2022 Football Season Preview

Posted on September 2nd, 2022 by

SAINT PETER, Minn. – Coming off its best season in over two decades, the Gustavus football team is set to kick off the 2022 season Saturday evening at Buena Vista University. The 2022 Gustavus roster is highlighted by the return of all four All-Region selections from last season, six All-Conference players, and 13 fifth-year seniors.

The 2021 Gusties finished the year 8-2 overall and 6-2 in the MIAC for third place. The eight wins were the most by Gustavus since 1998. The 2022 season opener is a rematch of last year’s opener between the Gusties and Beavers. The bar was set high from an offensive standpoint last season as Gustavus won a shootout 80-58 in Storm Lake, Iowa, setting the program record for most points in a game and tying the NCAA Division III record for most points scored by both teams in regulation.

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Peter Haugen, now in his 14th season as the head coach, is pleased with the balance of veteran leadership, experienced players, and newcomers on this year’s roster.

“We’re excited to get the season started,” Haugen said. “We’ve been here over two weeks and we were able to go at a solid pace in terms of our practices. There’s excitement around this team and I think we’re focused and ready to play our first game. We’ve definitely set goals, no doubt about it. We’re a process oriented team. Last year was a good year but the bottom line is this is a new team, new group of guys. There are a lot of guys returning but it’s a new team with it’s own personality. We have high expectations and we’ll keep growing.”

Here’s a look at the 2022 Gusties by position groups:

Quarterbacks

Key loss: Michael Veldman

Players to watch: Daniel Rennie (Fy., Cape Coral, Fla.) and Ethan Hufendick (Sr., Edina)

Notes:

• Rennie comes to Gustavus as a transfer from Division I (FCS) Bryant University. He was the 2019 Class 3A Player of the Year at Charlotte High (Fla.)

• Hufendick played in one game last season, completing 5-of-6 passes for 27 yards during the fourth quarter of a 72-7 win at St. Scholastica

• Rennie and the rest of the quarterback group is tasked with following a standout career from Michael Veldman, who graduated as the program’s all-time leader in passing yards (8,751) and touchdowns (87)

Coach Haugen’s comment: “This is the deepest quarterback group that we’ve put together. We’re excited about that. There is a lot of competition. Rennie and Hufendick are the two right now that have received the most reps with the varsity but overall a really deep group of guys.”

David Peal

Running Backs

Key losses: none

Players to watch: David Peal (Sr., Worcester, Mass.), Rohee Kondee (Jr., Hopkins)

Notes:

Peal, a Second Team All-Conference pick last year, led the team with 125 rushing attempts. He totaled 535 yards and a team-high eight rushing touchdowns. Peal, a fifth-year senior, averaged 4.3 yards per carry and 59.4 yards per game last year

• Kondee led the team with 565 yards and 62.8 yards per game last season. He added seven touchdowns with a long of 75

Coach’s comment: “Another deep group. That’s a commonality of a lot of these position groups, we feel that this group is deep in terms of talent and experience. Peal, Rohee, and Kevin Durham (Sr., Gaylord) have played a lot. Tanner Rennie (Fy., Cape Coral, Fla.) and River Wood (Jr., St. Petersburg, Fla.) are expected to play as well.”

Tight Ends

Key losses: none

Player to watch: Ethan Sindelir (Sr., Wells), Charlie Barnick (So., Rosemount)

Notes:

Sindelir was the team’s top tight end last season, earning All-Conference honorable mention. He hauled in 24 catches for 250 yards and a touchdown. He also averaged 10.4 yards per catch and 25.0 yards per game

Coach’s comment: “We have three tight ends and they do a lot for us. They’re multi-talented guys; Ethan Sindelir comes back for his fifth year, and Charlie Barnick moves over from defense. Jesse Moser (Sr., Eagle, Colo.) has continued to improve and we have a lot of confidence in that whole group.”

