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Northwestern College

Northwestern has to be itching to get back on the field after ending its season to eventual National Champion, Marian. The Red Raiders led the game late in the 3rd quarter before it got away from them. Five starters from that team are back for 2013, including quarterback Davis Bloemendaal. He could prove to be the top signal caller in the league by the end of the season. Northwestern figures to use the passing game more this season after losing Branden Smith as the team’s leading rusher. Theo Bartman is plenty capable of carrying a big load for Northwestern, but more use of the passing game could mean a bigger year for Bartman. 

Said Coach Achterhoff of his offense, “Offensively, we look to spread the ball around a little more than we have in the past to take some of the load off of Bartman. With Bloemendaal returning under center and a very talented group of receivers, we will be more balanced.”

The defense returns six starters from a unit that was best in the league last season giving up 271.6 yards per game to opposing offenses. The Red Raiders surrendered less than 180 yards per game through the air last season and gave up less than 17 points per contest. Linebacker Isaiah Twitty was second on the team in tackles last season with 84 and should be looked at for leadership in 2013. Jake Zylstra provides the experience for a Northwestern secondary that didn’t make things easy for opposing signal callers last season. Even with some of the star power gone from 2012, this unit still has the personnel to be very good.

Said Coach Achterhoff of his defense. “We lose some great experience along the defensive line, but our depth there and at linebacker, along with everyone returning in the secondary, will allow us to remain the aggressive, physical defense that we have been in the past.”

Thoughts: Northwestern looks like it is close to taking over the top spot in the GPAC, but it must find a way to beat Morningside – something that hasn’t happened since 2006. The Red Raiders feel comfortable with an experienced defense and talent in the offensive skill positions. The Red Raiders have an early season test with a trip to Crete, Neb. on September 14 and hosting Dakota Wesleyan the following weekend. If they survive those two they will look to remain unbeaten until a November home date with the Mustangs. Northwestern has a chance to be really good in 2013.