2014 William Penn Football Preview
Video interview with Coach Hafner at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2gM-QIlXEM
2013 record: 5-6 (3-3 MWL, 4th)
Starters returning/lost: 13/13 (including special teams)
Letterwinners returning/lost: 42/23
Taylor Parsons Sr. The Woodlands, Texas
(2012 stats–Honorable-mention all-MWL, 791 rushing yards, 11 TDs, 490 passing yards, 3 TDs)
Evan Ressler Sr. Cascade, Iowa
(Second-team all-MWL, 728 rushing yards, 3 TDs)
Jake Adams Sr. Park City, Utah
Joseph Frye Sr. Detroit, Mich.
(33 tackles, 2 passed defended)
Jake Baptiste Fr. Salt Lake City, Utah
Alec Basso Fr. Niles, Ill.
Mason Wisse Fr. Oskaloosa, Iowa
Mason Rohr Fr. Nixa, Mo.
The Statesmen football team will look to mark its final season in the MSFA with a Midwest League title in 2014.
William Penn, which is seeking its second trip to the NAIA’s Football Championship Series in the last three years, hopes to rebound from a 5-6 record (3-3 MWL) last year. This will be the last year WPU plays in the MSFA, moving to the Heart of America Athletic Conference next fall.
With a healthy quarterback Taylor Parsons (Sr., The Woodlands, Texas, Sociology) back behind center, Head Coach Todd Hafner believes the offense will be firing on all cylinders. WPU averaged 329.9 yards per game and 24.9 points a year ago, led by 274.5 rushing yards. Fullback Evan Ressler (Sr., Cascade, Iowa, Biology) and offensive lineman Jake Adams (Sr., Park City, Utah, Psychology), both second-team all-MWL picks from last year, also return to bolster the offense.
The defense, headed by Joseph Frye (Sr., Detroit, Mich., Physical Education), might actually steal the headlines, though, after giving up just 295.5 yards and 20.5 points per contest.
Parsons gets a second chance to play his senior year after receiving a medical redshirt due to a season-ending injury in just the second game of 2013. In his shortened campaign, the senior rushed for 32 yards and a touchdown and completed four of his nine passes for 65 yards.
Tyler Hafner (Jr., Oskaloosa, Iowa, Undecided) did an excellent job filling in for Parsons, tallying 419 rushing yards with four touchdowns and going 61-for-145 through the air for 535 yards and three scores.
Veteran signal-caller Hunter Collins (Jr., Jenks, Okla., Undecided) will also vie for time (38 rushing yards, 14 passing yards), while freshman Alec Basso (Niles, Ill., Undecided) is expected to add tremendous depth.
Sam Tvedt (Sr., Oskaloosa, Iowa, Business Management) had a strong junior year (697 yards, 6 TDs) to pace the returning backs, while brother Nate Tvedt (Jr., Oskaloosa, Iowa, Business Management) (48 yards), Aaron Osborne (Sr., Houston, Texas, Physical Education) (92 yards), Nate Wilmes (Sr., Carlisle, Iowa, Sociology), and Jonathan Ward (Fr., Terry, Miss., Undecided) will receive plenty of carries as well.
Sam Tvedt’s 7.3 yards per rush led WPU in 2013.
Ressler topped all 2013 ball-carriers with 728 yards and three touchdowns, but as much as the squad’s fullbacks get punished in interior runs, expect fellow returners Michael Thomas (Sr., Visalia, Calif., Undecided) (59 yards), Tyler Goble (So., Des Moines, Iowa, Secondary Education) (10 yards), and Judson Humphries (Jr., Phenix City, Ala., Secondary Education) to also get their chances.
In the past, the Statesmen’s option offense has been fairly one-dimensional with most of the emphasis on the ground. William Penn picked up just 55.5 passing yards per 2013 outing, but Hafner believes the navy and gold will be a serious aerial threat this year with several talented newcomers joining a solid returning crew.
Kramer Patterson (Jr., Ozark, Mo., Secondary Education), with ten catches for 113 yards and a TD, and Desmond Douglas (So., Decatur, Ala., Physical Education), with eight grabs for 76 yards, lead the way for the returners. Doug Hale (Sr., Polk City, Iowa, Digital Communication) adds more depth as a returner.
Junior college transfers Jatavius Stewart (Jr., Rock Hill, S.C., Biology) and Skye Richey (Jr., Caney, Kan.) are pure speedsters who should allow the Statesmen to successfully go downfield on a more frequent basis.
