SIOUX CITY, IOWA (KCAU) — The #3 Morningside Mustangs football team is in unfamiliar territory entering the 2021 fall season.
After completing the team’s fourth consecutive season with an unblemished record heading into the playoffs, Morningside’s 39-game winning streak was snapped in the national semifinals to fellow GPAC opponent Northwestern. That loss was the team’s first since 2017, meaning for many players, it was their first loss in a Mustang uniform.
Morningside head football coach Steve Ryan noted in Tuesday’s media day that many of their returning fifth year seniors had already made their decision to return in 2021 prior to the loss to Northwestern, but after the loss it is certainly a motivating factor for all players who came back. The Mustangs’ roster doesn’t look too different than the spring 2021 one did due to the Covid-year rule allowing the majority of Morningside’s seniors to return for one more season. That said, Ryan isn’t counting on breezing through the season with a more experienced roster.
“My guess is that everyone in the top-ten in the NAIA has got everyone back,” said Ryan. “And this could be the best year of small college football ever, if you look at the guys that are coming back. You know, this year’s freshman class and last years, they’re in a tough situation. And you’ve got to go with the hand that’s been dealt to you, and the responsibilities that have been given with you. So it’s a tough situation. Your heart breaks a little bit, but you try to be about more than just playing time as a program, and if you are then people will stick around.”
Morningside opens its season on September 4 hosting Concordia at 7:00 at Elwood Olsen Stadium.