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Greenville Picked to Finish 2nd

2014 UMAC Football Coaches' Poll 
1. 74 Points – College of St. Scholastica (5)
2. 70 Points – Greenville College (2)
3. 69 Points – University of Northwestern (2)
4. 55 Points – Eureka College (1)
5. 49 Points – Crown College
6. 41 Points – University of Minnesota Morris
7. 32 Points – Westminster College
8. 29 Points – Martin Luther College
9. 21 Points – Iowa Wesleyan College
10. 10 Points – MacMurray College

ST. PAUL – 2013 Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) football champion, the College of St. Scholastica, is predicted to again claim the league title in 2014 according to a poll of the UMAC coaches. The Saints earned a total of five first place votes (74 points) to take the top spot overall while Greenville College (70 points) and the University of Northwestern (69 points) each received two first place nods and finished in second and third place respectively with just one point separating the two teams. Eureka College, who finished in fourth place overall (55 points), also received a first place vote in the annual coaches' preseason poll.

1. College of St. Scholastica Saints
2013 Overall Record: 9-1
2013 UMAC Record: 9-0
2013 UMAC Finish: 1st
Starters Returning: 12

Starters Lost: 10

In only six years, the St. Scholastica football program has made three straight NCAA Division III Playoff appearances and has a conference record of 25-1 in the last three seasons. The 2014 season will see a new era as Kurt Ramler was hired as the school's second-ever head coach in March after the retirement of Greg Carlson. Ramler says not much change is needed this season due to the past success of the program, but look for a more aggressive Saints squad in 2014.

CSS lost some key cogs from last year's squad, including UMAC Defensive Player of the Year Alec French and UMAC Lineman of the Year Chris Lambach. Also gone offensively are running back Jake Jensen and wide receiver Cory Gebhard. Jensen finished as the all-time leading rusher in program history, while Gebhard was fourth in career all-purpose yards. The two combined for 24 of the team's 51 touchdowns last season.

The CSS offense does see the return of two-year starting quarterback Tyler Harper. Harper had his best game in the biggest contest of the year in 2013 when he threw for 274 yards and two touchdowns, while also running for 48 yards and a score in a 27-21 conference-clinching win at Greenville in the regular season finale. Harper sees four out of five starters return on the offensive line, including preseason All-American Pete Stanley, but loses his top four wide receivers. The top returning receiver for the Saints will be H-back Mitch O'Neil, who had 14 catches. Other returnees Spencer Specht and Nick Murphy each had 11 catches last season. At running back, Chris Gassert will look for more touches out of the backfield after averaging 7.7 yards per carry in 88 attempts last season.

Defensively, the Saints will be coached up by new Defensive Coordinator George Penree, after Allen Smith took the linebackers job at Division I-FCS Drake University (Iowa). The defensive line remains intact with All-UMAC performers Blake Cedarleaf and Joe Geiselman at the ends and Aaron Tody in the middle. Cedarleaf was named a second team preseason All-American by USA Football. In the back two levels of the defense, the Saints lost six of eight starters. Paul Olson is the lone returning starter at linebacker, while Xavier Rhodes is the lone returning starter in the secondary. Olson and Rhodes finished in the top four on the team in tackles last season.

2. Greenville College Panthers
2013 Overall Record: 9-1
2013 UMAC Record: 8-1
2013 UMAC Finish: 2nd
Starters Returning: 13

Starters Lost: 10

With a stretch of eight consecutive seasons with a record of .500 or better, Greenville football is looking forward to building on its successful tradition. Since joining the UMAC in 2009, the Panthers have won outright UMAC league championships or tied for the UMAC championships on three occasions and placed second in the other two campaigns.

The 2014 Panther squad returns 13 starters from a 2013 season in which the team was 9-2, placed second in the UMAC regular season, and earned a berth in their second consecutive NCCAA Victory Bowl. Returning head coach and UMAC coach of the year Robbie Schomaker directed the squad to a program best nine wins in a season, tops in the 27 year history of Panther football.

The Panther offensive attack will look to its rushing game again as it returns UMAC first team offensive lineman Joe Schoepf, UMAC second team running back Jacob Stull, and UMAC second team offensive lineman Hunter Rone to an offense that ranked third in the NCAA Division III with 326 rushing yards per game. The team was 18th in total offense with 473.1 yards per game. Stull produced 102.3 rushing yards per game as he had a 1,023 yard season.

The Panther defensive unit will be led by returning linemen Lincoln Johnson and Johnathan Roa, linebackers Nicholas Morrow and Jonathan Uperesa, and backs Matt Edler and Ralph Regalado. The team ranked fourth in the UMAC with 361 yards allowed per game and was fifth with 27.4 points allowed per game.

