In the Minnesota College Athletic Conference football ranks, Week 6 features some important match-ups in both the MCAC playoff picture, as well as some bragging rights contests for long-time rivals. With only three more regular season games to go in the 2017, this Saturday's games will allow a handful of squads to take the inside track towards hosting a playoff contest while other teams need a 'W' to stay in the hunt.
In the Western Division, the only non-Minnesota football playing colleges in the MCAC will face off in a long-standing rivalry game in Wahpeton, North Dakota. Adding more intrigue to the fixture is that both North Dakota State College of Science and Dakota College-Bottineau are at the top of the Divisional standings with 3-0 records and are coming off of impressive offensive displays in Week 5. NDSCS is led by quarterback Malik Gaillard who has a passing efficiency rating of 162.9. The Jacks feature both a strong aerial game and the ability to run the football with running back Elijah Todd, who has bowled over most defenses he has come up against. Special teams play seems to favor the Wildcats, who feature kicking specialist Gregory Slade Jr., the leading placekicker in the MCAC, while Jacks defensive end Nick Madourie is tops in the Division in sacks, with 11. Kickoff is at 2pm in Wahpeton.
Northland Community & Technical College sits only one spot behind their two North Dakota counterparts at 2-1 in the Western Division and will travel south to Minnesota West Community & Technical College for a 1pm game in Worthington. NCTC is home to one of the most prolific quarterbacks in NJCAA football; Florida product Shannon Patrick has thrown for more yards and touchdowns than any other Conference quarterback. One of his favorite targets, Malik Williams, has nine touchdowns on the year. The Pioneers have excelled on special teams as well - kicker Dontae Ensley (Cedar Springs, MI) has connected on 21-of-24 PAT's and 3 field goals in 2017. Minnesota West will look to receiver Reginald Colson III to be in synch with quarterback Peyton Kendrick to get the Bluejay offense up to speed in the contest. Minnesota West is 0-3 in Divisional play and 1-4 in the MCAC.
The final Western Division game represents an opportunity for one team to get back on track in October. Both Ridgewater College and M State are coming off of losses in the last two weeks, and each squad will be looking for a rising star or breakout performance to lift their team. Ridgewater was a 2016 MCAC playoff squad through a stout defensive effort, but so far in 2017, the Warriors have been tagged for 30+ points in three of their five contests. However, Ridgewater scored a season high 35 points last week against a strong Northland CTC team, and the Warriors will look for more of the same offensive output against the Spartans. M State is led offensively by receiver Travion Broadwater. First year head coach Korey Fry and M State won an offensive dual with Minnesota West (38-35) to open up Divisional play in Week 3, and will be looking to return to that form in their Week 6 contest. The Ridgewater vs. M State game will kickoff 1:30pm in Willmar.
For the first time in more than season and half, the Eastern Division leaderboard has a new name at top; Mesabi Range College is 3-0 in Divisonal play (4-1 overall) and will host Rochester Community and Technical College (3-2 East /4-1 overall) on Saturday at 1:30pm in Virginia. The Norseman have only stumbled once this year, when they conceded 30 points to Minnesota West in Week 2. That contest aside, MRC has been a defensive stalwart in the league, holding opponents to single digits in their past two contests. Mesabi Range will look to continue their stingy performance through a pair of defensive lineman- Justin Hooks, who is second in the MCAC with nine sacks and Sennen Roserie who has seven sacks as well. For the visiting Yellowjackets, running back Cazz Martin will be looking to get downfield quickly to avoid the Mesabi front line, and will hope to build on his Player-of-the-Week performance in Week 5. Rochester also has an impactful and reliable special teams game, with kicker/punter Connor Stenberg facing off against an equally consistent placekicker/punter in Mesabi Range's Connor Cusick, who has hit 14-of-16 PAT's this year and has dropped nine punts inside opponents 20 yard line.
Central Lakes looks to rebound from it's 14-7 setback to Mesabi Range in Week 5 against Itasca Community College in Week 6. The 7pm contest will take place in Grand Rapids, and represents a matchup of two campuses separated by only 80 miles, factors that should lead to a strong crowd on game night. The contest will offer CLC a chance to get back on track, but Itasca CC, under first-year head coach Weldon Braxton, has a battle-tested group that have been a part of several close contests this year, including a 1-point win over Ridgewater (21-20) and a 1-point loss last week to Fond du Lac (22-21). Raider wideout Teshawn Kelly is fifth in the league in receiving yards per game at 70.5; Itasca's Raekwon Archer has two interceptions on the season so far. If ICC was to pull off a win, the Vikings and Raiders would have identical 2-2 Divisional marks. Being the only night contest on the slate tomorrow, both teams will know the results of the other Eastern Division games as they head into the opening kickoff.
Also in the Eastern Division, Vermilion Community College and Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College face off at Superior (WI) High School at 2pm. The Vermilion Ironmen are 0-3 in the Division and 1-4 overall, while FDL sports a 1-2 Divisional record and 1-4 overall mark. Depending on other Eastern Division outcomes, a win by Fond du Lac could rise them into log-jam territory with other two-win Eastern programs, but VCC will be looking to pick up their first Divisional win of 2017. The Ironmen are paced by quarterback Breon Jackson on offense and Danilson Da Veiga-Semedo defensively, both of whom rank in the top five among MCAC athletes at their positions. Fond du Lac will hope that running back Lorine Parker can get back on track, as he was a dominant ball carrier in the early weeks of the season. Defensively, the Thunder are hoping for an encore performance by defensive back Tyrick Carmickle, who earned Defensive Player-of-the-Week honors in Week 5.
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About the Minnesota College Athletic Conference
The Minnesota College Athletic Conference is the organizational body for NJCAA-affiliated two-year technical and community college athletic programs in the Minnesota State system. The mission of the Minnesota College Athletic Conference is to advance intercollegiate athletics by providing an engaging and supportive environment for success of our student athletes and competition among member institutions. The MCAC is committed to the guiding principles of encouraging the development and success of student athletes, promoting the integrity, honesty and loyalty to member schools as well as upholding the sustainability of conference athletic programs.