Two of the top small college football programs in the country collide in Pella on Saturday when Central hosts St. John’s of Minnesota in the opening round of the division three national playoffs. The schools have combined to win 57 conference titles 34 trips to the playoffs.

The Dutch won their 28th Iowa Conference title after finishing the regular season 10-1 while St. John’s finished 9-1 and earned a share of a 29th Minnesota Conference crown.

Central coach Jeff McMartin says watching St. John’s is a little like looking in the mirror in some ways. He says they’re solid on defense and like the big play on offense.

The St. John’s defense is built on speed and play a swarming defense with great technique to get off of blocks. The Central defense has made big plays all season. That unit has intercepted 25 passes so far this season and the Dutch are a plus-15 in turnover margin.

McMartin says they work on and stress making the plays and turnovers. It is the fifth time these teams have met in the playoffs. St. John’s has a 3-1 edge.