The Minnesota State Mavericks football team is set to face Upper Iowa this Saturday for the final game of the season. MNSU is currently 7-3 (4-2 NSIC South) on the season with their most recent game a victory over the Wayne State Wildcats, 41-30. Upper Iowa is having a down year, with their record standing at 3-7 (2-4 NSIC South) with their last game being a loss to fourth-ranked Sioux Falls Cougars, 51-7.
Upper Iowa is averaging 29.4 points per game, but is giving up 31.8 points per game on defense. The Peacocks are a balanced offense; throwing for over an average of 275 yards per game and rushing for 193 yards per game. The offense is led by senior quarterback Dmitri Morales, who has thrown for 1,991 yards and 16 touchdowns. He has also added 327 yards on the ground and five touchdowns on the season.
Upper Iowa’s defense is led by senior linebacker Zach Gardner, who leads the team in tackles with 59. Sophomore defensive lineman Jojo Simpson also has an impact on the Peacocks’ defense, as he leads the team in tackles for loss and sacks with 10.5 and 5.5. The Peacocks’ defense is giving up an average of 131 yards per game on the ground and 323 yards through the air.
This game marks the final game as a Maverick for the senior class. Many seniors on this team joined the program in 2012. Since then, they have been a part of four conference championships, four playoff appearances, and were runners-up in the Division-II National Championship. Their career record at MNSU is an astounding 52-8. A few seniors had said how grateful they were to have been a part of this program. Some can’t believe that it is almost over.
“Honestly, I have been having a hard time dealing with [the end of my career] ever since we lost to Sioux Falls,” senior linebacker Marcus Gooden. “But I have looked back on my career here and I couldn’t be happier with what our teams have accomplished, the people I’ve met, and the memories I’ve made. This game means a lot to me and I want to go out the right way with a win.”
Senior wide receiver Brent Esser had his thoughts about the final game as well.
“It’s a very bittersweet feeling. My time here as a Maverick has been a great experience. I’ve made relationships with guys from all over the country and to know that I won’t be able to spend as much time around them is going to be hard,” said Esser. “On the other hand, knowing this is our last hoo-rah just makes it that much better. Winning this game means a lot, but I’m most excited to go out and have fun with my brothers one last time.”
Senior defensive tackle Alec Vesper talked about not truly realizing it is all coming to end.
“I don’t think it has set in that my Maverick career is coming to an end,” said Vesper. “It’s probably going to be a pretty emotional day. It means a lot to see how much has happened in five years here. The friendships, the games, and everything else that I will never forget.”
Quarterback Nicholas Pieruccini also had the same kind of thoughts, saying “It’s pretty crazy to think this is the last football game of my college career. It really did go by fast. I think, for me and the rest of the seniors, it’s important for us to finish up our final season strong with a win,” Pieruccini said.
This game will definitely be an emotional one for the guys who will be wearing purple and gold for the last time. This has been one of the most, if not the most, successful class of men that have ever played football for the Minnesota State Mavericks.
Kickoff is set for noon Saturday, Nov. 12.