3. University of Northwestern Eagles
2013 Overall Record: 6-4
2013 UMAC Record: 6-3
2013 UMAC Finish: 4th
Starters Returning: 20

Starters Lost: 4

Northwestern is back in action and ready for competition on a brand new home artificially turfed field. After posting a 6-4 record (6-3 UMAC) in 2013, the Eagles are eager to return to their championship-level play from 2012, when they shared the conference title with St. Scholastica and Greenville.

Northwestern's offense will begin the 2014 season with a strong group. First team All-UMAC running back Josh Sinnen returns for his senior season after a successful 2013 campaign. Sinnen rushed for over 1,000 yards last season, making him the first 1,000-yard rusher for Northwestern since 2001. Senior quarterback Jacob Fletcher is back after throwing 21 touchdowns for a total of over 2,100 throwing yards by the end of the 2013 season. In addition to Joe Sutton, Matt Paulson, a transfer from California Lutheran, could be one of Fletcher's top targets this season.

Despite losing two starters in Valentine Awasom and Cody Kielsa, 2014 looks to be promising for Eagles defense. Second-year starter and first team All-UMAC recipient Austin Stubbs led the 2013 secondary with six interceptions. The Eagles had two standout tacklers in sophomores Cameron Cox and Luke Sommerlot. Each recorded 76 tackles on the season. Cox had 10.5 tackles for loss while Sommerlot earned second team all-conference honors.

4. Eureka College Red Devils
2013 Overall Record: 8-2
2013 UMAC Record: 7-2
2013 UMAC Finish: 3rd
Starters Returning: 10

Starters Lost: 12

The Eureka College Red Devils offense returns six starters from last year's 2013 squad, including quarterback Blake Robles and wide receiver Dorell Baugh, both were named All-UMAC First Team members. Robles threw for 2,672 yards, 23 touchdowns, and added two rushing touchdowns. Baugh, a versatile offensive threat, tallied 54 receptions for 616 yards, five touchdowns, and rushed for 122 yards and six touchdowns. Matt Mogged also returns at wide receiver, Mogged led the Red Devils in touchdown receptions with six. The offensive line will be anchored by returning starters, Javier Rivera and Matt Friend. Rivera was an All-UMAC Second Team member on the offensive line.

Defensively, the Red Devils return four starters from last year's team. Austin Blair returns to the defensive line after a solid sophomore campaign. Blair totaled 23 solo tackles, 25 assisted tackles, seven tackles for a loss, and three sacks. Sophomore Ricky Martinez returns at cornerback after a freshman year in which he had 25 solo tackles, six assisted tackles, and three interceptions with two of those being returned for touchdowns. Sophomore Dakota Padilla and Senior Nick Blakey also return to the defensive backfield after starting a combined 13 games last year.

The Red Devils are anticipating the largest incoming class in the Kurt Barth era this fall. Approximately 55-60 freshman and transfers will be on the roster this year. Highlighting this deep recruiting class is a couple of highly-touted freshman. Austin Zirkle is a gifted athlete that can play both wide receiver and defensive back for the Red Devils. Zirkle was a First Team All-Conference selection and will provide depth at either position. Trever Zeibert is another versatile recruit that will be on campus this fall. Zeibert can play either tight end or defensive end for Eureka. Like Zirkle, Zeibert was also a First Team All-Conference selection. After graduating much of the defensive line after last season, the Red Devils will look to incoming freshman defensive lineman, Jordan Brandenburg to help out. Brandenburg, was named All-Conference on the defensive line in the Little Illini Conference. He was also named First Team All-Area and Honorable Mention All-Wabash Valley Team.

5. Crown College Storm
2013 Overall Record: 4-6
2013 UMAC Record: 4-5
2013 UMAC Finish: T-5th
Starters Returning: 17

Starters Lost: 5

The Crown College Storm come into the 2014 season with high hopes. Last season, Crown stumbled out to an 0-5 record, which included a handful of close losses, before finishing the season 4-1. Crown will look to finish out the close games this season behind a very talented roster.

With 17 returning starters on last year's squad, Crown will not start as many freshmen as in years past. Eight starters return on a defense that ranked fourth in the conference in points per game at just 23.4 points allowed. They ranked fifth in takeaways with 19 (twelve interceptions and seven fumble recoveries). The high pressure system also created 29 sacks which ranked second in the conference. Defensive linemen Zach Jusczak and Drew Zoromski will set the tone up front while playmaking safety Eli Dahl will once again anchor a talented young secondary.

