College Football: Daniels, Tigers Ready to Prove Doubters Wrong

By: Nathan Bloechl —

Mount Pleasant — In their first year back in NAIA, the Iowa Wesleyan football team is seemed to be slept on.

The Tigers, who return 10 starters from their 1-2 spring campaign, were picked to finish last in the seven-team North Star Athletic Association preseason poll.

That’s not stopping second-year head coach M.D. Daniels and his Tigers from heading into Saturday’s season opening matchup against St. Ambrose with confidence.

Matter of fact, it seems like quite the opposite.

The Tigers are ready to prove the doubters wrong.

I know for our players, that’s bulletin board material” Daniels told KILJ.

For him and his talented staff, they’re just trusting the process and the vision he’s laid out for the program.

If we do everything — the little things right — the outcome and the scoreboard will work itself out. We continue to preach on that.” Daniels explained.

This will be his first full year at the helm of the Tigers after last fall’s season was wiped out due to COVID.

He believes that his program is in a great spot heading into the 2021 season.

Our plan, I really believe we are right on track. We are hitting all the numbers. Academically, our team GPA is right there, numbers and retaining players and all of those things are going phenomenally.” 

Still, coming into this year, expectations, Daniels says, are higher.

The Tigers brought in a handful of talented freshman and sought out experience on the transfer market which he believes will help Wesleyan compete on Saturday’s.

Our schedule, it’s tough. Hopefully it will get us ready for our first year in the North Star.” 

Daniels knows a lot of the Tigers success will depend on the continued improvement of offensive coordinator Kiefer Price’s Air Raid scheme that was made famous by Wesleyan legends Hal Mumme and Mike Leach.

Wesleyan put on an aerial display in the spring, and Daniels believes the sky is — literally — the limit for Price and the offense under second-year signal caller Gavin Esquivel.

It’s a lot smoother, Gavin is back — he’s looking super sharp. That’s huge for our offense. The guys we’ve brought in have clicked, so the verbiage and all the things that are hard to pick up for younger players to get has been kind of easy. We can be really explosive with the backs and receivers have” Daniels mentioned.

Furthermore, he knows the community of Mount Pleasant and the college itself is ready for a winner. He relishes those expectations.

He’s excited to put a product on display that he feels the community and the university alike can be proud of — and he’s thankful for those that have helped rally the program in the few short years he’s been the head man.

It’s super important — I know that the administration is behind us. I know the community wants to support us. We’ve put in a new locker room and they helped us with some [facility] improvements. They’re behind us.” 

We want to be the focal point.”

Now we just need to win games.”

They’ll have their first chance Saturday.

You can listen to that game on KILJ-FM 105.5 and

Iowa Wesleyan Schedule:

August 28th — at Saint Ambrose (1:00 p.m.) KILJ 

September 4th — vs. Missouri Baptist (3:00 p.m.)

September 11th — at Quincy University (1:00 p.m.)

September 18th — vs. Trinity International (1:00 p.m.) KILJ 

September 25th — vs. Valley City State University (1:00 p.m.)

October 2nd — vs. Crown College (1:00 p.m.) KILJ 

October 16th — at Dickinson State University (1:00 p.m.)

October 23rd — at Dakota State (1:00 p.m.)

October 30th — vs. Presentation College (2:00 p.m.)

November 6th — vs. Waldorf University (2:00 p.m.)

November 13th — at Mayville State University (1:00 p.m.)