Postseason football in NCAA Division II and the NAIA begins Saturday with a heavy dose of Kansas City-area interest.
By BLAIR KERKHOFF
The Kansas City Star
Emporia State has made the NCAA playoffs for the first time since 2003 and travels to Minnesota-Duluth. The winner will visit top-seeded Northwest Missouri next Saturday.
The 16-team NAIA playoff bracket includes three teams each from the Heart of America Conference and Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.
Emporia State at Minnesota-Duluth
• When/where: Noon Saturday in Duluth, Minn.
• Preview: The Hornets, 10-1, finished second in the MIAA. They lead the nation in turnover margin and are ranked in the top 10 in scoring offense and total offense. But starting quarterback Brent Wilson broke a collarbone in last weeks victory over Washburn and is done for the season. Corben Jones, who threw a touchdown pass against Washburn and led the team on two scoring drives, gets the start. Emporia is No. 14 in the Division II coaches poll, Duluth is No. 5. The Bulldogs, 10-1, won NCAA titles in 2008 and 2010. Theyre a ground-and-pound team that has gained twice as many rushing as passing yards.
Tabor at Benedictine
• When/where: 1 p.m. Saturday in Atchison, Kan.
• Preview: These are offensive-minded teams. Benedictine ranks seventh in the NAIA in scoring 40.1 points per game. Tabor is the NAIAs top rushing team and is led by running back James Monroe, who has gained 1,674 yards and scored 16 touchdowns. Ravens running back Cameron Fore has rushed for 1,342 yards and leads the NAIA in scoring with 25 touchdowns. Benedictine is ranked eighth in the NAIA polls, Tabor 11th.
Sterling at Baker
• When/where: 1 p.m. Saturday in Baldwin City, Kan.
• Preview: Running back Dillon Baxter has rushed for 1,196 yards for fourth-ranked Baker. Hes coming off a 219-yard performance against Peru State (Neb.). The Wildcats defense ranks eighth nationally in points allowed at 18.5. Sterling is averaging 38 points per game. Ottawa at Grand View (Iowa)
• When/where: 1 p.m. Saturday in Des Moines, Iowa
• Preview: Playing in the NAIA playoffs for the fifth straight year, the Braves take a high-scoring offense (42.2 points) to Iowa to face the nations second-ranked team. Defensive back Erik Brown leads the NAIA with eight interceptions.
Northwestern (Iowa) at Missouri Valley
• When/where: Noon Saturday in Marshall, Mo.
• Preview: Missouri Valley brings a stout defense into postseason. The Vikings lead the NAIA in scoring (11.4 points) and total defense (219 yards). Only one team scored more than 20 against them this season.
To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/BlairKerkhoff.