August 30th, 2021 12:00pm
I hope GLVC fans find this article as a comforting step towards normalcy in what has been a bizarre and difficult 18 months. I know my absence during the Spring season was noticed, and it may have seemed as if Lindenwood’s opting out was the reason. I can assure you the reasons had little to do with the pandemic and nothing to do with LWU opting out. Personal issues forced me to take a step back; even if there was a 2020 fall season, I would’ve taken a break. But thankfully, we’re inching towards normalcy. Thank you for your patience and your interest in what I have to say about GLVC football!
It's Been Too Long...
There’s nothing quite like the American tradition of fall football. Despite baseball owning the title of America’s Pastime, football owns our hearts in the 21st century. We weren’t completely without football during the fall of 2020, but the disruption of our fall traditions that center around the sport we love didn’t make weathering the hardships of a pandemic any easier. As we start to turn the corner and things move closer to normal, I’m unsure of what to make of the 2021 football season. I am certainly excited to see live games again, but I’m not sure what to expect with so many teams playing so few games over the last 600+ days; some teams haven’t played at all. Regardless, I’m looking forward to crisp fall afternoons in the stadium, tailgates in the parking lots, and mixing it up with some of the most passionate and knowledgeable fans in the sport!
One of the things that made the cancellation of the 2020 fall season so bitter for GLVC fans was that we missed seeing the opportunity to build on the GLVC national perception after the best season in conference history. The conference had three teams earn post-season playing opportunities, with two of them earning victories. Lindenwood went undefeated in conference play on their way to the GLVC crown and an upset of fourth ranked Ouachita Baptist on the road in the first round of the playoffs. Meanwhile, UIndy did what UIndy does posting a 9-1 regular season record and earning a playoff berth for their third straight year. Truman State won 10 games for the first time in almost 30 years as they defeated Ohio Dominican in the inaugural America’s Crossroads Bowl. Not to be overlooked is Missouri S&T finishing with a winning season for the third straight season and the conference as a whole finishing with a 21-14 non-conference record.
2021 Spring Recap
Shortly after the cancellation of the 2020 season, the GLVC announced a shortened Spring 2021 season. The league was split into East and West divisions and teams within each division would play a round robin schedule. At the end of the abbreviated season, the respective division leaders would face off for the first ever GLVC championship game. Before the season began Lindenwood opted out of the season to focus on getting healthy for the fall season after sustaining several injuries in camp. This created a much easier path the Greyhounds in the Eastern division as they would win their two round robin games by a combined score of 89-23 on their way to the championship game where they would defeat western division leader Truman State 46-29.
The season did pull back the curtain a little on what we can expect from the league as we head into the fall. Of note was the high quality QB play in the league. SBU newcomer Cooper Callis threw for over 1000 yards and 10 touchdowns in the shortened spring season. UIndy seventh year senior Bryce Stancombe was flawless throwing for 10 touchdowns and no interceptions. Truman State’s Nolan Hair was efficient as well throwing for nine touchdowns and over 800 yards. Combine this with the return of proven high producers in Cade Brister (LWU), Turner Pullen (MCK), Will Schnieder (WJC) and Brennan Simms (MST) and the overall quality of football in the conference looks to be trending up.
Setting the Table
UIndy finds themselves in a familiar spot atop the preseason coaches poll. Overall, there was very little change in how the coaches expected the conference to shake out with the top five spots lining up just as they did in 2019. Nationally, the conference was represented in the AFCA poll by UIndy at 14 and Lindenwood at 21. Truman State also received votes just missing a top 25 spot.
|2021 GLVC Football Preseason Poll|
|Place||School||Points (first-place votes)|
|2021 AFCA DII Poll|
|Rank||School (1st-place votes)||Points||2019 rank|
|1||West Florida (26)||698||1|
|2||Minnesota St. (2)||673||2|
|3||Ferris St. (Mich.)||630||3|
|4||Northwest Missouri St. (1)||575||7|
|5||Slippery Rock (Pa.)||544||6|
|6t.||Valdosta St. (Ga.)||540||5|
|9||Notre Dame (Ohio)||501||10|
|10||Colorado School of Mines||423||8|
|11||Ouachita Baptist (Ark.)||387||14|
|16||Grand Valley St. (Mich.)||231||NR|
|18||Bowie St. (Md.)||210||18|
2019 results: 9-2, Second place in GLVC, First round playoffs
2021 Spring results: 3-0, Conference Champions
Returners: Offense 7, Defense 10
Key 2019 losses
The Greyhounds are coming off their seventh GLVC football crown this past Spring after defeating Truman State in the spring conference title game. Despite a top 25 ranking and being picked to finish first in the conference, UIndy will have some questions to answer offensively early on. While the Greyhounds came out of the spring season with a ring, they also lost two of their most productive receivers in Aaron Matio and Daveon Bell. Then in late July, all-time GLVC leading rusher Al McKeller announced his intentions to transfer leaving a gaping hole of production in the back field. Still, coach Chris Keevers has reason to feel confident about his offensive unit. Explosive running back Toriano Clinton is a threat to score every time he touches the ball and Missouri State transfer running back Kellen Porter will help fill the void left by McKeller. With an outstanding offensive line lead by Tarnjeet Singh and Clay Hadley, and veteran quarterback Bryce Stancombe, the Greyhounds should still be a highly productive and fundamentally sound unit.
