The Cobbers hope Steinbeisser can keep his string intact Saturday when Concordia (8-2) plays Augsburg (9-1) in the first round of the NCAA Division III football playoffs at the Fargodome at noon.
"Steinbeisser is the kind of guy you rally around for some reason," said Concordia coach Jim Christopherson. "I canít put my finger on why."
Concordia found out how important Steinbeisser is to its offense when the senior from Sidney, Mont., missed two games late in the season because of a knee injury. That resulted in two losses.
The Cobbers fell to St. Johnís 22-12 at home and to Augsburg 13-10 on the road.
"I would have loved to play in those two games," Steinbeisser said. "But the reason we lost wasnít because I wasnít in there. Our intensity was down and turnovers really killed us."
But itís hard to argue with the numbers. With Steinbeisser in the lineup, Concordia is averaging 31 points per game. When he isnít, its average is 11.
Concordia guard Jed Seeger said he and his teammates feel Steinbeisserís presence on the field.
"It comes down to he plays so hard," Seeger said. "Heís so intense. He plays with as much intensity as Iíve seen anyone play with. He doesnít say anything, he just plays hard and makes everybody want to play harder."
Steinbeisser also adds an experience factor. When Steinbeisser was out the Cobbers featured an all-freshman backfield of Marcus Ludtke and Len Crouse. Ludtke was starting in place of Steinbeisser.
"Ludtke did a good job in there, but you canít replace experience in college," said tackle Noah Caron. "Itís hard to explain why, but experience is huge. Especially at running back."
Christopherson said Steinbeisser will be key in the Augsburg game. Christopherson doesnít expect to hold the Auggiesí powerful offense in check again.
Why? Augsburgís Scott Hvistendahl and Derrin Lamker are two reasons.
Hvistendahl set the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference record for single-season receptions with 78. The 5-foot-10, 175-pound junior compiled 1,273 receiving yards and also caught 14 touchdowns.
Lamker, a 6-2, 205-pound senior, led the conference in total offense, averaging 308 yards per game. Lamker, who also led the league in passing efficiency, threw 24 touchdowns and completed passes at a 68-percent clip.
"I canít remember going against a better passing attack than Augsburgís," Christopherson said. "Even in the national playoffs.
"I think it (the game) will be higher scoring. Whether we can score or not, I know they will score more than 13 this time."
And this time Concordia is looking for a different result. The Cobbers wanted another shot at the Auggies.
"Itís not just a national playoff game, itís also like a conference championship," Caron said. "We feel weíre a better team, we just need to prove it."
Steinbeisser didnít start until his senior season at Sidney High School. Once in the lineup, he took advantage of his chance, playing quarterback for team that ended with a 12-0 record and a state championship.
It took Steinbeisser until his senior year at Concordia to find the starting lineup in college. Again he didnít waste the opportunity. The Cobbers are 8-0 when Steinbeisser starts.
"I wouldnít say itís a coincidence," Steinbeisser said. "I play to win. I hate to lose. I never give up hope no matter how far weíre down."
1997 Cobber Football