In Saturday's home opener against Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Saint Francis football coach Kevin Donley can move into a tie for the most career wins in NAIA history with victory No. 256.
But if you ask his players, the program as a whole is more focused on improving to 2-0 on the season.
“To the players, I don't think it's a big deal,” said sophomore wide receiver and Homestead graduate Colin Harruff. “We want to get it for (Donley), but we also want to just go out and play our best and win the game. I feel like coach feels the same way, it's just an extra add-on to go (for the tie of the record).”
The NAIA wins record will be talked about for quite some time despite what happens over the next few weeks. With two more wins, Donley will pass current all-time wins record holder Frosty Westering. However, Hank Biesiot of Dickinson State University is tied with Donley with 255 wins and begins his season on Saturday.
Biesiot and Donley could be neck-and-neck for the record for the foreseeable future.Despite that, the No. 6-ranked Cougars (1-0) are looking to begin a month of September that does not see the program hit the road until Sept. 29 on a good note. Saturday will be the first meeting between Saint Francis and UW-Stevens Point, who is a member of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. That league includes Wisconsin-Whitewater, a program that is looking to earn its fourth consecutive Division III National Championship this season.
UW-Stevens Point hung with Wisconsin-Whitewater a year ago in a 31-16 defeat.
“We have a lot of respect for these guys,” sophomore defensive end Joey Dynako said. “They gave Whitewater a good fight and we are expecting them to come out and compete and make it a good game.”
The Cougars will have the advantage of having played once before this season, with UW-Stevens Point set to make its season debut.
“They are a big, strong team,” Harruff said about Saturday's opponent. “I don't think they can compete with our speed or athletic ability, but we aren't looking past them.”
Saint Francis will continue its home-stand next week against No. 22 St. Ambrose followed by an open date then Concordia University for Homecoming under the lights on Sept. 22.
While the extended stay at home may be good for Cougars fans, the players are for the most part unaffected.
“Wherever we are playing, we just play,” Dynako said. “We just prepare for the opponent we have and go out and perform.”
On Saturday, the Cougars will be looking to go out and perform to earn their coach a signature victory. Just do not expect many within the program to say much about it.
Kickoff is scheduled for noon.