Football attempting to keep streak against Wayne

After seeing their first taste of fall weather this past weekend against Concordia-St.Paul, the No. 11 Minnesota State football team is ready to host Wayne State in their second fall matchup of the season. 

The Mavericks are 12-0 against the Wildcats since 2008, and get the chance to host the Wildcats this weekend at Blakeslee Stadium in the hopes of continuing their win streak to 13. 

The Mavs have historically dominated the Wildcats, winning the past two contests by an average of 54 points. Minnesota State is also yet to score under 40 points in a game versus Wayne State since the 2010 season, where they defeated the Wildcats 13-3.

In their previous contest, the Mavericks came out on top with a 62-7 win in Mankato, but Wayne State has been doing very well this year and may prove to be a great competitor to the Mavericks this weekend. Like the Mavs, the Wildcats have started the season off with a 4-1 record. Unlike the Mavs, the Wildcats were able to take down the top 25 team, Minnesota-Duluth.

Wayne State has yet to find themselves inside the top 25 in the AFCA Division II Coaches Poll this season, but has received recognition from coaches across the country. It is shaping out to be a great matchup this weekend.

The Mavericks continue to run a dual quarterback offense, using quarterbacks senior JD Ekowa and redshirt freshman Hayden Ekern every other two drives. Ekowa is an amazing red zone threat with his legs, bringing elite scrambling upside with a nose for the endzone.

Ekowa currently leads the Mavericks in rushing touchdowns with six, while Ekern is the smart passing option. Ekern has an amazing 192.3 rating and a team-leading six passing touchdowns on just 46 attempts.

Ekern also brings his own rushing dynamic to the quarterback room, knowing when to escape the pocket when he’s in trouble. 

This has led to Ekern leading the quarterback position in rushing yards with 162, which is also good enough for third overall on the team.

As far as skill positions go, the Mavericks have amazing talent at the running back and wide receiver position. 

The running back room is absolutely filled with talent, led by sophomore Kaleb Sleezer. Sleezer leads the Mavs backfield in yards and touchdowns, but redshirt freshman Charles Coleman is a very good second running back who averages 12.6 yards per carry. 

Junior wide receiver Jalen Sample leads the Mavs wide receiver corps in yards and catches by a decent margin, totalling 18 catches for 377 yards so far this season. 

Sample is also tied for first in receiving touchdowns with two.

On the defensive side of the ball Minnesota State is led by seniors Eli Thomas and Ty’Shonan Brooks. 

Thomas is the team leader in tackles, totalling 17 so far this season to go along with 1.5 tackles for loss and one interception. Brooks leads the Mavericks in interceptions on the season with two, just recently snapping his two-game interception streak against Concordia-St.Paul this past weekend.

The Wildcats come in with an overall record of 4-1 and seem to have a fairly evenly rounded team to compete with on both sides of the ball. 

Wayne State’s quarterback situation is very questionable to this point, using each of their quarterbacks single handedly in various games.

The Wildcats have recently leaned on freshman quarterback Nick Bohn to run the offense, but have also used sophomore quarterback Tavian Willis extensively at the start of the season. It will be interesting to see which approach the Wildcats take against the Minnesota State Mavericks this weekend. 

Senior running back Anthony Watkins and senior wide receiver Taurean Grady are the Wildcats leaders in each of their respective skill positions, each posting up solid numbers so far this season. 

On the defensive side of the ball Wayne State is led by freshman linebacker Alex Kowalczyk.

Kowalczyk is the team leader in tackles for Wayne State, currently sitting at 31. Kowalczyk is backed up by the rest of the Wildcats linebacker core and junior defensive back J’Von France. 

The Wildcats do have struggles reaching the quarterback so far this season on defense, only collecting two sacks through five games. 

If Ekern and Ekowa use their legs well in Saturday’s matchup, it may be a long night at the office for the Wayne State defense. 

The game is set to kickoff at Blakeslee Stadium in Mankato at 2 p.m.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.