Experienced Trojans Eyeing Rebound in 2017
UPLAND, Ind. – The Taylor University football program and 10th-year head coach, Ron Korfmacher, will open the 2017 campaign with a veteran squad looking to return to form after battling injuries throughout last season.
The 82-man Trojan roster consists of 59 returning players, 22 seniors and 17 returning starters. The depth chart is loaded with familiar names, with nearly every position group bringing back key contributors.
“Our senior class is a very solid and experienced group of guys who have produced,” said Korfmacher. “Our experience is spread throughout all positions, but especially on defense, special teams and the offensive line.”
The experience and depth should lead to a bounce-back effort from Taylor. After going 7-3 in 2015, TU struggled through a 4-7 campaign in 2016 and posted a 2-4 mark within the Mid-States Football Association to end a streak of three-straight seasons without a losing mark in the extremely competitive MSFA Mideast League.
“We have had a strong offseason with improvement in strength and conditioning, as well as spring ball and that has carried over into the preseason,” added Korfmacher. “We had over 40 players on campus at various times during the summer and that created a very solid foundation and core for us to build on. We have a tightly bonded group of guys. It has been evident in camp and we are excited to watch it continue into our season.”
Taylor will look to its veterans to translate that offseason success into wins in the upcoming year and that will start in the trenches on the offensive side, where TU is set to return five starting lineman up front. The unit includes seniors Austin Garde, Logan Ball and Jacob Baker, as well as red-shirt junior Taylor Johnson and junior Brandon George. The group will be tasked with protecting All-MSFA quarterback, Everett Pollard, as the red-shirt junior signal-caller looks to duplicate TU’s offensive production in 2015 when it set a program record with 38.0 points per game.
Pollard set a TU program record with 29 touchdown passes as a freshman before battling injuries one year ago. All-MSFA receiver, Daniel Boy, will return as TU’s top receiving threat, while seniors Grant Hohlbein and Nicholas Lamica, as well as junior Kyle Kempton look to highlight the receiving unit. The combination of sophomore Dalton Lowry and freshman Billy Potter will take over the tight end duties for the Purple and Gold, with second-year running back Spencer Crisp poised for a breakout year in the backfield.
The Trojans boast even more experience on the defensive side of the ball, returning 10 athletes who have started previously in their careers in Upland. A trio of All-MSFA seniors lead the way, with linebacker Cameron Gray, secondary and special teams ace Dovi Gamble and defensive end Jeremy Ramirez set to carry the load. The group will have plenty of help with seniors Alex Anderson, Darius Stanley, Stanley Gilbert, Ben Rupert and Josh Lamica filling out the front line with Ramirez. Gray will be joined by seniors Austan Shope and Cole Hession to anchor the linebacking unit and Gamble will be paired with senior Jace LaMunyon and sophomore Nate Phillips in highlighting a dynamic secondary for the Trojans.
Taylor will turn to junior Austin Gunderson to handle the kicking duties on special teams, with Gamble and junior cornerback Tyler Gerig set to handle the returns.
A successful turnaround season in 2017 could put Taylor in position to reach its lofty preseason goals of seeking the program’s third MSFA title and earning a postseason bid for the first time since 1999.
Another highlight could include Korfmacher passing Taylor Hall of Famer, Bob Davenport (1957-1968), as TU’s all-time winningest coach on the gridiron. Korfmacher enters the season with 45 victories and needs only four more to surpass Davenport’s top mark of 48.
“Our goals every year are to win the MSFA Mideast League Championship and to contend for the NAIA Playoffs,” stated Korfmacher. “To do that, we will have to find ways to succeed against a rigorous road schedule.”
The Trojans will face a challenging slate once again in 2017, with road games scheduled against No. 1 Saint Francis, No. 5 Marian and No. 24 Saint Xavier on the docket, in addition to a date at NCAA Division I FCS Butler and a league game at Concordia.
TU’s home schedule includes NCAA Division II foe, Malone, a MSFA crossover tilt with Trinity International and MSFA clashes with Siena Heights, Lindenwood and Missouri Baptist. All five games will be aired live on the Trojan Sports Network at athletics.taylor.edu/gameday.
The season will open on Saturday, September 2 under the lights at Turner Stadium, with Taylor hosting Malone for a 6:00 pm start.