Momentum is an intangible in the sports world that can only be felt, not measured.
Without question, the Indiana Wesleyan football program has been building positive momentum from day one of its existence. Still essentially in its infancy, Wildcat football has recorded a winning record in each of its first two seasons.
IWU stayed in the race for a Mid-States Football Association (MSFA) title and a spot in the NAIA playoffs until the last couple weeks of the 2019 season. Only close losses to two playoff teams in league games prevented it from happening.
That momentum carried into the offseason, which has obviously been a period of time that wasn’t planned for thanks to a global pandemic.
After more than five months of Zoom meetings, Indiana Wesleyan’s players recently returned to the south Marion campus to begin preparing for their upcoming season.
However, the NAIA and MSFA opted to move their traditional seasons and national championship tournament to spring, so IWU’s next opportunity to compete for a league title won’t begin until late February.
Still, preparation goes on for Wildcats coach Jordan Langs and his infant program. IWU is still readying itself for the next opportunity to take the field.
“It’s been odd. It’s been difficult, but we said it when we got back to campus, ‘Let’s establish the known,’” said Langs before practice Tuesday afternoon in Wildcat Stadium. “It’s odd. It’s different. Everyone knows that. We’re now in our sixth month of it.
“Let’s just go and do what we’re supposed to do, be really disciplined with our protocols, wake up everyday and give our best,” he continued. “If they tell us we can go the next day, we’ll go the next day. We’re just trying to control what we can control right now and the guys are doing a great job.”
Langs said his players returned to campus in good shape and hungry to continue the growth of the program that’s started with a 13-7 record through its first two seasons.
When the NAIA and MFSA opted to move the football season to spring, it left open the option for schools to potentially schedule some non-league games in the fall. IWU scrambled to find some willing opponents and came up with two.
The Wildcats will play a pair of NCAA Division III schools: Trine University on Friday, Sept. 18 at 6 p.m. in Wildcat Stadium, then host Judson University on Saturday, Oct. 10 at 2 p.m.
“It’s important. I think from an emotional standpoint, our momentum would have been sustained either way,” Langs said of the games this fall. “But from a physical development standpoint, a lot of these young kids – we’re still young – missed a spring practice season. Getting to play those games on top of all the practices will just help the physical development.
“I think that’s key. If we didn’t have games I would still be really excited, but I think adding those games helps to really sharpen us.”
Though the official schedule release for spring games will be sometime in the near future, Langs said the first MFSA game for the Wildcats will come Feb. 27. The NAIA National Championship tournament will start in April and culminate on Monday, May 10 with the title game being played at Grambling State University’s Eddie G. Robinson Stadium in Grambling, Louisiana.
Winning a national tile is the ultimate goal and destination Langs set when he was first hired to install IWU football’s foundation more than five years ago. He is using this fall as another opportunity for the program to build its momentum.
“For us, it’s all about keeping the momentum going,” he said. “Obviously we’ve got a lot of momentum with the program and this is when we’re supposed to peak, these next three years.
“This is, not to be dramatic, but this is my life’s work. This is when it was all supposed to start to gel. We just can’t lose that momentum and that’s what we’ve been focused on.”
AREA ROUNDUP Volleyball
Mississinewa 3, Bluffton 0
The Indians (7-0) remained unbeaten by downing the host-Tigers, 25-20, 25-12, 25-13 on Monday
No additional details were reported.
Mississinewa captured the JV match, 19-25, 25-14, 16-14.
Ole Miss travels to Northfield on Wednesday and Southern Wells Thursday.
Columbia City 5, Marion 2
The host-Eagles broke open a tightly contested match with four second-half goals en route to beating the Giants on Monday.
JD Fagan and Kyle Coryea each scored a goal for the Giants.
Marion (0-3) hosts Mississinewa at 6 p.m. on Thursday.
Madison-Grant 5, Eastern 0
The Argylls earned the program’s first-ever district ranking from the Indiana High School Tennis Coaches Association on Monday, being voted No. 8 in District 4, then celebrated Senior Night with a sweep of the Comets.
No match details were reported.
Madison-Grant (4-0) visits Frankton on Wednesday to start play in the Madison County tournament.
Frankton 187, Mississinewa 204
No details were reported.
The Indians host Bluffton on Wednesday at the Marion Elks.