(Image courtsey of NJCAA Football)
Over ten weeks of practice, preparation, travel and games have yielded the two final football teams left in the Minnesota College Athlete Conference; the Central Lakes College Raiders and Itasca Community College Vikings will face off on Sunday, November 10 at 1:30 in the MCAC State Championship. The game - which also serves as the NJCAA Region XIII championship - will be held in Husky Stadium on the campus of St. Cloud State University.
Itasca Community College, found in the 'Receiving Votes' category in the October 28 NJCAA Football poll, had to win on the road over #20 North Dakota State College of Science. The Vikings were up to the task, pulling out an OT win over the host Wildcats on a 25-yard pass completion for the victory. Itasca trailed a the half 20-13 but clawed back into the contest after the break to earn the trip to St. Cloud. Itasca's Joshua Booker is tops in the NJCAA in rushing touchdowns with 15 while ICC teammate Antwan Downs leads NJCAA receivers with 124.0 yards a game in receiving yards and has caught 15 TD's, also tops in the NJCAA.
Like ICC, Central Lakes had to find a way to win on the road to continue their season; unlike the Vikings however, the Raiders ran away with the victory early in their semi-final. CLC scored the first 28 points of the game and went on to win, 35-6 in Worthington. Defensively, Central Lakes was led by Ridge Reed with 10 tackles, 4.5 of which were sacks; Reed also forced and recovered a fumble. Evan Johnson had an interception and two pass break-ups, leading a secondary that had three interceptions on the day.
Central Lakes returns to the MCAC State Championship game for the seventh time in 11 years and will be seeking a victory under interim head coach Robb Kolodeziej as long-time CLC head coach Greg Medeck is on sabbatical this fall. For Itasca, third year head coach Weldon Braxton has his team firing on all cylinders, with the Vikings dispatching Rochester CTC 53-24 in the quarterfinal round and orchestrating the come-from-behind win on Sunday against the Blue Jays.
For Minnesota West, their setback on Sunday does not diminish an amazing comeback season for quarterback Andrew Ortiz; the Albuquerque, New Mexico product suffered a broken leg to end his freshman campaign in Worthington last year but returned in 2019 to lead MnWest to their post-season place. As of November 4, Ortiz is tied for the lead nationally in passing touchdowns in the NJCAA at 28 and is listed 3rd in yards-per-game through the air at 264.0.
The 2019 squad at North Dakota State College of Science will be remembered for a punishing ground attack that proved to be one of the top in country; Wildcat running back Desean Phillips currently leads all of NJCAA football in yards-per-game at 123.6 per outing. The NDSCS offensive line, led by returning All-American selection Nick Radunz, opened up holes in most defenses for Phillips and others to ramble through en route to an average of 216 rushing yards per contest.
The MCAC State Championship Game at Husky Stadium on the campus of St. Cloud State University between Central Lakes College and Itasca Community College will kickoff at 1:30pm on Sunday, November 10th. Stay tuned to the MCAC website and social media feeds for ticket information, media game day coverage options and more, as the Vikings and Raiders line up to decide the 2019 NJCAA Region XIII Football title.
The Minnesota College Athletic Conference is the organizational body for NJCAA-affiliated two-year technical and community college athletic programs in the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities system, as well as select member colleges in North Dakota and Wisconsin. 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.
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