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Tigers rally to win GPAC championship

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DWU defensive backs Josh Fiedler, left, and Matt McManus, right,go through a pass break up drill during practice as head coach Ross Cimpl looks on Thursday at the Christen Family Wellness Center. (Aaron Saunders/Republic)

Wesleyan opens season against first-time opponent

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The Dakota Wesleyan University and University Wisconsin-Stout are unfamiliar football opponents.

The programs have never met on the field, but all of that changes today when they face off in the season opener at 1 p.m. in Menominee, Wis.

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"We are at a point where it seems like we have been practicing for months," DWU football coach Ross Cimpl said. "We are ready to see someone else, play a game and kind of evaluate where we are at as a team. We are going to get all that we can handle against Stout because they are well coached team."

Stout is coming off a 3-7 season, tying for seventh in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

"It should be a good battle," said UWS coach Clayt Birmingham, whose team will travel to play the Tigers at Joe Quintal Field in 2014. "The first game between two teams, who have never played, is like a chess match. DWU has a good team, and if we want to be successful we have to stop the run and be consistent on defense.

"They have a good offense and we don't know if they are going to be a big running team this week or a big passing team. Last year, they went week-to-week changing between the two."

Stout, which plays at the NCAA Division III level, returns its top wide receiver in Trevor Morning. Morning caught 33 passes last season for 655 yards and three touchdowns. Junior Hank Kujak takes over as the starting quarterback this season, taking over for last-year starter Michael Blizel. He played in six games last season as a backup, throwing for 444 yards and four touchdowns.

DWU is charged with stopping Kujak and the Stout offense this week. The Tiger defense is led by its strong linebacking core, which features three returning starters. Brady Bonte, Anthony Cervantes and Jeff Maassen all earned all-GPAC accolades in 2012.

Bonte recorded 96 tackles, nine for loss, one sack and one interception. Cervantes had 62 tackles, 13 for loss, four sacks and one interception, while Maassen had 54 tackles, eight for loss, one sack and one interception last season.

"They have a power offense, so we have been working on figuring out what each other's job is and making sure we do our job," said Bonte, a sophomore from Garretson. "We have been working on our D-line getting penetration and our outside linebackers filling inside, so the running back bounces outside to our safeties.

"This year people are going to see something different from our defense. We have a pretty young linebacking core, young defensive backfield and an older D-line that will lead us."

Stickney native Adam Bormann, who will get his first start today, joins the three all-conference starters as true freshman linebacker.

While DWU's defense tries to shut down the Stout, the Blue Devils have their own job in stopping DWU starting quarterback Jon Bane and the Tiger offense.

Last season as a junior, Bane threw for 2,157 yards for 18 touchdowns on 159 completions. Bane enters the 2013 season as the school's career all-time leader in passing yards (6,894) and total offense (6,982).

The Tigers backfield feature Francois Barnaud at the starting tailback position, who takes over for Josh Endres. Endres left as the school's most productive running back, setting records in career rushing yards (3,397) and single season rushing yards (1,302). Barnaud, a junior, had two carries last season before injuring himself and being forced to sit out the rest of the season.

Today also marks the return of wide receiver Anthony Muilenburg, who sat out last season, due to an ankle injury. Muilenburg earned All-American honors in 2011 after he hauled in 64 passes for 855 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Defensive back Tyler Naatz leads the way for the Blue Devil defense, recording 85 tackles, two sacks and one interception last season.

"There will be some things that we haven't prepared for, and hopefully we will have some things they haven't prepared for," said Cimpl, who believes it could be a defensive game. "Regardless of what side of the ball we are on, we have to control the line of scrimmage. Those guys on the line have to take control early on to provide some opportunities for our playmakers to reach the edge."

Dakota Wesleyan (0-0) vs. Wisconsin-Stout (0-0)

When/Where: 1 p.m. today in Menominee, Wis.

Last Meeting: This is the first-ever meeting for the schools.

Coaches: DWU's Ross Cimpl, second year; Wisconsin-Stout's Clayt Birmingham, fourth year.

