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Doane College

After many seasons of disappointing football in Crete, Matt Franzen and company have hope and excitement back at Al Papik Field. Doane has been flirting with its first trip to the NAIA Championship Series since 1999. Unfortunately for the Tigers they have been a bad loss away the past two seasons. They suffered back-to-back losses in October, dropping two of three in the month. Fans will remember the bad punt in Mitchell, S.D. last season that set Dakota Wesleyan up for the go-ahead score. Without that loss Doane would have won six of its last seven – with the only loss to eventual NAIA runner-up Morningside – and made a case for the postseason. That, however, was not the case and the Tigers need to forget and move on. 

They will move forward with seven returning starters on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Jeff Weander is back for his senior campaign, but will be without his top two targets (Tyrone Curry & Jesse Ver Velde) from a year ago. He threw for over 200 yards per game last season to help lead the offense and found the endzone through the air 18 times, compared to 10 interceptions. Half of the interceptions from last season were in two games in the dismal October. The rushing attack of Clayton Moore and Alex Dose is back, along with Dilllon Carmichael and Joe Vetrovsky leading the way on the front line. 

Said Coach Franzen of his offense, “We’ll need to find out identity early. We feel we have some good talent and will need to decide the best way to utilize what we have.”

The defense will be anchored by Jeremy Wallace, who led the 2011 defense in tackles (112), tackles for loss (16), sacks (6), forced fumbles (2) and fumble recoveries (tied with two others at 1). Rob Keeney is back for another season and totaling 58 tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss last season. Alongside Keli’I Jackson, the trio provides a solid nucleus for the Tiger defense. 

Said Coach Franzen of his defense, “Good experience returns at most positions. Consistency and health will be priorities for this unit.”

Thoughts: Doane will be tested early with a road trip to Wichita, Kan. to open the season at Friends University and a home-opener in week two against Northwestern. In the spring NAIA football poll the two were RV & No. 13, respectively. If the Tigers don’t struggle out of the gates they will need to cruise through conference opponents before an end of the season battle against Morningside, a game Doane hasn’t won since 2003.