Undefeated and top-ranked Morningside (Iowa) faces undefeated and second-ranked Marian (Ind.) on Saturday, Dec. 21 at Eddie G. Robinson Stadium in Grambling, La.
Morningside makes its second-consecutive national championship-game appearance, after defeating Benedictine (Kan.) in 2018; Marian makes its fourth trip to the championship, last defeating Southern Oregon in 2015.
Morningside Mustangs (13-0) vs Marian Knights (12-0)
Coach: Steve Ryan
Morningside Players to Watch:
Senior LB Joel Katzer (6-0/200)
Senior linebacker Joel Katzer (Baldwin City, Kansas) highlighted a trio of Mustangs on the top two units, as he was tabbed a first-team AFCA All-American honoree. Katzer, also a three-time first-team all-Great Plains Athletic Conference pick, is seventh in career tackles (305) and ranks second on the 2019 squad in tackles (81) and interceptions (two). His first team award marks the sixth straight year in which at least one Maroon athlete has been so recognized.
Senior OT Garrett Temme (6-6/280)
Temme, also a three-time first-team all-conference awardee, has led one of the nation’s top offensive fronts, as Morningside has surrendered only three sacks in 12 games while averaging better than 56 points and almost 580 yards a contest. Temme was named a second-team AFCA All-American this season.
Senior DB Klayton Nordeen (6-1/190)
Nordeen, a two-time first-team all-Great Plains selection, is the defensive unit’s leader in interceptions (five) while ranking third in tackles (65). Nordeen, a native of Alliance, Nebraska, was a third-team AFCA All-American selection.
*Junior RB Arnijae “A.P.” Ponder (6-0/190)
Ponder enters the Championship game with 1,884 yards rushing. Ponder was named Associated Presss NAIA first-team All-American. In the national championship game last December against Benedictine (Kan.), Ponder earned 134 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Coach: Mark Henninger
Marian Players to watch:
Senior RB Charles Salary (5-7/185)
Charles Salary was named 2019 NAIA Football National Player of the Year.
Salary has put the finishing touches on a remarkable career this season. The running back out of LaPorte, Indiana, was named the MSFA Mideast League Offensive Player of the Year. He finished the regular season with 1,240 yards on the ground and 13 touchdowns. He also caught nine balls for 133 yards and a score.
“Charles has had an amazing career as a Knight, continuing the tradition of great running backs at Marian,” said head coach Mark Henninger. “He has been a workhorse this year with the ability to completely take control of a football game by playing the game fast and physical. Watching Charles work and develop from being a scout team running back as a freshman, to being named All-American as a senior has been a blessing and it tells you everything you need to know about the type of person and player he is.”
Senior DL Mac Dutra (6-0/230)
Dutra rewrote the record books during his time as a Knights. During the 2019 regular season he racked up 31 total tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks. Dutra broke the all-time Marian sacks record earlier this season and ranks 10th in the nation in total sacks. He had at least half a sack in six of the first seven games this season. Dutra also had three forced fumbles and one recovery. He forced a pair of fumbles in the team’s win at Trinity International and forced another against Lawrence Tech. Dutra is a two-time MSFA Mideast League First Team selection and had at least 4.5 sacks in all four seasons as a Knight.
Senior OT Tyler Lotz (6-4/275)
Lotz was named an honorable mention after leading one of the best offensive lines in the country. Marian ranks second in the nation in sacks against with only six, and also ranks ninth in rushing offense. “Tyler has had a great career as an offensive lineman,” said Henninger. “The identity of our football program starts with the physical play on the offensive and defensive lines and Tyler embodies what it means to be an offensive lineman at Marian.”
Senior QB Ethan Darter (6-6/245)
Quarterback Ethan Darter was named All-MSFA for the first time in his career after completing 59 percent of his passes for 1,717 yards and 14 touchdowns. The senior averaged 191 yards per game and started all nine games for the Knights. Darter benefitted from having one of the country’s best wide receivers in Johnny William who also landed on the First Team.
2019 NAIA Football Championship Game
Morningside 40, Marian 38
Eddie G. Robinson Stadium
Dec 21, 2019 | 6:00 pm CST | ESPN3
Dec 7, 2019 NAIA FCS Playoff Semifinals:
Marian 34, Lindey Wilson 24 and Morningside 21, Grand View 16