Spartans Football Picked Among IIAC Contenders

Aug 27, 2014

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The University of Dubuque football is optimistic for the 2014 season to begin after being selected among the top contenders of the Iowa Conference pre-season poll. The Spartans are looking to avenge three Iowa Conference losses where they lost leads in a combined 1:47 in three heartbreaking defeats in 2013. Head coach Stan Zweifel will be looking to the strength of his defense, which returns nine starters and an offense which returns 74% of the receiving corps for success in 2014. The Spartans spent the off-season travelling to Spain and France and shared the excitement of American football with the Toulouse Bears in Toulouse, France after earning a 77-0 victory.

The last time the Spartans went abroad to play football, they returned to take the Iowa Conference championship, the Spartans will be looking to do the same this season when they kickoff 2014 by hosting UW-La Crosse on Sept. 6 at 6:00 p.m. One of the toughest non-conference seasons will help prepare the Spartans when they face against Luther College in Decorah on Oct. 4 for their Iowa Conference opener.

2014 Offensive Outlook
After leading the IIAC in scoring in 2013 with 34.9 pts/game, the University of Dubuque offense is looking forward to 2014 with a chance to improve on that number and finish with an IIAC title. The Spartans will take the field in 2014 with one of the most talented receiving platoons in the nation, headlined by the senior All-American wide receiver, Tyler Rutenbeck (Maquoketa, Iowa). Plenty of returning experience and program players on the offensive line, the Spartans hope to combine the experience upfront with the skill on the perimeter to help ease the transition of an entirely new offensive backfield.


The Spartans will look to improve upon their three-year streak of finishing with the 1st Team All-IIAC quarterback with another new face in the backfield in 2014. Senior Zach Fry returns behind the ball along with sophomores, Reggie Richter (Waukegan, Ill.) and Austin Baden (Poplar Grove, Ill.) will compete for the job of top signal caller in Stan Zweifel’s potent offensive system with the departure of 2013 1st Team All-IIAC performer, quarterback Bryan Bradshaw (Crystal Lake, Ill.).

Another position in which Dubuque will be looking to replace 1st Team All-IIAC performer is at running back, where the departure of last year’s IIAC leading rusher Kyle Acker (Waunakee, Wis.) will be missed. It will be interesting to see who emerges as the leader of an inexperienced, but very talented running back group. Sophomores Jake Szymanski (Durand, Ill.) and Anthony Underwood (Skokie, Ill.) are hoping they can edge out Milton Greer (Dolton, Ill.), who is hoping his switch to the offensive side of the ball will result in a starting position.

There is no shortage of size and experience in this unit as the Spartans are fortunate to return over 74% of their production in their wide receivers from 2013. This unit is led by two quality 6-4 targets in the aforementioned senior, Tyler Rutenbeck (Maquoketa, Iowa), and junior, Chris Bagley (Oswego, Ill.). Rutenbeck returns after being a consensus All-American in 2014. He pulled in 68 passes for 1,269 yards and 22 touchdowns last season, leading the Iowa Conference in all three categories. He also led the IIAC in scoring (13.2 ppg) and all-purpose yards (149.6 ypg) when his 12 kickoff returns for 227 yards are figured in. The Spartan wide outs are littered with talent looking to explode onto the field with the return of sophomores, Najee Toomer (Maywood, Ill.), Dylan Schultz (Lynn Center, Ill.), who missed last year due to injury, and the addition of sophomore, Kevin Folker (Milwaukee, Wis.). Spartan fans can expect to see an increased role from return specialist, Shaun Grewal (Bakersfield, Calif.) as well.

No position returns as much experience for the Spartans as the tight end position. The Spartans are expecting continued success and increased production from their top two seniors in this position group. Lee Jones (Fairbanks, Alaska) is looking to improve on his All-IIAC performance from 2013 while splitting playing time with fellow senior, Tyler Dobratz (Edgerton, Wis.). The additions of sophomore, Craig Lottie (Maywood, Ill.) and junior, Tyler Santeler (Walworth, Wis.) make this a talented unit in the rushing attack as well as the passing game.

The 2014 season will bring a change at the left tackle and left guard spots on the offensive line for the first time since the 2010 season. The Spartans look to replace the departures of two three-year starters in Travis Stefanowski (Lake Villa, Ill.) and Austin Hatzinger (Deforest, Wis.) with several players that have been with the Spartans for several seasons. UD will look to 2013 1st Team All-IIAC selection, Dominique Ravenell (Fort Worth, Texas) to make the transition from the right side of the line to the left in 2014. Mike Murphy (Spring Green, Wis.), another senior will enter fall camp in a battle with junior Ben Delange (Plainfield, Ill.) for the starting center position. The remaining two offensive line positions will be decided throughout fall camp from senior Jake Naylor (Millbrook, Ala.), junior Kyle Andresen (Oxford Junction, Iowa), junior Tanner Bronkema (Forreston, Ill.), as well as sophomore Pat Cusack (Davis Junction, Ill.).

