Football Set For Season Opener Against Hamline
THIS WEEK: The Pacific Lutheran University football team kicks off its season Saturday afternoon against visiting Hamline University from Minnesota. Kickoff is slated for noon at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup. Saturday's match up between the two teams is the opening game for both squads in 2011.
FOLLOW THE LUTES: You can listen to PLU football action throughout the year in the Tacoma area on KLAY 1180 AM with Steve Thomas and Karl Hoseth calling the action. The broadcasts are also available online on the KLAY website (www.klay1180.com). Additionally, listeners can access the PLU football broadcasts on the PLU athletics website at www.golutes.com, then clicking on Listen Live and following the link.
TICKET PRICES: Tickets are available at the Sparks Stadium gate, and at the following prices $10 - adult; $8 - adult with alumni card; $5 - students and senior; $3 - senior with alumni card; Free - children age 6 and under (when accompanied by an adult).
PUYALLUP FAIR OPENING ON FRIDAY: Just a reminder to football fans that the Puyallup Fair opens on Friday, meaning daytime parking around Sparks Stadium (located a block from the Fair) will be at a premium on Saturday morning and afternoon. Fans planning on driving to the game and parking are advised to carpool, arrive early, and to expect a short hike to the stadium.
SCOUTING THE PIPERS: Hamline has had an overhaul within its football program from a season ago. In 2010, the Pipers went 1-9, finishing in last place in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Now, in 2011, Hamline brings in an entirely new coaching staff with new offensive and defensive philosophies. John Pate is now in his first season as head coach at Hamline. Pate, a former associate head coach with Georgia Southern University, was on the sidelines for five NCAA Division I-AA national championship seasons. He twice served on the staff at Georgia Southern, first from 1985-89 and then again from 1996-2005. The Pipers do welcome back one 2010 MIAC All-Conference player. Junior defensive lineman Eric Klaers, a second team all-conference selection from a season ago, leads the Piper defense.
SERIES HISTORY: The Lutes and Pipers have only met one previous time in the series history. In last season's opener, visiting Pacific Lutheran came away with 27-20 win in St. Paul, Minn.
LAST YEAR: Quarterback Jordan Rasmussen threw four touchdown passes, including the game winner in the third quarter, to lead Pacific Lutheran to a season-opening 27-20 football win over the host Hamline Pipers at Klas Field. Rasmussen connected with Kyle Whitford on a 9-yard scoring strike with 8:01 remaining in the third quarter for what proved to be the winning touchdown. The score broke a 20-20 halftime tie, and from there the PLU defense managed to hold off several fourth quarter drives by the Pipers. Trailing 27-20, Hamline drove 69 yards in 13 plays only to miss a 38-yard field goal. Later in the final quarter, the Pipers started a drive at their own 42-yard line. They marched down the field with Blake Cook carrying nine times, including seven in a row, and got to the 2-yard line where a fourth-down pass fell incomplete. The 15-play drive took 7:34 off the clock, but the Lutes got the ball and were able to run off the final nine second to secure the victory. Rasmussen hooked up with Isaac Moog for the game's first score, converting a four-down play with a 27-yard scoring pass. Hamline tied it at 7-7 on a 2-yard run capping a 66-yard, 11-play drive, and then took the lead with a quick-strike 53-yard pass from Adam Meyer to Tim Queck following a blocked punt. The Lutes sandwiched a pair of Rasmussen-to-Greg Ford scoring aerials around a pair of Hamline field goals. First, Rasmussen connected with Ford on a 35-yard touchdown, capping a 74-yard drive, to make the score 14-14 with 12:39 left. After John Broback knocked through 25- and 42-yard field goals for the Pipers, Ford caught a 56-yard touchdown pass from Rasmussen to make the score 20-20 at the intermission. The last scored came at the end of a four-play, 91-yard drive.At the half, the Lutes had out-gained the Pipers, 280-238 in total yards. The second half, however, was much more of a defensive battle as the Lutes finished the game with 383 yards on 51 total plays compared to 365 yards on 88 plays for the hosts. Hamline dominated time of possession, nearly 38 minutes to just 22 for the Lutes.
ABOUT THE COACHES: Scott Westering is in his eighth year as head coach at Pacific Lutheran, where he has compiled a 34-29 overall record. Scott joined the PLU coaching staff in 1981 after playing tight end for the Lutes under his father, Frosty Westering. Scott served as the Lutes' offensive coordinator from 1983-2003, helping PLU to two NAIA Division II and one NCAA Division III national championships, as well as four runner-up finishes. He has coached 11 first-team All-Americans, including the 1999 NCAA Division III Player of the Year, Chad Johnson. Scott was a captain and All-American tight end on the 1980 PLU team that won the Lutes' first NAIA national championship. He was inducted into the PLU Hall of Fame in 1998.