Offensively, Crown returns nine starters keyed by four of five offensive line starters, their fullback, and two talented backs. Crown finished last season with the fourth ranked rushing offense at 188.7 yards per game. Josh Edlund and Matt Michaud will once again team up for a formidable one-two punch out of the backfield. Crown must improve in the passing game where they ranked last in the conference. Transfer quarterback Brandon McCormick will assume leadership of the offense after coming over from Maranatha Baptist last spring.

6. University of Minnesota Morris Cougars
2013 Overall Record: 3-7
2013 UMAC Record: 3-6
2013 UMAC Finish: 7th
Starters Returning: 19

Starters Lost: 6

Minnesota Morris goes into the 2014 season looking to bounce back from a 3-7 season (3-6 UMAC) last year. The Cougars were competitive in nearly every game last season, losing five games by just eight points or less.

The team returns a total of 19 starters from the 2013 squad which should help the Cougars transition into the 2014 season. Cody Hickman will lead the defensive once again in 2014. Hickman is coming off an All-UMAC year and received some All-Region attention after leading the leading in tackles, averaging 14 tackles per game in the 2013 season. Hickman will be joined by seven other defensive returners.

Offensively the Cougars lost a pair of wide receivers, including All-UMAC performer and CoSIDA All-American Brendon Foss. However, both quarterbacks return as does leading rusher Dustin Spohn who averaged 62 yards per game and had seven touchdowns last season. The Cougars will also return three other pass catchers and a couple offensive lineman which should help the team transition offensively as they look to climb the UMAC standings this season.

7. Westminster College Blue Jays
2013 Overall Record: 2-8
2013 UMAC Record: 2-7
2013 UMAC Finish: T-8th
Starters Returning: 15

Starters Lost: 7

The Westminster Blue Jays look to bring a competitive game to the UMAC for the 2014 season. With 15 starters returning, the Blue Jays look to build upon experience while adding players into key positions.

Offensively, the Blue Jays return the strong duo of senior quarterback Joe Plassmeyer and sophomore wide receiver Mike Washington. Plassmeyer threw 1,853 yards and 15 touchdowns throughout the season last year, and Washington led the team with 692 receiving yards. The Blue Jays lost the top three running backs, including Second Team All-Conference Ronnie Seals Jr., but they will look to have a balanced attack this year after adding depth to the running game.

On defense, the Blue Jays lost three top notch defenders, including First Team All-Conference Josh Bromberg and Jeremy Hampton and Second Team All-Conference Louvis Johnson. USA Football Preseason All-American Honorable Mention Kyle Bryant returns on the defensive line for his senior year after finishing strong last season. Throughout the 2013 season, he tallied 25 tackles, including six tackles for a loss of 44 yards and 3.5 sacks for 28 yards. Also returning is junior CJ Vaughan. He closed out last season with 34.5 tackles, two interceptions, four pass breakups and six passes deflected. Senior Dennis Dent also returns; he had 33 tackles (4.0 TFL) and two sacks in the 10 games last season.

8. Martin Luther College Knights
2013 Overall Record: 4-6
2013 UMAC Record: 4-5
2013 UMAC Finish: T-5th
Starters Returning: 18

Starters Lost: 4

The 2014 Martin Luther football team returns a number of key performers from its youthful 2013 roster that finished with a 4-6 record (4-5 UMAC). The Knights are hopeful that the experience gained last season can help them to a better finish in the 2014 UMAC standings.

The offense returns eight starters from last season's team that averaged more than 400 total yards per game (220.8 yards rushing and 181.2 yards passing). Junior Luke Rothe returns at quarterback after throwing for 1803 yards with 18 touchdowns to go with 813 yards rushing and nine scores in 2013. He will be joined in the backfield by Matt Olson, who ran for 700 yards and eight touchdowns in seven games last season. Receivers Josh Rathje, Dan Rodewald and Chris Arndt all return with experience on the outside, while the offensive line returns four of the five starters from last season. Jeff Rick, Jacob Bode and Aaron Platzer each have at least two years of starting experience under their belts along the line.

Defensively, the Knights return ten starters from one of the most inexperienced units in the UMAC a season ago. The strength of the defense will remain up front, where Ben Ewings, Ben Hansen and Nick Kressin return after strong 2013 campaigns. Ewings was a First Team All-UMAC selection after setting an MLC single-season record with 11.0 sacks in 2013. Kressin led the team in tackles (77), and also finished with 15.5 tackles for loss, while Hansen finished with 67 tackles and 11.5 tackles for loss. The back seven returns veterans Colin Paustian and Jacob Brohn, while underclassmen Thomas Keller, Chris Dean and Nathan Schoenherr look to show improvement after gaining experience as freshman a season ago.

9. Iowa Wesleyan College Tigers
2013 Overall Record: 2-8
2013 UMAC Record: 2-7
2013 UMAC Finish: T-8th
Starters Returning: 11

Starters Lost: 11

The 2014 football team will be led by a small but experienced group of seniors. The experience the freshman received last year will play big dividends this fall, having a year under their belt of learning the systems and adapting to college football.

