Bethany, Okla. It's back down to earth for the Haskell Indian Nations University football team tonight.
Coach Eric Brock hopes the Fighting Indians will avoid a letdown when they tangle with Southern Nazarene just a week after their stunning 18-0 triumph over McPherson College, the No. 19-ranked team in the NAIA preseason poll.
"I think any coach would be worried about his team playing at the same high level week to week," Brock said. "That's a concern. I'm reminding them we're the same team that lost to Waldorf."
Haskell opened with a 7-6 loss to the Iowa school, but since has posted back-to-back shutouts over Trinity Bible (57-0) and McPherson. Southern Nazarene fell to Howard Payne in its opener, then bounced back to topple Sterling College, 22-12, Sept. 11.
Both of SNU's games were on the road. Kickoff will be 6 p.m. at SNU Stadium. It will be the Central States Football League opener for both schools.
Curiously, Haskell has won two straight since losing its top offensive player for the season. Tailback Chad Murphy, who led the CSFL in rushing last season as a freshman, tore a knee ligament against Waldorf and has been replaced by a pair of freshmen -- Marcus Benally and Mark Bullard.
"A lot of times when you lose a key player," Brock said, "the other players respond and pick things up to make up for it."
Nevertheless, Haskell's primary offensive punch has been through the air, with quarterback Kaleb Harris throwing mostly to junior wide receiver Cody Wilson. Of Harris' 28 completions, 15 have been to Wilson.
Defensive standouts have been nose guard Billy Hoskinson, who had three sacks against McPherson, and defensive backs Cory Murphy and Terrill Denny, who had interceptions against the Bulldogs.
Denny suffered a knee strain against McPherson and will be out for the next two or three weeks.
Haskell will return home Sept. 25 to meet Bacone. Kickoff will be 2 p.m. for HINU's annual homecoming contest.