SIOUX CITY (Courtesy Morningside College) — Morningside College, on a day when they received their 30th all-time number one national ranking and added another week to increase their record stay among the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics/American Football Coaches Association poll to 151 successive weeks, earned all but one of the Great Plains Athletic Conference weekly accolades and gained the NAIA’s Player of the Week.
Head coach Steve Ryan’s program picked up all 17 first-place votes and 392 ranking points to ensure the top spot. The defending national champions, riding streaks of 35 consecutive conference, 31 straight regular season and 17 overall wins in a row into a Homecoming 2019 date against Midland University of Nebraska Sept. 21, were followed by defending national runner-up Benedictine University of Kansas; the University of Saint Francis of Indiana; Kansas Wesleyan University; and Saint Xavier University of Illinois in the first five.
Junior running back Arnijae “AP” Ponder (Griffin, Ga.) and senior linebacker Joel Katzer (Wellsburg, Kan.) were feted with conference and national awards. Ponder was the GPAC’s offensive Player of the Week after a memorable 216-yard, two-touchdown afternoon during a 56-14 conference victory over then No. 24-ranked Dordt University in which he tied a national mark and set a new program standard for longest touchdown run from scrimmage, bursting through a seam in the line and dancing down the south sideline 99 yards for a touchdown. His career best single-game yardage effort moved him to second nationally in yards per contest and fifth in scoring.
Katzer was tabbed the GPAC defensive and NAIA Player of the Week. His day on the FieldTurf at Elwood Olsen Stadium was just as impressive, as he registered a unit-leading 10 tackles with one and a half going for losses and a half being part of a sack to go along with his first collegiate pick six, a 64-yard stroll to paydirt in the third period to widen the Maroon lead to 35-7.