2019 Football Season Preview

Posted on September 3rd, 2019 by

(photo courtesy of SPX Sports)

SAINT PETER, Minn. – The Gustavus football team will kick off its 2019 campaign Saturday at Hollingsworth Field as the Gusties host the Martin Luther College Knights for a 1 p.m. contest. Last season the Gusties finished 6-4 overall including a 5-3 mark in the MIAC to finish fourth.

Gustavus vs. Martin Luther | Watch Live | Live Stats

“It’s been a good start to camp and into game week, and we’re excited about this game against Martin Luther,” said Head Coach Peter Haugen, who enters his 11th season at the helm of the Gusties. “It was a great game last year and they’re a talented team who went to the NCAA playoffs. With that said, we’ve been focused on growing as a team and we have some key guys coming back to the lineup. There will be a few new faces but I’m excited about our leadership and the direction that we’ve been going.”

Michael Veldman


Key losses: none

Players to watch: Michael Veldman (Sr., Becker, Minn.) and Brett Hufendick (Jr., Edina, Minn.)


  • Veldman earned MIAC All-Conference honors last season after starting all 10 games. He completed 195-of-335 passes for 2,615 yards, 19 touchdowns, and nine interceptions
  • Brett Hufendick will serve as the backup and has appeared in three career games

Head Coach Peter Haugen’s comment: “Having Michael back is exciting and we can build upon last years momentum. He brings experience and leadership to this critically important position.”

Running Backs

Key loss: Rafael Soriano

Players to watch: David Peal (So., Worchester, Mass.) and Dalton Thelen (So., Cold Spring, Minn.)


  • Peal assumed starting duties in the fourth game last season and toted the majority of the carries after that. The sophomore ran for 436 yards last season on 113 carries, scoring eight touchdowns in the process
  • Thelen saw action in seven games last year, notching 27 carries for 122 yards while catching six passes for 88 yards and a touchdown

Coach’s comment: “David and Dalton will be the primary two guys right now. David brings back a lot of experience from last season and we moved Dalton positionally so we’re excited about that tandem.”

Tight Ends/Fullbacks

Brayton Finch

Key losses: none

Players to watch: Brayton Finch (Sr., Mount Morris, Ill.), Ethan Sindelir (So., Wells, Minn.), and Hunter O’Bert (Jr., Eden Prairie, Minn.)


  • Finch returns as the starter after leading tight ends last season in catches (39) and yards (362), and touchdowns (5). He also carried the ball 47 times for 171 yards and three touchdowns, and was named D3football.com All-West Region First Team
  • Sindelir and O’Bert return to the group with Sindelir catching five passes for 30 yards and O’Bert catching one pass for a touchdown last season

Coach’s comment: “It’s a talented group of tight ends between Brayton, Ethan, and Hunter. They understand our system well and have a good relationship with each other out there and it shows. Brayton’s leadership of this group has been evident in camp and he is ready for a strong season with his teammates.”


Brice Panning

Key losses: Ellis Hirman, Jamison Beulke

Players to watch: Brice Panning (Sr., Hamburg, Minn.), Josh Kirk (Sr., Garvin, Minn.), and Anthony Massman (So., Sauk Rapids, Minn.)


  • Panning returns as the team’s leading receiver from last season, catching 48 passes last year for 992 yards and three touchdowns. The 992 yards are the fifth most in a single season in Gustavus history
  • Kirk currently has 93 receptions in his career at Gustavus. He looks to join elite company this year as just 11 players have eclipsed 100 career catches at Gustavus

Coach’s comment: “I think the biggest thing we’ve seen so far is that they’ve shown great effort in how they practice and prepare. That is what we want to see out of a talented group of experienced receivers. Panning and Kirk will lead that group and then we’ve got a handful of guys behind them ready to take that next step. We’ve got some depth there but I’ve been especially impressed by the senior leadership from Brice and Josh.”

Offensive Line

Blake Sikes and Tommy Bigaouette

Key loss: Tommy Jech

Players to watch: Logan Holley (Jr., Fort Worth, Tex.) and Blake Sikes (Sr., Valrico, Fla.)

  • The Gusties return five lineman who all started at least three games last season
  • Holley will make the transition to center this season after starting at right guard last year while Sikes will start at left guard for the third straight year

Coach’s comment: “The offensive line group is a smart group of guys who understand our scheme and are technicians. It’s a group we’re very excited about. Holley will be the center making all the calls and we bring guys back like Sikes, Tommy Bigaouette (Jr., North Mankato, Minn.), Gunnar Johnson (Jr., St. Cloud, Minn.), and Jordan Grovum (Sr., Cottage Grove, Minn.). Then after our starting five the depth behind that is some of the most encouraging we’ve ever had.”

Defensive Line

Zachary Jakes

Key losses: Michael Hensch and Tanner Sparrow

Players to watch: Zachary Jakes (So., Mankato, Minn), Sam Jones (Jr., Jacksonville, Fla.), and Zeke Erickson (Sr., Clarks Grove, Minn.)


  • Jakes led all defenders last season with four sacks and was second with 9.5 tackles for loss
  • Erickson notched six tackles for loss from the tackle position to go along with 3.5 sacks

Coach’s comment: “That defensive line comes back with a lot of experience with Sam Jones, Zeke Erickson, Taylor McDonald (Sr., Wayzata, Minn.) and Zach Jakes. Those guys come back with a lot of playing time last year and we’ve got some really good depth there as well.”


Jake Boykin

Key Losses: Matt Berkner and Ben Rengel

Players to watch: Jake Boykin (Sr., Las Cruces, N.M.), Avery Bachman (Sr., Saint Peter, Minn.), and Tamir Beeler (Jr., Roseville, Minn.)


  • Boykin returns as the team’s second leading tackler last season with 59 total, including four for loss
  • Bachman returns this year after a 47-tackle performance last year with three tackles for loss and a pair of quarterback hurries

Coach’s comment: “The linebacker group has a couple captains with Jake and Avery. They will be really key with Tamir on the outside to go along with the group behind those guys. We have a solid group of leaders at that position but also a bunch of guys who’ve played a lot of football and have talent.”

Defensive Backs

Matthew Montplaisir

Key losses: Brady Miller, Jordan Kahlow, and Dutch Claybough

Players to watch: Matthew Montplaisir (Sr., Buffalo, Minn.) and Kaleb Scott (Jr., Gardena, Calif.)


  • Scott was second on the team last season with 18 solo tackles. He also forced a team-high three fumbles and recorded one interception
  • Montplaisir had 28 tackles last season for the Gusties with three tackles for loss and three pass break ups

Coach’s comment: “I think we’ll have some new guys in there but some of those guys have played a lot for us. Jake Krull (Sr., Plymouth, Minn.), Austin Fest (Jr., West Des Moines, Iowa), Scott, and Montplaisir all played for us, so even though we lost our starters we have some guys who played a lot of snaps and are going to be in the starting lineup this year.”


Key losses: none

Players to watch: Joe Fortwengler (So., New Ulm, Minn.), Finch, and Jacob Lamb (Sr., Saint Peter, Minn.).


  • Finch punted last season but Fortwengler will take over a majority of the duty this season
  • Finch will handle kickoff duties while Lamb will be tasked with extra points and field goals

Coach’s comment: “That’s an area where we’re growing right now. Joe and Brayton will do the bulk of the punting. On PAT’s and field goals we’re working to build consistency and Jacob Lamb will be our kicker as we start the season.”

2018 STATS




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