What many around Willamette and Linfield had hoped for will come true this weekend as the 'Cats and Bearcats will square off in Salem this Saturday for basically all of the NWC marbles. The #6 Linfield Wildcats will have their shortest but toughest road trip of the year as they head 1/2 hour South to face the #17 and defending NWC champions. It's the biggest game in the state of Oregon this weekend as both the Ducks and Beavers are away and a lot of eyes around Division III will be watching closly on the outcome of this game.
Much is on the line for both teams on Satruday. For Linfield, they have a chance to bring home another NWC crown and a get in position to land a NCAA playoff birth (last time for both was 2005). For Willamette, a loss might spell doom for their NCAA playoff hopes as the competition for Pool C bids (runners up in auto-bid conferences) is thick this year and a loss by Mary Hardin Baylor might have made this game a win or no playoffs situation for Willamette. Add the fact that this is now officially a rivalry game again after Linfield dominated Willamette for the first 7 years of the decade to only see Willamette turn the tables the past two seasons and what we have is a HUGE division III football game. It really should be a great atmosphere in Salem and McCulloch Stadium should break the 2K attendance mark for the first time all season on Satuday.
Better Get To Know A Wildcat
#62 Scott Millenbach, Senior, Offensive Guard
Vitals: 6' 2", 280 lbs.
Hometown: Olympia, Washington
High School: Capital High School
Would you choose pizza from Primetime, 3rd Street Pizza, or McMinnville Pizza Company?
I would have to choose 3rd Street Pizza, its never let me down.
My favorite "movie" is actually a t.v. series from HBO, "Band of Brothers". Somewhere second to that are the movies Taken, Boondock Saints, and anything John Wayne is in.
I'm an Country fan all the way. Two of my favorite artists are Jason Aldean and Craig Morgan.
My future is still up in the air. I have a lot of options, and which road I will take I still don't know. I'd like to coach at some point in my future, but I am leaning towards joining the Navy after graduation.
Best part about being an offensive lineman:
The best part about being an offensive lineman is the camaraderie between the unit. I think we work the hardest out of any position, but we also have the most fun by never being too serious and always making fun of each other. When you are an offensive linemen the only glory you receive is only when the QB, WR, or RB does something great. We may not get stats, but we always have our brothers beside us.
A thing most people don't know about you:
I don't think people know that I am not as serious as I seem. I am actually fairly jovial most of the time off the field.
Favorite class/professor at Linfield:
My favorite class at Linfield was Aviation Physics. I had an opportunity to take some flying lessons while taking the class, and it was something I really enjoyed.
What do you drive:
I drive a 1990 3/4 Chevrolet Silverado. I'm not a fan of any of those imports. My dad bought it brand new, and we have had it ever since. We put a new motor in it and have fixed it up a bit in recent years, but it is something I take pride in.
PS3, Xbox, or Wii:
Can't say that I have time for video games, but I am a fan of the PS3.
Mac or PC:
PC, Macs are just so counter-intuitive.
Favorite Coach Smith saying/quote:
My favorite "Smithism" would have to come from this year's trip to Menlo. During our pre-game speech he said "Anyone, Any time." That sums up what the 'Cats are all about this year.
Yes or no on Linfield's All-Purple Uni combo:
I go with yes, only because it is extremely demoralizing to get beat by a team wearing all purple.
Wildcat11's Key To Victory
Find that right tension: Saturday isn't about 2008 or 2007. This is about Linfield going to play a very tough opponent on the road and trying to play the best Linfield football possible. No need to get caught up in any of the other junk that is floating around about this game. Just focus on doing your job the best you can and have trust the 'Cat next to you will do that same. Do that and the 'Cats are going to be just fine.
Line 'Em Up: I know it's very cliche to talk about the line play but the play of both Linfield's offensive and defensive lines is going to be paramount this contest. If you look at the NWC stats Linfield and Willamette trade off as #1 and #2 in just about every category of offense and defense but the one that jumps out huge is Willamette has piled up 27 sacks in 7 games (around 4 a game) while Linfield has only given up 2 the whole year. The ability to protect Boehme in the pass game is going to be huge. Linfield's defense line has been very physical but what killed the 'Cats last year was the inability to get a pass rush up the middle vs Willamette. That has to change this weekend in order to try to limit the Bearcat passing game.
Linfield's balancing act: Linfield has maintained a 54/46 run to pass ratio this season and the 'Cats have to be able to establish the run on Saturday if the 'Cats want to get the play action passing game going and score points. Even if Willamette bottles up the run early, Linfield must keep pounding the rock and maintain that offensive balance.
Be great tacklers: We all know the fly offense makes you honor various plays and creates one-on-one tackling situations. The 'Cats tackling last season sucked and it cost Linfield dearly in a number of big Willamette strikes. Watching the Whitewater/Willamette playoff game last year the Warhawks shut down Willamette in the 1st half because the first defender tackled great but as the game went along and Willamette was able to get the Warhawks out of position the first tacker started missing the next thing you know Willamette is moving the ball up and down the field.
Limit Willamette's Schoettgen: Easier said than done but Schoettgen is a fantastic receiver and a big play threat in the Willamette passing game. Schoettgen hurt Linfield last year and he has to be someone the 'Cats have to try to limit on Saturday. If Linfield can slow down Schoettgen then Linfield will slow down Willamette's offense.
Soild special teams play: If you read the Willamette game stories it seems that just about every game you read about a Willamette return punt/kick for touchdown or a blocked kick. This isn't by accident. Willamette always does a fine job in special teams and have hurt Linfield the past two seasons in this phase of the game. Linfield's special teams needs to continue to improve and kick, cover, protect, and return well. Don't overlook this aspect of the game.
Linfield by 7. I expect nothing more than a great game on Saturday versus two very well coached and hard playing teams. In my gut I just believe this Linfield team still has their best football in front of them and I want to see that complete 60 minute effort this Saturday. There are going to be ups and downs and how Linfield reacts to the adversity is going to be key but if Linfield can establish the run game then I think Linfield is going to be hard to beat. It will be a battle to the very end but when the dust settles I believe that Linfield will walk out of Salem with their destiny in their own hands.