Cobbers face big challenge against national power Wisconsin-Whitewater
MOORHEAD—Concordia head coach Terry Horan rattled off numbers in his office earlier this week: "310, 300, 295, 275, 325."
Those figures represent the weight of each player on the Wisconsin-Whitewater offensive line, which averages 301 pounds per man. The Warhawks are expected to provide a sizeable test for Concordia and not solely because of the mass of their offensive front.
No. 15-ranked Wisconsin-Whitewater is a national power, winning six NCAA Division III national championships in the past decade.
"It's going to be a huge challenge," Horan said.
The Cobbers (1-0) host the Warhawks (0-1) at 1 p.m. Saturday at Jake Christiansen Stadium in a nonconference matchup. Concordia is coming off a 34-14 victory at Nebraska Wesleyan. Wisconsin-Whitewater opened its season with a 17-10 loss at Illinois Wesleyan.
"You can thank Illinois Wesleyan for poking the bear," Horan said. "They're going to be ready to play."
Since 2005, the Warhawks have a 161-12 record. They also have a 33-3 mark in regular season nonconference games during that span.
"As a competitor, it's something that you want," Cobbers senior Jason Montonye said. "In order to be the best, you've got to beat the best."
The Warhawks have made the national quarterfinals in 11 of the past 12 seasons, and went on to win national titles in 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014. Junior quarterback Cole Wilber guides the offense. He completed 22 of 37 pass for 258 yards last weekend against Illinois Wesleyan. All of those numbers were career highs.
"He can sling it," Horan said.
The Warhawks return 10 starters on offense, including All-American offensive tackle Nate Trewyn, a 6-foot-4, 310-pound junior. Senior wide receiver Marcus Hudson had 52 catches for 843 yards and four touchdowns last season.
"He is their stud," Horan said.
The Cobbers forced six turnovers in their season-opening with at Nebraska Wesleyan, including five interceptions. Concordia senior defensive back Dallas Raftevold had eight tackles and recovered a fumble in that game.
"It's been in the back of our mind we have to play a team of that caliber," Raftevold said of hosting Wisconsin-Whitewater. "It's going to be a challenge, a big task for us, but I think the guys and myself, we're excited to take that on and hit it with a full head of steam."
Montonye and Raftevold compared preparing for Wisconsin-Whitewater to getting ready to play against the perennial top teams in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
"You try to bring the same intensity every week, but this week does have a little extra buzz to it as if we were playing a St. Thomas, a St. John's, along those lines," Montonye said. "We can tell it's the most intense environment early that we're going to face, but I think it's just going to prepare us for our tough conference schedule."
Celebrating their 100th football season, the Cobbers haven't made the playoffs since 2005. Horan hopes beefing up the nonconference schedule with high-level teams like Wisconsin-Whitewater will help Concordia get past to the postseason.
"I don't know if there's been a tougher schedule in 100 years to be honest with you," Horan said. "We've been that outsider looking in these last several years. The last five years we're 38-12 and we haven't made the playoffs."
What: Wisconsin-Whitewater at Concordia
When: 1 p.m. Saturday
Where: Jake Christiansen Stadium