CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – The University of Dubuque football team was chosen to finish fourth in the Iowa Conference by the 2013 coaches poll recently released.
The Spartans return 19 starters and 45 letter winners from last year’s 5-5 squad which finished in a five-way tie for second with a 4-3 mark. The Spartans’ offense returns starters at eight positions but will need to replace quarterback Wyatt Hanus, who was the league’s MVP in offense and also the league’s top passer a year ago. Running back Kyle Acker will carry much of the load as a battle for the starting quarterback progresses through camp. Acker led the Spartans in rushing last season with 993 yards and eight touchdowns, an average of 4.5 yards per rush. He ranked third in the IIAC in rushing, fourth in all-purpose yards (1,037), eighth in scoring (48) and also had six 100-yard games a year ago.
UD returns wide receivers Sean Anderson and Tyler Rutenbeck. Anderson, named All-IIAC Honorable Mention by the coaches in 2012, ranked second on the team with 68 catches for a team-high 835 yards and five touchdowns. He was also the team’s top punt returner, averaging 6.8 yards per return. Rutenbeck played in only eight games but had 28 catches for 520 yards and a team-high nine touchdowns. His breakout game came against Simpson on October 27 with eight catches for 190 yards and a league season-high four touchdowns. The yardage total ranked fourth-best for an IIAC receiver in 2011. Anderson ranked fourth and Rutenbeck sixth in the IIAC in receiving yards per game, while Anderson tied for third in receptions per game. Rutenbeck ranked third in the league in scoring.
The offensive line will be anchored by senior guard Austin Hatzinger. The Spartans ranked in the top 30 in Division III in passing offense (14th, 318.50 ypg), passing efficiency (24th, 152.88) and total offense (27th, 456.10 ypg).
Seven starters return from a Spartans defense that ranked first in the league against the pass (191.8 ypg), sixth against the run (184.1 ypg) and fifth overall (375.9 ypg). Leading the group in the trenches will be defensive lineman Ryan Arnold. Arnold posted 23 tackles, including 5.0 for loss and 1.5 sacks. He also broke up one pass and blocked a kick.
Free safety Vinny Whipple and defensive back Dylan Ramsey will play a significant role in the defensive backfield. Whipple ranked second on the team with 71 tackles, 2.5 for loss and 1.0 sacks. He also intercepted a team-high-tying four passes and broke up three others. Whipple ranked second in the league in interceptions, seventh in tackles and ninth in passes defended. Ramsey, another all-league honorable mention, ranked fourth on the team with 57 tackles with 1.0 for loss. He also broke up a team-high 10 passes and blocked a kick and tied for second among league players in passes defended (10).
Special teams will include kickers Kayman Martens, Curtis Prull and Andrew Drummond who all are battling for a spot in the two-deep.
Newcomers looking to be an impact on the Spartan squad include senior quarterback Bryan Bradshaw (6-1, 175, Crystal Lake, Ill. and a transfer from Winona State.) and freshmen Franklin Blanche (DL, 6-3, 240, Killeen, Texas), Trevor Hardin (DE, 6-3, 260, Aurora, Ill.), Kevin Folker (WR, 6-0, 180, Milwaukee, Wis.), Dylan Schultz (WR, 6-1, 195, Lynn Center, Ill.), Jacolby Stanley (DL, 6-4, 265, Lenoir, N.C.). Returners battling among the two-deep in pre-season camp include: Trevor Stauner (So., LB, 6-1, 230, South Milwaukee, Wis.), Mac Mahmens (OL, So., 6-3, 285, Marion, Iowa), Andrew Mariotti (So., DL, 6-3, 240, Geneva, Ill.), and Noah Kachelski (Sr., DE, 6-6, 252, Verona, Wis.)
"It will be a great year in the IIAC. There are many teams capable of winning the league. It may come down to who stays healthy,” commented head coach Stan Zweifel. I’m anxious to play the best non-conference schedule our school has ever had to get us ready for a very competitive Iowa Conference. I believe every game in the league is critical and we will be ready when we start Iowa Conference play against Central, but I don’t see a clear cut favorite to win our league.”
Rank School (1st place votes) Points 2012 Record
1 Coe (6) 54 10-1, 7-0 IIAC
2 Wartburg 47 6-4, 4-3 IIAC
3 Central (1) 43 5-5, 4-3 IIAC
4 Dubuque 37 5-5, 4-3 IIAC
5 Simpson (1) 36 6-4, 4-3 IIAC
6 Buena Vista 29 4-6, 4-3 IIAC
7 Loras 18 2-8, 1-6 IIAC
8 Luther 16 0-10, 0-7 IIAC
Season Openers: Loras kicks off the 2013 season at Elmhurst on Thursday, September 5. The seven remaining IIAC schools open up on Saturday, September 7. Simpson hosts Iowa Wesleyan, Central hosts Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Coe travels to Monmouth (Ill.), Wartburg is at MacMurray, Luther treks to Presentation (S.D.) and Buena Vista is at Wisconsin-Platteville for 1 p.m. kickoffs. UD closes out the weekend with a 6 p.m. game under the lights at UW-La Crosse. The 2013 Iowa Conference season begins October 5 with four games – Simpson at Wartburg, Loras at Luther, Central at Dubuque and Coe at Buena Vista.