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Game Day Credential: Falcons looking secure season-opening victory

Photo by Lane Schwartz
Photo by Lane Schwartz

MEQUON, Wis. -- Concordia Wisconsin has worked through two weeks of training camp and is prepped and ready for the season opener on Saturday at 1 pm against Finlandia in a non-conference matchup.

Who: Concordia Wisconsin (0-0) vs. Finlandia (0-0)
Where: Tomasini Stadium (Mequon, Wis.)
When: Saturday, September 2 (1 pm)
Live Coverage: Live video click here or live statistics (also includes live video) click here

- Fans can access the digital game program for Saturday's game by clicking here. Printed programs are also available in a limited quantity at the game for $2 each.

• YOUTH WILL BE TESTED: After having less than 100 players on its roster a season ago, Concordia Wisconsin brought in 69 freshmen to help rebuild a roster that finished with a 3-7 overall record last year. In addition, the Falcons senior class is comprised of 18 seniors, of which 10 are penciled in as starters.
• TIME BEFORE NACC PLAY: The Falcons begin the season with three non-conference games, including the season opener against Finlandia, before getting into the meat and potatoes of the schedule - being NACC games. They also end the year with a non-league game against Hope at home.
• PICKED FIFTH IN NACC POLL: Concordia Wisconsin was picked to finish fifth in the NACC Preseason Poll, with 44 total points. Meanwhile, defending champion Lakeland was selected to win the title again after having eight first-place votes and 85 points.
• OUTSIDE, INSIDE, OUTSIDE: The combination of Connor Wagner, Ben Bednarek and Tyler Martinkus bring the Falcons a wealth of experience to the offensive line. The trio has a combined 39 starts over the past two seasons.
• DEFENSE NEEDS PLAYMAKERS TO RISE: Concordia Wisconsin's Richie Guess returns for his senior year after making 88 tackles a season ago, which led the team. You'll have to look all the way down to eighth on the list of tackles before finding the next returner (Damon Mull - 43 total tackles), which means the Falcons need those on the field to rise to the occasion and make plays early and often.
• FINLANDIA ENTERS WITH A YEAR OF EXPERIENCE: Finlandia began its football program last season with 52 student-athletes and ended with a 1-7 overall record. The Lions weren't in a conference, and aren't again this season, but will use last year's experiences to improve during their second year of competition with 25 student-athletes.
• KANGAS IS THE TOP RETURNER OFFENSIVELY: The Lions lost their starting quarterback and several running backs, however, wide receiver Tyler Kangas returns after hauling in 19 passes for 165 yards and a touchdown. He had six receptions for 47 yards last season against Concordia Wisconsin. Kangas also punted 54 times, averaging 37.5 yards per kick.
• LOVE READY TO LEAD DEFENSE: Jaavaid Love is the top returning defensive player for the Lions, after making 68 total tackles (39 solo, 29 assisted) to go along with 10.5 tackles for loss. The junior linebacker also had a pair of sacks last season. Love made nine tackles (six solo) and had a sack last season against Concordia Wisconsin.
• MATCHUP TO WATCH: Finlandia's offensive and defensive line against Concordia Wisconsin's offensive and defensive lines. The Lions have just nine linemen on their roster, while the Falcons have a combined 47 linemen.
• WHAT HAPPENED LAST TIME THEY MET: Concordia Wisconsin began the game with 24 unanswered points before Finlandia found the scoreboard in each of the second and third quarters. The Falcons had 497 total offensive yards, compared to the Lions 356. Returning senior defensive back Richie Guess made 13 total tackles (six solo).

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