FRANK CUSHMAN | SPORTS EDITOR
The Green Knights costed to a dominating win Saturday, in the most recent renewal of the Fox Valley rivalry between the Green Knights and the Vikings of Lawrence. The red hot Knights brought their undefeated conference record to the Banta Bowl, looking to extend their winning streak to 4 games.
After a tough start to the year, St. Norbert has turned around in the last month outscoring their opponents 154-52 in that time. It appears as though the team has settled into the numerous changes that have shaken up the coaching staff. With two new coordinators and multiple new position coaches there was bound to be a learning curve. But now coming off a record setting day in Beloit it seems as though the new system is starting to take hold. The defense has continued to force turnovers setting the plate for an ultra efficient offense.
The Vikings came in 2-3 on the year and 1-2 in conference. This has been a step in the right direction for the Vikings. 2015 saw LU go 1-9 overall, 0-8 record in conference. They have returned 18 starters, including 4 all conference selections from last season: RS (Return Specialist) Alic Riedel, OL Jackson Straughn, DL Jake Gostisha and LB Lake Lueck. The Vikings appear to be a far more threatening side this year. They held conference leading Macalester to just 17 points and under 300 yards. This is no soft opponent. Especially when you have to travel to their place.
That being said with the expectations and talent levels of the Green Knights this game was a must win. A lesser team at the bottom of the division, possibly overlooked by fans but important to the title race. They need to stay undefeated moving into the last two weeks of the regular season where they’ll meet Macalester and Monmouth, the two other top teams in the conference.
The Knights did the job. On the back of a monster 35 point second quarter they cruised to the 62-0 final. This is the second straight game St. Norbert has scored over 60 points. They did not quite match the 668 yards of total offense they had against Beloit but 550 they put up Saturday is no small number.
Crosby had another huge day for the Knights, going 12-19 for 199 yards and 2 TD’s, adding 83 yards and three TD’s with his legs. Samuel Staehling, a freshmen who’s broken out the last two games. Had another 100+ yard receiving day catching 2 passes and one TD. Matt Barrett, a conference player of the week selection last week, again lead the way for the defense making 10 tackles.
This victory propels the Knights to first in the conference standings tied with Monmouth, both teams at 4-0. The other leading team Macalester lost on Saturday, to put them at 4-1 and allow the Knights to leapfrog them in the standings. Next week the Knights will host Ripon for the homecoming game at Schneider stadium.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
J.T. Crosby– The senior quarterback has lead the offense since the second half of the first game this year. He has posted great numbers from the air and the ground, posing a double sided threat to defenses.
Samuel Staehling– A freshman wide-receiver who showed up to camp as a running back. He showed a cool head to change position with the understanding he was behind 2 all conference performers. He has gotten a chance these last three games and hasn’t looked back. Leading the country in yards/catch and putting up 217 yards receiving two weeks ago at Beloit, the most on a SNC WR since 1984, he looks to continue his breakout season on Saturday
Tyler Jensen– With four picks this season Jensen appears to be filling the leadership role in the secondary left by graduated all american safety, Frank Laterza. His coach, Dan McCarty had this to say, “The success he’s having as been no surprise, in my opinion Tyler was overlooked last season as an all conference selection.” Perhaps overshadowed by Laterza last season, Jensen has been putting his ability on show this year and will be out to continue that when the team hosts Ripon this Saturday.