August 15, 2012
2012 GLIAC Football Preview: Coaches Pick Grand Valley State & Ashland to Win Divisional Titles
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By Sandy Gholston, Special Writer for the
BAY CITY, Mich.
– The 2012 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic
Conference (GLIAC) football season will be highlighted by the
additions of three new Ohio-based institutions in Malone
University, Notre Dame College and Walsh University.
The GLIAC’s three newest members join one of the top NCAA
Division II football conferences in the nation. Malone, Notre Dame
and Walsh will be among the teams looking to knock off the
defending champion of the conference, Hillsdale College. The
Chargers won the title in a competitive race last fall with a
league record of 8-2 – just ahead of 7-3 competitors Grand
Valley State University, Saginaw Valley State University and Wayne
While the Chargers emerged as regular-season champions of the
GLIAC, Hillsdale was excluded from the NCAA Division II Playoffs.
Qualifying for the national tournament from the conference were
Saginaw Valley and Wayne State. The Cardinals were eliminated in
the first round of the tournament after a 30-27 overtime loss to
the University of Minnesota-Duluth. The Warriors, however, went on
a run that landed Coach Paul Winters’ team in the NCAA
Division II Championship game. In that contest, Wayne State came up
on the short end of a 35-21 loss to national champion Pittsburg
State (Kan.) University in Florence, Ala. on Dec. 17.
|2012 GLIAC Football
Preseason Coaches’ Poll
|Grand Valley St. (6)
||Wayne State (4)
||Saginaw Valley St. (2)
||Ohio Dominican (5)
Grand Valley State was ranked
first in the North Division while Ashland University took the top
spot in the South Division in the 2012 GLIAC Football
Coaches’ Preseason Poll. The Lakers garnered 108 points
and six first-place votes. Wayne State came in second in the
North, receiving 99 points and four first-place nods.
Hillsdale and Saginaw Valley State placed third and fourth in the
Division, respectively. The Chargers earned 96 points and
four first-place nods, while SVSU claimed 87 points and two
Michigan Technological University finished fifth in the North
Division poll with 66 points, followed by Ferris State University
is sixth place with 45 points. Northern Michigan University
and Northwood University round out the North Division in seventh
and eighth place, respectively. The Wildcats earned 36
points, while the Timberwolves garnered 30 points.
Ashland earned 113 points and 10 first-place votes to finish on
top of the South Division poll. Ohio Dominican University
finished second with 108 points and five first-place nods.
The University of Findlay placed third with 97 points and one
first-place vote, while Lake Erie College finished fourth with 73
Newcomer Walsh University finished in fifth place in the South
Division poll with 49 points, while Tiffin University and Notre
Dame College tied for sixth place, each earning 43 points. Malone
University rounded out the poll in eighth place with 42 points.
Ranked in order picked in the 2012 GLIAC Preseason
1. Grand Valley State University (8-3 overall,
Overview: Grand Valley has loaded up with a team
ready to contend again for the GLIAC championship and a spot in the
playoffs. The Lakers, winners of the final seven games of the 2011
season, are back with seven of their top nine returning on defense
and a talented cast returning on offense under third-year head
coach Matt Mitchell. Junior quarterback Heath Parling returns with
a year of experience under his belt after leading the nation in
pass efficiency in 2011 at 180.35. He has a lot of talent returning
on offense including a strong offensive line, talented receivers
and an experienced rushing attack. The Lakers ended the 2011 season
as one of the hottest football teams in Division II and hope to
carry that momentum into the 2012 campaign.
Offense: The Lakers will field a potent offensive attack
led by Parling, the nation’s leader in passing efficiency
last season. Parling is a third-team All-American as named by
Beyond Sports Network. Grand Valley should be able to provide
balance to Parling’s passing attack with a strong running
game back in Allendale. The top seven rushers from last season are
all back for Mitchell and his staff. Among the players who will be
on the receiving end of Parling’s passes will be senior
receiver Charles Johnson, who was one of the nation’s leaders
in touchdown receptions, at 15, and in yards, with 1,030. Johnson
was an All-GLIAC First Team choice. One of the cornerstones of
GVSU’s offensive successes has been strong play on the
offensive line. Mitchell’s Lakers have four starters back on
the line. This season should be no different with a line that
features preseason All-America candidate Matt Armstrong, a center
who is coming off an injury that sidelined him in 2011. At guard,
the Lakers will enjoy the experience of Tim Lelito, an All-GLIAC
First Team pick and a preseason All-America candidate. Lelito was
named a preseason All-America by Beyond Sports Network along with
Defense: The Lakers figured to be solid on the
defensive side of the football with seven of their top nine linemen
back, its top four cornerbacks returning and a talented group at
linebacker. Junior Luther Ware will be joined by Western Illinois
transfer Sam Power. In the secondary, free safety/kick returner
Erik Thompson is a preseason All-American. The Lakers return
starters in the defensive backfield in Michael Hatcher and Reggie
Special Teams: All three kickers are back for the Lakers and the
return game should be solid as well with Thompson as a
Coaching: Matt Mitchell is entering his third
season as the head coach of the Lakers. His career record, all at
GVSU, is 19-5.
Key Dates: The Lakers open on the road at Western Oregon
on Sept. 1 before returning home to open the renovated Lubbers
Stadium on Sept. 8 when newcomer Notre Dame College visits for a 7
p.m. contest. The Lakers renew their rivalry with Ferris State in
the Anchor Bone Classic in Allendale on Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. GVSU
renews another rivalry as it takes on Saginaw Valley State in the
Battle of the Valleys on Nov. 10 in SVSU’s backyard.
2. Wayne State University (12-4 overall, 7-3
Overview: Wayne State is coming off a magical run
that took the program to the brink of an NCAA Division II National
Championship before it fell in the title game. Coming off the best
season in the 94-year history of the program, the Warriors now must
refocus and get ready for the 2012 season with a new cast of
players – putting behind them memories of the national title
game loss to Pittsburg State. This fall, WSU welcomes back 41
letterwinners, including 19 on offense and 21 on defense.
