The Branigin Room in the Napolitan Student Center was filled with cheers as football players, students and faculty members watched the selection show, awaiting to learn their first-round opponent and destination in the NCAA Division III National Championship tournament.
The Grizzlies went undefeated in conference play to win their ninth Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament title. The team won the HCAC title and an automatic tournament bid with a 63-17 win over Anderson University Nov. 3.
Senior quarterback Chase Burton, who set school records for the most passing yards and touchdown passes, said he’s not viewing the upcoming game as his last time playing in the NCAA tournament. He wants to win in the tournament and keep the season going.
“It’s sweeter this year, especially after not winning the conference and missing out in the playoffs last year as a junior,” Burton said. “Coming back with these 30 guys and winning it [the conference title] is kind of like a good going out party.”
The team will face Wartburg College, a liberal arts college in Waverly, Iowa, in the tournament’s first round on Nov. 18 at 1 p.m.