Twenty-five letterwinners, including 15 who saw a spot in the starting line-up at some point last year, will return for head coach Jay Anderson and the Buena Vista University football team as it welcomes the start of the 2012 season this Saturday against UW-Platteville.
After three weeks of practices to get ready for the season, Anderson and the rest of the team are more than eager to get out on the field.
“We’ve had an excellent camp”, he says. “I couldn’t have asked for more out of the guys these last few weeks. We have a lot of holes to fill from last year, and we’re just ready to play a game and see exactly where we’re at.”
Offensively, BVU returns an experienced nucleus with eight starters back, including senior center Michael Wiegmann (6-1, 280, Aplington-Parkersburg), who earned all-conference honors for the first time last year. BVU also has the league’s fifth leading rusher from last year in John Hill (6-1, 195, Webster City) to hand the ball off to after he posted a career-high 810 yards and six touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Bobby Brown (6-2, 195, Storm Lake) returns under center after suffering a season-ending injury causing him to miss the final four games in 2011. He ended his first collegiate season with a team-high 910 yards passing and five scores. He’ll have a handful of weapons to throw the ball to as well, including seniors Logan Lehrkamp (5-11, 180, Carroll H.S.) and Gunnar Wyatt (6-1, 185, Roland-Story). Lehrkamp led the receiving corps a season ago with 41 catches and 635 yards, including four touchdowns. Wyatt hauled in 18 pass attempts for 274 yards.
“We’re probably the deepest with our wide-outs,” adds Anderson. “There are eight or so guys that could see a decent amount of playing time throughout the year, and with a forecast like this Saturday, that will be a plus for us.”
Defensively, the Beavers look to continue the tradition of being a tough unit to play against. Despite losing a trio of all-conference players from a year ago, the team does return three starters who played key roles for a team which ranked fifth overall in the IIAC in total defense and third in scoring defense in 2011. Junior captain Brady Randall (6-2, 225, Alta) looks to lead the group after registering 70 total stops and two forced fumbles a season ago. Mack Snelling (5-11, 165, Bloom (Ill.) H.S.) registered 43 tackles, two interceptions and four pass break-ups for a secondary which was fourth-best in pass defense in the league.
“We’ll have to make sure our guys are ready to tackle in the open field against a team like Platteville,” says Anderson. “They will throw a lot of screens at you which could lead to big plays if tackles aren’t made. We have a handful of skill guys back that are ready to step up for a big year.”
Junior Mason Nielsen (6-0, 190, Central City), also a starter on defense in 2011, looks to provide an edge for BVU on special teams after finishing his sophomore year ranked fourth in all of Division III in kick-off returns, averaging 30.12 yards.
Saturday’s season opener with the Pioneers will kick-off at 1:00pm inside of J. Leslie Rollins Stadium. It’s also Hall of Fame Day and four new members will join the BVU Athletics Hall of Fame at halftime of the contest (Doug Smith ’69, Brad Jones ’77, Jennifer Erickson ’96 and Adam Jones ’02).
Following this week’s opener, the Beavers will play two more non-conference contests – both of which will be on the road (Concordia-Moorhead on September 8 and Bethel University on September 15).
“It’s an extremely tough non-conference schedule for us this year,” the seventh-year head coach says. “But in the end of it, we’ll definitely be ready to go come time for the conference slate.”
The team will begin Iowa Conference play on the road against Coe College (September 29) before back-to-back home games against Wartburg College (Oct. 6) and Central College (Oct. 13 - Homecoming).
The Beavers will have the benefit of playing four of their final six games this season on their home turf. In 2011, the team averaged nearly 23.5 points at home compared to only 9.4 on the road.
Saturday’s Broadcast – A radio broadcast of the game can be found locally on 97.5FM KBVU as well as streamed online at http://www.bvu.edu/athletics/broadcast. The game will also be video streamed online at http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/bvu.portal#
Check out photos of our student-athletes in action in the Beaver sports photo galleries.