Nathan Linsey doesn't want to compare three years to two weeks. It just doesn't seem fair.
But the 6-foot, 227-pound Emporia State senior linebacker sees the change going on around him and has to acknowledge it. Winning just makes things different.
"We're excited because this is something we haven't had in awhile, this success," Linsey said. "It's definitely not something I've experienced since I've been here."
Linsey, an honorable mention all-MIAA pick last season, has been the lynchpin of the Hornets' resurgence so far. Emporia State is 2-1 in MIAAplay and 4-1 overall, with Linsey the team leader in tackles at 41.
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In last Saturday's 19-6 upset of previously unbeaten Fort Hays State, Linsey led the Hornets with eight tackles, including two for loss. The Tigers entered the game averaging 41.3 points and were held without a touchdown.
"Everyone was talking about how good their offense was, and I think that kind of put a chip on our shoulder," Linsey said. "As a player you really try to not let what people are talking about distract you, but it's hard to hear those things and not let it motivate you a little bit."
Motivation wasn't necessarily easy to come by in Linsey's first three seasons in Emporia, with the Hornets going a combined 9-23, including last season's 2-9 debacle.
"Since I've been here, we've always had the same mentality going into each season," Linsey said. "We don't expect the fans to believe in us; we don't expect anybody to believe in us but the people in the locker room."
Linsey credits defensive coordinator Ken Gordon with the defense's ability to turn close games into victories so far, including five interceptions in a 30-27 victory over Missouri Southern two weeks ago.
"How we play comes from KG's mentality," Linsey said. "And that is that no matter what the situation, blown coverage, missed assignments, whatever, there's no excuse for not running to the ball. You can always put that effort in to get to the ball no matter what's happened."
Breakout game for Trotter — Friends has been without a top-flight running back the last two seasons but may have found its man in Wichita Northwest product Jeran Trotter, who took home KCAC offensive player of the week honors last week in a 35-21 win over Tabor.
Against the Bluejays, Trotter had his best game as a Falcon, running for 240 yards on 21 carries and three touchdowns. The 5-9, 190 pound junior capped off his day with a 70-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.