For the Truman State football team, its 31-3 loss against McKendree University set the tone for the offseason. During their final game of the season, the Bulldogs matched their top GLVC defense up against the GLVC’s leading offensive team, McKendree. The loss gave Truman a 5-6 record for the season and landed them in a tie for fourth place in the GLVC with William Jewell College, which served as motivation to improve during postseason workouts.
Senior defensive lineman Nick Reichert says McKendree’s biggest threat was its offense. The Bearcats, which featured the top scoring offense at 39.7 points per game and total offense at 496 yards per game, tallied 415 yards against the Bulldogs. Reichert says a major contributor to McKendree’s offense was their senior quarterback Isaac Fisher. Before the game against the Bulldogs, Fisher ranked third in Div. II in total offense, with an average of 370.6 yards per game.
Reichert says the Bearcats used trick plays that helped them build momentum. These plays included a fake punt and a double pass, both of which led to McKendree touchdowns. Reichert says although he is graduating this year, there is plenty of time for the Bulldogs to improve and grow in preparation for next season. He says he knows the team will continue to work hard for one another.
“I like our guys,” Reichert says. “They’re a good group. We have to play better when it counts and they have the opportunity to improve in the offseason.”
Sophomore defensive lineman Isaiah Hinton says although the defense made some good stops, it needed to do more during pivotal parts of the game. Hinton says going into postseason, the defense will use its success this season as motivation to improve. He says because Truman’s defense was the best in the GLVC, the players feel they have to protect this ranking next season. Hinton says the defenders plan to tune out distractions and want to use criticism as motivation.
“A lot of people will say things about our team because we started the season 1-4,” Hinton says. “We went on to win five of our last seven so it’s important for us to just focus on what we can control in getting better.”
Junior wide receiver Joey Schenck, who finished the season with 71 receptions, says the offensive struggles will give the team motivation once it begins workouts. He says it was difficult watching McKendree score 31 points when Truman’s offense put up just 3 points, and he says he does not want the offense to struggle next season. Schenck says to make sure that doesn’t happen, the offense must use its performance as fuel to work harder during January.
Schenck says the offseason is critical to help the players bond and learn each other’s strengths. He says to reach personal goals, players must first work for the betterment of the team.
“The only way we are going to reach individual goals is if we come together collectively,” Schenck says. “If we don’t work together first, the individual goals don’t really mean anything, and most likely won’t even get accomplished.”
Schenck says he is confident the team will be successful with the returning group of Bulldogs, and the spots vacated by graduating seniors will be filled by young players who have the potential to be solid contributors to the squad. He says included in this young bunch is a talented crop of offensive linemen he is excited to see compete.
On the offensive side, the Bulldogs featured freshmen starting quarterback Randy Schroeder and running back Andy Satulla. Schenck says these players gained in-game experience and maturity that will be beneficial to the team next season.
Head Coach Gregg Nesbitt says though the team struggled Saturday, he is excited to get to work and improve during the postseason. Nesbitt says the postseason gives the program time to improve in many aspects, such as the coaching staff, structural issues, player development and recruiting.
Although the ‘Dogs finished under .500 on the season, Nesbitt said there are positives to take away from the season. He said in regards to defense, the ‘Dogs have finished in the top 25 nationally for three consecutive years.
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