Autumn Zierman – Staff Writer
The Gustavus Football team is back this fall with more vigor than ever. After missing last season, the team returns to the field with a strong 2019 record to build upon. Coming back from a 7-3 ending record in 2019 which ranked the Gustie Football team 4th in the MIAC and an average of 45 points per game, the team has a winning record it is eager to return to.
Excitement has only grown since the Gustavus win at a non-conference game at Buena Vista on Saturday September 4. Following an offensive shootout, the Gusties finished on top with a score of 80-58 and secured a strong victory against the Buena Vista Beavers as the season kicked off. Not only has the team managed to beat the 2019 scoring average, but they have also set a program record for points in the game. Overall, the Gusties rushed for 300 yards – the most in nine years – and 635 total yards of offense.
“Wins are hard to come by, so we were very thankful. I mean, that’s a huge number [80 points]. And honestly, we needed every one of them today. And so there’s one thing to score 80 points and it be a blowout. There’s another thing to score that many points and have it be a pretty competitive game. And it was a pretty competitive game throughout. We’re really thankful that we were able to operate coming out of that long of a break and be that productive,” Head Coach Peter Haugen said in an interview with Sports Information Director CJ Siewert.
Following last Saturday’s win, Junior Andrew Abegglen has been named MIAC Football Special Teams Player of the Week. Abegglen set a Gustavus program record with 11 extra points made in Saturday’s 80-58 win at Buena Vista. Abegglen went a perfect 11-for-11 on PAT tries, breaking the previous record of nine set by Brendan Boche in 2015 against Carleton.
As football returns to normalcy for the first time since 2019, the MIAC has also been overhauled. With the addition of St. Scholastica, the MIAC will now play football in divisions. The Northwoods Division will consist of Gustavus, Carleton, St. John’s, St. Olaf and St. Scholastica. Teams will play an eight-game conference schedule with four “in-division” games and three “crossover” games.
The final week of the regular season will be “championship week,” where the teams will be ranked 1 to 5 in each division based on the results of in-division games. The teams will then be matched up with the corresponding seed in the other division for a “playoff” game. The winner of the game between the top seeds will receive the MIAC’s automatic qualifier to the NCAA playoffs.
With one win under their belt, the team is looking at a full season ahead of them in an expanded MIAC. In the upcoming weeks of September, they will be facing off with Wartburg and Concordia for the homecoming game September 25.
“Our goal is to go out and compete at a high level and ultimately win a MIAC Championship. That’s the goal every year. We have a special group of guys this year and I’m excited to be able to go out and play alongside them. After week one, there are some things that definitely need to be cleaned up for both offense and defense before our next game, but I think we are on a good track. We will be put to the test this week against a talented Wartburg team,” Said Senior Hunter O’Bert.
“We are a work in progress defensively. You know, there’s no question about it. It’s got to get better. There’s no doubt about it. Today [Saturday], it was feast or famine and that’s not going to be the formula to win every week. But I’ll tell you, we got five turnovers and we got a couple at a really key time. And that can’t go unnoticed. But we got plenty of work to do in all three phases and it’s going to get a lot tougher this week,” Coach Haugen said.
The September 11 home opener against Wartburg will be the third meeting in program history against the Knights. Wartburg leads the series 2-0 and won the last matchup 26-21 on Sept. 10, 2011 in Waverly, Iowa. The game will take place at Hollingsworth Field on Saturday at 1 p.m. for Gusties who want to get out there and show their school pride.