Offense: The Warriors have some big shoes to fill
in the offensive backfield with the loss of star running back Josh
Renel. Still, the pilot of the offense is back as Wayne welcomes
the return of quarterback Mickey Mohner. He enters the year with
three of the top four passing efficiency ratings in WSU history as
he places his name prominently atop the Warriors’ career
record books in completions (417), passing yards (5,937), passing
touchdowns (48), passing efficiency (138.2), average yards per pass
attempt (8.1) and total offense per play (7.10). All-American
junior fullback Chet Privett and junior running back Toney Davis
will lead the rushing attack this season. Davis returns this season
in the Wayne record books for rushing touchdowns (fourth), points
(tied-sixth), and rushing yards. Davis rushed for 1,557 yards
and 22 touchdowns a year ago. Mohner will have some targets in the
passing game led by senior receiver Steve Conway. Junior Dominique
Maybanks will play a role as a receiver. The receivers will work by
committee to fill the void left by All-American Troy Burrell. Sean
McAuliffe, a sophomore, leads a young group of tight ends. On the
offensive line, Wayne has a combination of experience and youth
with senior guards Curtis Ferguson and Mike Hinkle along with
sophomore center Thom Box. Wayne will look for candidates to step
up at the tackle positions. One candidate for a tackle spot is
senior Sean McCarthy.
Defense: One of the cornerstones of Wayne State’s
run to the NCAA Division II national championship game was a tough,
hard-nosed defense. The defense enjoyed 36 takeaways, including (23
interceptions and 13 fumbles) through 16 games. This year’s
defense has to replace a good deal of talent, including former
safety Jeremy Jones, now with the Chicago Bears. Senior cornerback
Aaron Cornett is back as a 2012 Lindy’s Pre-Season
All-American. Junior Kevin Buford-Wilson and sophomore Gerren
DuHart are back in the defensive backfield. Antwon Robinson, who
had five interceptions in 2011, is back at safety along with Mazen
Jaddou. At linebacker, Nick Thomas, Ed Viverette and Steve
O’Shell are back for Wayne. In 2009, Thomas was the Defensive
Most Valuable Player for the Warriors. He graduated in May, with
honors in Finance, but is back to play as a graduate student. On
the defensive line, WSU welcomes back Pat Cecile and Greg Hasse
along with junior Andrew Matt at the ends. At the tackles are
Serxho Guraleci, Zach Houghton, and David Burnley.
Special Teams: At placekicker, Stefan Terleckyj is back
for his junior year as WSU’s leader in PAT’s made and
attempted, and ranks fourth in field goals made. He also handled
the punting duties in 2011. The return game will miss the talents
of Renel. Helping to fill that void is junior James Jackson, who
had two kickoff returns for touchdowns last year in just 11
Coaching: Paul Winters will enter his ninth season as the
reigning American Football Coaches’ Association Division II
“Coach of the Year.” This year, Winters welcomes Brad
Wilson to his coaching staff as Defensive Coordinator and mentor of
the defensive backs. Wilson previously served as a secondary coach
at GLIAC rival Ashland University.
Key Dates: Wayne State opens its season on the road at
Ashland on Sept. 8 at 7 p.m. The home opener is Sept. 15 when the
Warriors host Lake Erie. For homecoming, on Oct. 20, WSU hosts
3. Hillsdale College (8-3 overall, 8-2
Overview: Hillsdale College enjoyed a
championship season in 2011, in spite of its success in the GLIAC.
The Chargers went from the high of winning the conference to the
low of not earning a bid to the NCAA Division II playoffs. This
season, head coach Keith Otterbein and his squad will enter this
fall determined to challenge again the league title and possibly
make it back to the NCAA tournament. Winning the GLIAC regular
season championship represented a first outright title for the
program since 1988. The team returns with ample firepower to be
able to score points led by one of the nation’s best running
backs in Joe Glendening and an experienced quarterback in Anthony
Mifsud. Defensively, Hillsdale returns with a solid defense that
should make life tough on opponents throughout the season. Fullback
Cam White and Glendening were named preseason first-team Beyond
Sports Network Preseason All-Americans.
Offense: Joe Glendening, a first-team All-American and
Harlon Hill trophy semifinalist in 2011, is back to power this
offense. He broke school records last year with 1,604 rushing yards
and 31 total touchdowns, including 27 on the ground. The guys up
front making it happen for Glendening return with experience.
Glendening was an All-GLIAC First Team choice last fall. The four
returning starters for the Chargers are D.J. Loy, Patrick Ryan, Tim
Hornak and Nick Landry. Anthony Mifsud is back for his second
season as the starting quarterback. He completed 66 percent of his
passes and ranked fourth in the GLIAC with more than 2,500 passing
yards. Misfud has a number of targets returning, including Andrew
Mott (39 receptions, 587 yards), Evan Bach (16 receptions, 164
yards), Evan Sassack (12 receptions, 153 yards), Lou Cangelosi (11
receptions, 157 yards) and Brett Miller (11 receptions, 134 yards).
Some up-and-comers, including redshirt-freshmen John Haley and Nick
Chapel, could play a role this season after successful spring
Defense: The Chargers’ defense is spearheaded by a
strong group of returning junior starters at linebacker in Brett
Pasche, Devin Moynihan and Steven Embry. Pasche was tied for second
in the GLIAC with 15 tackles-for-loss a year ago and was a
first-team All-GLIAC pick. Moynihan led the team with 96 total
tackles, while Embry tied with Pasche for a team-high 4.5 sacks.
The defense has gained experience which should lead to improved
depth Leading that list of players who have gained experience are
sophomore Butch Herzog and the redshirt-freshman Justin
D’Agostino. On the line, Hillsdale has more depth with as
many as eight players potentially in the mix. Returning starters up
front include Skyler Davis, Bryan Siegert, Nathan Bundy and Zach
Cherocci. If the depth is tested, Hillsdale might feel comfortable
inserting younger talent in Joe Snyder, Ian Sheldon and Roger
Stewart as well.
Special Teams: An experienced group returns in special
teams as placekicker Colin McGreevy is a third-year starter and
Matt Eltringham is in his second season as punter.
Coaching: Keith Otterbein was named the 2011 GLIAC
“Coach of the Year.” One change to this year’s
coaching staff is the addition of 2010 Hillsdale College graduate
Brad Otterbein, son of Keith, as quarterbacks coach. Brad’s
brother, and another son of Keith, Steve, is in his second season
as wide receivers coach.
