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Bethel College

The Bethel Threshers have nowhere to go but up.  The team’s last win came on September 15th, 2011, thru forfeit by Sterling.  

On the surface, it looks like the Bethel administration is serious about getting the football program back on track.  They have hired a pretty impressive coaching staff- mining the two top defensive coaches from the Marian Knights national championship team from 2012.  New head coach Marty Mathis spent the last seven years running the defense for head coach Ted Karras Jr. at Marion, and the past six serving as assistant head coach in addition to his defensive duties.  Mathis brings Chi-Emeke Worthington along with him from Marion to co-coordinate the defense.  At Marion, Worthington coached the defensive backfield for two seasons.  Coaching the defensive backfield for the Threshers this year is Malcom Pearson, who brings professional playing experience to the table, having stints with the Denver Broncos, NFL Europe and the Canadian Football league.

Former Notre Dame College, Cleveland, Ohio, quarterbacks coach Reilly Murphy will be in North Newton this season to re-vamp the Thresher offense.  Murphy’s resume includes working with acclaimed quarterback coaches Bob Johnson, and George Whitfield, Jr., personal quarterback coach to the likes of Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Newton and Johnny Manziel.

So the first piece of the puzzle is in place; the new Thresher staff has good pedigree and a ton of credible experience.  Their largest task now will be to get players on campus, and get them to buy into the program.  The current roster lists 21 returning players, so the list of new faces for 2013 will be huge.  The staff seems to be focusing in on recruiting the Florida area, with 9 out of 25 announced signees coming from the sunshine state.  Others encompass an area that is pretty much nationwide including Ohio, New Jersey, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri and a handful of locals from nearby Kansas towns.   The published signing list now stands at 25, but the roster lists 60 new players.  

The staff lists 10 starters returning from last year’s squad, 3 on offense and 7 on defense.  All conference Honorable mention senior defensive end Garret Garcia, Newton, Kansas, is listed as returning.

The Threshers start off the year at home vs. the Haskell Indians, the only NAIA team that has a lower Massey ranking than Bethel.  I give the Threshers a great chance to get a win right off the bat just on the merit of the new coaching staff.  The following week, the Threshers get a visit from Central Methodist University out of Fayette, Missouri.  CMU is listed as the last place finisher in the HAAC from 2012, but that is entirely due to forfeited games for rules infractions.  In reality, the CMU Eagles are a mid-level team in the much tougher Heart of America Conference.  Bethel will have their hands full with that one.  As they make their way thru the KCAC schedule, the Threshers will have to improve immensely over last year to compete.  The two closest games in 2012 were with Southwestern and Bethany, both whom will be markedly better this season.  None of the other KCAC match ups were close.

The biggest question is will the Bethel board and administration support the new staff and provide them with the resources and backing they need to succeed.   It will be a long road to recovery for Bethel, but if they succeed, it will be one of the great sports comeback stories in the country.