The 2016 season showed promise for the Sabercats, as the team posted three wins on the year as they defeated Martin Luther College, Robert Morris-Peoria, and Trinity Bible College (ND) while going 2-3 in their final five games.
At the beginning of the season, the Sabercats broke into the top 10 in the NCCAA Football rankings after their season-opening win at NCAA DIII UMAC opponents Martin Luther College. The Knights are the Sabercats most familiar opponents, as the two teams have met every season since 1972 - a total of 45 times. The win was the Sabercats' 16th over the Knights, as MBU put their best foot forward to start the season.
Mid-season injuries hindered the Sabercats' winning intentions, as they would have to wait five weeks before posting their second win of the season, as a 49-20 defeat of Robert Morris-Peoria contributed to a 2-2 showing in the month of October.
The Sabercats ultimlately finished 3-7 on the year, but stayed competitive throughout the season, as close losses to NCAA DIII opponents Finlandia and Alfred State (N.Y.) influenced the outlook on the season.
The three-win year was the best record in five seasons for the Sabercats, who overcame the various challenges of the year to post a noteworthy display.
- Overall Record: 3-7
- Record at Home: 1-4
- NCCAA Record: 1-1
- NCCAA All-America Selections: TBA
- NCCAA Scholar-Athletes: TBA
- Ben Schulz - current NCAA DIII National Statistical Champion: .88 forced fumbles per game (final stats accumulated 12/16/16)
From Coach Spate
"The improvement began at the start of the season with a talented group of freshman while we matched that with the experienced upperclassman. The season began with improved play in our first game and victory over Martin Luther. The team battled through the growing pains of college football by battling through injuries and other team dynamics. It took us a while to figure out our identity. I cannot say enough about how the guys continued to improve with each other and with playing together. We saw personal and spiritual growth in players throughout the year. This improvement showed on the field with a 2-3 record in the last 5 games. The team posted its first home victory in several years. There is room for more improvement as we have key leadership positions to fill next year.
"I was impressed with this teams ability to bounce back from defeats. The football season is challenge on the body, but these guys were committed to getting better and finishing the season with momentum. Each week, we have a biblical leadership devotional. The players took the leadership principles and used them on and off the field. We also had good leadership on this team, which we will miss next year. However, we have some young talent to fill those leadership positions.
"Next year has the potential to be a good year. We return a good number of upper class man and the recruiting group looks good for next season. We have some key positions to replace on defense, but we have guys ready to step into the role. Lord willing, it will be a great season with more players seeking to learn biblical leadership principle and apply them on and off the field."
Frankie Martinez posted the third-best rushing season by a rookie in program history, as the South Carolina native amassed 546 yards on the season. Martinez was responsible for five rushing touchdowns on the year, and posted the first points of the season after a 16-yard scamper at Martin Luther College on September 3rd. Martinez consistently threatened the holes in the opponents' defense, and showed his versatility by logging 20 receptions (143 yards) on the season.
Ben Schulz was a key facet in the Sabercats' defense, as the 2015 NCCAA All-American selection accumulated 50 solo tackles and 54 assisted tackles on the year. Schulz supplemented his tackle tally with 5 sacks, 7 forced fumbles, and 10.5 tackles for loss. The Senior out of Maranatha Baptist Academy currently leads the NCAA DIII in forced fumbles per game, and ranks fifth in tackles per game with 13.
Josh Hill showed his versatility on the year, and was a standout on both sides of the ball. The Ohio native was a mainstay on defense, as he posted 41 tackles and five tackles for loss while snatching a pair of interceptions. Hill also had stints in the quarterback position, passing for 66 completions/552 yards and five touchdowns on the year. Hill rushed for one touchdown, and had a big impact in the 34-18 win at home over the Trinity Bible College Lions on October 29th, posting a rushing touchdown and passing for two more.
For more information on the Sabercats' Football Team including archives, team stats, and more, visit their team page here