Key Dates: This year’s schedule has a new look as
the GLIAC has added Notre Dame College (OH), Malone and Walsh
football. Malone will be
Hillsdale’s second game at home, on Sept. 15. To begin the
season, however, the Chargers open against one of
Pennsylvania’s top programs, California (Pa.) on the road on
a Thursday night. Homecoming and Senior Day will take place at the
same time this year, with the marquee matchup against Grand Valley
State slated for Oct. 27.
4. Saginaw Valley State University (7-4 overall,
Overview: Expectations are high this season for
Saginaw Valley State as it enters the 2012 season hungry to compete
for a GLIAC championship. The program’s high expectations are
based in part on a pair of Beyond Sports Network Preseason
All-American Team members in junior quarterback Jonathon Jennings,
to lead the offense, and senior linebacker Grant Caserta, to lead
the defense. SVSU has experience at several key positions and that
veteran leadership will be tested right off the bat as the team
begins the 2012 campaign with a non-conference home game against
one of the top gridiron programs in all of Division II, Valdosta
State. That matchup is scheduled for Sept. 1 at 7 p.m. in Wickes
Stadium. A win by the Cardinals in the opener could set the stage
for a huge season of football.
Offense: Jennings, a preseason All-America quarterback,
leads the offense coming off a prolific season during which he
passed for 2,924 yards and 29 touchdowns. He completed 68 percent
of his passes and finished with the nation’s third-best
passer efficiency rating at 172.59. He is coming off one of the
best passing seasons by a quarterback in Saginaw Valley history.
Senior running backs Tim Hogue and Ronnie Lark return for the
Cardinals. Hogue rushed for 664 yards and two touchdowns while Lark
rushed for 427 yards and three scores. Jennings added seven
touchdowns as a dual-threat quarterback. Jeff Janis, a junior wide
receiver, looks to build on an impressive sophomore season in which
he hauled in 14 touchdown passes. He finished the season with
48 catches for 968 yards. Mark Thrash added 251 yards
receiving last season with two touchdowns
Defense: Caserta, a preseason All-America at linebacker,
started nine games last season for Saginaw Valley and totaled 85
tackles, including 42 solos. He also finished with two
interceptions. He suffered an injury that ended his season early.
Senior defensive back Jeff Heath will lead the defensive backfield
for Cardinals after finishing third on the team with 81 tackles,
one sack, nine tackles for loss and an interception. Junior
linebacker Brian Johnson returns after playing in 11 games as a
sophomore and finishing with 62 tackles and two
Special Teams: Sophomore kicker Scott Stanford returns
for Saginaw Valley after playing in 11 games as a freshman and
converting 11-of-14 field goal attempts. The year of experience
should only help him coming into this sophomore campaign.
Coaching: Jim Collins is entering his fifth season at the
helm of the SVSU football program where he has led the Cardinals to
the postseason in two of his first four seasons. While at
SVSU Collins has recorded a 27-17 overall record and captured the
GLIAC North Championship in 2011. Prior to coming to SVSU,
Collins, coached at Capital University (Ohio) where his teams
compiled a record of 44-13 over his final five seasons and reached
the NCAA Division III playoffs each of the final three years.
Key Dates: Saginaw Valley hosts Valdosta State in the
2012 Red Feather Classic Game at 7 p.m. on Sept. 1. The GLIAC
opener is one week later on Sept. 8 when the Cardinals are on the
road at league newcomer Malone. SVSU travels to nearby Northwood in
the Axe Bowl on Oct. 6 and one week later plays in a
nationally-televised game for the second straight season on Oct. 11
against Wayne State on CBS College Sports Network.
5. Michigan Technoilogical University (7-4
overall, 6-4 GLIAC)
Overview: Michigan Tech has some holes to fill in
its lineup, but the Huskies do have a lot of talent returning,
particularly on the offensive side of the football. MTU put
together a solid season and had opportunities to give younger
players some valuable experience – experience that should pay
off this season. The Huskies have an opportunity to get off to a
good start with three of their first four games at home. The
challenge, however, is that the week-four opponent, at home, is
traditional GLIAC power Grand Valley State. Traditionally, however,
the Huskies play well at Sherman Field and has the running game,
behind a solid offensive line, to make life tough on teams that
make the trip to Houghton in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Offense: Tyler Scarlett, the 2011 GLIAC Freshman of the
Year, passed for 2,395 yards with 18 touchdowns against nine
interceptions. Akeem Cason and Cedrick Barber are back to run the
football out of the backfield for the Huskies. Cason rushed for 749
yards last season with eight touchdowns while Barber rushed for 377
yards on three touchdowns. Replacing Steve Worthy, at receiver,
will be a challenge. However, MTU welcomes back some talented
seniors in tight end Bryan LaChapelle, a preseason Beyond Sports
Network Second Team All-American, and senior receivers Matt Curtin
and Pat Carroll. Curtin had 370 yards receiving with a touchdown
while LaChapelle had six touchdowns and 404 yards receiving. A lot
of experienced firepower exists for Michigan Tech.
Defense: Michigan Tech lost a lot of seniors last season.
Senior Justin Armstrong is back, however, after he played in 11
games with 68 total tackles, 7.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss.
Jacob Clark is also back with experience, as a defensive end, after
he totaled 43 tackles and five sacks with 7.5 tackles for loss.
Traditionally, MTU is a team known for a strong defensive line,
backed by good linebackers, that puts pressure on the quarterback.
Players like David Russek, a sophomore last season who had 25
tackles, is one of the candidates to step up in 2012.
Special Teams: Garrett Mead returns at kicker for the Huskies
after scoring 57 points last season, including 36 PATs and seven
made field goals. Ethan Shaver, as a junior last season, had 19
kick returns for 466 yards for an average of 24.5 yards.
Coaching: Tom Kearly begins his seventh season as head
coach of Michigan Tech. Prior to coming to Michigan Tech, Kearly
spent 19 seasons at the Division I level on the staff of Central
Michigan, including the last six as associate head coach and last
nine as offensive coordinator.
Key Dates: MTU will play its lone night game of the 2012
season when the Huskies host Grand Valley State on Sept. 29
p.m.). Michigan Tech will travel
to Marquette (Mich.) to face U.P. rival Northern Michigan the
following weekend (Oct. 6) where to the two teams will square off
in the “Miner’s Cup” game.
