Ichabods look to improve on-field intelligence

Nathan Miller

They thought they were a national championship caliber team.

They had the momentum, coming off a school first MIAA football championship and a Division II playoff berth. But when all was said and done last year the Bods finished the season 7-4 and fourth in the conference.

“We didn’t feel like we were the most intelligent team,” said Craig Schurig, head coach. “We didn’t play smart football every time out. We felt like we were physical and we went pound to pound with people as far as the physical nature of the game. But we didn’t really play smart and that is something we really emphasized in the spring.”

Last year the Bods racked up 76 penalties for 626 yards and committed 30 turnovers. Compared to their opponents with 49 penalties for 425 yards and 30 turnovers.

Intelligence aside, the Bods started last season on the wrong foot after starting quarterback Jordan Brill injured his shoulder in camp. Brill played through the pain until the Pittsburg State 14-29 defeat Oct. 7, but things were already crumbling.

Ranked No. 16 in the nation and without running back Ra’Shawn Mosley who was out because of an ankle injury, the Bods defeated the Colorado Mines 41-21 in week one but would lose game two for the second year in a row with a loss in Washington to the Western Washington Vikings 13-16. But Brill’s exit really was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The loss at Pittsburg State was followed by losses to both Northwest Missouri State 31-26 and Truman State 21-7.

A close loss to runner up national champs Northwest, and an upset victory against No. 11 Missouri Western 16-3 to finish the season have made the Bods the team to watch this year. The Bods are ranked No. 25 in the nation and are expected to finish third in the conference this year. Defending champs Northwest Missouri gave Washburn the only first place vote not received by Northwest.

“The game they had here was one of their closest games,” said Schurig. “We played strong, but they jumped out on a lead but we made a run for it at the end. I feel like we are definitely in the mix with the guys we have back.”

Pittsburg State is tabbed to finish second. But for some that was on the MIAA championship team in 2005, feel like they’re capable of the same kind of run this year.

“I think the expectation is still high,” said Ra’Shawn Mosley, senior running back. “I don’t feel disrespected I kind of felt something like that would happen. But a couple years ago the same thing happened and we came out on top. This year will be the same.”

Even those who haven’t had the pleasure of winning a conference title know expectations are high.

“Expectations are huge,” said Zach Watkins, sophomore linebacker. “Everybody from coaches to players to fans expects a lot. Camp has been really intense and we expect a lot from ourselves.”

But the Bods haven’t started dreaming about national titles just yet. Schurig explained in the end that’s always the goal but for now the Bods will take it one game at a time with the end goal being the conference title.

“We will preach to our players you have to take it one step at a time,” said Schurig. “To win the conference you have to have your best each week. Our sights are set to win the conference.”