By beating the Beloit College Buccaneers 19-14 last Saturday at Strong Stadium in Beloit, the Vikings have put themselves in an unfamiliar position. They will play the four-time defending conference champions St. Norbert for the chance to break into the top half of the conference standings. A third win in a row would be the first time the Vikings have done so since week seven, eight, and nine of the 1999 season when they defeated Carroll, Monmouth, and Ripon, respectively.
They haven’t been .500 this late in the year since 1995, and should they beat St. Norbert College, they would be on pace for their first winning season since 1987.
With Justin Berrens, who is currently 23rd in the nation in rushing, and Zach Michaels, who is 38th in receiving yards per game, it is not difficult to understand where this turnaround has come from.
The offense is putting up bigger numbers, and the defense is coming up with crucial stops. Defensive back Nate Semenak, who is leading the team with two interceptions, one returned for a game-winning touchdown, said about the revamped defense, “We are trusting the schemes, and that is putting us into a position to not only make plays, but win games. In order to win, everyone has to be on the same page.”
But in order to beat the conference powerhouse St. Norbert, Lawrence must break out of its mold.
Berrens is first in the conference in rushing because he is fed the ball, and St. Norbert’s will not have overlooked that in their preparations for the game.
The playbook must be opened up and all of Lawrence’s weapons must be used. That includes a play-action on first down that would freeze the St. Norbert linebackers, an option Lawrence seldom uses. This play would allow quarterback Eric Aspenson to look to the backside post for Michaels and “Touchdown” Craig Garvey.
New formations and new plays must be utilized; conservative calling will not win this game. Taking shots at the end zone on second and short, being aggressive after turnovers, and not committing foolish turnovers of their own will give the Vikes a great chance at their third “W” in as many tries.
A student section filled with students could really help the team feel supported and confident. Cheerleaders have been added recently to put some pep in the usually sparse crowd, and now by stringing some wins together the Vikes are worth cheering for.
Game time is 1:30 p.m. and will be broadcast live on 91.1WLFM