6. Ferris State University (6-5 overall, 5-5
Overview: Ferris State University is set to usher
in a new era under first-year head coach Tony Annese, who takes
over the program this fall. Annese, most recently the
highly-successful head coach at Grand Rapids Community College,
will lead a Bulldog football program coming off a record of 6-5
overall last season, including 5-5 in GLIAC competition. Ferris has
star power returning led by do-it-all linebacker Tayo Moss. Moss, a
first-team All-GLIAC player last season, is already garnering
preseason attention as he has been named a preseason All-American
by Beyond Sports College Network. The team is aiming to reload in
spite of the loss of a solid group of veteran players from the 2011
roster, including senior quarterback Tom Schneider. The Bulldogs
went through spring practice with the staff in place to have an
opportunity to gel heading into the summer and looking ahead to the
fall. In a short period of time, Annese and his staff assembled a
strong class of recruits, including eight who, as far back as
February, were already set to compete in the Michigan High School
Football Coaches Association All-Star Game.
Offense: Under first-year offensive coordinator
Rob Zeitman, Ferris is coming in with high expectations as it seeks
to fill in spots vacated by the graduations of last year’s
senior class. Veteran quarterbacks Taylor Masiewicz and Jason
Vander Laan will be among those competing to take over the spot
held last season by Tom Schneider. Tight end Kevin Guirand, running
back Skyler Stoker and tailback Dwayne Williams are back in the
backfield. On the offensive line, Ferris welcomes back Taylor
Phillips, Trevor Smolinski and Sam Parker. Ferris has 18
letterwinners returning on offense, including six starters.
Defense: The Bulldogs have a strong cast
returning on the defensive side of the football and will be led by
its linebackers. Senior Tayo Moss, a preseason All-America as named
by Beyond Sports College Network, leads the way for Ferris. Moss
will have a lot of help with an experienced group that includes
Alex Brajak, a senior, and Mike Elias, a senior. Up front, Jordan
Morgan is back to anchor what should be a strong defensive line.
Last season, Morgan was an All-GLIAC Second Team choice for the
Bulldogs. Among the returning starters are Brajak, Elias and Moss
at linebacker; Jonathan Flynn, William Miles, Jaime Berrera, Mike
Davis and John Purdy, in the secondary; and Brad Iskow, Morgan and
Garrett Woods on the line. Miles is returning for the Bulldogs
after missing the entire 2011 season due to injury.
Special Teams: Ferris will welcome competition
for starting duties at kicker and punter for the 2012 season.
Coaching: Tony Annese is entering his first
season with the Bulldogs. While at GRCC, Annese was tabbed as the
NJCAA Regional Coach of the Year all three seasons and led the
Raiders to a three-year mark of 30-4 overall. The program finished
among the nation’s top 10 teams three-straight seasons and he
coordinated all aspects of the program such as recruiting, player
development, academic support and more. Annese has a strong staff
that includes defensive coordinator Ryan Oshnock, offensive
coordinator Rob Zeitman and assistants Ryan Brady, Ryan Hodges and
Key Dates: Ferris opens the season Aug. 30 on the
road at St. Francis (Ill.). In week two, on Sept. 8, the Bulldogs
open GLIAC play with a road contest at Lake Erie College. The team
has a tough stretch of rivalry games against some of the
league’s premier teams in the middle of the season at Saginaw
Valley (Sept. 29), at Grand Valley (Oct. 6), home against Hillsdale
(Oct. 13), home against Michigan Tech (Oct. 20) and Wayne State on
7. Northern Michigan University (4-7 overall,
Northern Michigan enters a new era as Chris
Ostrowsky was named the 21st head coach of the football program on
Nov. 30, 2011, after spending two seasons as the offensive
coordinator. Ostrowsky takes over the NMU program strengthened by
more than 15 years of coaching experience. Expect the Wildcats to
look to its experienced players for leadership on the field and in
the locker room this season. The Wildcats return 23 letterwinners
from the 2011 team that went 4-7 after starting the season 3-0.
Northern has some significant holes to fill on both sides of the
football, but Ostrowsky has players who have prepared themselves in
the spring and will continue to prepare themselves in the fall to
compete for starting spots.
Ostrowsky is the offensive coordinator
and brings the spread offense back for the third year. Eight
starters return. Redshirt freshman Ryan Morley and senior Cody
Scepaniak will battle for the starting quarterback position. The
two head into the preseason evenly matched. Scepaniak backed up
all-GLIAC quarterback Carter Kopach in 2011 with Morley taking a
redshirt year. Prince Young and John Privitelli return a veteran
backfield. Privitelli enters his senior season after an injury
plagued 2011 when he appeared in three games. Young led the
‘Cats with 960 yards on 202 carries. Both have been GLIAC
Honorable Mention selections and are led by young coach Brian Mitz.
The receiving trio of Christian Jessie, Christian Marble-King and
Julian Gaines provides the starting quarterback with plenty of
options. Marble-King and Gaines are both taller than 6-foot-2 and
Jessie finds gaps in the slot. The receivers are led by former NFL
wide receiver and Michigan Wolverine Marcus Knight. Jace Daniels
and Chad Anderson anchor the offensive line. Daniels was selected
to the GLIAC Second Team in 2011 and returns for his senior year.
James Bester, Chad Pepper and Patrick Fehlberg also bring
experience to the front line. Former Wildcat Rob Boss will coach
the offensive line for the second year.
Newly hired defensive coordinator Brian
Newberry brings plenty of experience to the Wildcat defense. He
will run a 4/3. Veteran Joe Ballard coaches the defensive backs and
Joe Coniglio will coach the defensive line. Two-time GLIAC Second
Team selection Zach Anderson returns for his senior season. He led
the team with 68 total tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and four sacks
in 2011. Joining him on the defensive line will be James
Brito-White, Jordan Adideran and Matt Smith. Veteran linebackers
Josh Droese, Wyatt Jurasin and Morgan Stenz return and Ed Knoblock
returns for his senior season after an injury shortened two game
season. He was NMU’s Male Athlete of the Year and a GLIAC
First Team selection in 2010. Brandon Parson and Brock Reynolds
lead a young group of defensive backs.
The program’s career leader
for field goals made in a season Rockne Belmonte will once again be
a steady leg for the Wildcats. With his 31 career field goals,
Belmonte now has a chance to break Northern’s record for
field goals in a career, currently held by Kyle Marotz (2002-05)
who made 41.
