The 2006 Gustavus Adolphus College football team will look to build on the success enjoyed by last year’s squad during the latter half of the 2005 season. Head Coach Jay Schoenebeck‘s Gusties finished 3-7 overall and 3-5 in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, but won three of their final five games after opening 0-5. The 2006 squad, led by 15 returning starters and 35 letterwinners, will attempt to move back into the upper division of the MIAC after posting consecutive lower division finishes for the first time since 1995-1996.
Offensively, Gustavus will be looking to improve on a scoring offense that finished eighth in the MIAC at 16.4 points per game. Junior Jordan Stolp (6-3, 193, Mankato, Minn.) returns for a third season to direct the Gustavus offense. Last season, Stolp went 163-336 through the air for 1,853 yards and 13 touchdowns and was named Second Team All-MIAC. The 336 passing attempts set a school record. Although Stolp has two years of starting varsity experience under his belt, Schoenebeck noted that the junior signal-caller still has room to improve, especially with completion percentage and touchdown-to-interception ratio. Stolp currently ranks fourth all-time in passing attempts (660), fifth in completions (326), seventh in passing yards (3,887) and touchdowns (29) and has nine 200-yard career passing games to his credit. Senior Jacob Mehr (6-2, 190, Aitkin, Minn.) and sophomore Zac Zillmer (6-1, 160, Foley, Minn.) are expected to push Stolp in practice.
At running back, the Gusties will rely on junior Mitch Anderson (5-8, 187, Sleepy Eye, Minn.) to carry the rushing load. Anderson, who split time in the backfield with Drew Stifter last season, rushed for a team-high 439 yards and eight touchdowns in 2005. “Drew was a great leader for us on the field last season,” noted Schoenebeck. “Mitch is now the man and he will need to strive for consistency.” Sophomore reserves Ray Wilson (5-10, 175, Brooklyn Park, Minn.) and Adam Lukes (6-0, 190, Watertown, Minn.) lack experience, but, according to Schoenebeck, have exhibited a great work ethic and positive attitudes that may make up for it.
Senior Kerry Zajicek (6-3, 200, Glencoe, Minn.), junior Tom Johnson (6-4, 200, Mankato, Minn.) and sophomores Chad Arlt (6-2, 188, St. Michael, Minn.) and John Retka (6-2, 170, Shoreview, Minn.) make up a slightly reshuffled wide receiving corps for the Gusties. Zajicek hauled in a team-high 45 balls last season and ranked second on the team with 405 receiving yards. Johnson is the only other top-five receiver from a year ago that returns, picking up 16 receptions for 219 yards and a touchdown. Arlt came on strong in the final two games of 2005, making five catches for 147 yards and a touchdown, while Retka caught four balls for 66 yards and a touchdown in seven games last season. Mitch Anderson, who had seven catches for 46 yards last year, should also provide an option out of the backfield. Senior Pat Wieneke (6-6, 225, Jackson, Minn.) figures to be the likely candidate to fill the vacant tight end position. Wieneke, who will need to adjust to blocking after spending his first three seasons as a wide receiver, had eight catches for 66 yards and a touchdown in 2005. Because of his height and route-running ability, Wieneke could become a big part of the Gustavus offense.
The largest amount of turnover on this year’s squad has occurred on the offensive line as Schoenebeck and offensive line coach Gregg Roberts will need to find replacements for Mark Iverson at left guard and Dan Tiegen at center. Iverson and Tiegen were mainstays on the Gustavus offensive line, starting every game in 2005. Michael Klayum (So., 6-4, 285, Lakeville, Minn.) returns at left tackle, while Ian Ruppel (Jr., 5-11, 285, Edina, Minn.) makes the move back to right guard from right tackle. Both started nine games a year ago. Junior Jared Thelemann (6-1, 255, Kilkenny, Minn.), who started six games in 2005, returns at left guard. The group will receive a shot in the arm, though, as senior Andy Klaers (6-5, 300, Loretto, Minn.) returns to the offensive side of the ball after starting the final three games of 2005 at defensive tackle. A team player with loads of experience, Klaers will line up at right tackle. Replacing Tiegen at center will be no small task, and according to Schoenebeck, the spot is wide open. Junior Mike Johnson (6-2, 240, Rushford, Minn.) appears to be the leading candidate.
While the Gustie defensive unit returns nine starters, one key new face will be that of defensive coordinator Brian Bergstrom. Bergstrom, a 2002 Gustavus graduate, was a three-time All-MIAC selection at linebacker and holds school records for tackles in both a single season (136) and a career (406). “Coach Bergstrom is a great fit. He is already familiar with some of the things we’ve done,” noted Coach Schoenebeck, adding that although Bergstrom may approach things a little differently, the basic defensive scheme will not change. The squad Bergstrom inherits was effective in forcing turnovers in 2005, finishing tied for second in the MIAC in turnover margin at +8. The Gusties forced 13 fumbles and pulled in 15 interceptions, while also frustrating their opponents into a league-high 51.8 penalty yards per game. The Gusties look to have many interchangeable parts at every level of the defense in 2006. Schoenebeck noted that Gustavus’ overall play on defense was quite consistent last season until injuries forced key members of the unit to miss playing time.
