The D2 Football season has finally arrived, and the opening slate of games definitely left us with great anticipation for what is to come in the following months on our way to Kansas City.
But before we go any further into the upcoming action, let us first recognize the best performances of the opening slate, starting with the offensive side of the ball.
Take a look at our four candidates below — one from each region — and vote for whom you believe put up the best performance in their opening game.
Football is back folks, and we are just getting started.
Super Region One: Cheyney
Total Offense: 364
Passing Yardage: 232
Rushing Yardage: 132
3rd Downs: 5-11
The numbers above may not be eye-popping, but when it comes from Cheyney, those are spectacular stats to see. Winning their first game against rival Lincoln (PA) in the Battle of The Firsts 56-28, the Wolves put up their best offensive showing in over five years.
Senior quarterback Dominick Trautz led the attack with 230 passing yards and six total touchdowns (five passing) on the way to a 56-0 halftime lead. Never before had Cheyney scored more than 35 points against the Lions, and this marked the second-straight year in which CU started the year 1-0.
Again, the numbers may not be the gaudiest of totals, but this might finally be a turning point in Cheyney's recent history as they win their third game of their last 56 overall attempts. A winning season may be out of reach, but a couple more wins might in the near future for a team that definitely exceed expectations in their opener.
Super Region Two: Catawba
Total Offense: 516
Passing Yardage: 310
Rushing Yardage: 206
3rd Downs: 7-11
Catawba was a sleeper pick to possibly win the SAC this season, and if the opening 49-0 win over St. Augustine's is any indication, sleeper might not be the best way to describe the Indians' chances of winning their conference title.
The 49 points put up in the game were the most in one contest since October 4, 2014 when the Indians took down Tusculum by the final score of 51-21. The 516 yards were only 12 short of the single-game high for 2016 when Catawba put up 528 versus UNC-Pembroke.
There is some definite talent on the offensive side of the ball this year, with graduate transfer Patrick O'Brien (UNC-Pembroke) leading the way for the offense under center. With a few more performances such as this, we might see a dark horse become a favorite in the SAC.
Super Region Three: Fort Hays State
Total Offense: 487
Passing Yardage: 325
Rushing Yardage: 162
3rd Downs: 8-15
FHSU was a quiet 8-4 last year, and comes into the 2017 season with very little expectations of contention being thrown around. But after laying a big 48-7 road victory over Missouri Southern on the table, the Tigers might just make some noise after all.
The 48 points and 487 yards were more than all but one contest of the 2016 season, when Fort Hays put up 51 points and over 500 yards against conference foe Pittsburg State. The highlight play of the opening 41-0 half for the MIAA members was a 28-yard pass from Jacob Mezera to Harley Hazlett to make the score 20-0 in the opening minutes of the second quarter.
Upcoming games against some of the best the MIAA offers might present a challenge to a team with questions still surrounding, but an opening blowout victory in conference play might go a long way in building confidence for the 2017 season.
[divider]MORE: Best D2 Football Defense of Week 1
MORE: D2 Football Play of The Week (1)[divider]
Super Region Four: Upper Iowa
Total Offense: 517
Passing Yardage: 217
Rushing Yardge: 300
1st Downs: 20
Rocking their new logos for the first time on the football field, Upper Iowa put up a tremendous showing in NSIC play with a resounding 44-7 victory over Minnesota-Crookston on the road.
The big play was the recipe to success for UIU, with two punts blocked that resulted in return scores, and two offensive touchdowns that were each longer than 32 yards through the air. The ground game was especially effective, with two players totaling more than 90 yards on the ground.
This was the best showing for the Peacocks in an opening game since 2014 when they took down Minnesota-Moorhead by the score of 44-36 at home. That year the final record for Iowa resulted in a 6-5 season, highlighted by an opening five-game win streak. If that happens again this year, we might be seeing a big year from the boys in the Midwest.[divider]