2014 Defensive Outlook

The University of Dubuque 2014 Defense return nine starters from the 2013 team and four players who have garnered All-IIAC recognition. The group is led by 2013 First Team All-IIAC Linebacker Blaine Snitker (Jr., Waukon, Iowa). He led the Iowa Conference is tackles as a sophomore and also contributed 2 INT’s and 2.5 sacks. The rest of the linebackers will include returning starter and team captain Trevor Stauner (Jr., South Milwaukee, Wis.), Chad Sadowski (Jr., South Milwaukee, Wis.) Jim McHugh (Sr., Oswego, Ill.) and promising freshmen Austin Rumer (Fr., Holiday, Fla.), Mason Matesevic (Fr., Plainfield, Ill.), and Larry Harrelston (Fr., Racine, Wis.).

Up front, the defense will be led by returning starters Eric Peterson (Jr., Chicago, Ill.), team captain Zach Marotta (Jr., South Elgin, Ill.), and Andrew Mariotti (Jr., Geneva, Ill.). The defensive line will be bolstered by the addition of Mac Mahmens (Jr., Marion, Iowa) who is moving back to the defensive side of the football after starting nine games at center for UD in 2013. The production of Will Hudson (So., Matteson, Ill.), who saw significant playing time as a true freshman in 2013 will play a key role in UD’s success. Others looking to have significant contributions will be Chris Cooney (So., Palmer, Ak), Franklin Blanche (So., Killeen, Texas), and Ron Brown (So, Wauwatosa, Wis.).

The defensive secondary brings back plenty of experience and some of the most production for UD. The defensive backs are led by returning 2nd Team All-IIAC performers Vinny Whipple (Sr., Eagle Grove, Iowa) and Reggie Cole Jr. (Jr., Wauwatosa, Wis.). Each of them was among the league leaders in multiple statistical categories. Vinny returns for his 3rd year starting at safety for UD. Cornerback Dylan Ramsey (a 2012 All-IIAC selection) returns after missing most of the past season due to a knee injury. Ramsey (Sr., Urbana, Iowa) sustained the injury prior to the second game of the season. Oscar White (Jr., River Falls, Wis.) started all 10 games at cornerback for UD in 2013 after making the switch from WR. He, along with Armon Lansdown (So., Alsip, Ill.), complete one of the deepest positions on the team and within the conference. Darren Myles (Sr., Atlanta, Ga.) completes the secondary for UD. Myles transferred to UD from the University of Tennessee in 2013. He was named UD’s 2013 Defensive Newcomer of the Year following a highly productive season at safety.

Entering the 2014 season, the UD defense returns players who have started 143 career games for the Spartans. Experience, along with the key additions of promising freshmen, look to propel UD to a successful season.

2014 Special Teams Outlook

The Spartans are excited as they enter the 2014 season with the prospects of continued improvement on special teams.  Heading the charge is the return of Curtis Prull in the role of kicker.  Prull led the IIAC in PAT kicking in 2013 with a perfect 45 out of 45 performance. 

He was also 60% on field goals making 6-10 attempts.  In addition, Shaun Grewal will be back returning kickoffs after finishing 2nd in the IIAC during the 2013 season.  Rutenbeck (All-American WR) will also be back as a return specialist.  Doug Lillebridge graduated as the Spartan punter, Kayman Martens is ready to step in to the position and definitely has the bloodlines to succeed in the role. Tyson Carter, who was a three-year standout as the Spartan long snapper has graduated, however, the Spartans are excited for Lucas Walzak, who has proved himself ready for the task. Overall the Spartans will be working hard to step up all phases of their specials teams, which will be through improved play by the specialists and all the position players involved with the various units.

2014 Iowa Conference Pre-season Poll
School (1st place votes) Points   2013 Record

1.Wartburg (7)      56           9-3, 6-1 IIAC
T2.Dubuque        43           5-5, 4-3 IIAC
T2.Coe                 43           7-3, 4-3 IIAC
4.Central (1)         37           6-4, 4-3 IIAC
5.Simpson            34           7-3, 5-2 IIAC
6.Buena Vista       33           4-6, 4-3 IIAC
7.Luther               20           2-8, 1-6 IIAC
8.Loras                14           1-9, 0-7 IIAC