CHADRON – Sporting a 7-2 seasonal record and a 6-1 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference log, the Chadron State football makes its seventh and final trip of the regular season to Durango, Colo., to play Fort Lewis on Saturday. Kickoff will be at 1 p.m.
Despite having some capable players, the Skyhawks are struggling. They are 0-8 overall and 0-7 in the conference.
New Mexico Highlands dealt Fort Lewis a 50-0 setback in the season opener while Division I-AA Northern Arizona won 69-0 the next week.
The Skyhawks then played what may have their best game of the season, falling by just 42-34 to Western New Mexico. The other scores have been CSU-Pueblo 50-21, Colorado Mines 58-15, Colorado Mesa 36-12, Western State 18-6 and Adams State 55-9.
Chadron State coaches say Fort Lewis has an outstanding weapon in quarterback Tim Jenkins. Both head coach Jay Long and defensive coordinator Jeff Larson believe Jenkins is among the best signal callers in the conference.
“It seems like nearly everybody in the conference has a great quarterback and they throw the ball about 80 times a game,” Larson said. “The Fort Lewis quarterback is one of the best. He’s big and strong, experienced and he throws the ball well.”
A 6-foot-3, 220-pound graduate of Thunder Ridge High in the Denver area, Jenkins has completed 161 of 301 passes for 1,817 yards and eight touchdowns. He’s also thrown eight interceptions.
Six Fort Lewis players have caught at least a dozen passes, led by junior Doyle Bode, who has 43 catches for 475 yards. The leading rusher is Van Gramann, a 5-11, 170-pound sophomore. He has carried 85 times for 347 yards.
Particularly on defense, the Skyhawks are the smallest team physically in the RMAC. None of the four defensive linemen weighs more than 235 pounds and one linebacker is listed at 180 pounds and the other at 200.
The opponents have rushed for 1,800 yards against Fort Lewis, which has gained just 561 yards on the ground. The foes also have thrown for 25 touchdowns.
Senior Jonathan Price, who has 31 pass receptions for 251 yards, is averaging 9.9 yards on punt returns and 23.6 yards on kickoff returns.
Despite Saturday’s win, the Eagles still haven’t cracked the American Football Coaches Association top 25. However, they remain third in the all-important Super Region 4 rankings, which mean the most at this juncture in the season.
Undefeated Ashland of Ohio and CSU-Pueblo lead the way in the ratings, both at 9-0. CSC and Indianapolis, both at 7-2 for the season and 7-1 in Division II, are third and fourth.
Chadron State, which is 24-3 all-time against the Skyhawks, also recently moved to 19th in the D2football.com Top 25 poll.
Con Marshall, Information Services