With depth aplenty in the official trenches, Devin Verwers (Jr., Norwalk, Iowa, Industrial Technology) and Ryan Westmoreland (Jr., Bolivar, Mo., Secondary Education) accepted the challenge to convert to the tight end role and will battle for the starting nod.
An all-league duo will top the list of the men doing the dirty work on offense as Adams is joined by Hea Tuifua (Jr., Salt Lake City, Utah, Undecided) on the line.
Returners Jarrett Rogers (Jr., Ozark, Mo., Business Management), J.T. Dotson (Jr., Jenks, Okla., Business Management), and Justin Lewis (Sr., Florence, Ala., Sociology) will have to endure a season-long fight with fellow returners Kalob Gist (Jr., Oskaloosa, Iowa, Business Management) and
Connor Menown (Jr., Springfield, Mo., Business Management).
Third-Team All-American Nick DiMarco is currently suiting up for the Baltimore Ravens, and while his absence is certainly noticed, the coaching staff is confident the defense’s front line is more than capable of continuing to be a nuisance for opposing squads.
At 6-2 and around 360 pounds, Malik Young (So., Peoria, Ill., Physical Education) (22 tackles) can stuff the middle with the best of them, while veterans Hunter Barry (So., Morris, Ill., Physical Education), Alvin Reels (Jr., Inkster, Mich., Digital Communication), Greg Beatty (Sr., Brooklyn, Iowa, Industrial Technology), and Clayton Temaat (Jr., Alba, Mo., Industrial Technology) will play big roles as well.
Transfer Taylan Ybarra (Jr., Wellington, Kan., Education) is slated to also make big waves.
There is no lack of talent within the linebacking crew as 2012 leading tackler Scott Adams (Sr., Park City, Utah, Sociology) (90 tackles in 2012, 17 stops last year) will be joined by 2013 lead stopper Isaac Samek (Jr., Bolivar, Mo., Industrial Technology) (82 tackles) as well as Kevin Shrauger (Jr., Nixa, Mo., Physical Education) (43 tackles).
De’Meris Terrell (So., Richmond, Texas, History/Government) gained experience on the practice squad as a freshman, while Jake Baptiste (Fr., Salt Lake City, Utah, Psychology) will look to parlay a tremendous prep career into success collegiately.
As promising as the front seven looks, WPU’s defensive secondary might be its deepest area.
Frye (33 tackles), Keshun Cowen (Sr., Olive Branch, Miss., Physical Education) (10 tackles), and Caesar Harris (Sr., Memphis, Tenn., Sociology) all return to compete for the cornerback positions, while Freddy Griggs (Sr., Tallahassee, Fla., Business Management) (36 tackles) and Deshon Conley (Sr., Chicago, Ill., Physical Education) (26 tackles) headline the safety spots.
Returners Walter Eastwood (So., Garden City, Mo., Computer Science) and Ryan Richardson (Sr., Ripley, Miss., Physical Education), who had 11 stops, will be waiting with baited breath to also get on the field, while freshman Mason Rohr (Nixa, Mo., Biology) should earn some snaps.
Multiple league honoree Marcus Kerrigan has graduated, leaving a sizeable void in the kicking game–one that Hafner hopes incoming freshman Ante Rogic (Fr., Chicago, Ill., Biology) can fill.
Parsons is figured to be one of the two ‘rugby-style’ punters William Penn will employ with the other not yet determined.
Sam Tvedt did a bit of punt and kickoff returning as a junior (six returns for 81 yards) and will be complemented by Richie and Stewart.
The Statesmen made it through an excruciating slate in 2013, but unfortunately 2014 does not figure to play any easier. Bethel (Tenn.) comes to town on August 30 for a season-opening non-conference game, while visits to NCAA Division II South Dakota and #6 St. Francis (Ind.) follow.
WPU begins MWL action on October 4 at St. Ambrose. Three of the team’s final four games will be at home, so if the coaching staff’s predictions come to fruition, Statesmen Nation will be entertained by some pivotal games in Oskaloosa in late October and early November. Homecoming is set for September 27 against Taylor (Ind.).
As expected, defending national champion and WPU’s fiercest rival Grand View leads the MWL and NAIA poll, but 2011 champion Saint Xavier as well as St. Ambrose and William Penn should plan for an interesting four-team race for the automatic berth to the playoffs.