every play. It will be up to them to ball hawk and make sure the Huskies don't break any big plays. They should get some help up front from Jed Thompson, who has become a significant force this season from his defensive end position.

This should be an entertaining game between two teams that share a striking number of similarities. Each puts up very similar numbers in terms of total offense, scoring offense and scoring defense. Both clubs were also very close to being seeded much higher. St. Cloud had built a nine-point, fourth-quarter advantage over Augustana back in week one, only to have a bad snap on a punt and a late interception unravel things. In addition, they trailed Duluth by a scant three points at halftime a few weeks ago before getting trounced in the second half. Of course, this column has documented the blown scoring chances for Hillsdale (including a 100-yard pick-six in the other direction) at Wayne State a few weeks back, and the almost inconceivable way the Chargers lost at Grand Valley in week two.

So where does the game turn with these evenly matched clubs? I'll start up front. Hillsdale has consistently been able to win the battle in the trenches this year, especially on offense. While this will be a stern test for them, the Charger O-line is a shade bigger than the defensive front of the Huskies, and is likely just as athletic. If Hillsdale is able to get any kind of a lead early and use their ground and short passing games to control the clock, they will be in good shape.

The notion of controlling the clock leads me to the next key difference, which is style of play. St. Cloud can control things, but they typically look to score quickly and have only out-possessed their opponents by about a minute a game. Conversely, the Chargers hold the ball for an average of nine and a half minutes more per game than their opposition. Hillsdale loves long, sustained drives and they are one of the top teams in the country in crafting those types of possessions. They are also the least penalized team in the GLIAC, lead the country in third-down conversion percentage, and are third nationally in terms of fewest giveaways. In short, getting Hillsdale's offense off the field is no easy task. While the Huskies are one of the top-rated clubs nationally in forcing turnovers they have struggled against better opponents, including forcing none in their two losses for a turnover margin of -6 (they were +24 in their other nine games). Again, if Hillsdale is able to assert itself and its style of play, it will be a significant advantage.

Last, it appears that proficient passing games have found success at times against the Huskies, and Hillsdale has the weapons necessary to exploit this. Of course, if Hillsdale isn't able to contain Klaphake and Company and the game turns into more of a track meet, this could spell trouble for Hillsdale. While the Chargers have improved over the course of the year on defense they have been prone to struggling against quarterbacks with the skill set they will face on Saturday. The defense MUST play well or the advantage they should have with their offense will be neutralized.

Prediction - Hillsdale has playoff experience on their side, as well as a very seasoned quarterback. If they can assert their style of play and avoid the big mistakes, I like them to win. I will caution, however, that if Phillip Klaphake has a big day this could be a very tough victory for the Chargers to earn. Hillsdale 27, St. Cloud 23.

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St Cloud Times: Huskies face potent Hillsdale

By Andy Rennecke • • November 19, 2010

Hillsdale College has one of the more potent offenses in all of Division II football.

The Chargers (9-2), who are ranked No. 10 in the nation coming into their first-round playoff game at No. 15 St. Cloud State at noon Saturday, have the top-rated passer in the country, the No. 7 leading rusher and one of the top receivers in all of D-II.

The Chargers will present the Huskies (9-2) with one of their toughest challenges of the season on defense.

“They’re a team that tries to grind it out and runs a lot of play-action,” SCSU defensive coordinator Jim Louis said. “We’re trying to keep it fairly simple for our guys. We just can’t let them have big chunks of yardage. Our game plan is very similar to what we did with Duluth. We have to get them to third down.

“We had Duluth to third down 15 different times and I think they converted 12 or 13 of those attempts. We have to be better with that this week. Our philosophy this week is to get them to third down as much as possible and get them off the field.”

Hillsdale is led by 6-foot-3, 223-pound senior quarterback Troy Weatherhead, who is one of 24 D-II players who is a finalist for the Harlon Hill Trophy. The trophy is annually awarded to the top football player in all of D-II.

Weatherhead is the No. 1-ranked passer in the country with a 173.97 efficiency rating. He’s thrown for 2,815 yards along with 22 touchdowns and five interceptions.

But Weatherhead knows he’s going up against an opportunistic defense in St. Cloud State. The Huskies are third in the nation in turnover margin at plus-18.

“I’m very impressed with St. Cloud,” Weatherhead said. “They’re big and tough and have fast players who can make plays. I have to stay within myself and play solid in every facet of the game to come out with a win. They’re a great football team.

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