Caleb Pollema – Staff Writer
Imagine beating your opponents with a combined final score of 129-0 in your final two games. Regardless of the sport, this feat would be truly remarkable.
The Defender football team made this outlandish and extremely optimistic feat a reality. In the final two games of their regular season they beat the Hastings Broncos with a final of 65-0 in Sioux Center and the Briar Cliff Chargers 64-0 in Sioux City.
After Dordt’s win against Briar Cliff, recognition for their quality of play followed as the Defenders swept the GPAC Player of the Week honors for offense, defense, and special teams.
Wide receiver, Levi Jungling, was recognized as the GPAC Offensive Player of the Week with four receptions, 141 total yards of offense, and three touchdowns.
One of the touchdowns came on a long pass from Dordt quarterback, Noah Clayberg. Jungling made a leaping catch that will go down in Dordt history as arguably the best play ever.
The catch was so impressive that it received national attention and was recognized in SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays of the day.
“Levi is one of those ‘once in a decade’ kind of players who possesses the character traits all coaches hope for in a player,” said head football coach, Joel Penner. “Believe it or not, he has impacted this team off the field, even more than he has on the field.”
The weekly recognition continued with safety Jalen Placide of Oakland, California, being named the GPAC Defensive Player of the Week.
Placide finished his day with 14 tackles, one for a loss, and one interception. This pushed his interception total to three on the year.
Dordt kicker Brett Zachman received a GPAC Special Teams Player of the Week after going a perfect 6 for 6 on PAT attempts.
Through the 2020 season, Zachman performed a perfect 9 for 9 on field goal attempts and 41 for 46 on PAT attempts. This was the second week in a row that Zachman received GPAC honors.
With the dominate victory over Briar Cliff, Dordt finished the season with a 7-2 record, which is the best season in the program’s 13-year history.
“I’m proud of how these guys finished through the line, not just to the line,” Penner said. “The truest character of a team shows up in November and I couldn’t be more proud of this team.”
With the conclusion of the regular season, Dordt will begin an offseason that is anything but normal. The COVID-19 pandemic not only eliminated any non-conference contests for the Defenders, but also pushed the postseason playoffs to April 2021.
Since several other conferences around the NAIA also elected to push their regular seasons, official NAIA rankings will not come out until the spring.
This presents a challenge for the Defender football team and coaching staff as they begin the long wait to determine if they will receive an at-large bid to the NAIA playoffs.
For Dordt, an at-large bid to the postseason is still within the realm of possibility after the Defenders lost to two most likely top five teams in Morningside and Northwestern. Both losses were close and could have fallen either way.
Dordt is hopeful that for the first time in program history, a postseason berth could be in store.
In the months between the conclusion of the regular season and the potential for a postseason bid, the Defenders will continue to train and practice.
2020 was a tough year for many, but for the Defender football team this year made a monumental step forward and a season that will be remembered for years to come.