Game notes: This is a nonconference matchup. ... DWU is coming off its second straight 6-4 season. The Tigers have won their last three season openers, including two victories over Dakota State and one win over Dordt. ... Freshmen Brady Mudder and Adam Bormann will each start on the Wesleyan defense. Bormann plays linebacker and Mudder is a defensive lineman. ... Senior wide receiver Anthony Muilenburg is second on the school's career receptions list with 160 pass caught. ... Nick Kinder, a 6-foor-2 freshman from Fresno, Calif., is DWU's backup quarterback. ... Area players on the depth chart for DWU are freshman wide receiver Alex Robertson, of Canistota, sophomore,tight end Trevor Schroeder, of Canistota, sophomore offensive linemen Austin Schroeder and Taylor Haley, of Winner, freshman defensive lineman Cohl Ratterman, of Colome, freshman linebacker Travis McDonald and sophomore defensive back Jared Van Winkle, both of Tyndall. ... Stout returns two starting offensive linemen, including David Reyes, an all-WIAC second-team pick last season and a USA Football honorable mention preseason selection. Reyes will be protecting a new quarterback in 2013 as Hank Kujak is the only quarterback returning with more than a handful of college experience under his belt. ... David Goebel will start at fullback for Stout after making 12 catches last season and Tanner Kuehn is the only tailback with experience after carrying the ball 41 times for 160 yards in 2012.

Dakota Wesleyan projected starters

Position: Name, year, height, weight, hometown

Offense

QB: Jon Bane, sr., 6-4, 185, Temple, Texas.

TB: Francois Barnaud, jr., 5-9, 200, Belle Fourche, S.D.

WR: Arthur Brown, jr., 6-1, 200, Rosemead, Calif.

WR: Anthony Muilenburg, sr., 6-2, 200, Sioux Falls, S.D.

WR: Mitch Breen, jr., 5-8, 175, Wagner, SD.

TE: Cody Duerksen, sr., 6-2, 210, Parker, S.D.

C: Eric Witte, sr., 6-0. 270, Huron, S.D.

LT: Kyle Hencke, jr., Sturgis, S.D. 6-3, 260,

LG: Jake Verry, jr., 6-2, 265, Wernersville, Pa.

RG: Skyler Eriksen, sr., 6-0, 260, Presho, S.D.

RT: Spencer Bloch, jr., 6-8, 320, Scotland, S.D.

Defense

DL: Eric Gruis, sr., 6-2, 265, Baltic, S.D.

DL: Matt Tuttle, sr., 6-2, 290, Ethan, S.D.

DL: Brady Mudder, fr, 6-2, 220, Garretson, S.D.

LB: Jeff Maassen, jr., 6-2, 225, Brandon, S.D.

LB: Brady Bonte, so., 6-2, 205, Garretson, S.D.

LB: Adam Bormann, fr., 6-0, 210, Stickney, S.D.

LB: Anthony Cervantes, so., 6-1, 210, Burbank, Calif.

DB: Tanner Munk, fr., 5-10, 160, Dell Rapids, S.D.

DB: Andrew DeVaney, so., 5-11, 180, Sioux Falls, S.D.

DB: Matt McManus, jr., 6-0, 175, Alexandria, S.D.

DB: Josh Fiedler, jr., 6-0, 200, Dell Rapids, S.D.

Special Teams

K: Dan Porter, so., 6-0, 185, Plattsmouth, Neb.

P: Dan Porter, so., 6-0, 185, Plattsmouth, Neb.

Wisconsin-Stout projected starters

Position: Name, year, height, weight

Offense

QB: 10 Hank Kujak (6-2, 180, Jr.)

HB: 23 Tanner Kuehn (5-8, 170, Jr.)

FB: 49 Bobby Nyland (6-1, 210, Sr.)

WR: 4 Trevor Morning (5-10, 185, Sr.)

WR: 5 Cody Rosemeyer (5-10, 170, Jr.)

TE: 82 Zach Dooher (6-2, 225, Fr.)

LT: 74 Devon Greiber (6-4, 285, Sr.)

LG: 71 LG 71 David Reyes (6-1, 275, Sr.)

C: 65 David Koronkiewicz (6-3, 260, So.)

RG: 75 Kevin Russell (6-2, 255, Jr.)

RT: 73 Alex Jorgenson, So., 6-5, 275, So

Defense

DE: 95 Kevin Houts, jr., 6-1, 225.

DT: 93 Jamie Rohrig, jr., 6-1, 255.

NT: 91 Josh Archibald, jr. 6-0, 270.

DE: 90 Alec Zoern, jr.,6-3, 235.

LB: 43 David Lindell, sr., 6-0, 220.

LB: 52 Luke Bakkum, jr., (6-1, 190.

CB: 19 Dominique Rhodes, jr., 5-9, 160.

FS: 9 Tyler Naatz, jr., 5-10, 180.

SS: 33 Collin Laursen, jr., 6-0, 185.

WS: 39 Damian Guggenbuehl, sr., 6-0, 215.

CB: 22 Mike Bond, jr., 5-9, 190.

Special Teams

K: 16 Ricky Marteney, sr., 6-1, 185.

P: 16 Ricky Marteney, sr., 6-1, 185.

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