Dalton Thelen and Matthew Kipper

Receivers

Key loss: Carter Kopet

Players to watch: Dalton Thelen (Sr., Cold Spring), Jake Breitbach (Jr., Golden Valley), Matthew Kipper (Sr., Bloomington)

Notes:

• Thelen leads the group after earning First Team All-Conference and CoSIDA Academic All-District last season. Thelen had 57 catches for 854 yards and nine touchdowns last year. Thelen’s nine receiving touchdowns were second most in the MIAC and his 85.4 receiving yards per game ranked fifth in the league. Thelen averaged 15.0 yards per catch, ranking fourth in the conference. Thelen also spent time in the backfield with 26 carries for 175 yards and a touchdown

Breitbach, who spent time at quarterback and receiver, earned Second Team All-Conference honors as a receiver after hauling in 27 catches for 511 yards and four touchdowns. Breitbach also completed 62-of-98 passes for 847 yards, five touchdowns, and seven interceptions. He added 68 carries for 370 yards and three scores

• Kipper was second on the team last year with 28 catches for 397 yards and three touchdowns

Coach’s comment: “I think our receivers are explosive. You look at that group with Breitbach, Kipper, and Thelen, those guys have been big contributors. Zach Forbrook (Sr., Mankato) has been in our program and understands what’s going on. Matthew Carreon (Sr., Houston, Texas) is another guy who made huge plays for us last year. And Major Martin (Jr., Crane, Texas), so that group is strong and then you mix in some younger guys for a talented group.”

Offensive Line

Key losses: Tommy Bigaouette (All-Conference honorable mention), Gunnar Johnson (First Team All-Conference)

Players to watch: Mitchell Borchardt (Sr., Le Sueur), Zach Classen (Sr., White Bear Lake), Sam Stafsholt (Sr., Andover)

Notes:

Borchardt, a First Team All-Conference selection last year, started all 10 games at center. Borchardt blocked for an offensive unit that average 35.6 points and 449.2 yards per game, ranking second and third, respectively, in the conference. The offensive line allowed 21 sacks last year, which was the second fewest in the league. The Gusties also had the second best rushing attack in the league with 198.6 yards per game and led the conference with 35:09 average time of possession.

• Classen spent the majority of last season at left guard, while Stafsholt spent a lot of time at right guard. Luke Rooker (So., Stillwater) also saw time on the line

Coach’s comment: “They have a lot of experience coming back. We do lose a couple great tackles, but you’ve got Stafsholt, Borchardt, and Classen, those three guys have played a lot of football. You mix in with that Will Pelto (Jr., Forest Lake) and Luke Rooker, that will round out that group of five. Behind them and we have an outstanding younger group coming through, so that will be a fun group to watch.”

Zach Jakes

Defensive Line

Key losses: Sam Jones (Second Team All-Conference), Nathan Schroepfer

Players to watch: Zach Jakes (Sr., North Mankato), Andrew Bradley (Sr., Miami, Fla.), Braden Black (Jr., Rochester)

Notes:

• Jakes returns as a fifth-year senior after earning D3football.com First Team All-Region 6, First Team All-Conference, and the MIAC Mike Stam Award as the league’s top lineman. Jakes started all 10 games at defensive tackle last season, accumulating 51 tackles (26 solo) with a team-high 13.5 tackles for loss. He also led the team with 6.0 sacks and four quarterback hurries. Jakes’ 13.5 tackles for loss and 6.0 sacks were both the most by a Gustie since Dan Myers had 18 TFLs and 9.0 sacks in 2003

• Black accumulated 14 tackles last season, including 7.0 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, and a fumble recovery

• Bradley posted 13 tackles with 3.0 tackles for loss, and 2.0 sacks

Coach’s comment: “It starts with Zach Jakes. Not just from a great player standpoint, but he is a tremendous leader. You look at that group and you have Andrew Bradley and Jakes who have played a lot of football. Javier Gratacos (Jr., Orlando, Fla.) has played a lot of football. Braden Black has played a lot. Then there are guys behind that have some experience last season and then some young guys that we are excited about in terms of their athleticism.”

Carson Dekam

Linebackers

Key losses: none

Players to watch: Carson Dekam (Jr., Owatonna), Nicolas Negron (Sr., Dallas, Texas), Isaak Knuston (Sr., Dodge Center), Will Hawkins (So., New Orleans, La.)

Notes:

• Dekam, recently named a D3football.com Preseason All-American, returns after garnering All-Region and First Team All-Conference honors last season. Dekam led last year’s team with 70 tackles (41 solo), including 7.5 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, four fumble recoveries, one forced fumble, and a 28-yard interception return

Negron, a Second Team All-Conference pick last year, made 16 tackles, (11 solo), with 3.0 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, an interception, and a pass defended

• Knutson had the fifth most tackles on the team last season with 41, including 5.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and an interception

Coach’s comment: “Carson, like Jakes, is not only a great player but he’s also a great leader. He has done a great job with our linebacking core. Guys coming back with experience like Will Hawkins and Nick Negron, who have played a lot of football for us. Add to that Isaak Knutson who was a starter from last year so a solid group of linebackers.”