John Pate is in his first season as head coach at Hamline. Pate, a former associate head coach with Georgia Southern University, was on the sidelines for five NCAA Division I-AA national championship seasons. He twice served on the staff at Georgia Southern, first from 1985-89 and then again from 1996-2005. Pate's roles ranged from defensive line coach to associate head coach and recruiting coordinator. His teams won NCAA Division I-AA (now the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision) national championships in 1985, 1986, 1989, 1999, and 2000. Pate also coached in the title games in 1988 and 1998. In addition to his 15 years at Georgia Southern, Pate spent time as the head coach at both Union College (1984) and Lees-McRae College (1991-93).
LUTES LAST YEAR: Pacific Lutheran finished with an 8-1 overall record in 2010. The Lutes were 5-1 in the Northwest Conference, good for second place behind Linfield, but were not extended an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III national playoffs.
HAMLINE LAST YEAR: The Pipers compiled a 1-9 record in 2010, including a 0-8 mark in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
ABOUT THE LUTES: Coming off an 8-1 season that saw the Pacific Lutheran University football team barely miss the NCAA national playoffs, the 2011 Lutes will have to transition from a team that has lost 13 starters from a season ago. Quarterback Jordan Rasmussen, receivers Greg Ford and Isaac Moog, running back Alec Simmons, and left tackle Sten Koos, all received first team all-conference honors in 2010 but have since graduated. In addition, the team loses wide receiver Kyle Whitford and center Conor McNeill, both second team all-conference picks. In all, the Lutes will be losing eight offensive starters from a team that scored 32.1 points per game. This is a new season, however, and so the 2011 team starts with a clean slate and lots of hope for another winning record.
OFFENSE: Senior Zack Halverson the most experienced quarterback on the squad, has attempted one pass in his career for the Lutes. Nonetheless, Halverson, now in his fourth season in the PLU system, has impressed coaches during preseason workouts.
Running back Brandon James, the team's leading returning rusher and receiver from 2010, is poised to have a breakout season in 2011. The junior averaged 5.5 yards per carry in limited action during his first season. James will most likely be the team's featured back to begin the season. The wide receiver positions will be another area inexperienced players will need to make an immediate impact in 2011. With only one of the team's top eight receivers returning from last season, this year's core of receivers will need to step up early. Seniors Tyler Bowen and Alex McDiarmid, along with juniors Tyler Christianson and Andrew Carlson, all have experience in the PLU offense and will provide Halverson with several solid options out wide. This season's offensive line could be outstanding and will feature two senior starters who have been mainstays for three seasons. Rob Marlow, a left tackle, earned second team all-conference recognition in 2010, while Nick Oglesby, who played both right and left guard for the Lutes in 2010, earned honorable mention recognition.
DEFENSE: The Lutes may need to rely on its defense in the early part of the season while the offense searches for its identity. Six starters return for Pacific Lutheran and create a solid core in 2011. First team all-conference safety Sean McFadden returns to lead the secondary this season. The sophomore recorded 54 tackles and three interceptions in his first year on campus. Senior Jordan Davison returns to bolster the Lutes' secondary as well. In 2010, Davison recorded 39 tackles, leading to an honorable mention all-conference selection. Senior linebackers Michael Warsaw and Adam Schwander return to make the nucleus of a linebacking corps that could be very good in 2011. Schwander, the second leading tackler for the Lutes in 2010, was recognized with an all-conference honorable mention selection a season ago. The defensive line could be the strength of the defense in 2011. Senior Erik Magnussen heads the line this year as a three-year starter, and the Lutes will be glad to see the return of sophomore Mychael Tuiasosopo.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Sophomore Nick Kaylor, who saw action last year, will handle the kicking duties, while sophomore Conor Lien will take over as the punter.
LUTES PICKED THIRD IN NWC PRESEASON POLL: Pacific Lutheran has been picked to finish third in the annual Northwest Conference coaches poll released Aug. 11. Two-time defending conference champion Linfield College is the heavy favorite to take the title again in 2011. The Wildcats open the season open the season number nine in the D3football.com national preseason poll. Willamette University is slated to finish one spot above the Lutes in second place.
NEXT SATURDAY: The Lutes travel to Thousand Oaks, Calif., for a non-conference game against Cal Lutheran. The Kingsmen are the defending Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champions. PLU defeated Cal Lutheran, 35-21, last year at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup.
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