- Evening, Weekend & Online Programs
- ALUMNI RELATIONS
- GIVING TO LAKELAND
- ABOUT LAKELAND
The Lakeland College football team will be playing for a piece of its first Northern Athletics Conference championship as the Muskies wrap up the 2009 regular season against Aurora (4-5, 2-4 NAC) on Nov. 14 at 12:00 p.m.
"It's an interesting dynamic because each of the last three years we've gone into the final week playing for a share of the conference title or a playoff berth," Lakeland head coach Kevin Doherty said. "This year's game is similar to two years ago where if we win we can share the conference title but with some help we can go to the playoffs."
Lakeland (5-4, 5-1) is currently tied for first place in the NAC with Concordia Chicago. The Cougars hold the tie breaker for the automatic berth into the NCAA Division III playoffs after defeating the Muskies 41-32 on Oct. 17. Concordia Chicago closes out its season on Saturday against Benedictine, and a Benedictine win coupled with a Lakeland victory would send the Muskies to the NCAA playoffs for the second time in school history.
"Right now we're just focusing on controlling what we can control," Doherty said. "We can't control who wins or loses other than Aurora and Lakeland. We're just focusing on cleaning up our game from Saturday and preparing physically and emotionally for this week's game against Aurora"
Along with potential conference and playoff implications, Lakeland will be honoring its 10 seniors in a ceremony before the game.
"It's going to be a big game emotionally for our seniors," Doherty said. "We've got some guys that are two and three year starters while others have been role players who have stepped up into a starting capacity this year. You wouldn't know it by looking at them that this is their first year starting, they look like they've been playing the last two or three years. When their opportunity came they took the most of it."
Last weekend, the Muskies held Concordia Wisconsin to 204 total yards of offense in a 32-16 victory. It was Lakeland's second consecutive Cheese Bowl victory after dropping seven of eight previous match ups.
Quarterback Jake Dworak (DePere) threw for two touchdowns and ran a quarterback sneak for a third score as the Muskies put up 21 points in the second quarter to lead 23-13 at halftime.
"The Concordia Wisconsin game was a huge win for our program," Doherty said. "The kids were looking forward to that game for a while as does any team against their rival. It really set the tone to give the guys belief that if we play strong we can still share the conference title and that we're deserving of that."
Aurora enters this week's match up having lost two in a row and three out of its last four. After leading the NAC last season with a perfect 7-0 record, the Spartans have struggled to find a balance on defense. They have allowed over 30 points per game in four conference losses yet have outscored Maranatha and Rockford by a combined 72-0 in two conference victories.
Lakeland running back Jeremy Williams (Zion, Ill.) could be in for another big game this week. Second in the NAC in rushing, the sophomore has totaled 20 or more carries in seven of nine games this season and faces a rushing defense this week that has given up 126 rushing yards per game this season.
"They're very experienced on defense so up front is going to be a big test for us," Doherty said. "They're athletic and physical with some players in the secondary that can run."
Despite Aurora's struggles this season, none of the coaches or players will be overlooking the inaugural NAC champions on such an important day to the Lakeland football program.
"Every team that Aurora's played, they might not have won every game, but they've played every team extremely tough,"Doherty said. "Watching film, there are times where they've lost that they probably should have won. Their record doesn't truly indicate the type of team that they are."