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Highly Touted Scots Football Team Ready for Loras
Saying they're ready mentally, the Monmouth College football team opens the 2009 season at home Saturday at 1 p.m. on new artificial turf against last year's opening opponent, Loras College.

The Fighting Scots posted a 24-17 come-from-behind win over the Duhawks last season.

"We had a lot of work to do this week," reported MC head coach Steve Bell. "The guys are ready to play someone else instead of facing each other in practice. They're ready physically and mentally to get the season started. We still have a few question marks, but going into the season opener, I think we're about where we need to be."

Like the Midwest Conference champion Scots, who return the majority of last year's starters, Loras returns 17 starters from last year's team, which finished third in the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Duhawks return sophomore quarterback Vaughn Gesing, who - as a freshman - completed nearly 52 percent of his passes on the way to throwing for 1,355 yards.

"He (Gesing) has a year's experience under his belt," warned Bell. "He did a nice job last year as a first-year starter. The coaches will be more familiar with his strengths and weaknesses, so we expect him to be even better."

Gesing hit 10 different receivers last season, but his favorite target, Ben McMahon, was lost to graduation as was the Duhawks' top rusher, Alex McGrew, who carried the ball 80 percent of the time in 2008. McMahon ended the year with nearly 700 yards in receptions.

"They ran the ball well last year and they always have," said Bell. "I don't expect them to be that much different this year. There may be some tweaks, but we don't expect any wholesale changes. Defensively, our guys have to do their job to the best of their abilities and tackle well. That's always a first game concern. We can't allow yards after a catch, or any long runs. We'll have to eliminate mistakes on alignments and assignments. Those two are controllable things."

Loras' defense should be tested, too.

Alex Tanney guides a Scots offense that led Division III in scoring last season and returns all but one offensive lineman. Sixteen different players recorded catches last season and a dozen had at least one carry. Loras had as much success controlling the Scots' high octane offense as anyone last season, holding Monmouth to a season-low 24 points.

"Theyre good," said Bell of the Duhawk defense. "Loras is well-coached on offense and defense. You know their kids are being taught where to be and when to be there. They play with a lot of discipline. They'll have some of the better defensive players we'll see this season up front. It will be physical, so we'll have to bring our hardhats. If it goes like I expect, it will be a good game to watch."

The two teams had just over 400 yards of offense in last years matchup - combined. Bell is hoping for a little more offense out of his team in this year's opener.

"We didn't play up to our offensive abilities against Loras last year," said Bell. "If we play the way we're capable, we'll at least give ourselves a chance."

Last year's second half comeback propelled the Scots to a 10-0 regular season, but Bell isn't looking to last season for inspiration.

"Last year was last year," claimed Bell. "Obviously, we have a lot of experience coming back, but we haven't proved anything yet this year. No one is going to give us anything because of what we were. You can't hang on to what was when you're trying to get to what you're going to be. That hasnt been written yet."

At the end of Saturday, the Scots are hoping Bell will write a passing grade on their first test.

(Monmouth College Athletics)
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