Advantage to the Norse; Luther aiming for more improvement
Year two of Hafner era begins with high hopes
Thursday, August 28, 2014 10:24 AM
There are high hopes floating around the Luther football program.
Captains for the 2014 Luther squad are, from left, front row - J.J. Sirios, Alex Hain, Josh Vos. Back row - Head Coach Aaron Hafner, Dan Wheelock.
Second-year Head Coach Aaron Hafner returns 28 letter winners from last year’s squad that posted a 2-8 record and struggled at times while running new offensive and defensive schemes. Familiarity with the flexbone option and a 4-2-5 defense will already give the Norse an advantage heading into the 2014 campaign.
Assistant coaches in the program are Payton Haynes (offensive coordinator), Paul Hoffman (defensive coordinator), Ike Hammerly (head strength and conditioning and defensive line coach), Zach Ruot (recruiting coordinator and wide receiver coach), Blaine Barthel (recruiting coordinator and running backs coach), Caleb Barnes (special teams) and Blake Moen (student coach).
A look at the offense
Offensively, the Norse put up a single season rushing total of 2,731 yards that ranks fourth all-time. The last time a Luther offensive unit rushed for over 2,700 yards was 1963, when the undefeated Iowa Conference champions set the school record with over 3,200 yards.
The core of the offensive backfield will be preseason All-American and co-captain Josh Vos (Sr., Morrison, Ill.). Vos, a second team all-conference selection at fullback, averaged over 5 yards per carry en route to 888 and 12 touchdowns.
Also returning in the backfield are co-captain Alex Hain (Sr., Stewartville, Minn.), Tim Ostby (Jr., Morris, Minn.), Christian Moore (So., Kendall, Wis.) and Jeremy Redmond (So., North Oaks, Minn.). All four averaged over 5 yards per carry and posted long rushes of over 27 yards, led by Hain’s 89-yard scamper against Simpson in the final game of last season. Ostby is back as the top return specialist from a year ago. Redmond was named the team’s Newcomer of the Year.
Starting quarterback J.J. Sirios (Sr., Keenesburg, Colo.) returns, as does back-up Dylan Smallwood (Jr., Papillion, Neb.). Both gained valuable experience last season. Sirios missed the final three games due to an injury, and Smallwood finished the year calling plays.
The offensive line took a hit due to graduation. Tyler Moon (Jr., Sauk Rapids, Minn.) and James Ostlie (So., Decorah) return as the starters at right guard and right tackle, respectively. A.J. Rea (Sr., St. Paul, Minn.) and Josh Nelson (Sr., Elmhurst, Ill.) also return at tight end.
“We have great competition at many positions on the offensive side of the ball,” stated Hafner. “We will be very inexperienced at some positions, but we are excited about the hard work and preparation our returners put in during the offseason. Their effort will allow us to fill the gaps created due to graduation. Our backfield will be very experienced and provide great leadership. The players have really bought into our philosophy. If we can limit turnovers, we will see improvements on the offensive side of the ball.”
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