Dixie College, ranked eighth, will be looking for its fifth straight victory in the Dixie Rotary Bowl when it takes on No. 3-ranked Nassau Community College of New York today at 1 p.m. at Hansen Stadium.
Ever since the first bowl game here in 1986, the Rebels have not only been an annual participant, they've come away a winner every time. But it hasn't always been easy.The first two years, the Rebels eked out last-minute three-point victories over teams from Kansas. In 1988, they whipped a non-ranked team, Inver Hills of Minnesota 54-7 and came back last year with an impressive 42-21 win over highly-regarded Northeastern Oklahoma.
"I think this ought to be a real good matchup," said Dixie Coach Greg Croshaw. "They're very similar to us, an I-back team with good skill kids. We have a lot of things in common."
The Rebels come into the game with an 8-2 record, although folks around here consider it a 9-1 season. That's because the Rebels were forced to forfeit a season-opening 21-3 win over Eastern Arizona for using one ineligible player. The player declared ineligible had to make up one test and played the rest of the season.
The other loss was a heartbreaking 30-27 loss to Ricks College. The Vikings scored on a 40-yard "Hail Mary" pass play after time had expired. Otherwise the Rebels could be undefeated. But in that case they may not be in town this week. Instead they might have been playing for the junior college national championship in Oklahoma.
Croshaw isn't sure what to expect out of Nassau CC, which has an 8-1 record. "I have no idea of the competition they're playing against. It's difficult to judge talent in JC ball because there's such a turnover every year. But that's one of the great things about these bowl games. They are the only way to compare teams from different parts of the country."
Dixie's top player this year has been Wilson Kauvaka, a 6-1, 250-pound fullback out of West Jordan High. He is being recruited heavily by such schools as Clemson, Georgia and Oklahoma. Kauvaka has rushed for 590 yards and led the sweep for freshman Kalin Hall, who leads the team with 946 yards on the ground.
Hall, an all-stater from Las Vegas, scored 12 touchdowns with an average of 5.6 yards per carry.
Quarterback Jeff Lindstrom, a freshman out of Timpview, completed 47 percent of his passes for 1442 yards and 13 touchdowns. Kris Paronto is the top Rebel receiver with 37 catches for 608 yards.
Defensively, the Rebels are led by defensive back Frank Christianson, another Timpview product, who has a team-high 115 tackles and four interceptions. Buzz Eckhardt, lineman out of Las Vegas, has 88 tackles and 12 sacks, and Brigham Burr, a linebacker from Timpview, has 84 tackles on the year.
"Those three guys from Timpview, who all played on the 1987 state championship team, have made a difference for us," said Croshaw.
Nassau's top runner is Craig Mittner, who has gained 1,197 yards, averaging 8 yards per carry. Robert Bass, a 6-3, 230-pound middle linebacker is the top defensive player.