Sept. 7, 2012
Northwest heads to UCM for early season showdown
Kickoff: 1:30 p.m.
Stadium: Walton Stadium/Kennedy Field (10,000)
Radio: Bearcat Radio Network
John Coffey (play-by-play), Matt Gaarder (color), Matt Brown (sideline);
Heard on on seven stations that covers four states in the Midwest, and on the Internet from the flagship station KXCV.
Central Missouri: RV/NR
Series: Northwest leads all-time 55-34-2; Northwest also leads the all-time series in Warrensburg, 14-11 and has won the nine meetings including the last five at UCM
Northwest: Adam Dorrel (Northwest '97) 12-3 (2nd season)
Central Missouri: Jim Svoboda (Northwest Iowa '83) 19-8 at UCM (3rd season); 71-27 overall
Game Quick Links
By David Boyce
As a child growing up in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Northwest Missouri State sophomore D.J. Gnader could walk into a store and hear his mother, Jodi Gnader tell him he wasn’t getting anything.
“We’d leave with a bike or something,” Gnader said. “I’m a very persuasive person when it comes to something I have passion for.”
A bit of hyperbole by Gnader, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound linebacker, gets the point across that he will put a high sales pitch on everything he believes in.
Gnader, a business management major, wants to go into sales if a professional football career does not work out.
“I don’t have a problem talking to people,” Gnader said. “My friends in high school and up here say you can talk to anybody about anything. My mother and father both work in sales. They stressed to me my whole life that you are going to be a salesman. We see it in you.”
The things Gnader is selling these days is Bearcat football, the family atmosphere that surrounds it and a defense that allowed only 3 points in the season-opening 33-3 victory over East Central Oklahoma.
Northwest returns to action 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Central Missouri State in the Bearcats’ first MIAA game of the season.
Because of the Mules ability to throw the ball, especially screen passes, the Bearcats defense will face a stern test.
“I’m proud of the way we handled ourselves in the first game when they got in the red zone and we did not give up any touchdowns,” Gnader said. “It is really important to keep people off the scoreboard because this conference is full of a lot of high-powered offenses.”
Gnader is like many of his defensive teammates. Last year was about gaining experience.
After sitting out 2009 as a redshirt and then 2010 with a medical redshirt, Gnader finally got his opportunity to play last season. He responded by ranking second on the team in tackles with 100.
Gnader is off to a great start this season. He recorded 10 tackles last week to lead the Northwest defense.
“I think the biggest thing is he can just run,” Northwest coach Adam Dorrel said. “I like his speed. After that, I think he has really good instincts.
“We feel right now that he has a skill set that he could lead our team in tackles. I’m sure that is a goal for him. He has high expectations, which is good. I think he could be really good. The sky is the limit for him.”
Gnader is combining his obvious physical tools with a more cerebral view of the game. And that has come with experience.
A year ago, Dorrel said, Gnader would get down on himself after he made a mistake.
“The thing I appreciate is he has calmed down after he makes a mistake,” Dorrel said. “Last year at times he would get so down on himself after he made a mistake. He wanted to make every play. Sometimes there are plays that are not his to make.”
Gnader clearly enjoys the process of growing as a football player.
“Last year was obviously an exciting year,” he said. “Anytime you are playing the game of football it is exciting.”
Now that many of the defensive players know what to expect in all types of situations, they can focus more on each game plan.
In addition, Gnader said, the new players have bought into the program.
But that is not surprising to Gnader because of the family atmosphere that surrounds the Northwest football program. It is one thing that attracted him to Maryville.
“When I came down here I felt like I was at home,” Gnader said. “This is a family. A lot of teams like to say they are a family, but really this is the best family in the nation, not only the football players, but the community.”
Gnader’s parents, Don and Jodi make it to all the home games and nearly all the road games. For games at Bearcat Stadium, they tailgate and make other players feel like family after games whether Northwest wins or loses.
You can tell Gnader is proud to have parents who truly embrace the Northwest football program.
“My family really supports me and other Bearcats who parents can’t come to games,” Gnader said. “They do a really good job of making them feel like they have a place to come up and get some food and tailgate.
“It’s great to have people there to cheer you and then afterwards is there to love you. It is just a great feeling.”
Gnader and the rest of the Bearcats are ready to tackle the next challenge and that is to pick up a road victory.
The defense wants to give another solid performance.
“Our motto is if they don’t score, they don’t win,” Gnader said. “Our goal is to keep them off the scoreboard all year. If we do give up points, we have a lot of good leaders in the seniors.”
The defense knows the offense has its backs if it does give up a touchdown or two.
Last week the offense struggled. The Bearcats averaged about 3 yards per carry and were inconsistent in the passing game. Dorrel is looking to see that change.
“We got to be a lot more consistent in our running game,” Dorrel said. “We had a little talk about what we need to do. We need more continuity in our passing game. If you are going to complete something on Saturday, you got to complete it on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
“At the end of the day we got to be physical. Hopefully, we will see that.”
One thing Dorrel knows for certain is Gnader will be physical when he runs on the field.
Gnader is a football player who loves the game and loves being a Bearcat.
“Friday night lights is great and all, but Bearcat Stadium on a Saturday afternoon is the best place in the world in my eyes,” he said.
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