Five games in, the Griffons have played two ranked opponents, two road games and two undefeated teams. Baffling? Well, sitting at 3-2 at this point, Missouri Western is right where it supposed to be.
Factor in two season-ending injuries – T.J. Fannin and Marcus Thompson – how should Western fare in the second half of the season?
Although Jerry Partridge said he would much rather be 5-0 at this point, three wins out of the “more challenging” part of the season isn’t too bad. The Pittsburg State loss is all of a sudden looking less devastating after it handed No. 1 Northwest Missouri State its first conference loss in six years.
Not to say that Western would beat Pittsburg if the two squared off this Saturday instead of opening weekend, but maybe the first game should be overlooked. Yes, Pittsburg was playing its first game of the season as well, and the Gorillas were the road team, but they knew what they had in Zac Dickey and caught lightning in a bottle with transfer Jon Brown.
Western, on the other hand, saw Travis Partridge start his first game and its defense go up against an offense that is averaging over 37 points-per-game, as well as a Pistol Gun set that drew attention away from Western’s defensive line and standout players Ben Pister and David Bass.
The next three Saturdays, Western has a date set up with teams that have a combined record of 4-11; two of the games are at Spratt Stadium. These games are definitely not chalked up as wins just yet, especially since they are all conference games, but winning the games would set the Griffons up with a 6-2 record. Last year’s 8-3 record sent Western up to Maryville, Mo. for post-season play. Will the committee be so kind this year?
Highly unlikely, considering the MIAA doesn’t receive that sort of superior credit — Pittsburg, Washburn and Northwest are all in front of Western, and don’t forget about the Mules: they’re still around. Three of those teams will probably receive a bid. Four, well, maybe; all five — no. So how about this: On Nov. 5, when Northwest comes to town to play Western, the meeting between the Bearcats and Griffons could actually have a playoff contention scenario, and so that game might actually mean something. Wait. It always means something.