Offensively, there will be a great competition at quarterback. Senior Zandro Diaz will be a vital component to leading the offense for the Tigers this year. Last season, Diaz played in 10 games for the purple and white. He threw for 2,317 yards with an average of 231.7 yards per game. His efficiency for the year was 135.73. Also returning from last year is Junior, Caleb Huss. Huss played in 8 games for the Tigers and threw for 275 yards and 4 touchdown and had an efficiency of 112.86. Freshmen Alex Payne joins Iowa Wesleyan's offense from Nevada High School in Missouri. Payne was an All-District First Teamer in 2013 and an All-Southwest Missouri third team selection in 2012 and 2013. Also joining the Tigers at the quarterback position are Hayden Kujala and Tim Tribble.

The Tigers lost Ridge Hobbs and LiMichael Peeples to graduation, both were vital parts of the offense last year. The Tigers are looking to senior Raul Becerril and junior Tylor Hoyle to make an impact this year. Becerril played in 10 games last season and had 402 yards receiving for IWC. He had 2 touchdowns and averaged 40.2 yards per game last year. Freshman Tyler Wadley, Avery Mobley, D'Maury Earl, and Malquan Scott are looking to help the Tigers out in their first year. Trey Todd looks to lead the ground game, returning this year for his junior year. Last year, Todd averaged 57.4 yards per game and had 4 touchdowns. He had 574 net yards and averaged 4.5 yards per carry.

Defensively, the team will be young but athletic. Sam Balbach returns as a senior defensive lineman. Balbach played in 10 games last season. He recorded 44 solo tackles and assisted in 23 others for a total of 67. At linebacker, Nate Daniels had a total of 32 tackles on the year, 19 solo and assisted in 13. Ryan Gerleman and Raul Lozano are key returners for the Tigers at defensive back. Gerleman played in 10 games last season and recorded 80 tackles for the Tigers. He had 47 solo tackles and assisted in 33 tackles. Lozano had 50 solo tackles and 23 assisted tackles in 10 games for IWC. Ten of those tackles were for a loss. The Tigers welcome of host of newcomers on the defensive side of the ball in 2014.

10. MacMurray College Highlanders
2013 Overall Record: 0-10
2013 UMAC Record: 0-9
2013 UMAC Finish: 10th
Starters Returning: 12

Starters Lost: 11

MacMurray Football is excited to begin the 2014 season. Last season saw a roster (80%) built upon only sophomores and freshmen. That type of youth can lead to mistakes and lack of confidence that can get a team beat regularly. But it is also an opportunity to build experience that develops into confidence for the future. Head Coach Chris Douglas returns 17 juniors (the most in recent history) all of which except one returns significant playing experience. Twenty-six sophomores also return, four of which are returning starters. The trend is turning to having an experienced unit hitting the field with every snap.

On the offensive side of the ball, MacMurray Football returns eight starters and three others who have started games during the 2013 season. On the offensive line, two year starter Joe Legendre anchors the line at Center. Joining Legendre at Right Guard is Michael Fernandez and De'Andre Harris. This core will provide solid experience to a position group that has been slowly but consistently developing into a strength for the Mac Offense.

The 2013 season saw a change for the future of the offense as freshman Coy Dorothy took over the starting role as QB1. As expected, it was learning on the job, but the future is bright as Dorothy enters is sophomore season with last season's leading receiver and All-Conference selection in Zach Mudd and Mac's top scoring receiver in Damon Byrd returning. At the running back position, Douglas is excited about the depth and talent at the position as Mac returns two year returning starter Patrick Hall and early season starter Dervon Francis.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Highlanders return only 4 starters but return many that played valuable minutes during the 2013 campaign. The defense as a whole will only have 3 seniors, but will return 15 lettermen. All in all, a very young group will be involved with the Mac Defense this season.

Each UMAC team will play nine conference games throughout the 2014 schedule with the conference's regular season champion moving on to the NCAA playoffs via the league's automatic qualifier.


Can You Help???

Urgent request goes out to Emapnation tonight.  The coaching staff has come to an agreement with the Fairgrounds to work the gates at the Bond County Fair on Tuesday August 5th from 1-8PM as a fundraiser for the football program.  Currently there are 9 people signed up to work and we need between 15-20 people total to cover the gates.  If anyone in Emapnation can help call, text or email Coach Schomaker at robbie.schomaker@greenville.edu.  Even if you can't come until 4 or 5 you can still help in a big way.  Hope to see you at the fairgrounds!

Greenville College Football © 2009 by Jered Schneider.