Some Huskies have home advantage in Kansas away game


Northern Star file photo

By Brian Belford

They’re not in Kansas anymore.

When the Huskies play the Kansas Jayhawks in Lawrence on Saturday night, it will be a reunion of sorts for many NIU players and coaches.

It will be interesting to see how head coach Dave Doeren reacts once he hits the field.

Doeren coached with the Jayhawks from 2002 to 2005, helping their football program to two bowl appearances. Doeren also graduated from high school in Bishop Miege, Kan. in 1990.

“Coaching there, I learned a lot, good and bad, about how to operate in the business, and it made me a better coach,” Doeren said. “I grew up there, and all my friends and family for the most part are back there, so it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Doeren won’t be the only NIU coach with ties to Kansas.

NIU tight ends and fullbacks coach Kevin Kane is an alumnus of Kansas as well. He played under Doeren in 2005 and graduated from Kansas in 2006. Kane was a student assistant on the team for two years, and was there for the Jayhawks’ Orange Bowl run in 2008.

“This will be the first time I’ve played Kansas since I left, so it will be interesting,” Kane said. “I’m from Kansas City, so I know my family will be excited that I’m coming home and seeing everyone”.

Huskies linebackers coach Tom Matukewicz went to high school in Kansas, and has previous college coaching experience at two Kansas schools, and says he still recruits from Kansas junior colleges.

“40 or 50 of my friends will be there, so I may start to hyperventilate before the game,” Matukewicz said.

With all these coaches from Kansas, does this mean NIU has the inside scoop on its upcoming opponent this weekend?

“I can tell them about the atmosphere, I can tell them about the field, but when the whistle blows, they have to do it themselves,” Kane said. “We’ll be prepared for a lot of the intangibles, but we have to know what the Xs and Os are.”

The connections don’t stop with the coaches, as some players know the state as well.

NIU left guard Logan Pegram was born in Independence, Kan. and played for Silver Lake High School. Huskie defensive back Demetrius Stone, and running back Jasmin Hopkins both played their JUCO football in Kansas.

Hopkins explained that the school he went to had close ties with the Jayhawks, and he can’t wait to show off his skills.

“The previous coaching staff said I was too small,” Hopkins said. “So I’m looking forward to taking it out on them.”

Fans at Saturday’s game could very well wind up sitting next to an NIU coaching staff relative or friend.

“Between myself, coach Doeren and coach Matukewicz, I think we have 83 of the 90 some tickets that were allotted for us,” Kane said. “It will be fun to go out and see everyone, and they better be rooting for NIU.”