Marian University returns to the semifinals of the NAIA Football Championship Series, where last season ended. The Knights visit Missouri Valley Saturday for a 2:00 p.m. ET kickoff against the Vikings, the hottest football team in NAIA. Missouri Valley (12-0) rides a 12 game winning streak. The Vikings are the all-time winningest program in NAIA history, approaching 600 victories.
"December football is something special," said Marian coach Ted Karras, just before boarding the bus for Marshall, Missouri. "We're certainly fortunate. The guys have worked hard to put themselves in this position."
Marian (10-1) lost in the semifinals a year ago to eventual national champion Saint Xavier.
"We've got to play our best football on December 1," said Karras. "We didn't do that last December. The guys are focused. They know that."
"It helped a lot last year being in this situation for the first time," said senior quarterback Adam Wiese, a product of Perry Meridian High School. "That pain still sticks with us through the loss."
Wiese has completed nearly 70 percent of his passes for 2,846 yards and 27 touchdowns this season. He spreads the passes around, with four wide receivers making at least 30 catches for 400 yards or more this year.
"Being a senior and this could potentially be my last game, it puts everything in perspective," said Wiese. "You want to keep on playing no matter what."
Marian's football program began in 2007. Missouri Valley tries to get back to the championship game for the first time since 1974. The Vikings played in the NAIA Division II title game that year. NAIA consolidated to just one division in 1997.