Thu, Sep. 5, 2013 - [Football]
BY Nathaniel Smith & Loras College Sports Information Office
The 2013 Loras College football team is solely focused on the 2013 season. The Duhawks start with the first NCAA Division III football game in the country when they visit #22 Elmhurst College tonight at 7:00 PM.
The coaching staff and the players have been eager to get back on the field and improve on what was the 2012 season. It will not be easy for the Duhawks as they have to replace their entire offensive line from the start of the previous year as well as All-Iowa Conference performers Brandon Ronan (LB) and Aaron Strong (DE).
Head Coach Paul Mierkiewicz enters his third season at Loras College and has compiled a 68-58 career overall record. Coach Mierkiewicz has seen his win total at Loras increase in each of his first two seasons – a trend he hopes continues in 2013.
Not only has the roster seen a change, but the coaching staff as well. The Duhawks have added new coaches Michael Gainey (Defensive Backs Coach), David Zoeckler (Defensive Line Coach), and Joe Furco (Running Backs Coach). Their contributions will be vital to the success the Duhawks have on the field.
The Duhawks do have a handful of returners back on the offensive side of the ball including All-Iowa Conference running back Nate Carrier. Carrier led the conference in rushing with 1,212 yards and scored five times for the Duhawks. Also, Dylan Jones returns for his second campaign as the Duhawks' quarterback. Jones averaged 134.4 yards per game throwing eight touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He has his main target back from a year ago. Nate Even at wide out looks to be an even bigger factor this year. He led the Duhawks in receiving, averaging 43.1 yards per game and hauled in two touchdowns as well.
Like the offensive the defense returns quite a few key pieces from last year's defensive group. Senior Will Tumburger will help anchor the defensive line for the Duhawks. He tallied 17 total tackles and one sack in 2012. Junior Tucker Brady leads the way in the linebacker unit. Brady tallied 44 total tackles and a team-best 7.5 tackles for loss. Senior safety Mike Canevello and senior cornerback David Pirkle look to head a strong secondary for the Duhawks and build on the fourth best pass defense in the IIAC from last season. The two combined recorded 122 tackles, 6.5 for losses, and three interceptions.
Louie Oswald will take over kicking duties for the Duhawk special teams. A Dubuque native, he was a member of the soccer team and used up all his eligibility for that team, but has a semester left. This is his first year kicking since high school – where he did so for the Wahlert Golden Eagles. Nick Nunley is back on punting duty for the Duhawks. He was fifth in the league last year in yards per punt.
Loras head coach Paul Mierkiewicz says, "I think we're ready to play. The most encouraging thing is the way this group has come together."
"I expect our team to continue to get better each day," Mierkiewicz declared.
"We still have some work to do but we have come a long way and I like the direction we are going."
"This league is always very tough and usually the team that can stay healthy has the best chance to be successful."
With a strong group of returners on both sides of the football the Duhawks are more than ready to get this season going. The Duhawks will have their hands full with a tough schedule in the early going. They play two teams ranked in the top 25 in the first four weeks (d3football.com / Elmhurst, Coe). It is a challenge that the coaches and players are looking forward too.
Offensive captains in 2013 will be Dan Murray (LT) and Kyle Bergquist (FB)
Defensive captains in 2013 will be Mike Canevello (S), David Pirkle (DB), and Tucker Brady (LB)
Quick Facts from 2012:
- Nate Carrier ranked 13th among NCAA D-III running backs in rushing yards per game and 41st in all-purpose yards.
- The running game for the Duhawks averaged 201 yards/game on the ground at home as opposed to 86.8 yards/game on the road.
- The Duhawks were able to win the time of possession battle in over half of their games including all but 1 game at home.
A CLOSER LOOK:
2012 Record: 2-8, 1-7 in the IIAC (8th)
2013 Preseason Coaches' Poll: 7th
Starters Lost On Offense: Nick Holeton, Sam Ross, Michael Donnelly, Andrew McFadden, Alex Lehmann Joe Walker
Starters Lost On Defense: Brandon Ronan, Aaron Strong, Kyle Kirchhoff, Danny Badovinac, Mike Wuertzer
Key Returners: Nate Carrier, Dylan Jones, Nate Even, Kyle Bergquist, Mike Canevello, David Pirkle, Will Tumberger, Tucker Brady, Dan Murray
Keep An Eye On: Logan Kuehl, Brendan Oates, Louie Oswald
The 2013 season includes non-conference games against Elmhurst, Rockford, and Augustana before the bye week.
WATCH THEM IN THE ROCK BOWL (All kickoffs at 1:00 pm):
September 21, Hall of Fame Game vs. Augustana
October 12, Homecoming vs. Coe
October 19, vs. Simpson
November 2, vs. Central
November 16, Senior Day vs. Wartburg
Full Schedule HERE