For the first time since 1988, the Bulldog football team can call themselves “conference champions.” Truman won its first Great Lakes Valley Conference football title and the 27th overall conference title this past season.
The Bulldogs were in contention for an NCAA playoff berth until the final week of the regular season when McKendree University spoiled the party with a 41-14 loss to the Bearcats in Lebanon, Ill. That loss to McKendree dropped the ’Dogs out of the playoffs and into a share of the GLVC championship with Southwest Baptist University. The Bulldogs earlier defeated SBU 26-16 in Bolivar, Mo., Oct. 8.
Truman lost the season opener at home to Midwestern (Texas) State, ranked No. 17 in the preseason poll, 31-19, but then reeled off five straight wins ending with that victory over the Bearcats in Bolivar. The Bulldogs stumbled in a non-conference game against No. 2 Grand Valley (Mich.) State, Oct. 15, but rebounded with three straight conference wins, including a 23-3 win at Saint Joseph’s to capture a share of the league title.
Youth was served on the Truman team this year as eight true freshman earned significant playing time and 60 percent of the players that took the field were either true freshmen, redshirt freshmen or sophomores.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Jaden Barr was named the GLVC Freshman of the Year and was a second-team All-GLVC performer. Barr was responsible for 27 touchdowns this season with 17 through the air and 10 rushing. He completed 59 percent of his passes for 1,905 yards and rushed for 339 yards.
A total of 15 Bulldogs were named to the All-GLVC team, the most since the 1990 squad. On the first team were senior defensive back Austin Zoda, junior linebacker Ben Wellman, senior center Brad Wellman and freshman defensive end Sam Reeves. On the second team were Barr, freshman running back Jordan Salima, senior wide receiver Joey Schenck, sophomore offensive lineman Nick Verbeck, senior defensive lineman Kyle Leckrone, junior defensive back Jordan Brown and redshirt freshman linebacker Bryan Edwards. Freshman receiver Drew Slager, junior defensive end Isaiah Hinton, junior defensive back D’Anthony Knight and sophomore punter Brock Rohler were honorable mention.