May 3, 2006
2006 Captains Set; Five Players to Lead Team
MARYVILLE, Mo. -- Northwest Missouri State head football coach Mel Tjeerdsma announced the 2006 captains, four of which are 2006 seniors and one a junior. Seniors Ben Harness (Jefferson City, Mo.), Joe Holtzclaw (Sedalia, Mo.), Kyle Kaiser (Elkhorn, Neb.), Ryan Waters (Independence, Mo.) and junior Mike Peterson (Atlantic, Iowa) earn the recognition of Bearcat captain.
"Overall, I am glad that we are at the point that these five players have been elected," said Tjeerdsma. "Three of these guys were hurt in spring ball plus Peterson sat out because of being a part-time student. All five are actively involved now in the weight room. We need these guys to step up in their leadership roles."
Harness was a Second Team All-Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) pick at linebacker in 2005. The 6-1, 220 pound linebacker was a starter in all 15 games and ranked first on the team with 61 solo tackles and second with 80 total tackles. He was part of a defense to stand 39th in the country in rushing defense (126.3 ypg/allowed).
"Harness has been a leader on the field and is an emotional player," said Tjeerdsma. "He has intensity on game day and practices very hard. The team has lots of respect for him."
A 6-1, 300 pound offensive tackle, Holtzclaw was one of three offensive lineman last season to start all 15 games - Holtclaw was the right tackle. He helped the offense post the most yards passing in a single-season (3,901 yards). Behind him and the line, running back Xavier Omon rushed for a school-best 1,643 yards.
"Holtzclaw is a quiet guy and has been a two-year starter," said Tjeerdsma. "He had a really outstanding, consistent year in 2005 and that consistency has shown in the weight room. He is developing into a good leader."
A two-time Honorable Mention All-MIAA honoree, Kaiser posted 74 total tackles last season, which was good for third on the team. The 6-0, 285 pound defensive tackle also ranked third with 9.5 tackles-for-a-loss (TFL's) and tied for third with 6.5 sacks. In a career 39 games, Kaiser has 11.0 sacks, which is tied for ninth all-time. In the semifinal win against North Alabama last fall, Kaiser recorded a key safety to bring the score within 24-19 before the Northwest comeback.
"Kaiser comes to work every day and doesn't say a lot," said Tjeerdsma. "He is highly respected by the players and has had a really solid three years here after being a former walk-on."
For the first time in his career, Waters picked up recognition on the 2005 All-MIAA Second Team. He finished his season third on the school's single-season sacks list with 11.0 and fourth in TFL's with 17.5 The 6-3, 250 pound defensive lineman enters his final season fourth with 16.5 career sacks. He was a big reason for Northwest totaling 44.0 sacks last year, which ranks second on the all-time charts.
"Waters had a break-out year last season," said Tjeerdsma. "He played well considering his shoulder injuries. He gives great effort in practice and games. We need him to now grow as a leader on and off the field."
In a breakout year as a sophomore, Peterson caught 48 balls for 614 yards. The 6-3, 245 pound linebacker earned Honorable Mention All-MIAA accolades last year and set a career-best 150 yards on nine catches in the National Championship. That output was ninth best all-time at the Championship. After sitting out the first two games with an injury and being hobbled for a couple games thereafter, he started 11 games.
"Peterson's motor runs fast all the time," said Tjeerdsma. "He attacks the weight room with lots of intensity and really tries to inspire his teammates. For him to be voted as a junior says a lot about what his teammates think about him."
Northwest opens up the 2006 campaign at home against Minnesota State University, Mankato on Sept. 2 at 1 p.m. The Bearcats made it to their national championship last season and finishing with an 11-4 overall mark.
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