Experienced Wheaton taking care of business
BY JOHN GROCHOWSKI Staff Reporter October 9, 2013 11:12PM
Wheaton College Football vs Albion College (66-0)
Updated: October 9, 2013 11:24PM
With the No. 13 national ranking and a 4-0 record that includes a 24-15 victory Saturday at Augustana in a CCIW opener, Wheaton has things going its way. That’s no great surprise to a senior-laden program with a history of success.
“We got a little excitement about our football team this year,” said Mike Swider, whose Thunder went 8-2 last season and earned a share of their fifth CCIW championship since he took over as coach in 1996. “I think anytime you have 29 seniors you feel pretty good. There’s some leadership there and a good conduit to the football team from the top.”
One of those leaders is fifth-year senior quarterback Jordan Roberts, who completed 16 of 28 passes for 145 yards and a touchdown against Augustana. For the season, he’s 68-for-104 for 759 yards and five touchdowns as Wheaton heads into a CCIW game Saturday at Carthage (1-3, 0-1).
“When you have a fifth-year senior quarterback, that’s going to bring some stability and poise and maturity, and that brings confidence to your offense,” Swider said. “Jordan’s a good football player, and he’s been around the block. This is his third year as the starter for us, and it shows. He’s been through every circumstance and situation that you can imagine.”
The defense is laden with seniors, too, starting with pre-season NCAA Division III All-America nose guard Brandon Dykstra. Senior linebackers Brett Anderson and Jordan Higgins also are among the leaders on defense, and the Thunder secondary is dominated by five more seniors.
It’s no accident. Wheaton has emphasized experience throughout Swider’s tenure, during which the Thunder is 144-41.
“If you work for something for three years and someone else works for it for three months, who is it more important to?” Swider asked. “Freshman and sophomores want to play. Seniors want to win because there’s too much invested.”
That philosophy goes right down to recruiting. If a recruit asks how quickly he can play, Swider moves to change the emphasis.
“First of all, the decision really shouldn’t be about that,” he said. “It’s got to be much bigger than that. But I also say to them, ‘Someday you’re going to be a senior. Do you want me to promise a freshman he’s going to beat you out?’ He’s going to say, ‘No way.’ And I tell him, ‘Well, I’m not saying it now, either.’”
In the rankings
North Central (4-0, 1-0 CCIW) remained at No. 4 in the D3Football.com poll after a 31-14 victory over Elmhurst. The Cardinals play host to Millikin (1-3, 0-1) on Saturday.
In the NAIA, St. Xavier (3-2, 0-1 MSFA Midwest) fell seven spots to No. 10 after a 48-21 loss to Grand Valley State. The Cougars play at No. 4 St. Francis of Indiana (3-1) on Saturday. No. 21 Trinity International (4-1, 1-0 Midwest), a 20-17 winner over Olivet Nazerene (1-4, 0-1), travels to No. 9 St. Ambrose (3-1, 1-0).
No. 25 St. Francis of Joliet (3-2, 1-0 MSFA Mideast), an easy 56-6 winner over Concordia (Mich.), plays host to Robert Morris (4-2, 0-1).