ORANGE CITY, Iowa (KTIV) — Northwestern is back in the NAIA football playoffs for the third straight year, and the 21st time overall. The Red Raiders face St. Xavier of Illinois on Saturday. The top eight teams get to host in the first round, and Northwestern is ranked eighth.
Red Raider quarterback Tyson Kooima was named the GPAC Offensive Player of the Year on Tuesday.
The junior from Hull, Iowa, has thrown for nearly 2,800 yards with 25 touchdown passes. Kooima has also score six TD’s on the ground.
Northwestern’s Tanner Machacek is the GPAC Defensive Player of the Year. The senior linebacker from Sioux Falls led the team with 88 tackles and eight sacks. Individual success helped the Red Raiders earn that home playoff game.
“Yeah it’s big. We want to set ourselves up to play at home in the playoffs,” said Northwestern head coach Matt McCarty. “It allows us to keep our schedule the same throughout the week and play in front of our fans. We feel like we have a really good home field advantage. Now the next step is winning those home playoff games. It’s disappointing not winning a conference title but there’s something bigger out there yet and we know we have the opportunity to play for something much bigger now.”
Northwestern and St. Xavier kickoff at noon Saturday in Orange City.