2017 Football Season Preview Posted on August 29th, 2017 by

ST. PETER, Minn. – The Gustavus football team enters 2017 with revived goals and expectations, opening their season at Hollingsworth Field Saturday afternoon as they host Westminster College at 1 p.m.

The Gusties are looking to improve upon its 5-5 overall record and 3-5 MIAC mark from last season after three consecutive winning seasons previously. A large bulk of returning letterwinners are expected to lead the way. Gustavus returns 34 letterwinners, including nine starters on defense and five on offense.

“Right now, we’re really focused on preparation and there is a tremendous amount of excitement for the year,” Head Coach Peter Haugen commented on the season outlook. “I know that we all have high expectations for the season. With that said, we’re really trying to focus on each player setting small goals daily and weekly to help them stay focused on what can really make big things happen. There is no question we’re excited, both sides of the ball in some respect are new. Defensively, we bring some guys back but we’re running a new system with new leadership. Offensively, we have the same leadership with our system, but we put in a lot of new pieces. It is going to be fun to see how that all shapes.”

Offensive Line

Key losses: Joe Theiler (Maple Grove, Minn), Ryan Landherr (Prior Lake, Minn.) and Jake Schmitz (North Branch, Minn.)

Players to watch: Jake Langevin (Sr., Cannon Falls, Minn), Ethan Stordahl (Sr., Eden Prairie, Minn.) and Tommy Jech (So., Chatfield, Minn.)


• Theiler was named to the 2016 MIAC All-Conference First Team and Landherr to the Second Team

• Langevin, Stordahl, and Jech combined for 13 starts on the offensive line last season

Coach’s comment: “We lost some key guys but I think every year it is fun to see who is going to step up. We certainly have some guys coming back with some experience along with a couple new faces in there. This group has worked incredibly hard and I think they understand the expectations of where we need to be.”

Karim Ortiz

Running Backs

Key loss: Luke Martinez (Lenexa, Kan.)

Players to watch: Karim Ortiz (Sr., Cancun, Mexico) and Jamison Beulke (Jr., Montgomery, Minn.)


• Martinez averaged 64.8 yards per game and was an All-Conference Second Team member.

• Ortiz returns as the leading rusher from last season as he played in all 10 games and accumulated 567 yards and six touchdowns. He also was an All-Conference Honorable Mention honoree.

• Beulke will receive snaps at both the running back and wide receiver position this season. He had 14 carries for 57 yards last season.

Coach’s comment: “Between Ortiz and Beulke, those guys will be getting the main share of the load and they compliment each other really well. Both are coming back with a lot of playing experience. Karim is more of a traditional running and Jamison can kind of do it all; either running the ball in the backfield or lining up in the slot. We think we’re going to have a chance to be pretty dynamic at the running back position.”


Key loss: Christian Haffner (Lebanon, Tenn.)

One to watch: Michael Veldman (Jr., Becker, Minn.)


Michael Veldman

• Beginning the 2016 season as the starting quarterback, Michael Veldman suffered a season-ending injury in the home opener against Wisconsin-River Falls.

Coach’s comment: “What Veldman did in the first couple weeks last year got us excited about how he fits into the offense. He had a great spring and has had a strong fall so we’re excited to see what comes along. Gavyn Walsh (Fy., Andover, Minn.) is our number two guy right now and he is learning fast and doing some nice things.”

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Key loss: none

Players to watch: Hunter Johnson (Sr., Cannon Falls, Minn.), Jamison Beulke (Jr., Montgomery, Minn.), Ellis Hirman (Sr., Zumbrota, Minn.), and Brayton Finch (So., Mount Morris, Ill.)


• Johnson and Beulke return to lead the receiving core as the top contributers from last season, each tallying three touchdowns

Hunter Johnson

• Johnson led the Gusties with 544 receiving yards and was the team’s leader in all purpose yards, earning a spot on the All-Conference Second Team

Coach’s comment: “The receiving core is a talented group and is probably an area where we have some real quality depth. Johnson has had a lot of experience along with Hirman. Others guys like Beulke, Josh Kirk (So., Garvin, Minn.), and Brice Panning (So., Hamburg, Minn.) will also add depth. Finch returns at tight end after getting some good playing time last year and will be the starter.”

Defensive Line

Key losses: Iker Ortiz-Hidalgo (Cancun, Mexico), Levi Folkert (Elgin, Minn.) and Aaron Brau (Wabasso, Minn.)

Players to watch: Zeke Erickson (So., Clarks Grove, Minn.), Kevin Krohn (Sr., Richfield, Minn.), Chris Nelson (Sr., New London, Minn.) and Tanner Sparrow (Jr,., Edina, Minn.)


• Krohn and Sparrow are the returning tackle leaders as edge rushers, each totaling 15 tackles last season

• Nelson was an All-Conference Second Team member after recording 12 tackles and six yards for loss

• Last season the Gusties tallied 43 tackles for loss and nine sacks

Coach’s comment: “We lost some key guys, no doubt. Right now the defense is creating its own identity. We’re going to roll six to eight lineman in there and we feel we have a number of guys who can play. It is kind of an exciting group because we do feel we have some depth and have a lot of competition going on.”

Casey Decker


Key losses: Zack Martinez (Lenexa, Kan.), Leeland Lauti (Ewa Beach, Hawaii) and Tyler Jakes (North Mankato, Minn.)

Players to watch: Casey Decker (Sr., Mapleton, Minn.), Anders Raarup (Sr., Eagan, Minn.), Matt Berkner (Jr., Sleepy Eye, Minn.), and Avery Bachman (So., St. Peter, Minn.)


• The Gusties lose their leading tacklers in Martinez and Lauti from last season.

• Decker returns as an All-Conference First Team member, recording 23 tackles along with two interceptions last season

• Berkner and Raarup combined for nine tackles for losses, while Berkner led the team with five

Coach’s comment: “Berkner, Decker, and Raarup have a lot of experience, but it is a new group. There is a good opportunity to form a new identity and they have had a strong fall camp.”

Nathan Hajder

Defensive Backs

Key losses: Tanner Jensen (Lewiston, Minn.)

Players to watch: Dutch Claybaugh (Jr., Kaneohe, Hawaii), Jordan Kahlow (Jr., Le Sueur, Minn.), Nathan Hajder (Sr., Rogers, Minn.) and Drew Fredericksen (Sr., Forsyth, Ill.)


• The Gustie defense more than doubled its interception total from the previous season, totaling 17 in 2016

• Kahlow tied for second on the team with 50 tackles while Claybaugh tied for the team lead with seven pass breakups

Coach’s comment: “The defensive back group is exciting as we bring back some solid experience. We also have some young guys that are challenging for some of the backup spots.”


Key loss: none

Players to watch: Brendan Boche (Sr., Lakeville, Minn.)Casey Decker (Sr., Mapleton, Minn.), and Schuyler Thompson (Sr., Millville, Minn.)

Brendan Boche


• Boche and Decker return as the Gustie kicker and punter, while Thompson returns as the long snapper

• Boche made 8-12 field goals on the season while going 31-32 in PAT attempts

• Decker returns as the punter after recording 43 punts for an avergae of 36.9 yards

Coach’s comments: “Boche and Decker are both two-year starters, along with Thompson who just snaps. That battery has been incredibly consistent. We have some good experience coming back.”



2017 Roster | 2017 Schedule | 2016 Statistics


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