Chris Ostrowsky is entering his first
season as the head coach of the Northern Michigan football program.
He is the 21st head coach in the history of the Wildcats football
program. Previously, Ostrowsky served the last two seasons as the
offensive coordinator at NMU.
Northern opens the season on the road
at Findlay on Aug. 20 at 7 p.m. The home opener is a week later on
Sept. 6 with a visit from Wisconsin-La Crosse. The Wildcats host
Ashland for homecoming on Sept 22, and rival Michigan Tech on Oct.
8. Northwood University (2-9 overall, 1-9
Overview: Northwood is looking for a bounce-back
season on the gridiron after just two wins during the 2011
campaign. A year ago, the Timberwolves opened with a 14-10 win over
Findlay, dropped five straight, defeated Tiffin 20-10 and then
dropped four in a row. This season, Northwood is looking to use the
experienced it gained in some tough losses to turn them into wins
in 2012. Northwood has an opportunity to get off to a good start as
it hosts Quincy in a non-conference game at Midland Community
Stadium on Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. In week two, on Sept. 8, the
Timberwolves return to their home stadium to host Walsh in the true
home opener and GLIAC opener at 12 p.m. In week three, NU travels
to Notre Dame College and in week four travels to Tiffin. The
schedule gets considerably more challenging with Wayne State,
Saginaw Valley State, Michigan Tech, Grand Valley State, Northern
Michigan, Ferris State and Hillsdale to close the 2012
Offense: Two cornerstones of the Northwood offense this
season are expected to once again be quarterback Aaron Shavers and
fullback Cameron Jackson. Jackson rushed for 1,078 yards and seven
touchdowns as he averaged 4.6 yards per carry. Shavers rushed for
247 yards and one touchdown. Through the air, Shavers passed for
587 yards and two touchdowns as he completed 49.4 percent of his
passes. Rashad Hedgepeth is back after rushing for 145 yards, Luke
Shaffer rushed for 123 yards and Josh Sinagoga carried the ball for
117 yards. Last year, as a team, Northwood rushed for 180.6 yards
Defense: Ryan Whittum led the team with 90 total tackles
last season, including 38 solos. He also had an interception and
half a sack. Spencer Remtema was second on the team with 59 tackles
and an interception while Fabian Jackson had 48 tackles and two
interceptions. Damion Horton had 41 tackles.
Special Teams: Last season, Cameron Jackson was a key
player on special teams for the Timberwolves as he had 33 returns
for 848 yards with a touchdown. He averaged 25.7 yards per return.
His longest return of the season was 91 yards. Tony Hite averaged
40.8 yards per punt last season with a long of 65 yards. Alex Faust
handled the placekicking duties last season and is expected to do
the same this fall.
Coaching: Mike Sullivan returns to the sideline as the
head coach of the Timberwolves and welcomes back a veteran staff to
back him up.
Key Dates: Northwood hosts rival Saginaw Valley
State on Oct. 6 in the Axe Bowl, one of the top gridiron rivalries
in the GLIAC.
1. Ashland University (6-5 overall, 6-4
Ashland is coming in focused on
finishing the deal this season as it gears up to start the season
strong and finish the season strong. Coach Lee Owens, in his ninth
season, is ready for his team to contend for the GLIAC championship
and for him to earn his third bid to the NCAA Division II
Tournament for the third time in his tenure at AU. Owens’
squad started the season with a 5-2 record, but closed with just
one win in its last four games to fall out of contention for a
potential playoff berth. This season, the Eagles have some
up-and-coming talent ready to step in on what everyone hopes is a
contender on the gridiron. The Eagles return to the field this fall
with 51 letterwinners back and hungry for success. Of the 51 back
this season are nine returning starters on offense and five on
defense. Offensively, the Eagles have been strong after a 2011
season in which they averaged 30.3 points while the defense
surrendered 23.9 a contest.
Ashland will feel good about the veteran
leadership it has in the offensive backfield led by senior
quarterback Taylor Housewright, who is in his third season as a
starting quarterback and eager to lead his team to a strong start,
middle and finish to the 2012 season. Housewright completed
156-of-254 passes for 1,798 yards with 15 touchdown tosses. To his
credit, he has the second and fourth best single-season completion
percentage figures in school history. Sophomores Jordan McCune and
Anthony Taylor are expected to lead the Eagles’ running game.
McCune led Ashland in rushing in 2011 with 834 yards as he also
made it into the end zone 13 times. He ranked fifth in the GLIAC in
touchdowns and ninth in rushing. Taylor turned in a solid season on
the ground as well with 390 yards for 4.7 yards per rush. He also
scored three rushing touchdowns as well. At receiver, a group that
has been young could be ready to step up this season led by Anthony
Capasso, a converted defensive back, and Eric Thompkins are among
the leaders who have gained a little experience and are hungry for
greater success. Dan Piko and David Soucie also are available as
targets for Housewright in the passing offense. The offensive line
is a fast-maturing group ready to set the tone on offense.
Among the defensive leaders this season
will be junior 2011 All-GLIAC First Team pick Jamie Meder, a 6-2,
310-pound defensive lineman who was a third-team preseason Beyond
Sports Network All-America. Making the BSN Honorable Mention team
is linebacker Cody Bloom, a junior. Meder was a first team
All-GLIAC selection last season. Meder, who was the
conference’s freshman of the year in 2010, had 53 tackles,
10.5 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks last season. AU must replace
two other all-conference performers – Matt Stoinoff and Jeris
Pendleton – from last season. Pendelton was a first team
all-conference pick who was drafted in the seventh round of the NFL
draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Stoinoff was a GLIAC honorable
mention selection. tackles (53 solo). Bloom was the first AU player
to notch 100 tackles since linebacker-safety Tom Brenner had 126
stops in 2008. Bloom was second in the GLIAC in tackles. Sophomore
safety Eric Schwieterman was limited due to injury last season, but
did have four interceptions and 34 tackles. Linebacker Phil Galaska
is back after missing the 2011 season due to injury.
A big challenge for Ashland will
be replacing an outstanding kicker/punter in Gregg Berhshire, who
was a first team American Football Coaches Association Division II
All-American. Preseason will give the coaching staff an opportunity
to further evaluate candidates for kicker and punter.
