BU football team to host Crusaders

Story by Chris Duderstadt

Fourteen seniors will play in front of Baker University fans for the final time at 1 p.m. Saturday against Evangel University at Liston Stadium.

“It is crazy to think that four years of football are almost done and over with,” senior Austin DeGraeve said. “It seems like just the other day I came here as a freshman.”

Entering Saturday’s game, the senior class has compiled a record of 26-12 in the HAAC in the past four years, including a NAIA Championship Series appearance in 2008 and being ranked in the top 25 at some point of each of the last three seasons.

“Those guys were there when we really started turning it around,” head coach Mike Grossner said. “They have been that group that has held together. It’s a small group, but to their credit, they have been great leaders.”

The Wildcats come into Saturday’s matchup against Evangel with a record more than .500 for the first time this season. BU is 5-4 on the season and has won five out of its last six games, including three consecutive victories.

“I think we are playing at a pretty good level,” Grossner said. “We are playing as a team.”

Baker and Evangel both had close victories last week, but the games were played in very different fashions.

Evangel defeated Avila University in a 41-37 offensive shootout, while Baker defeated William Jewell College in a defensive-minded game 12-9 in overtime.

The game against William Jewell was the last game in an 84-year rivalry because the Cardinals are going to compete at the NCAA Division II level next year.

The victory for the Wildcats was one of the most memorable games for the senior class.

“It was very emotional for myself,” senior Calvin Pearce said. “Right after (Jared Morss) missed the extra point after the touchdown, I walked to the far end of the field, and I was just praying to God after he missed it, and I just kept the faith. I even told (University Minister) Ira (DeSpain) after the game, ‘faith without works is dead,’ and was just quoting scriptures. I went up to the kicker before he made the next one and told him not to worry about it, and that he’d make his next kick, and he made the kick and the defense closed out the game.”

The Wildcats know it is important to stay focused after an emotional win in order to come back and play another emotional game Saturday.

“I expect everyone to come out ready to play and understand that it is the seniors’ last game at home,” DeGraeve said.