Baker football ends on streak, seniors hold school records

Story by Kyle Davis

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After an 0-2 start, the Baker football team finished the season winning five straight games and seven of its last eight, but was unable to clinch a second-straight national playoff berth.

“The body of work of this team is outstanding,” head coach Mike Grossner said. “I’m proud of the way the kids finished.”

Baker’s three losses on the season came to teams that are now headed to the national tournament, Lindenwood University, Missouri Valley College and MidAmerica Nazarene University.

“I sure wish we were playing some more, but those three are well-deserving to represent the HAAC in the playoffs and you’ve got to beat one of them to probably get in each year,” Grossner said.

Grossner believes the Wildcats would be a good matchup for any team had they reached the national playoffs.

“This team has the makeup of being a solid playoff contender because we do play great defense, we play great special teams and we can run the ball,” Grossner said.

The Wildcats finished the season with a runaway 33-7 win over Central Methodist University on senior day at Liston Stadium. Running back Richie Bryant rushed for 144 yards on a career-high 35 carries, while quarterback Mack Brown threw for 207 yards and three touchdowns.

“I think that was the best we played all year on Saturday so, I know it was a lot of fun for the offense, defense and special teams,” Brown said. “We all really executed the game plan, and had a lot of fun doing it. We just enjoyed being out there and enjoyed each other one last time.”

Three seniors will leave Baker either at or near the top of several Baker school record lists.

Brown is Baker’s all-time leading passer with 8,278 yards in his career and holds most of the school’s passing records, including total yards in a game and in a career, passing yards in a game and in a season and touchdown passes in a career.

Bryant is No. 3 on the Wildcats’ all-time rushing list with 3,444 yards, and led the HAAC with 127.4 rushing yards per game this season. With the 144-yard rushing performance against Central Methodist, Bryant tied Kevin Alewine for the Baker record for most consecutive 100-yard games with nine. The season-opener against Missouri Valley was the only game this season when Bryant did not rush for 100 yards.

With two field goals in Saturday’s win, kicker Derek Doerfler now has a firm lead on the school record for most career field goals with 48. The previous record was 41 career field goals by Mike Gardner.

Defensive end Andrew Patch, who was injured for most of last season, led the Baker defense, and also the conference, in sacks with 8 1/2 on the season. Linebacker Matt Brock, a junior, tied for third place in the HAAC with four interceptions on the year, with all of them coming in the final four games of the season.

Baker finished the season 7-3, and ranked No. 23 in the country. The winning season is the third-straight winning season for the program.

“You couldn’t really ask for a better way to go out,” senior Clint Benge said. “(Central Methodist) has been pretty good the whole year, so it was nice to beat a team like that pretty soundly. Even though we didn’t get into the playoffs, it was still nice to end it on a victory.”