MONMOUTH, Ill. – Riding the success of last week’s road win, Monmouth College (2-1) would like to continue building momentum this Saturday when it hosts Lawrence University (1-2) for a 1 p.m. kickoff at April Zorn Memorial Stadium.
The Fighting Scots have won every game against the Vikings since 2000, but the teams haven’t met since 2013. Both head coaches – Monmouth’s Chad Braun and Lawrence’s Rob McCarthy – are entering their third seasons at their respective schools, but Braun – who came to the Scots in 2000 as a defensive coordinator prior to being elevated to head coach in 2015 – has been on staff for all 14 previous meetings. Braun understands the importance of Saturday’s matchup against the Midwest Conference North Division team.
“We treat every game the same way,” said Braun. “We gained some momentum last week and this is our final out-of-division game, so it’s important to build some momentum going into divisional play.”
Monmouth’s defense gained momentum last week, holding Macalester to minus 14 rushing yards – the fifth-best defensive effort in program history. The Scots will be challenged this week by the Viking’s Wasonu Allen – a 5-foot-8 running back who ran for over 160 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s 42-26 loss to Lake Forest.
“Lawrence can score,” warned Braun. “They put up a bunch of points against Lake Forest. They do some very good things schematically with their offense, especially running the ball. We’ve got to be sound defensively and take the run away. I don’t know that we can duplicate what we did there last week, but it’s a nice goal to have.”
Thus far this season, the Scots haven’t put up the stratospheric numbers offensively or defensively that they did a year ago, but they did take a step forward last week.
“We’re getting better,” said Braun. “We got (defensive lineman) Lamar Watson back last week and we’re expecting to get more guys back, on both sides of the ball, this week. Lamar is an emotional leader and to have him on the field is a huge lift. We’re into the fourth game of the season and haven’t played with a full team yet. We’re beginning to get to that point.”
Braun’s squad is anxious to return home, where the Scots have posted a 10-1 record under Braun. It’s been a full month since the team has played at Zorn Stadium.
“It’s a huge thing to be at home,” said Braun. “It’s an advantage to sleep in your own bed and not have to get up early and load onto a bus and drive for hours. We’re excited to come out and show how much we’ve improved.”
What Braun won’t know until Saturday is how much the Vikings have improved since the last time the two teams met, some four years ago. Now in his third season at the helm, Braun is leaving nothing to chance.
“We’ve got to be ready to play,” said Braun. “We were picked to win the division and that puts a big bulls eye on our chest every week. Every week we know we’re going to get the other team’s best shot. If we want to get to the championship game, we’ve got to respond with our best.”