Many of the faces are different but the expectations remain high for the Central College football team heading into Saturday’s season opener at home against St. Olaf College. The Dutch lost several key players from last year’s team that posted a 10-0 record and made it to the quarterfinal round of the Division III national playoffs. Jeff McMartin enters his 19th season as head coach of a program that has not suffered a losing season since Dwight Eisenhower was president.
“Each year the mission is the same but you are different”, said McMartin. “That is the challenge, keeping the standards high and playing to those expectations.”
The biggest loss was at quarterback where the Dutch must replace Division III National Player of the Year Blaine Hawkins. Sophomore Brady Ketchum will start the game but fellow sophomore Cooper Downs is also expected to play.
One of Central’s biggest strengths in recent years has been team speed and McMartin believes that trend will continue.
“If our data is correct this will be the fastest team we have had from top to bottom”, added McMartin. “We have a lot to be excited about because I think this is a team that can run and that is going to help us on both sides of the ball and on special teams.”