Senior Nick David (5-9, 250, Morristown, Minn.) and junior Blake Theisen (5-11, 215, Cold Spring, Minn.) will anchor that defensive line, which will need to find replacements for four-year letterwinner Chris Cornwell and three-year letterwinner Jay Frederickson at defensive end. David, a three-year starter and two-year captain, finished third on the team with 71 tackles, including a team-high 9.5 tackles for loss. Theisen, who is coming off shoulder surgery, recorded 29 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, broke up two passes and forced a fumble. Senior Kory Wermerskirchen (6-1, 240, Sartell, Minn.) missed most of last season with a knee injury and is returning to finish out his eligibility. In six games last season, Wermerskirchen racked up 28 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and forced a pair of fumbles. “Wermerskirchen is a bonus for us. He gives us some quality depth. And Nick David is a seasoned player — a captain — who is everything you look for in a defensive lineman, certainly the anchor of our defensive line,” said Schoenebeck. Senior Jared Chapman (6-5, 230, Eden Prairie, Minn.) and junior Patrick Riordan (6-4, 225, Virginia, Minn.) will also compete for playing time in the trenches while sophomores Ted Aleckson (6-1, 230, Weston, Wis.) and Alex Murrell (6-4, 210, Minnetonka, Minn.) should also contribute as reserves at defensive end after seeing limited action late last season at linebacker.
Entering the season as one of the most veteran groups in the MIAC, the Gustie linebacking corps could also be considered one of the best in the league this year, led by junior Jared Sieling (6-1, 210, Watertown, Minn.), a Third Team Pre-Season All-America selection by Don Hansen’s Football Gazette. Sieling finished fourth in the league last season with 115 tackles from his outside linebacker position. His 11.5 tackles per game average also ranked him 22nd nationally in NCAA Division III. Junior middle linebacker Adam Miron (6-0, 225, Princeton, Minn.) finished second on the team in tackles with 76, while senior Jon Horbacz (5-9, 205, Hinckley, Minn.) finished seventh with 39. “Miron and Sieling are probably two of the more taleneted players in the MIAC,” noted Schoenebeck. Senior Taylor Beahrs (6-0, 210, North Oaks, Minn.) is again expected to contribute in the middle after making 11 tackles in nine games last season. “Those four guys [Sieling, Miron, Horbacz and Beahrs] have played a lot of football for us already and if we can put them in a situation to make plays, they can have good years,” he added. First-year Mike May (Le Sueur, Minn.) could see time in a reserve role at either linebacker or defensive end.
Gustavus also returns valuable experience and depth in the defensive backfield, as all four members of the starting unit are seniors. “These guys have played a lot,” said Schoenebeck, “and that’s one thing you can’t coach.” Brian Evans (5-10, 185, Gaylord, Minn.) and Wade Vrieze (5-9, 180, Richfield, Minn.) return at cornerback, while Kevin Hegland (6-0, 195, St. Michael, Minn.) is back to fill the free safety position. Hegland picked off a team-high four passes last season and was fourth on the team with 64 tackles. Vrieze finished fifth on the team with 58 tackles and Evans registered 31 tackles and each pulled down a pair of interceptions. Neil Petrash (6-1, 200, Farmington, Minn.), who started three games at safety down the stretch in 2005, recorded 43 tackles and an interception in nine games. Sophomore Ethan Armstrong (5-11, 175, Wheaton, Minn.) also contributed defensively in 2005 and could push for playing time this year.
On special teams, Jordan Stolp will again handle placekicking duties for the Gusties after converting six of 10 field goals and 20 of 21 extra point attempts in 2005. John Ostertag (6-1, 180, Walker, Minn.) will back-up Stolp at placekicker and will take a fair amount of the kickoffs. Meanwhile, sophomore Brandon Buesgens (6-2, 195, Norwood Young America, Minn.) is an early choice to replace three-year letterwinner Mike Leonard at punter. Wade Vrieze, who ranked fourth in the MIAC in kick returns (20.6), gives the team a serious return threat, while Mitch Anderson, Chad Arlt, Adam Lukes, John Retka and sophomore Isaac Perry (5-10, 180, Wabasha, Minn.) will battle for punt return chores. Kevin Hegland will again handle the long snapping responsibilities.
“Winning three of five [to close out 2005] was reassuring for us heading into this season,” said Schoenebeck. “Our guys had a good offseason, but there are still some places we can improve.” Schoenebeck added that his team looks realistically at their chances in the MIAC this season and if they can be opportunistic and gain confidence early, there is no reason why the Gusties won’t be able to compete near the top of the league.