Lee Owens is entering his ninth season
as the head coach of Ashland University and last took the Eagles to
the NCAA Division II Playoffs in 2008.
Ashland’s 2012 schedule begins
with what will be a non-conference home game against former GLIAC
rival Indianapolis on Aug. 30. The GLIAC opener is Sept. 8 as the
Eagles host Wayne State.
2. Ohio Dominican University (7-4 overall, 6-4
Coming off a solid 7-4 overall record,
including finishing tied for third in the GLIAC South Division
standings, Ohio Dominican would love to pick up from where it left
off in 2011 with a banner 2012 season. The roster includes 46
returning letter winners, including 26 on defense and 20 on
offense. ODU should be solid on offense behind an offensive line
anchored by senior tackle Tyler White and senior center Andrew
Carpenter. The defense should be solid as well with talent at all
three levels. The Panthers will be tested early with road games at
Hillsdale (Sept. 8) and Grand Valley State (Sept. 22) amongst its
first four contests of the season.
Returning starters on offense include
Jake Brandt, Andrew Carpenter and Tyler White on the offensive
line. Nate Weeks, a junior, returns at tight end for the Panthers
while Tyler Maddox remains a threat at receiver. Maddox had 203
yards receiving with a pair of touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback
Mark Miller, who played in just two games last season, and
sophomore receivers Nick McKnight and Casey Williams should help
the offense put some points on the scoreboard this season through
the air. On the ground, Mark Nichols, a senior, is back as a
running back and in the kick return game, as is Ronnel Spates.
Defensively, ODU is strong in the
secondary led by senior Eisen Hardy and junior Justin Bell. Bell
and Hardy led the team with 93 total tackles last season. Both men
had four interceptions while Bell had four fumble recoveries for
155 yards – including three forced fumbles. Dominic Clegg, a
junior, is back in the secondary, as is senior Jeff White. The
Panthers welcome back experience at linebacker with a pair of
seniors in Matt Grieb, who had 1.5 sacks last season with 31 total
tackles, and Kevin Guthrie. Guthrie finished with 66 total tackles
and 3.5 tackles for loss. On the line, senior captain Eli Kovach
anchors the unit, while junior Vince German and sophomore Tyrone
Patel are back as well.
Mark Nichols brings experience to
special teams as a kick returner, as does Abe Johnson and Cam
Lewis. In the kicking and punting game, ODU has some work to do to
fill the void left by Chris Vortkamp.
Bill Conley enters his third season as
head coach and brings the Panthers into this campaign off a solid
2011 season. Conley previously served as an assistant coach for
legendary Ohio State University head coach Earle Bruce from 1984 to
1987. He then rejoined the coaching staff at OSU for a second
stint, garnering national acclaim as an assistant coach and
recruiting coordinator under head coaches John Cooper and Jim
Tressel from 1992 to 2003.
Ohio Dominican opens the season at
home against Virginia-Lynchburg on Sept. 1 and begins GLIAC play
the next week (Sept. 8) on the road against Hillsdale. For
homecoming, the Panthers host Walsh on Sept. 29.
3. University of Findlay (6-5 overall, 6-4
Oilers head coach Rob Keys is entering
his second season and hungry to build off a solid first season that
witnessed Findlay finish 6-5 overall and 6-4 in the GLIAC. Last
season was a huge reversal of fortunes for a UF program coming off
a 1-10 record the previous campaign. This season, Findlay returns
with talent and experience with 22 players back who started at
least one game during the 2011 season. Keys has talent back at key
positions on the offensive side of the football, and on defense.
This group gained experience and confidence – helped by a
signature victory in week four on the road at Grand Valley State
and in the season finale, 43-42 in overtime at Wayne State on Nov.
12. The Oilers will work to take that experience into the 2012
season that begins with three solid opponents right off the bat in
Northern Michigan, at Saginaw Valley State and at Michigan
Findlay welcomes back a dozen offensive
players with starter experience led by one of the top rushers in
the league, senior Monterae Williams, an all-conference performer
last season with 1,268 yards and 18 touchdowns. For his career, he
has 3,312 yards and needs 698 to become the career leader at UF.
Coach Keys has experience at the quarterback position with the
return of Clay Belton, who passed for 2,039 yards and 13 touchdowns
during his junior season. His passing yards last season was the
third-best total in program history and his 175 completions during
the campaign was the second-best single-season mark in UF history.
Belton will be pleased to welcome back senior receiver Alex Kovach,
junior receiver Seth White, junior tight end Jaryd Brown and
sophomore wide receiver Nathan Morris. White totaled 60 receptions
to lead the team along with 628 yards and four touchdowns. The
offensive line is anchored by center Scott Dearwester, a second
team all-league pick in 2011. Left tackle Justin Music, an
honorable mention all-league player last season, also returns.
Findlay’s experience on the
defensive side of the football is not as quite experienced, but
still with talent. The Oilers have six players returning as regular
starters. One of the leading players back for UF is Brandon Butler,
a senior linebacker who totaled 102 tackles during the 2011 season
en route to being named an honorable mention All-GLIAC performer.
Junior Kenny Klatt is back at linebacker after 77 tackles,
sophomore Torrence Garland and junior Trevor Smith are back to form
a solid group at linebacker. Senior tackle Richard Sumlin is back
to lead the line after earning honorable mention All-GLIAC
accolades as a junior when he totaled eight tackles for loss and
4.5 sacks. In the defensive backfield, the Oilers will be led by
junior Jamon McClain, who posted 44 tackles and two interceptions;
and junior Kalon Willis, who had six tackles as a backup a year
ago. As a freshman, in 2010, Willis had 72 tackles.
Sophomore kicker Marc Hunka
returns after getting some experience last season while White is
expected to be the man handling the punting duties.
Rob Keys enters his second season as
the head football coach at the University of Findlay. Keys coached
the team to 6-5 overall and 6-4 in the league following a 1-10
campaign prior to his arrival.
4. Lake Erie College (3-8 overall, 2-8
Lake Erie is eager to build on its
three-win season in 2011 as it looks ahead to the 2012 campaign
under head coach Mark McNellie. The Storm, who carry a two-game
winning streak into the new season, have 18 players back on offense
and 18 back on defense, but just five starters back on offense and
six on defense. The team has some holes to fill, including
replacing talented and versatile quarterback Sean Bedevelsky, a
two-time honorable mention All-GLIAC player. The team also must
replace a second team All-GLIAC receiver in Brandon James. In spite
of some significant personnel losses, the team has talent back on
the offensive and defensive sides of the football.