Defensively the Hounds should be tough again as they return 10 starters from their spring unit that helped lead them to a conference title. Opposing offenses will find a stout front seven lead by defensive linemen Alex Patch, and Jacob Jones, and linebackers Gavin Bane, and Kiave’ Guerrier. Returning all-conference defensive back Loren Strickland will lead an athletic and skilled secondary.
2019 results: 9-4, first place in GLVC, second round playoffs
2021 Spring results: NA
Returners: Offense 6, Defense 7 (from 2019)
Key 2019 losses
Knowing what to expect form Lindenwood heading into 2021 will be a more challenging task than the other teams in the conference. When Jed Stugart and his Lions take the field this Thursday night, it will be for the first time in 642 days. I think we can all agree that the world was a MUCH different place 642 days ago than it is today. What will remain the same is who will be leading Lindenwood on the field. Offensively, 2019 GLVC Offensive Player of the Year Cade Brister will be back for his junior season. Brister is looking to build on his Harlon Hill worthy performance in 2019 where he put up over 4,000 yards of total offense and accounted for 46 touchdowns. Brister will have several weapons to take advantage of including versatile and dynamic running back Nash Sutherlin. Sutherlin proved to be a threat running and catching the ball as he racked up over 1,400 yards form scrimmage and 9 touchdowns in 2019. Brister’s receiving targets include big play wide receiver Payton Rose and the Sioux Falls transfer tight end Clint Sigg. Sigg earned all-conference and all-region honors during his time in Sioux Falls and should help fill the void left by the graduation of All-American tight end Erik Henneman.
Defensively, all things run through All-American linebacker Drew Seers. Seers’ natural nose for the football and incredible athleticism make him nightmare for opposing offenses to game plan against. He’s a sideline-to-sideline player and makes a living in the opposing team’s backfield as evidenced by his 34 career tackles for a loss. Making Seers’ job easier will be junior defensive lineman Tayvian Weary whose 7.5 sacks in 2019 earned him all-conference accolades. The Lions secondary will be led by hard hitting safety Grady Daniels and cornerback Jordan Perry, whose interception against Ouachita Baptist sealed Lindenwood’s first every NCAA playoff victory.
2019 results: 10-2, third place in GLVC, America’s Crossroads Bowl winner
2021 Spring results: 3-1, Conference runner up
Returners: Offense 9, Defense 10
Key 2019 losses
Coming off his third straight winning season, coach Greg Nesbitt has built Truman State into a model of hardnosed, fundamentally sound consistency. This spring season gave the Bulldogs an opportunity to solidify this culture even further as a significant number of underclassmen were able to get valuable game experience. This experience will prove valuable as three of the first four games are long road trips before opening league play against the defending 2019 conference champion Lindenwood Lions. Leading the offense will be redshirt freshman Nolan Hair who shined in spring ball completing 75 of 127 passes with nine touchdowns and three interceptions in four games. Returning running back Cody Schrader (405 yards, seven touchdowns in four spring games) and tight end Jake Ellis (21 receptions for 267 yards, four touchdowns in four spring games) will provide proven production for the Bulldogs behind an offensive line anchored by sophomore Dane Eggert. Dante Ruffin is also expected to assume a larger roll at wide receiver. During the GLVC championship game, Ruffin caught nine balls for 111 yards against UIndy.
Defensively, the Bulldogs will once again be a formidable unit with a tough front seven and athletic secondary. The defensive line will be anchored by all-conference linemen Robert Greco, Alec Devecchi and Kendrick Scarbrough who combined for eight tackles for loss in four games. Isaiah Estes will be leading the linebacking corps after finishing spring with 24 tackles and 1.5 for loss. The secondary will be led by a pair of sophomores in Ben Thomas and Ben Watson who combine for a career seven interceptions. Mississippi Valley State transfer Allen Mills should also provide valuable experience from the safety position.
2019 results: 7-4, fourth place in GLVC
2021 Spring results: 2-1, 2nd place in western division
Returners: Offense10, Defense 10
Key 2019 losses
Defensively, Miner’s fans should be excited to have Ben Straatman back after missing all of 2019 with an injury; in three spring games Straatman racked up 28 tackles, 3.5 TFL, and three sacks. Veterans Dontay White and Wulfe Retzlaff are also back at the linebacker position, giving the Miners an active and productive group. The defensive line will be anchored by 6’4”, 296-pound senior Henry Prickle who earned all-conference recognition in the spring. An area that coach Todd Drury will certainly be looking to shore up is pass defense after surrendering nearly 400 yards through the air per game during the spring. Drury is looking towards the senior leadership of Cameron Clemmons, Justin Onwugbufor, and Stefan Camplin to turn things around. Moorpark transfer Peyton Shelton should offer help in the defensive backfield as well after getting his feet wet this spring.Missouri S&T’s 2-1 finish in spring gave the program their fourth straight winning season. Had it not been for several self-inflicted wounds against Truman State, the Miners may have been in line to play in the conference championship game. Offensively, S&T was a force, averaging over 40 points per game, largely on the backs of running backs Aaron Moya and Payton McAllister who combined for over 260 yards per game and 11 rushing touchdowns. Brennan Simms will look to recapture his 2019 form where he threw for over 2,700 yards and 21 touchdowns. He’ll have one of his 2019 favorite targets back in Breon Michel at wide receiver who missed the spring season. Michel proved to be a valuable option at receiver in 2019 totaling 627 yards and four touchdown receptions. The development of the speedy fifth year wide receiver Josh Brown will also be a valuable piece of the Miner’s offensive puzzle.
