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FHSU's first meeting with William Jewell

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

The MIAA has long been considered the SEC of NCAA Division II football. Fort Hays State University football coach Chris Brown calls it "truly a 1-AA" conference, or the level directly below the Football Bowl Subdivision.

The Great Lakes Valley Conference, or GLVC, didn't even exist as a football conference until a couple of years ago. Well known for basketball, the GLVC doesn't regularly place teams in the playoffs or in the top 25 for football.

On Saturday, the Tigers (0-4) play host to GLVC's William Jewell (Mo.) College (1-3) in their homecoming at 7 p.m. at Lewis Field Stadium.

FHSU, because of its No. 2 strength of schedule, is ranked as the country's 78th-best team, according to masseyratings.com. Fort Hays has played four top-25 teams.

"I've tried to keep our kids focused and locked in," Brown said. "We've got to get a win. We've got to find a way to win a ball game."

William Jewell ranks at No. 157 with a 163 SOS. However, even with the different conferences, Fort Hays knows the Cardinals will be a strong test.

"They are 1-3 and we are 0-4," junior bandit backer Zach Nash said. "We have played these tough teams, but you can't take anyone for granted, because everyone is good that we play."

On Wednesday, the MIAA and GLVC announced a strategic partnership in football that allows the MIAA"s Lincoln (Mo.) University and Southwest Baptist (Mo.) University to compete in the GLVC in football only starting next season. This gives the MIAA 12 football-playing schools; every team would play each other once instead of the current unbalanced slate. The GLVC would have nine.

William Jewell has averaged 31 points per game, but allowed 41 points a contest. Sean Shelton has played the most time at quarterback -- three players have thrown at least 15 passes - and has completed 51 of 91 passes for 485 yards with a 4/3 TD/INT ratio. Four players, including Shelton, have rushed between 110 and 175 yards.

Saturday marks the first ever meeting between the two teams. Because of the unfamiliarity, the coaching staff has studied all four of Jewell's contests. Jewell's lone victory was a 36-34 victory against Valparaiso in Week 2. Last week, they fell 70-48 to South Dakota School of Mines. Brown noticed Willam Jewell runs multiple formations, including unbalanced, shotgun runs, spread and two tight end sets.

"They do a lot of different things that can give you trouble," Brown said.

Defensively, the Cardinals bring a lot of pressure, including the Double-A gap blitz (the A gap is between the center and guard) and pressure off the edge.

"That's something that we really haven't seen a lot of this year." Brown said.