FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2011
No one’s surprised JU, San Diego meeting for share of PFL crown
Senior defensive tackle Rolando Fines (52) leads the team in tackles with 65.
Senior defensive tackle Rolando Fines (52) leads the team in tackles with 65.
After 40 quarters of play, it has come down to this. A one-game shootout for a piece of the Pioneer Football League championship.

The Jacksonville University football team closes out its season Saturday traveling to San Diego for a game against the Toreros with the winner sharing the PFL title with Drake.

The game is scheduled for 4 p.m. and will be broadcast on 1010XL-am and 1010XL.com with Terry Norvelle calling the play-by-play. The Bono’s Barbeque Pregame Show begins at 3:30.

The Dolphins, (7-3, 6-1) overcame a sluggish start last week and finally put away Butler, 34-24, while San Diego (8-2, 6-1) nipped Marist 13-7 in a mud fest at Torero Stadium. Drake, which beat JU earlier but lost to San Diego, has finished its PFL season at 8-1.

JU coach Kerwin Bell says his team has given as much as it could this year and he’s looking forward to a title chance and would love nothing better than to see his senior class walk away with its third championship in four years.

“We’re at the point now where it’s one game for the championship and that’s all you can ask for when you start the season,’’ he said. “To have the opportunity to be in the driver’s seat and have a chance to win is what you want. We’ve got to go on the road to do it to San Diego, which is always a tough place to play, but I think our guys are going to play a really good game.’’

The game matches the two dominate PFL programs of the last several years. First, San Diego won its titles and recently the Dolphins.

“San Diego, before 2007, was the dominant team in the conference we have taken that and run with it the last three years and now they’ve come back and become really strong the last couple of years,’’ Bell said.

The Dolphins will have to avoid another slow start, something that has plagued them the past couple of times out. They recovered against Butler but not two weeks ago at Drake.

“We can’t do that against a good team like San Diego because they’ll make you pay, especially in their back yard, that’s been our effort all week – that it’s over with as far as getting over the loss at Drake,’’ Bell said. “We dealt with that, we’ve dealt with Senior Day now it’s a chance to go play from start to finish for a championship.’’

San Diego, which will be celebrating Senior Day for the finale, is led by running back Kenny James, the PFL’s leading rusher with 1,027 yards and quarterback Mason Mills, who is averaging passing for 222 yards a game.

JU quarterback Josh McGregor, who will be ending his record setting career as he holds every major passing record in school history, said he and his teammates aren’t surprised by the turn of events this season.

“Knowing we played San Diego our last game, the whole team thought the championship would come down to the last game,’’ he said.

San Diego coach Ron Caragher agreed it’s no surprise JU and the Toreros are meeting for a piece of the title.

“We said at the beginning of the year that to win the PFL championship you have to go through Jacksonville and Dayton because those were the two teams that tied for the PFL title a year ago,’’ Caragher said. “And, Jacksonville’s won two of the last three. We are looking forward to the challenge and chance to compete for this year’s championship.”

McGregor, of course, is looking for one last hurrah.

“For our seniors to go out on top in the last game, it’s our hardest game and will be our most competitive game of the season,’’ he said. “Just one more win for us and we can get this championship. Win and we get this ring, baby. That’s it.’’