This season, Gustavus will play only four of 10 contests at Hollingsworth Field. Coach Schoenebeck traditionally puts together a tough non-conference schedule and this year is no different. Although only 5-4 a year ago, Willamette University (Sept. 9 at Salem, Ore.) remained in consideration for an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III playoffs until the final week of the regular season. It will be the first meeting between the schools on the football field. The team will follow that up with a stretch of three home games in four weeks as the University of St. Thomas (Sept. 16), St. Olaf College (Sept. 30) and Bethel University (Oct. 7) come to St. Peter with a September 23 game at Hamline sandwiched in between. St. Thomas and Gustavus have historically played close games and this year’s early season contest could go a long way toward determining an upper division finish for the winner. The Gusties close out the season with four of five games on the road, beginning with games at Saint John’s (Oct. 14) and nonconference foe Macalester (Oct. 21) before hosting Augsburg in the final home game of the season on October 28. Road tests at Concordia (Nov. 4) and Carleton (Nov. 11) round out the slate. The Augsburg game will also mark the final football game in the 100-year history of the current Hollingsworth Field. Gustavus is scheduled to move slightly north into a brand-new complex to open the 2007 season.
Name: Gustavus Adolphus College
Location: St. Peter, Minn.
Nickname: Golden Gusties
School Colors: Black and Gold
Stadium: Hollingsworth Field
Affiliation: NCAA Div. III
President: Jim Peterson
Athletic Director: Al Molde
Athletic Phone: (507) 933-7617
First year of football: 1902
All-time bowl / play-off record: 0-3
Years in post-season play: 3
Last postseason appearance / result: 1987 / Lost to St. John’s 7-3
All-time record: 437-295-21
Sports Infomation Director: Tim Kennedy
Work Phone: (507) 933-7647
Assistant SID/Football Contact: Joshua Schroeder
Work Phone: (507) 933-8411
Cell Phone: (712) 490-1985
SID Fax: (507) 933-8412
Press Box phone: (507) 933-7404
Athletics website: http://www.gustavus.edu/athletics
Directions to stadium:
Gustavus Adolphus College is located 60 miles from the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area. Drive times vary depending on traffic levels, but with good traffic conditions, it will take about one hour to drive to Gustavus from the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport, about 75 minutes from downtown Minneapolis, MN, and about 90 minutes from downtown St. Paul, MN.
* From north, continue on 169 (Minnesota Avenue) southbound through St. Peter, turn right onto College Avenue, and go up the hill into campus.
* From east, come into St. Peter on westbound Hwy 99, and at the intersection of Broadway and Minnesota Avenue, turn left. Continue on Minnesota Ave. until you reach College Avenue, turn right, go up the hill into campus.
* From south, continue on 169 (Minnesota Avenue) northbound through St. Peter, turn left onto College Avenue, and go up the hill into campus.
* From west, come into St. Peter on eastbound Hwy 99, and turn left onto Minnesota Avenue. Continue north to College Avenue, turn left, and go up the hill into campus.
The football stadium is on the west side of the campus next to the Lund Center for Recreation and Health.
Head Coach Jay Schoenebeck
Alma Mater / Year: Gustavus ’80
Record at school (years): 57-63-0 (13th year)
Career record: 57-63-0
Head Coach’s office phone: (507) 933-7611
Best time / day to reach coach: 10:00am – 10:30am Monday – Friday
Asst. Head Coach/Special Teams/Receivers: Tom Brown (Augustana ’86)
Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers: Brian Bergstrom (Gustavus ’02)
Defensive Line: Mike Deschneau (Gustavus’01)
Defensive Backs: Bob Southworth (Gustavus ’99)
Offensive Line: Gregg Roberts (Gustavus ’80)
Running Backs: Chuck Larsen (Augsburg, ’71)
Gustavus vs. the MIAC
Series vs. Augsburg 52-12-0
Series vs. Bethel 15-12-0
Series vs. Carleton 14-14-3
Series vs. Concordia 40-32-2
Series vs. Hamline 50-23-0
Series vs. St. John’s 31-38-3
Series vs. St. Olaf 34-18-0
Series vs. St. Thomas 34-37-2
Letterwinners returning: Total: 35 — Offense: 13 — Defense: 22
Letterwinners lost: Total: 12 — Offense: 7 — Defense: 5
Starters Returning: 15 – Offense: 6 – Defense: 9
Starters Lost: 7 — Offense: 5 – Defense: 2
Jordan Stolp (Jr., QB/PK, 6-3, 185) — 2nd Team All-Conference QB, finished 3rd in MIAC in passing yards per game (185.3)
Nick David (Sr., DL, 5-9, 250) — 2nd Team All-Conference, three-year starter, finished 3rd on team with 71 tackles.
Jared Sieling (Jr., LB, 6-1, 210) — 2nd Team All-Conference, finished 4th in MIAC with 115 tackles (led team)
Adam Miron (Sr., LB, 6-0, 225) — Finished 2nd on team with 76 tackles
Mitch Anderson (Jr., RB, 5-8, 187) — Leading rusher in 2005 with 439 yards
Kevin Hegland (Sr., DB, 6-0, 195) — Finished 4th on team with 64 tackles, team-high four interceptions
Mike May (Fr., LB, 5-10, 218, Le Sueur, Minn.)
Hamada Omar (Fr., DB, 5-11, 175, Minneapolis, Minn.)
Clint Riegelman (Graduation, wide receiver)
Jamie Germscheid (Graduation, tight end)
Drew Stifter (Graduation, running back)
Chris Cornwell (Graduation, defensive line)
Dan Teigen (Graduation, center)