Football Preview: Gustavus Adolphus

by Aaron Young

A team that went just 2-8 overall last season on the gridiron, the Gustavus Adolphus Golden Gusties open up their 2012 campaign Saturday afternoon in a non-conference clash against the Simpson College Storm at Buxton Stadium.

Gustavus Adolphus College is Division III institution located in St. Peter, Minn., and is a member of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Golden Gusties are coached by Peter Haugen (Bethel University, ‘91), and is entering his fourth year at Gustavus. In his prior three years as the head coach, Haugen has compiled a 10-20 overall record and an 8-16 mark in the MIAC. He is the seventeenth head coach in the 95-year football existence at Gustavus.

Their team returns just 27 letterwinners and has brought 55 newcomers to the program.

On the offensive side of the pigskin, passing the ball for the black and gold will be a new face. Likely to see action at the quarterback position will be either senior Mena Muresuk or senior Tim Stepka. Muresuk is making a shift down the line as he was a wide receiver for the Gusties last season. He caught 32 passes for 307 yards, despite not grabbing any for a touchdown in eight games. Stepka, on the other hand, is a transfer from Augsburg College, and has appeared in limited action thus far in his collegiate career.

Carrying the ball will likely be Jeffrey DuBose, a junior from St. Paul, Minn. He was the team’s overall leading rusher in 2011, gathering 604 yards on the ground and 150 yards in the air. Seven of his nine total touchdowns were rushing into the end zone. Last season, he averaged just 57.4 yards per game in Gustavus’s ten-game stint.

The Golden Gustie defense has three players to keep in mind for the battle on Saturday afternoon. Junior Joe Hass and senior Zach Stackhouse are two of the Golden Gustie’s top returning defensive players from last year’s squad, both at linebacker. Hass provided his team with 82 total tackles, 35 of them being solo and had two sacks for loss. Stackhouse did his part with 44 tackles, 22 of them being solo and 22 of them being assisted. Junior defensive lineman Donte Green will be the third player to watch for on the Gustavus defense. He provided his team last season with 40 tackles.

Matching up against the Storm, Simpson College looks to have Gustavus overmatched at every position, both offensively and defensively. With a career-high game by junior quarterback Taylor Nelson, he is just one of many that brings much momentum to the table after last week’s victory over University of Wisconsin-River Falls by score of 31-22. Nelson passed for 398 yards in the game and threw three touchdowns as well. Receiving all three of his touchdowns was junior wide receiver Brad Vogel, for a total of 141 yards. More notables to keep an eye on from the Simpson offense include pre-season All America senior wide receiver Taylor Rogers, junior running back Michael Chia and senior wide receiver Billy Weathers.

From a defensive standpoint, leading the Storm to a hopeful victory come Saturday is another pre-season All America candidate in senior linebacker Mark Cronin. He racked up ten total tackles in last weekend’s contest, and one sack for a loss of eight yards against the UW-River Falls’ defense. Other players to keep tabs for the Storm defense include junior defensive back Corey Sterling and senior linebacker DJ Bennett. Sterling stopped the UW-River Fall offense with eight tackles in the game while Bennett provided six more of his own.

Kickoff for the game is slated for a 1 p.m. start.