Replacing Bedevelsky will be a
challenge. The team does have a pair of upperclassmen who have
started games at LEC in Brendan Gallagher and Matt Krumpak and also
welcomes a senior transfer Patrick Nicely as a new face with 3,358
yards and 18 touchdowns in three seasons at the University of
Akron. Wing back Aaron Lindgren, a two-sport star who also plays
baseball, caught 12 passes for 182 yards with two TDs and rushed 11
times for 90 yards in five games. Andrew Schickler, who plays
receiver and tight end, had eight receptions for 85 yards with a
TD. He is expected to line-up opposite speedy junior Tommy Jackson.
Tight end Anthony Kukwa, a redshirt freshman sat out last season at
Ball State, but could contribute this season for Lake Erie. Up
front, Mike McElligot and Mike Price anchor the line. McElligot is
a three-year starter and the team’s only All-GLIAC returner
while Price is a two-year starter. Newcomers Drew Ervin and C.J.
Pinkston are listed among the top running backs.
The Storm have talent returning at all
three levels of the defense with defensive end Taylor Leppla up
front after recording 28 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5
sacks in seven games. Providing help on the line are Zane Huston,
who had four tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks along with Marty
Newman, who had 3.5 tackles for loss and a pair of sacks. At
outside linebacker, Kyle Herth had a solid season as he led all
first-year players on the team with 43 tackles and five tackles for
loss. Classmate Tanner Wells and redshirt sophomore Marcus Rogers
give the Storm solid athleticism in the middle of the
defense. The entire secondary returns led by safety Nick
Krantz. Thomas Dexter is a highly-touted true freshman linebacker
coming in for the Storm along with Michigan transfer Isaiah
Sam Marcotte returns as a kicker
and punter for Lake Erie. He converted 95 of 105 PATs and 30 of 44
field goals. He banged through two field goals beyond 40 yards. He
punted 44 times for 36.9 yards.
Mark McNellie, who started the Storm
program from scratch in 2007, has a varsity record of 16-28 during
his career as he looks ahead to the 2012 season..
Lake Erie opens on the road at Gannon
on Aug. 30 in the annual “Battle of Lake Erie.” The
team’s home opener is in week two on Sept. 8 when it hosts
Ferris State under the lights at Jack Britt Memorial Stadium. The
homecoming contest is on Oct. 13 against Malone.
5. Walsh University (5-6 overall, N/A
Walsh is set to begin its first season
of GLIAC competition this fall, and has worked to prepare for the
competition that awaits the Cavaliers in one of the nation’s
premier Division II football leagues. Walsh comes in with a solid
offense that posted 25.8 points last season and held opponents to
22.4 points per game for Jim Dennison, who brings a wealth of
coaching experience to the WU sidelines. Moving up to the Division
II level in the GLIAC, Dennison is excited about the class that the
staff has been able to bring to Walsh. It’s the first NCAA
Division II recruiting class in school history and the coaches
believe they’ve attracted a talented class of players who can
compete in a tough league like the GLIAC.
Walsh is bringing back a strong running
game as it prepares to enter the GLIAC – a league with tough
defenses where games are won with quality running attacks. The
running game features Toba Olarewaju, who was the leading rusher
for the team last season as he amassed 734 yards and six touchdowns
on 176 attempts. Justin Keith was the second leading rusher last
season for Walsh as he totaled 722 yards and eight touchdowns while
Steve Smith was the third-leading rusher a season ago as he posted
389 yards and 11 touchdowns. Handling the ball from the quarterback
position is Jack Dawson, a junior, who is looking like a top
candidate to start at quarterback for the Cavaliers.
Nathan Filut, who finished with 56
tackles last season, led the team, statistically. Cory Farcas, a
year ago, was close behind Filut with 55 tackles and 12 tackles for
loss with 2.5 sacks. Tony Stover returns in the secondary after
picking off three passes and totaling 38 tackles.
Junior Tony Stover is one of the
finest return men in the country. He averaged 22.5 per kick return
and 17.6 on 20 punt returns with one touchdown in 2011.
Jim Dennison earned his 100th career
coaching victory win Oct. 5, 1997 vs. Urbana (35-6) at the Akron
Rubber Bowl, where he led the UA Zips from 1973 to 1985. Dennison
earned his 100th collegiate win against arch-rival Malone College
(14-6) on Nov. 15, 1998 and win number 150 against Geneva (14-7) on
Oct. 23, 2004. He won his 150th game at Walsh, Oct. 3, 2009, 63-12
vs. Olivet Nazarene and last season notched his 200th career
against Trinity on November 6.
Walsh opens the season on Aug. 30 at
Kentucky Wesleyan before beginning GLIAC play on Sept. 8 with a
road trip to Northwood. The home opener for Walsh is Sept. 15
against Michigan Tech. Walsh takes on rival Malone on Oct. 6.
T6. Tiffin University (0-11 overall, 0-10
Tiffin has 40 returning letterwinners,
including 22 on offense and 18 on defense, as it looks ahead to the
2012 campaign. The team has 11 starters back on offense and eight
on defense. The Dragons plan to continue running its spread
offensive attack that could perform better with a full complement
of starters back led by All-GLIAC receivers Obadiah Dykes and
Marcus Beaurem for quarterback James Capello. Tiffin has All-GLIAC
skill returning on defense led by lineman Joseph Collard.
The aerial attack could be strong this
season for Tiffin led by a pair of standout receivers in Dykes and
Beaurem. Dykes totaled 64 receptions for 547 yards and five
touchdowns while Beaurem hauled in 50 receptions for 430 yards and
three touchdowns. Capello returns in the backfield with 1,520 yards
with 12 touchdowns. On the offensive line, Gage Gorman, Dustan
Craig and Phillip Matthews will work to control the trenches.
All-GLIAC lineman Joseph Collard is back
for the Dragons after a solid season in which he racked up 62
tackles, including seven for loss. At linebacker, Mike Gomez
returns to lead the group. During the 2011 season, Gomez totaled 76
tackles including 6.5 for loss along with a pair of sacks. Theron
Carter also brings solid experience to that group with 51 tackles.
