Homecoming is always good for the faculty, students and alums, yet not always so good for the football team.
"We try to handle it like it's not a distraction," Haskell Indian Nations U. coach Gary Tanner said. "We emphasize that our part of it is to win a ball game."
Kickoff for HINU's homecoming game against Peru State's junior varsity is 1:30 p.m. today at Haskell Stadium.
Haskell's schedule features both varsity and junior varsity teams as the Indians use 1999 as a transitional year on the ladder from junior college to full-time NAIA status.
Haskell played against its first varsity team last Saturday when it traveled to Elsah, Ill., to tangle with Principia. The Panthers won, 22-7, in cold and rain.
"We just couldn't throw the ball because of the conditions," Tanner said, "and they packed everyone in on us."
HINU quarterback Brandon Watson completed just seven of 24 passes for 108 yards. Notably, wide receiver Sonny Duncan, the Indians' primary deep threat, caught only one pass for eight yards.
"We'll hope to feature our wide receivers more this week," Tanner said.
Against Principia, Haskell rushed for 109 yards. Of that total, 43 were gained by fullback Tyee Jones on just four carries.
"Our game plan is to get it to the fullback," Tanner said. "We should have given it to him more last week."
Haskell, 2-3, will also have tailback Darron Rhodd back this week. Rhodd missed the Principia game with a leg injury, as did defensive lineman Shannon Ross and outside linebacker Burgess Navarro. Ross and Navarro are also expected back today.
On the negative side, Tanner lost two starting linemen to injury in the Principia game -- offensive guard Nick Grigsby and defensive tackle Billy Crawford.
Crawford, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound freshman from Marlow, Okla., is out for the season with torn ankle ligaments.
Grigsby, a 5-10, 270-pound sophomore from Stilwell, Okla., injured a knee and probably won't play again this fall.
Peru State's junior varsity has played two games and lost them both. The Nebraska school's JV bowed to Doane, 24-7, and to Hastings, 44-14. The Bobcats' varsity team is idle today.
"They don't have a big defense, but they have good athletes and they're real quick," Tanner said. "Their offense is similar to ours in that they run a pro-I option."
Haskell won't have much lag time before its next scheduled game against Benedictine's JV at 7 p.m. next Thursday at Haskell Stadium.
-- Chuck Woodling's phone message number is 832-7147. His e-mail address is email@example.com.