The Gustavus Adolphus College football team opens its 2004 season this Saturday with a stiff test against #14 Wheaton on the road. Due to delays in the installation of a new FieldTurf playing surface at Wheaton College’s McCully Field the location of Saturday’s game has been moved. The contest will now be played at Langhorst Field on the campus of Elmhurst College. Kickoff for the game is still slated for 1 PM. There will be no admission charged for fans attending the game.
The Gusties will have a new look this season after graduating 15 starters and 29 letterwinners from last year’s squad. Coach Jay Schoenebeck is looking for good things from this young squad, but he understands that there may some growing pains as a result of having so many inexperienced players on the field.
The offense will be particularly young with only two starters returning including running backDrew Stifter and right tackle Anders Haugen. Junior A.J. Bouquet has been tabbed the starter at quarterback, however freshmen Jordan Stolp and Kraig Olson will likely see some playing time as well. Bouquet has played regularly on the junior varsity for the past two seasons, but he has yet to take a snap in a varsity contest. The offensive line will also be a young group with the exception of returning starter Anders Haugen. Joining Haugen will be junior Mark Iverson at right guard, sophomore Dan Tiegen at center, senior Brian Trussell at left guard and sophomore Andy Klaers at left tackle. The receiving corps will consist of junior Jamie Germscheid at tight end, and senior Sean Smith, junior Clint Riegelman and sophomore Pat Weineke at the wide receiver spots. Germscheid will not play against Wheaton due to a leg injury. He will be replaced by sophomore Andrew Dammann.
The defensive unit returns six starters and may have to carry the team while the offense gains experience. Defensive coordinator Lance Taylor will look to senior captain Isaac Sieling to lead the defense from his middle linebacker position. The line will also be quite strong with senior tackle Karl Spilseth, sophomore tackle Nick David and senior end Kris Storvick all having started every game a year ago. Loren Havemeier returns as a starter at cornerback. Sophomore Brian Evans will move into the starting position at the other cornerback after serving as the backup last season. Juniors Chris Thorson and Tyler Ringquist will start at the safety positions after playing regularly last season. Ringquist started the final five games of last season.
On special teams, the Gusties return starting placekicker Kase Niles and punter Mike Leonard. For punt and kick returns, Loren Havemeier is back after finishing last season as one of the top punt and kick returners in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
This is the first ever meeting between Gustavus and Wheaton College on the football field. Wheaton is beginning its 92nd season of football with an all-time mark of 407-318-29 (.559), while Gustavus is beginning its 89th season with an all-time mark of 432-280-21 (.604). Wheaton is a member of the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW).
The Gusties are 5-5 in season openers since Jay Schoenebeck became head coach in 1994. Gustavus is 41-39-4 in opening season games dating back to 1920.
Wheaton is ranked 14th in the d3football.com preseason poll. The Crusaders have won the last two CCIW titles and three of the last four. Head Coach Mike Swider must replace 14 starters, however he also returns 59 letterwinners from last year’s squad that posted a mark of 12-1-0 and advanced to the NCAA Playoffs. Wheaton lost in the third round of the NCAA Playoffs last year to Mount Union 56-10.