The Gustavus Adolphus football team hits the gridiron for the first time this season on Saturday against the Coe College Kohawks in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Game time is scheduled for 1 p.m. Listen to a live broadcast of the game on KNUJ 860 AM or by clicking here. Tom Wheeler will handle the play-by-play duties for the Golden Gusties with Gustavus Sports Information Director Tim Kennedy providing commentary. Live stats are available from Coe College by clicking here.
Saturday’s contest will be the first ever meeting between Gustavus and Coe College. However, the Gusties have had experience against other Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference institutions losing to Buena Vista in 2003 and going 1-3 against Central with the lone victory coming in 1990 and losses in 1991, 1994 and 1995. Gustavus is also 3-0 all-time against Luther, but the squads have not competed since 1977.
Meet the Head Coaches
Gustavus Head Coach Jay Schoenebeck (’80) is in his 15th season directing the Gusties with a career record of 68-72 overall, and 59-61 in the MIAC. Schoenebeck recently announced that 2008 would be his final season as head coach. Coe Head Coach Steve Staker enters his first season as the helm for the Kohawks after spending the previous four years as the defensive coordinator for Coe. Prior to arriving at Coe, Staker was the head coach at Fredericksburg High School for 35 years.
A Glance at the Gusties
The 2008 Gustavus Adolphus College football team looks to move back into its traditional spot among the top four in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference standings after finishing in a tie for fifth a year ago with a league mark of 3-5. Head Coach Jay Schoenebeck will rely on a veteran defense early in the season, while the offense looks to fill big holes at the quarterback and running back positions. Schoenebeck will build the squad around 34 returning letterwinners, 19 of which were starters (eight on defense, six on offense, and five on special teams), and a large and talented recruiting class.
The Gustavus defensive unit will benefit from the experience of eight returning starters including the return of all four secondary starters. On offense, Gustavus returns six starters including all-conference wide receiver Chad Arlt and all-conference guard Jared Thelemann. Special teams return all-conference kicker John Ostertag, who will handle kickoff and place kicking duties, all-conference punt returner Ethan Armstrong, as well as punter Matt Knutson and kick returners Cody Sukalski and Joe Welch.
Gustavus will be road warriors as it plays six games away from Hollingsworth Field including non-conference road contests against Coe College and Pacific Lutheran University. The Gusties have four home games this season against Hamline, St. Thomas, Augsburg, and Concordia.
A Look at the Kohawks
Coe opened its 2008 campaign last week with a 21-6 loss to Augustana (Ill.). A variety of miscues on special teams caused problems for the Kohawks, as Coe fumbled three times, losing two of them, had a field goal blocked, and a miscue on an extra point attempt. The Kohawks put together 265 yards of total offense with 201 yards coming in the air, but were unable to get the ball inside the red zone. The Coe defensive unit held Augustana to 192 offensive yards, including 152 yards rushing. That was not enough to compensate for excellent field position as two of Augustana’s scoring drives started inside the Coe 20-yard line.
First year head coach Steve Staker takes over a program that posted a mark of 7-3 overall and 5-3 in the Iowa Conference last year. Six starters return on the defensive side of the ball, including pre-season All-Americans defensive back Tommy Breitbach and defensive lineman Jordan Wilkens. On offense, the Kohawks return six of the seven players that scored offensive touchdowns last season. The question mark for the offense will be who will step in to replace all-conference quarterback Andy TeKippe. However, that question may have been answered as C.J. Feller completed 22-of-32 passes for 201 yards and no interceptions against Augustana.
Season Opener History – Gustavus is 7-7 in season openers during Coach Schoenebeck’s tenure, while the Gusties are 2-6 in season openers on the road. Offense has been a key in all seven wins as the Golden Gusties have scored 34 or more points during those contests. The Gusties are 5-9 in the first road game of the season during the same span. Defense has played a role in determining the game outcome as well. The defense allowed 14 or fewer points in the five wins, whereas it allowed an average of 27 points in the nine losses.
Schoenebeck’s Final Season — Head coach Jay Schoenebeck announced the 2008 season will be his final season at Gustavus after 15 years directing the program. Schoenbeck is the third winningest coach in the program’s history with 68 wins behind Lloyd Hollingsworth and Dennis Raarup with 94 and 99 wins, respectively. Three of the previous five head coaches finished with records above .500 in their final season, including Raarup, who ended the 1987 season with a 10-0 overall record and won the MIAC championship.
Arlt and Armstrong Chasing Career Marks- Seniors Chad Arlt and Ethan Armstrong will be going after several career statistical records this season. Arlt, a pre-season All-American, needs 27 receiving yards to surpass Ryan (2,232 receiving yards) to become the all-time receiving yards leader in program history. He also needs 12 touchdown catches to move past Hoag into first place all-time in the category. Hoag tallied 29 touchdown catches from 2000-02. Armstrong needs 24 punt returns to move past Zach Zimmer as the all-time leading punt returner at Gustavus. Zimmer compiled 78 punt returns from 1999-2002. Armstrong also needs 159 punt return yards to move past Brent Schultze into first place in that category.
Same Position, Different Jordan- Junior Jordan Becker will assume the reigns at quarterback after the graduation of four-year starter Jordan Stolp. Becker appeared in seven games last season completing 9-of-19 passes for 76 yards with one interception.
Injury Update- Gustavus suffered its first significant injury last week during training camp as sophomore running back Michael Wubbena suffered a season-ending ACL injury. Wubbena, a transfer from Augustana (S.D.), was expected to compete for a starting running back position this season.