Defensive Backs

Key losses: Kaleb Scott (First Team All-Conference), Austin Fest

Players to watch: Ezekiel Sundberg (Sr., Lakewood, Colo.), Andrey Denson (Jr., El Paso, Texas), Graham Nistler (Sr., St. Cloud), Isaiah Chambers (Jr., Houston, Texas)

Notes:

• Sundberg leads the returning DB’s as a Third Team All-Region and First Team All-Conference selection last season. Sundberg led the team with five interceptions for 68 yards. Sundberg also led the secondary with 10 pass breakups and 15 passes defended. He added 43 tackles (29 solo), 1.5 tackles for loss, and one fumble recovery

Denson, an All-Conference honorable mention last year, made 27 tackles (19 solo), including nine pass breakups, 10 passes defended, 1.0 tackles for loss, and one interception in his first season on the team

Coach’s comment: “Isaiah Chambers, Andrey Denson, Graham Nistler, and Ezekiel Sundberg bring experience and had an outstanding season last year. It’s a group that has some depth. I’m excited to see how we continue to grow with this talented group.”

Andrew Abegglen

Kicking Team

Key losses: Joe Fortwengler

Players to watch: Andrew Abegglen (Sr., Mound)

Notes:

• Abegglen returns after receiving CoSIDA Academic All-District, D3football.com All-Region, and All-Conference accolades last year. Abegglen tied the Gustavus program record with 13 made field goals last season, converting 13-of-17 field goals with a long of 42 yards. His 13 made field goals were fourth most in NCAA Division III. Abegglen, who earned MIAC Special Teams Player of the Week five times last season, also made 34-of-39 extra points for a total of 73 points, setting the program record for most points scored by kicking in a season

Coach’s comment: “Like a lot of other groups, we’ve added depth in the kicking group with six guys who are specializing in punting, kicking, and snapping. That’s a big deal for us. Andrew Abegglen is the guy leading that group coming off a great year last season in the kickoff game as well as PATs and field goals.”

Leaders

Coach’s comment: “We have 13 fifth-year seniors coming back that are a solid group of leaders and good players who have contributed a lot. And our captain group is strong. There are a lot of names out there that received a lot of respect among our players and coaches. Zach Jakes, David Peal, Dalton Thelen, Mitchell Borchardt, and Ezekiel Sundberg, what a great crew. Our senior and players across all classes have embraced their roles as leaders and program builders.”

2022 Roster | 2022 Schedule | 2021 Stats

Last season at Buena Vista

After not playing a snap since Nov. 16, 2019, the Gustavus football team treated its fans with an offensive shootout in the 2021 season opener on Sept. 1, defeating Buena Vista University 80-58, setting a program record for points in a game. The 138 total points tied the NCAA Division III record for most points scored by both teams in regulation (Brockport defeated Hartwick 70-68 on Nov. 22, 2008).

David Peal (Sr., Worcester, Mass.) and Rohee Konde (So., Hopkins) led a productive ground attack that tallied the most rushing yards since Sept. 22, 2012 when the Gusties ran for 320 against St. Olaf. Peal rushed 22 times for 160 yards and three touchdowns, while Konde had eight carries for 107 yards and two scores. It’s the first time Gustavus had two rushers go over 100 yards each since Jeffrey Dubose and Muresek Mena combined for 247 yards against Hamline in 2012.

Michael Veldman (Sr., Becker) finished the night completing 20-of-34 passes for 335 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions. Seven different receivers had a reception, led by Matthew Kipper (So., Bloomington) and Dalton Thelen (Sr., Cold Spring). Thelen made five grabs for 72 yards and two touchdowns, while Kipper had six catches for 68 yards. Carter Kopet (Sr., Cleveland) made the big plays with three catches for 85 yards and three scores, and Jake Breitbach (So., Golden Valley) hauled in two passes for 87 yards.

On special teams, Andrew Abegglen (Jr., Mound) was perfect on the day, making all 11 extra points and a 24-yard field goal. His 11 extra points broke Brendan Boche’s single game record of nine set in 2015 against Carleton.

Austin Fest (Sr., West Des Moines, Iowa) led the defense with seven tackles. Zach Jakes (Sr., North Mankato), Carson Dekam (So., Owatonna), and Sam Jones (Sr., Jacksonville) each had a sack. William Hawkins (Fy., New Orleans, La.), Ezekiel Sundberg (Sr., Lakewood, Colo.), and Dekam each hauled in an interception.

 


One Comment

  1. Gregg Aamot says:

    Good luck, Gusties! Have a great season.

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