MIAC roundup: Bethel prepares for DIII Ice Bowl

The MIAC’s lone entrant in the Division III football playoffs continues its postseason run this Saturday.

That would be the Bethel Royals (12-0), who play host to North Central (Ill.) (12-0) at noon Saturday.

And after Wednesday’s snowstorm passes through, the forecast for Saturday in Arden Hills calls for a high of zero degrees. Which means it could be the Division III version of the Ice Bowl on the natural grass surface at Royal Stadium.

“We got the field covered Monday morning, so that kept some of that wet snow we got off of it,” Bethel coach Steve Johnson said. “We have five tarps covering the whole field and now we have a Bobcat with a brush on the front that’s clearing the snow off.

“So the field should be OK. It will be hard. But as long as we keep it dry, it shouldn’t be slick. And then from 2 to 4 p.m. Thursday, the student body here is going to be out there shoveling the stands off. So they should be clean as well.”

Bethel moved its first playoff game against St. Scholastica indoors to the Metrodome two weeks ago. But the Royals were back outdoors in a 34-27 second-round win over Wartburg (Iowa) last Saturday because the Dome was hosting the Prep Bowl.

And this week, there is a Monster Truck rally scheduled.

“Last week, it was 40 degrees and our guys were joking that the weather was nicer than it was during a bunch of our games this season because of the rainy fall we had,” Johnson said.

“We know it will be cold this week. We’ll just have to adjust to whatever the conditions are on the day of the game and execute the best we can. I don’t want to be full of bologna and say we embrace the temperature being that low. But it is what it is and we’ll adapt.”

Part of that will include making sure players are bundled up.

“I’m sure the Moms will help with that,” Johnson said jokingly.

“But we’re counting on our guys making sure they get everything covered up to avoid frostbite and those kind of things.”

Bethel lost MIAC MVP Erik Peterson, the team’s junior starting quarterback, to a shoulder injury against Wartburg. Backup Tom Keefe came on to throw for 148 yards and two touchdowns.

The initial prognosis seemed to be that Peterson would not play this week, though Johnson said he is not yet entirely ruling him out for Saturday’s game.

But he said the team is confident in Keefe as well.

“He’s a good quarterback and he did a good job for us,” Johnson said.

North Central is coming off a 52-24 win over Wisconsin-Platteville last week and is averaging 46.5 points per game. Senior quarterback Spencer Stanek has thrown for 3,048 yards and 39 touchdowns.

“They’re really good,” Johnson said. “They’re a little bit like ourselves offensively, so that may help with the weather. But they have a very explosive quarterback.”

* St. John’s senior center Kevin Battis was named to the Capital One Academic All-America Division II football second team earlier this week.

The two-time All-MIAC pick started 19 of the Johnnies’ last 20 games at center and maintains a 3.80 GPA. He interned with the Public Affairs Council in Washington D.C. this past summer and also throws for the St. John’s track and field team.

* Despite the winter weather, the St. Benedict basketball team’s MIAC opener against St. Catherine – set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday night – is still on as scheduled.

But the Concordia/Macalester men’s and women’s basketball games scheduled for Wednesday night in St. Paul have been postponed until Thursday. The women’s game is scheduled to tip-off at 5:45 p.m. and the men’s game is scheduled for 7:45 p.m.

* A good read on the MIAC Web site on new St. Mary’s men’s basketball coach Jamison Rusthoven, who is the first African-American men’s basketball coach in conference history.

You can read the story here: http://www.miacathletics.com/sports/mbkb/2013-14/releases/120313_smu_mbb

Rusthoven and the Cardinals will be in Collegeville when the Johnnies open MIAC play against St. Mary’s at 3 p.m. Saturday at Sexton Arena.

* St. John’s senior guard Jack Wittenborg is listed as a nominee for the 2013 Allstate National Association of Basketball Coaches Good Works Team.

He is one of 118 nominations in Division I, II, III and NAIA for the team, which honors student-athletes who excel in leadership and charitable achievement.

Wittenborg – a starter for St. John’s – volunteers weekly as a member of the STEP Force at the St. Cloud Hospital. He is also a member of CERTS (Consent-Equality-Respect-Talking-Safety) at St. Benedict and St. John’s.

* After the fall sports season, St. Benedict leads the standings in the race for the MIAC women’s All-Sports Trophy. The Blazers won a conference title in soccer and had top-four finishes from all four of its fall sports teams.

That gives St. Benedict a total of 39.5 points. St. Thomas is second with 33.5 points.

Frank Rajkowski

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