Tim Chik reporter
The Gorillas are entering their 10th week of the 2022 football season with their current undefeated record of 9-0. Last week the Gorillas traveled to the University of Central Oklahoma and defeated the Bronchos 38-7. The Gorillas look to continue their unbeaten streak this week and improve to 10-0 as they are up against Washburn’s 6-3 Ichabods.
“Going 1-0 every week, that’s our mindset,” said junior and offensive lineman Trase Jeffries.
The team has been using this mindset to hone in on each opponent week in and week out. Specific to this week and entering into the final stretch of the season, Jeffries relayed this from head football coach, Brian Wright’s message to the team this week, “1% better every day, practice, class, make everything just 1% better than before.”
Wright wants his players to be 1% better in all areas meaning getting more sleep, eating better, hydrating better, recovering better, and extra reps after practice. “Anyone can improve at 1% of anything” Jeffries commented as he was explaining this mindset.
Wright pointed out to his players that they have a shot to share the MIAA conference title, but, “we didn’t come here to share anything.”
Looking forward to this week, Washburn will look to topple the Gorillas in a vital match-up that will have significant playoff ramifications for both teams moving forward. Unfortunately, for the Gorillas, history is not on their side here. In their four previous meetings, the Ichabods have come out on top over the Gorillas. Most recently, in their battle last year, Washburn blocked a potential game-winning field goal try in the last half minute of the game, sealing the Ichabod’s 28-26 win on the road at Pittsburg.
In those four previous losses to Washburn, the margin of the resulting game was never more than 11 points, and three out of four of them were by a touchdown or less. The history between these two football programs is here and always is a close match with one play having the potential to flip a game on its head in either direction.
Pittsburg State will head into the match-up looking to keep their undefeated streak alive, atop the MIAA, and hope to increase their national ranking.
Now while their ranking nationally is a worthy accomplishment the players and the coaching staff have their eyes set on a bigger prize. One that has eluded them since winning it in 2011. The year they made their run and won the NCAA Division II National Championship they went 13 – 1 on the season. Their one loss that year was in week 8 to the Washburn Ichabods.
Looking forward to this year’s game, Washburn enters the week 6-3 and is ranked fifth in the MIAA. Offensively for the Ichabods, they are led by sophomore quarterback, Kellen Simoncic. Simoncic has thrown for 2,354 yards along with 25 touchdowns. His favorite receiver by far this season has been James Letcher Jr. who has reeled in 69 catches for 878 yards and 8 touchdowns. Both teams in this MIAA match-up are averaging over 32 points scored per game.
Defensively for the Gorillas, Dubem Okonkwo has been leading the team this season with 18 unassisted tackles and 27 total tackles. Earlier this week on Monday he was named the MIAA Defensive Athlete of the week for his performance last week against UCO. Additional to his tackles, he leads the team with 8.5 sacks, 4 quarterback hits, and 2 fumbles forced.
On the offensive side of the ball for Pittsburg, Chad Johnson Jr. will look to find his favorite target this year in wide receiver, Carter Christian, who has racked up 32 catches leading to 459 yards and 5 touchdowns. In addition to the battle in the air, the Gorillas will look to dominate the ground and win the war in the trenches. Running back Caleb Lewis has ran for a spectacular 714 yards and 8 touchdowns this year.
The game will be on Nov. 5, at Washburn University at Yager Stadium, the game begins at 1 p.m.