Defiance College will seek to continue a mid-season surge on the road Saturday afternoon against former Yellow Jacket graduate assistant Jeff Sokol and his Rose-Hulman Engineers in Terre Haute, Ind.
The final road game of the season for the Jackets (3-4, 3-2 HCAC) is scheduled for a 1:30 p.m. kick off.
Sokol spent two seasons at DC as a graduate assistant under former Jackets' coach Greg Pscodna. Actually, Sokol began his time at DC the exact same day as did fellow assistant Robert Taylor, who went on to become the nine-year mentor at Defiance College before resigning three weeks ago.
Despite starting 0-4 against a rugged schedule against teams with a combined mark of 21-7 and that includes two teams (No. 22 Franklin and No. 27) ranked inside the top 30, DC has reeled off three straight wins with three games left in the 2011 season.
"The teams (7-0 Adrian and 4-3 Muskingum) that we played non-conference are really good teams," said interim DC coach Nate Jensen. "Our first two conference games were Hanover and Franklin and that's something that we feel prepares us for the conference and we're going to see everything offensively and defensively. Those first two games helped us with our toughness and our mental toughness and helped us down the road."
Jensen, who is 2-0 as the Jackets' sideline general, states the reason for the recent success has been all about the team coming together.
"Everybody's all in and that's the way it's got to be," he said.
Sokol admits his first season as head coach of the Engineers (3-4, 3-2 HCAC) has had its ups and downs.
"We have three wins and we've had some disappointing performances as well," said Sokol. "Overall, we're trying to instill a certain work ethic in our players that we think is going to result in championships. We're disappointed we're not going to win a championship this year, but we're encouraged we're laying the groundwork for future championships."
DC must contend with defending another of the conference's top tailbacks this week. Rose-Hulman's Kyle Kovach has 753 yards and eight touchdowns this year to lead the HCAC in both categories. He's also a dual-threat with 31 catches for 195 yards and two more scores.
"Whenever we get Kyle Kovach going we have a successful day," said Sokol. "Whether it's throwing him the ball or rushing the ball, or any combination of the two, that's important."
Kovach is one of the concerns for Jensen along with QB Mitch Snyder (134-244, 1,365 yards and 8 TDs) and the Rose-Hulman rush defense.
"Coach Sokol was here when coach 'P' was here and he has a little bit of history with Defiance," said Jensen. "I'm sure he'll have some stories for those guys to get them fired up and what not. It is also an overnight trip so we have to go down there and treat it like a business trip and be focused from the beginning."
Another Saturday with a strong rushing game would go a long way in helping DC claim its fourth consecutive triumph. The Jackets have netted 657 of their 1,196 yards rush yards this season over the past three games.
Senior tailback Drew Kuesel is coming off his best game in the production department with 161 yards and four scores in the 28-21 win at Anderson last Saturday.
Fellow senior Rick Powell has added 377 yards on the ground and three scores.
"They have some really, really talented players," lauded Sokol. "Some really nice running backs, a great quarterback and on the defense they have some very skilled guys in the secondary, a talented linebacking corps and a defensive lineman (Joemese Scott) that's as good as anyone in the conference."