After reaching the semifinal round of the N-A-I-A national playoffs last year the Northwestern College football team is hoping for similar success this season. Red Raiders coach Orv Otten says his team may need to outscore opponents early as a young defense matures.Otten says last year’s team is a perfect example of how much improvement can be shown. Northwestern started the 2000 season 2-3 before regrouping to make their run. He says the team understands you have to persevere through the tough times.Northwestern is picked to finish second in the Great Plains Conference behind Sioux Falls and Otten expects another hard-fought race.Otten says the Red Raiders face a difficult schedule and points to last season when they played six straight games against teams that had been nationally ranked.Northwestern opens the season on September first with a non-conference game at Jamestown of North Dakota.