- Evening, Weekend & Online Programs
- ALUMNI RELATIONS
- GIVING TO LAKELAND
- ABOUT LAKELAND
A week after shutting out Rockford 40-0 for its first win of the season, the Lakeland College football team hasn't taken much time to celebrate the victory before Saturday's homecoming contest against Wisconsin Lutheran (2-2, 1-0) at Taylor Memorial Field at 1 p.m.
"We're extremely focused right now," Lakeland head coach Kevin Doherty said. "We've preached that we need to take it one game at a time and that's what we're doing right now. We had a solid win on Saturday and they've put that behind them and gotten back to work focusing on Wisconsin Lutheran."
The Muskies (1-3, 1-0 NAC) clicked on both sides of the ball against a winless Rockford squad, picking up 325 yards on offense while giving up only 70 yards to the Regents on a sloppy playing surface. Four of the six Lakeland scoring drives originated from inside the Rockford 36 yard line.
Junior quarterback Jake Dworak (DePere) threw for a personal-best four touchdowns despite completing only 9-of-21 passing attempts. Two of those strikes were to junior receiver Roberto Flores, one of Dworak's favorite targets with 22 receptions and four touchdowns on the season.
Sophomore running back Jeremy Williams rushed for over 100 yards for the second time last week, compiling 128 yards on the ground as he scored a touchdown for the second straight week. For an offense predicated on maintaining a balance between running and throwing, the emergence of a ground attack this season has given the coaching staff more options in different situations.
"Offensively, it was good that we were able to get our rushing game going in the conditions we faced," Doherty said. "It allowed us to sustain our drives and convert third downs. What we have to do a better job on is containing our penalties. We have been taking too many penalties that take us out of first down situations or give first downs to our opponents."
Rockford rushed for a season-low 30 yards on 39 attempts last week with three fumbles against Lakeland defensive front that played its best game of the season. The Muskies' success on defense will need to continue this weekend against a Wisconsin Lutheran team that ranks second in the NAC and averages 146.2 rushing yards per game.
"I was excited about how well we got to the football," Doherty said. "It was a race to the ball every play. The field was sloppy because of the weather conditions and it was easier for our defense to focus on stopping the run opposed to worrying about their passing game because the conditions weren't very conducive for both us and Rockford to passing."
Jesse Muldrow and Larry Hairl have carried the bulk of Wisconsin Lutheran's rushing attempts this season, combining for 113 carries and 619 yards with five touchdowns through the first four weeks. Despite the emphasis placed on the run, receiver Dominique Johnson ranks third in the NAC with 73.2 receiving yards per game. Johnson caught three touchdowns in the second quarter last weekend against Concordia Chicago.
"Wisconsin Lutheran has a lot of balance in their offense, and our defense will have to be on their toes," Doherty said. "They have two running backs that can bust a long one at any time. We need to make sure we stay disciplined in our tackling. They have a great wide receiver in Dominique Johnson, and they have a pair of good quarterbacks that can get the ball to the receivers."
Defensively, the Warriors return eight starters from last season on a unit that is first in the NAC in allowing 106.5 yards per game on the ground. Despite the success on the ground, they have allowed teams to throw for 263.8 yards per game this season, a number that could indicate a great opportunity for Dworak and the passing game this weekend.
"They're good at stopping the run so it will be a nice challenge for our offense to see if we've really made strides this season with our running game," Doherty said. "They return their entire secondary so we need to make sure we catch everything thrown to us and limit our mistakes."
As a part of this weekend's homecoming festivities, former Muskie players John Lemke (1991) and Ted Szymanski (1992) will be inducted into the Lakeland Hall of Fame.
A three year starter on the offensive line, Lemke was a two-time, first-team All-Illini-Badger Football Conference honoree and served as team captain in 1989.
Szymanski was a three year starter at linebacker and was named IBFC Linebacker of the Year and Lakeland most valuable player in 1991.
With many former players and alumni expected on campus this weekend, Doherty feels his team is in a great place entering a pivotal conference matchup.
"I think our attitude as a team is a little more confident this year," Doherty said. "Coming into homecoming, we get a lot of players that come back and want to see what the squad looks like. It's the second game of the conference season and we've been playing with a lot more life as of late. The conference schedule is a whole new season and our guys are looking forward to the game this Saturday."