Baldwin Of all the things first-year Baker University football coach Mike Grossner said must fall into place for his young Wildcats to be competitive in the Heart of America Athletic Conference this season, one point stands out above the rest.
Senior running back Jon Reeves must be in the game. He must touch the ball frequently, and he must be a fourth-quarter factor every time out.
That hasn't been the case this season for the Wildcats (1-1), but Grossner expects Reeves to see more action when BU plays host to Missouri Valley (1-1) at 7 tonight at Liston Stadium.
"It's huge that he be in the lineup," Grossner said of Reeves, last year's HAAC rushing leader with 1,550 yards and 15 touchdowns on 281 carries. "He doesn't have to go four quarters, but he has to be in there in the fourth quarter, and we haven't seen that yet."
Reeves had been limited in the first two games because he was recovering from a hamstring injury. Still, he has rushed for more than 150 yards in BU's first two games -- a 34-24 home victory against Evangel University and a 30-6 defeat last weekend at perennial league doormat Central Methodist.
Reeves ran for 66 yards in the first half against CMU before pulling himself out of the game when he overheated. As Reeves' health improves, Grossner said he would find creative ways to preserve the senior's energy for late-game situations.
Grossner hinted that could mean freshman Micah Mason would see more action tonight as one of three players who could give Baker's starting back a few breathers.
As the Wildcats try to figure out exactly what they're made of as a team, they'll be playing a Missouri Valley squad that is in the same situation. It dominated in its 23-13 season-opening win at Mid-America Nazarene, but collapsed last weekend in a 20-13 home loss to Avila College.
Grossner said that should guarantee a hard-fought contest.
"I think we've got two wounded teams ready to see what they're all about," he said.