Head Coach Hafner brings new offense, mindset to Norse
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 6:17 AM
The 2013 campaign marks the 100th season of intercollegiate football at Luther College.
Decorah graduates who are a part of the Luther program are, from left - Student Coach Sam Wettach, Robby Jewell, Head Coach Aaron Hafner, Eric Ostlie, James Ostlie.
As one century of football comes to a close, a new era begins under the direction of first year Head Coach Aaron Hafner. Hafner spent the last seven seasons as the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at William Penn University, helping the Statesmen to two Mid-States Football Association - Midwest League titles and a berth in the 2012 NAIA playoffs.
"It is fair to say there are going to be changes, not only to the offensive and defensive philosophy, but also changes to what side of the football some of our returners could be on this season," stated Hafner. "We are going to be running an offense that is completely different from any team in the Iowa Conference. As preseason camp moves along, we will evaluate our kids and put them on the side of the football that will not only allow them to be successful, but, more importantly, will allow us to be successful as a team."
Last season, Iowa Conference team's averaged nearly 31 passes per squad per game. Hafner's offensive unit will run the flexbone triple option that helped the Statesmen's offense be ranked in the top-five nationally from 2008-12 and in 2010 set an NAIA single season rushing record of 4,476 yards.
"The flexbone option is a very unselfish offense," commented Hafner. "It is not the type of offense that highlights one particular player. It's an offense that attacks based on what a defense gives each week. The quicker our players understand this philosophy, the quicker we will be able to execute and control the pace of the game."
Last year's starting offensive unit was decimated by graduation. Senior linemen Andrew Turnacliff (Northfield, Minn.) and Andrew Waites (Pevely, Mo.) are the only returning starters. Who is going to play quarterback and be in the backfield is yet to be determined.
One change that might happen is honorable mention all-conference performer J.J. Sirios (Keenesburg, Colo.), who started in the defensive secondary and was an option quarterback in high school, could be the signal caller. He will compete against returners Paul McKay (Las Vegas, Nev.), Nathan Bloechl (Green Bay, Wis.) and Dylan Smallwood (Papillion, Neb.). McKay is the only returner in this trio who took a snap last season. Juniors Alex Hain (Stewartville, Minn.) and Josh Vos (Morrison, Ill.) are the only running backs returning with varsity experience.
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