Tuesday, September 30, 2014

OU football has second life

By Greg Mast/Herald Sports Editor | 11/22/2013

The Ottawa University football team has new life. The Braves football season was in peril following last week’s 23-20 loss to Tabor.

The conference title was gone. Maybe the playoffs. But the Braves squeezed into the playoffs at No. 15 in the NAIA poll.

The Ottawa University football team has new life. The Braves football season was in peril following last week’s 23-20 loss to Tabor.

The conference title was gone. Maybe the playoffs. But the Braves squeezed into the playoffs at No. 15 in the NAIA poll.

Ottawa is in the playoffs for the fifth straight season. The Braves (8-3) play 1 p.m. today against No. 2 Grand View, Iowa (10-0). The Vikings are making their second playoff appearance in just six seasons of existence.

“We are glad to be in,” Ottawa coach Kent Kessinger said. “It came down to the rankings. We are fortunate that teams in the 14, 15, 16 range lost. We slipped right in at 15. This is the top 16 teams. That is the first time in five years that has happened. We are playing the best of the best.”

It was Ottawa’s reputation that kept Ottawa in the top 16 and earn a playoff berth.

“I am glad year in and year out we have a team that can compete for championships and playoffs,” Kessinger said. “That was not the case the first four years.”

The Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference did receive three playoff bids.

“The national perception of the KCAC is not fantastic,” Kessinger said. “It is better. We got three teams in the playoffs. That is a hallmark for the conference. I don’t think that has ever happened. We have three games that are definitely winnable for the KCAC. The parity [nationally] is tremendous. Anybody has a chance. It is going to be where you go and how things play out. We want to take advantage of the opportunity we have been given.”

Junior defensive back DeVontae Corbitt said Ottawa players were hopeful after the Tabor loss.

“We got saved,” he said. “We have a second chance. We are looking to make the most out of it. We have another shot. That is what we are looking forward to. We have a chance to shock the nation.”

Ottawa hopes to use its experience and put all the pressure on the Vikings.

“I hope our guys will play loose,” Kessinger said. “We are going to go on the road. They are a good football team. He has done a great job starting up that program.”

The Ottawa players have confidence, especially with the win over then No. 2 Missouri Valley earlier this season.

“It is win or go home,” running back Luke Lundy said. “They are big upfront. It is nothing we can’t handle. They are physical. Nothing we have not seen before. We are focused in.”

Kessinger said the players are not intimidated by the moment or playing the Vikings.

“They are jacked up and ready to go,” he said. “It is going to be cold on the field for both football teams. We will see how we react to it. We are going to give it our best shot. We are going to take the team we got and give our very best shot. Our kids will play hard.”

Kessinger is going to start the game up the coaching booth.

“We are going to do things differently,” he said. “I will start off in the booth. Josh [Homolka] has done the same thing earlier in the year which helped him. We are going to try work our matchups more than we have been able to do.”

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