A new era begins for the Nebraska-Kearney football team when it plays at Washburn Thursday night in Topeka, KS. This marks the Lopers first event, in any sport, as an MIAA (Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association) member. UNK joined the now 15-member conference on July 1st, 2012. This is Kearney’s first trip into the State of Kansas since 2005 and the first time in 25 years the Lopers have faced the Ichabods. UNK leads the all-time series, 14-6, but Washburn has won the last three games by a combined score of 81-15.
In 2011, both teams made the Division II playoffs and lost to the teams that made it to the national title game. UNK fell 38-26 to Wayne State (Mich.) in the second round while Washburn lost to eventual national champ Pittsburg State, 31-22.
This year, both teams have a lot to replace on offense, including Harlon Hill Trophy national finalists at quarterback in Jake Spitzlberger (UNK) and Dane Simoneau (WU). Redshirt freshman Aric Kaiser is one of the many new faces. He’ll be the fourth UNK redshirt freshman to start at QB over the last 15 years, following Justin Coleman (1997), Bobby Adamson (2008) and Spitzlberger (2008).
Defensively, seven starters return from a unit that forced 33 turnovers last season and sacked the opposing QB 33 times. These numbers helped Washburn rank second in the MIAA in turnover margin and fourth in sacks. Allowing 25 points and 380 yards per game, linebackers Bryce Atagi and Jahmil Taylor both earned second-team All-MIAA honors last season with senior DE Jayveri Kelly named honorable mention All-MIAA.
Story courtesy of Lopers.com.