The Dragons have skill returning to the defensive backfield with
All-GLIAC performer Mike Virgin. Virgin finished the 2011 season
with 68 tackles. Logan Snell, who had 40 tackles, and Cortez
Fleming, who had 26 tackles, strengthen the secondary.
Sophomore Seth Pekoe is back as an
experienced kicker/punter. Pekoe converted 4-of-5 field goals,
including 3-of-4 from 30 to 39 yards. Pekoe had 66 punts for an
average of 37.3 yards. He had three punts of 50-plus yards.
Gary Goff is in his second season as
head coach of Tiffin University.
Tiffin opens the season on Sept. 1 at
home against GLVC foe McKendree University before heading out on
the road in week two (Sept. 8) at Michigan Tech.
T6. Notre Dame College (5-6 overall, N/A
For its first season of competition in
the GLIAC, Notre Dame College has 46 returning letterwinners,
including 22 on offense and 16 on defense this fall. The Falcons
return an experienced quarterback, in Rob Partridge, as well as
players with experience carrying the football out of the offensive
backfield in Pedro Powell, Shawn Riley and Partridge. Notre Dame
also has players with experience back on the defensive side of the
football and a solid recruiting class for a program that was
launched in November 2008 with a plan to begin with a developmental
season in 2009 before embarking on a varsity college season in
Partridge returns to the Notre Dame
College backfield having last season completed 52 percent of his
passes for 1,620 yards with 14 touchdowns. His top targets this
season are likely to be Jack Foy, who last season totaled 40
receptions for 237 yards and two touchdowns; Michael Fields, who
had 39 catches for 348 yards and two touchdowns with 32 touchdowns
in his last seven games; and Keifer Titus, who had 25 receptions
for 321 yards and six touchdowns. As a team, the Falcons totaled
338.2 yards per game. Offense was a big part of the Falcons’
success. In its five victories last season, Notre Dame College
scored 20, 30, 34, 45, and 49 points. The offense was mostly
balanced as the 338 total yards were split between 177.1 through
the air and 161.1 on the ground. Leading newcomers joining the
Falcons this season are Brandon Watkins, a running back from
Detroit, and Seth Rall, a 6-4 tight end from Ohio.
Grunder comes back as a defensive leader
having totaled five tackles for loss, two interceptions and a total
of 83 tackles. Other leaders of the defense include Spencer Krebs,
who finished the 2011 season with 59 tackles and one interception;
Jake Adkins, who had 55 tackles and two sacks; and Michael Lanigan,
who finished with 51. Sylvester Flowers, who totaled 44 tackles,
also pulled down a pair of interceptions for the Falcons. One of
NDC’s top newcomers is Cedric Hall, a Detroit native, who had
five interceptions as a prep senior. As a team, Notre Dame College
gave up just a shade under 400 yards per game at 398.2. The Falcons
are hopeful their returns on defense, combined with newcomers and
emerging players in the program, will slow down opposing offense
more in 2012.
Grunder returns as a leader on
special teams after returning 10 punts for 113 yards with a
touchdown. Fields brought back seven punts for 111 yards and a
touchdown. Foy is the returning leader on kickoff returns as he
brought back 27 for 608 yards.
Adam Howard has a record of 7-15 in two
seasons as a head coach – both with Notre Dame College.
Notre Dame College begins the season
in non-conference play as it faces Mercyhurst (Pa.) for the second
consecutive season on Aug. 30 at home in Lyndhurst, Ohio. Last
season, NDC dropped a tough 24-23 decision in overtime. After
facing the Lakers, the Falcons begin GLIAC play on Sept. 8 at Grand
8. Malone University (4-7 overall, N/A
Malone University is embarking on a new
era as it begins play in the GLIAC – one of the toughest NCAA
Division II conferences in the nation. Last season, the Pioneers
finished with a record of 4-7 overall – including a victory
over future GLIAC opponent Tiffin University, 40-34. The
competition figures to be a lot tougher this season for Malone as
it opens its season at home with a tough GLIAC opponent, Saginaw
Valley State on Sept. 8. The schedule doesn’t get any easier
after that as the Pioneers travel to Hillsdale College and return
home to take on Wayne State, a team that advanced to the NCAA
Division II National Championship game.
Last season, Malone’s offense
posted about 285.9 yards per game and averaged 20.7 points against
the opposition. The Pioneers will work to build on both of those
numbers as they move into the GLIAC. As a junior in 2011, running
back Emil Chambliss, played in nine games for Malone and was the
team’s second-leading rusher with 379 yards and a team-best
five touchdowns on 104 carries. In 2012, the Pioneers would love to
have a solid running game to help balance the offense. During 2011,
quarterback Will Szpor posted strong numbers for the Pioneers as he
passed for 1,651 yards and 10 touchdowns as he completed 56.4
percent of his passes. The Pioneers have a lot of talent coming
back at receiver including Justin McLean, who last season hauled in
seven touchdowns and 762 yards on 44 receptions; Drew Bond, who had
218 yards on 26 catches; and Malik Felton, who had 26 catches for
Antonio Scassa, a senior linebacker,
returns as the leading tackler for the team after totaling 84
tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. Junior linebacker
Brandon Commodore returns with 62 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and
two sacks. Demarco Donaldson, a junior defensive back, finished
fourth on the team in tackles with 58 total and three
The Pioneers will have some
competition for the kicker position for the 2012 season while
returning punter Frank Dufour, a freshman last season, has again
secured punting duties.
The head coach of Malone University is
Eric Hehman, who is in his third season. Prior to arriving at
Malone, Hehman served as the head football coach at NCAA Div. III
Greenville (IL) College for the previous five seasons and led the
Panthers to a 7-3 record in 2009 including a berth in the NCCAA
Victory Bowl (losing to Geneva College, PA 29-28), the first
postseason appearance for Greenville since 2000.
Malone University opens the season and
a new era of GLIAC competition on Sept. 8 at home in the Bell
Stores Kickoff Classic against Saginaw Valley State. The first
GLIAC road trip comes one week later when the Pioneers journey to
Hillsdale. The homecoming opponent for Malone is Notre Dame College
on Oct. 27. Malone will be the road team in the big rivalry
showdown against Walsh University on Oct. 6.