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Column

Former Colfax-Mingo teammates face off in NAIA semifinals

Colfax-Mingo alums Jared Myers and Jacob Lietz grew up playing football together. Myers was the varsity quarterback for four years and Lietz was one of his receivers during that time.

Both of them set school records on the gridiron. They also both played alongside each other on the basketball court and competed on the track team together.

This Saturday, Lietz and Myers will be on opposite sides of the field. Lietz’s Grand View University Vikings will play Myers’ Morningside College Mustangs in the semifinals of the NAIA Football Championship Series (FCS).

Fourth-ranked Grand View heads into the game 13-0 after a 14-6 win over No. 5 College of Southern Idaho. Top-ranked Morningside shut out Saint Xavier 51-0 in its quarterfinal game.

“I think it will be a bit surreal to play on the same field as Jared again,” Lietz said. “It’s a guy who I grew up playing alongside in everything. To get to be on the field one last time together under these circumstances will be pretty special for both of us. It will definitely come with some mixed emotions because obviously I want him to do well. But at the same time if he does well it hurts my team.”

Myers has been here before. The Mustangs won the national championship last year. Myers is back in the mix with Morningside again this season as they head into the semifinals with only one close game this year.

“It will feel a little weird playing against a former teammate before the game, but since we won’t be on the field together once the game gets going I’ll be focused on what I have to do,” Myers said.

Myers plays J-back for the Mustangs. Other football teams call his position the H-back. He has eight catches for 62 yards in 11 games this season.

Lietz is a wide receiver for the Vikings. He has 19 catches for 211 yards this season and was the leading receiver in the quarterfinal win.

Lietz finished with two catches for 62 yards in last week’s playoff win and the team only threw for 74 yards.

“I think it’s a good thing we are both on offense because if we were truly playing against each other offense versus defense it would be pretty weird,” Lietz said.

While Lietz and Myers both play on offense, it’s their teams’ defenses that have led the way.

Morningside is allowing 10.67 points per game and has collected three shutouts this season, including the last round of the playoffs.

Grand View’s defense is allowing 10.3 points per game and also has pitched three shutouts.

One of the coaches who has helped Grand View’s defense lead the way is former PCM Mustang E.J. Peterson, who is a Monroe native. He is on the defensive coaching staff at Grand View and also is a former Viking player.

The other local connection in the game is former PCM Mustang Davis Herndon, who is a sophomore linebacker on the Vikings’ roster.

Former PCM Mustangs Jarron Traush and Nick Dredge also are on Grand View’s junior varsity online roster.

Lietz hopes his latest effort on the gridiron is a sign he could be featured more in the passing game Saturday.

“I was a bit banged up at the beginning of the year and I am starting to get back into plan a little bit more as each week goes on,” Lietz said. “I think it’s just really hard for defenses to defend us right now. Anthony Turner has been a beast all year and is pulling a lot of doubles. If they continue to do that it is going to make it easier for me to get open. It really just depends on what our coaches are seeing. I’m not one to really care too much about statistics and all that. In the end if we get the win that’s all the matters to me.”

Speaking of wins, Myers has done a lot of winning at Morningside. The Mustangs went undefeated and won their first national championship last season.

“The whole week during the national championship game last year and after the game was an incredible experience,” Myers said. “The offseason was a lot of hard work because we knew we’d have to work twice as hard to give ourselves a chance to get to the national championship game again.”

Grand View won its first national championship in 2012, too.

This year’s Viking squad hopes to give Joe Woodley a national championship in his first season as head coach since taking over for his father.

All four NAIA teams left are undefeated. The other semifinal game features 12-0 Lindsey Wilson and 11-0 Marian.

Contact Troy Hyde at thyde@newtondailynews.com

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