ANGOLA — Trine University’s football team will return to action after a week off Saturday to take on Kalamazoo College at Fred Zollner Athletic Stadium.
Trine (4-2 overall) is tied for first place in the MIAA with Hope at 2-0. Kalamazoo (1-6, 0-3 MIAA) is last in the conference and has lost six straight games. The Hornets have been outscored in their three MIAA losses 144-3.
“I have all the respect in the world for Jamie Zorbo (Kalamazoo’s football coach). I think he is a very, very good football coach. Everything they do tactically and Xs and Os-wise is very, very sound,” Thunder coach Troy Abbs said to the Trine Broadcasting Network.
“We’ve got to play our game of football. Do our job, know our job. Not just do it, but do it with aggression,” he continued. “We’ve got to stay focused. We’ve got to improve each and every day that we go out on the practice field if we want to be champions.”
Abbs said his program used the extra time off to identify and work on areas it needs to get better at and limited the repetitions of players who are banged up. Trine was able to get some players healthy, especially along the offensive line where several guys have seen action during the first half of the season.
“Our offensive line has really improved each week, both in their knowledge of the scheme and in their technique,” Abbs said. “That’s been huge for our run game.”
Abbs also credited quarterback Alex Price for doing well understanding opposing defenses and putting the Thunder in the right plays.
Kalamazoo has scored 9.6 points per game and allowed 37.3 points per game. Three of its four non-conference games were highly competitive before having tough times in conference play. The Hornets have already played two of the top teams in the MIAA in Hope and Albion and were shut out in both of those contests.
Kalamazoo are really young on offense. Two sophomores have played a lot at quarterback in Josh Nichols (81-156, 879 yards passing, 4 touchdown passes, 14 interceptions) and Blaze Lauer (20-44, 123 yards passing, 1 TD pass, 3 interceptions). Sophomore Jon Brunette is the Hornets’ leading rusher with 152 yards and a touchdown.
Kalamazoo’s top receivers are junior Bubba Wilson (18 receptions, 198 yards, two touchdowns), senior Pierce Burke (16 catches, 154 yards) and junior Noah Piercy (9 catches, 156 yards, 2 TDs).
Junior defensive backs Micah Groom and Payton Fleming lead the Hornet defense. Groom has 43 tackles, including 32 solos, and an interception. Fleming has 40 tackles, including 23 solos, six for loss and 2.5 sacks. He also broke up three passes.
Kalamazoo only has 206 yards per game of total offense while giving more than twice as many yards, allowing 454.4 total yards per contest.