2019 results: 5-6, fifth place in GLVC
2021 Spring results: 1-1, second place in Eastern division
Returners: Offense 9, Defense 9
|Jace Franklin IV||RB|
|Kenneth Scarbrough III||DB|
McKendree coach Mike Babcock views the cancellation of the 2020 fall season with a positive twist in that the Bearcats were able to get an immense amount of experience for their young team. Currently the Bearcats have 121 freshman and sophomores on their team. Offensively, the Bearcats will need for sophomore quarterback Turner Pullen to recapture his 2019 form when he earned GLVC freshman of the year by throwing for 24 touchdowns and over 2,400 yards. The return of Steven Towns Jr. at wide receiver should help as he joins Caleb Fisher and Jake Bachman who both had productive springs. Also returning is All-GLVC running back Jace Franklin IV who will be running behind a solid offensive line anchored by veterans Jake Stevenson and Austin Huls.
The Bearcats will look towards linebacker Michael Tucker to continue making big plays after posting two sacks and four tackles for loss during the spring season. Drew Crooks and Devon Myles will anchor the secondary; Myles led the team in tackles during spring with 15 and had two pass break ups, while Crooks had an interception and a pass breakup. The defensive front will be led by sophomore Sidney Houston who tied for fourth on the team in tackles from a defensive line position in the spring.
2019 results: 3-8, seventh place in GLVC
2021 Spring results: 1-2, third place in Western division
Returners: Offense 5, Defense 4
After the 2019 season, the SBU Bearcats were left with some major questions at quarterback after revolving door at the position resulted in only seven touchdown passes on the year with 16 interceptions. But coach Robert Clardy may have found an answer during the spring season. In only three games Cooper Callis racked up over 1,100 yards passing, 10 touchdowns and only four interceptions. Callis was also the team’s leading rushing, amassing 106 yards on the ground. His favorite target from the spring, 6’4” wide receiver Curtis Cuillard will return after leading the team in receiving during the spring with 22 receptions, 298 yards, and four touchdowns.
Defensively, SBU will need to find answers in several areas. They do bring back an all-conference linebacker in Aaron Harris and a pair of all-conference corners in Troy Landon and Killian Carper, but the Bearcats are coming off a spring season where they gave up 45 points and 537 yards a game.
2019 results: 1-10, eighth place in GLVC
2021 Spring results: 0-3, fourth place in Western Division
Returners: Offense 10, Defense 8
Mike McGlinchey is most certainly itching to kick off the fall season. After being named the new head coach in January of 2020, he had to wait another 15 months before finally getting to coach his first game. His first order of business in fall camp will be to settle who will be calling signals for William Jewell in 2021. Both Will Schneider and Anthony Pritzer return for their senior seasons. Schneider was the incumbent starter after leading the Cardinals in 2018 and 2019. However, and injury forced Pritzer into action during the spring, where he averaged 292 yards and two touchdown passes per game. Whoever ends up taking snaps for the Cardinals will have a reliable target in fifth year senior Jalik Jaggwe who finished spring averaging 110 receiving yards per game.
William Jewell will need better production from the defensive unit if they want to be more competitive in the fall after giving up 46 point and 511 yards per game. However, a bright spot for the Cardinals is sophomore defensive back Myles Nash who nabbed three interceptions in three games during the spring season.
2019 results: 5-6, sixth place in GLVC
2021 Spring results: 0-2, third place in Eastern Division
Returners: Offense 8, Defense 11
The biggest question by far coach Gary Bass and the Quincy Hawks will need to answer in 2021 is what to do at the quarterback position. The Hawks have talent at offensive line with returning all-conference linemen Max Snell and BJ Wilson. They also have capable skill position players with Paul Sullivan at wide receiver and Jalen Griffin at running back. However, in their two spring games, Quincy quarterbacks only completed 30 percent of their passes for 77 yards and one touchdown.
Defensively, Quincy has some promise as they return two first-team all-conference players in defensive lineman Collin Olla-Chatman and linebacker Peyten Chappel. Olla-Chatman finished spring with 11 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss in two games. Meanwhile, Chappel led the conference with 12 tackles per game, and three tackles for a loss.
My first power ranking is just my crack at preseason rankings, as I really don’t have anything to go off yet. After a few weeks, I will begin to offer my Influence Power Rankings (IPR) like I did in 2019. The IPR is a more objective ranking as it strictly takes into consideration statistics.