The Road to Durham has one more stop and it is known as the NAIA Semifinals. There are only four teams left in the NAIA Playoffs and they have established themselves as the four best in the 2022 season. We have Keiser from the state of Florida, Northwestern from the state of Iowa, Grand View from the state of Iowa, and Indiana Wesleyan of course from Indiana. There are two teams on our list in Indiana Wesleyan and Keiser who have never made it this far yet. While Grand View and Northwestern definitely have semifinal experience. If you missed it yesterday check out our NAIA Semifinal Fun Fact article, but without further ado let’s get to our NAIA Semifinals Preview and Prediction.
NAIA Semifinals Preview
Northwestern’s Road to the Semifinals: W Dickinson State W Marian
Northwestern’s Players to Watch: QB Jalyn Gramstad, WR Michael Storey, RB Konner McQuillan, K Eli Stader
The Northwestern Red Raiders are on an absolute hot streak winning eleven straight games. The one loss they had was to a full strength #1 Morningside team by one point. I think it’s safe to say Northwestern is still climbing and hasn’t come close to plateauing yet. Sophomore QB Jalyn Gramstad is a threat through the air and definitely with his feet. He currently has 2,908 total offensive yards this season. His main connection is Michael Storey who has over 1000 receiving yards.
A big question is can Indiana Wesleyan slow down this offense, because no one else has. Ten out of twelve games they have score 40+ Points. One of the biggest factors in this game is that Northwestern is hosting, where they have won 19 of the last 20 games at home.
Indiana Wesleyan’s Road to the Semifinals: W Avila W Benedictine
Indiana Wesleyan’s Players to Watch: QB Xander Stokes, WR Jacquez Carter, DB Donovan Shelton, LB Devin Bacchus
The Indiana Wesleyan Wildcats are undefeated in NAIA play, and their only loss was to D1 Valparaiso. They are also on an 11 game winning streak. Their defense has also been stellar all season but especially in the month of November only giving up an average of 11 points. Northwestern has made a living on takeaways from other teams, forcing 25 turnovers. They will have to work hard as Indiana Wesleyan takes care of the ball. Xander Stokes has only thrown two interceptions all season. Majority of football is blocking, tackling, and taking care of the ball. Which Indiana Wesleyan does well at that.
A big question is can Indiana Wesleyan establish the passing game with their one-two punch of Jacquez Carter and Markell Stephens-Peppers. The duo has a combined 1,457 receiving yards on the year. While Northwestern forces a lot of turnovers, Indiana Wesleyan has to find their own in this game as well. DB Donovan Shelton is the Interception King of the NAIA currently with 8 picks.
The Prediction of NAIAFBALL Fans
I’m working on my part two semifinal preview tomorrow. I’m have a TOUGH time deciding who to go with. Help me out!
— NAIAFBALL (@NAIAFBALL) December 2, 2022