A capsule look at Michigan teams in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association.
Last season: 8-3 overall, 5-1 MIAA
Coach: Jim Deere (6th season; 36-16 overall, 22-8 MIAA)
Notable: Coming off its second MIAA championship in three seasons, Adrian returns 14 seniors but only a handful have seen considerable playing time. The defense, which held opponents to a league-best 18.2 points per game, graduated eight starters and several of its top playmakers. Yet the strength of the team will be its defensive front with sophomores Damon Fuller (58 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, 12 sacks) and Trenton Elkins (11 tackles, eight starts) leading the charge. Senior Dontrell Tucker (25 tackles) will provide valuable experience at the linebacker position, but the secondary will be riddled with youth and fresh faces. With even more questions on offense, expect Adrian to lean on its ground game with the return of standout running back Emmanuel Stewart (1,002 yards, 11 TDs, All-MIAA first team) and lineman Jordan Simon (All-MIAA second team). Juniors Alec Duffiney and Stephen Milarch each played sparingly at quarterback but will compete for the starting gig along with sophomore Nick Fulton. Whether Adrian will have what it takes to defend its title remains to be seen, but may become clearer come October when it plays four road games in a five-week stretch.
Last season: 6-4 overall, 4-2 MIAA
Coach: Craig Rundle (19th season; 106-75 overall, 75-34 MIAA)
Notable: Albion led the league with a blistering 42.6 points per game and Rundle is expecting his offense to be even better this season. Four-year starter and all-league quarterback Dominic Bona — a potential player of the year candidate — is coming off a successful junior campaign where he completed 62 percent of his passes for 2,674 yards and 29 TD and rushed for 221 yards and three more scores. Also back is the dynamic one-two punch in the backfield with Mike Czarnecki (1,119 yards, seven TD, All-MIAA first team) and Colin Parks (827 yards, 14 TDs) as well as a veteran line featuring all-league selections Chris Wilson and Andrew DiFranco and senior tight end Joe Mayone (28 receptions, 515 yards, five TDs). The defense will look to tighten up and cut down on the 30.7 points it allowed on average a year ago. The secondary will be sound with cornerbacks Anthony Waite (72 tackles, 6.5 TFL, eight pass breakups) and Kyle Pelayo (33 tackles, five pass breakups) back and free safety David Simon returning from injury. Collin Ahrens (47 tackles in five games) and Jose Rodriguez (54 tackles) will anchor the linebacker unit while Dave Van Ittersum (34 tackles, 4.5 sacks) and Jesse Wilson (18 tackles) will do damage up front.
Last season: 2-8 overall, 0-6 MIAA
Coach: Greg Pscodna (4th season; 4-26 overall, 2-16 MIAA)
Notable: Alma struggled during Pscodna's first two seasons and last season was no different. After getting off to a promising 2-1 start heading into conference play, Alma failed to win a league game for the first time under Pscodna and ended the season with a dismal seven-game losing streak. If Alma is going to get back on a winning track, it needs to make great strides on both sides of the ball after its defense nearly gave up twice as many points (32.4) as its offense scored (16.7). And this year's team may just be the one to turn things around with 53 returning players and 18 seniors on the roster. Offensively, quarterback Dylan Zaborowski (1,962 total yards, 17 total TDs, 16 INTs) returns after starting all 10 games as freshmen along with senior receiver Erik Hines (57 receptions, 696 yards, five TD) and junior tight end Zachary Huver (15 catches, 234 yards, two TDs) heading the receiving unit. Spearheading the defense is senior linebacker Terry Calagon (85 tackles, 12 TFL, 5.5 sacks, All-MIAA first team), senior linemen Troy Gahm (48 tackles, 10.5 TFL, four sacks), and junior defensive back Aaron Davis (26 tackles). Alma will open the season with two road games before it hosts Rockford in Week 3 in its home opener.
Last season: 6-4 overall, 3-3 MIAA
Coach: Dean Kreps (21st season; 107-89 overall, 83-36 MIAA)
Notable: Hope had seven players named to the All-MIAA first team last year, the most of any team. But only punter Dean DeVries and defensive end Stephen Gerger remain from that list, leaving plenty of voids to fill and expectations to live up to. Still, Hope returns a plethora of players from a team whose losses all came by 10 points or less, including a 37-36 overtime loss to Albion in its conference opener and a 30-29 loss to Kalamazoo in its season finale. Senior quarterback Rob Kish (2,100 passing yards, 119 rushing yards, 25 total TDs) returns with a year of starting experience under his belt to orchestrate the offense and will be surrounded by leading rusher Zac Boersema (511 yards, three TDs), senior receiver Matt Kroll (51 receptions, 676 yards, 11 TDs) and senior tight end Jake Helm (28 catches, 392 yards, three TD). Gerger (27 tackles, 13.5 TFL, 11 sacks) will be joined by several key pieces on defense, including safety Colin Kelly (54 tackles) and linebacker Aaron O'Meara (48 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks).
Last season: 2-8 overall, 2-4 MIAA
Coach: Jamie Zorbo (8th season; 26-44 overall, 13-29 MIAA)
Notable: Kalamazoo bumped up its win total each year since 2010 but took a step back in 2014, matching its lowest number of victories since Zorbo's first year. To figure out what led to Kalamazoo's regression, look no further than its bottom-ranked defense that gave up roughly 35 points and 450 yards per game. The team will have to overcome the departure of two all-league defenders, but returns three of its top five tacklers in linebackers Dylan Zerki (team-high 123 tackles, 8.5 TFL, All-MIAA second team), Sean Bauer (61 tackles, six TFL, 2.5 sacks) and BJ Smith (46 tackles, six pass breakups, two INTs) to build around. Defensive backs Hartlee Lucas (44 tackles, 11 pass breakups), Octavius Sanders (34 tackles, eight pass breakups, two INTs) and Ronnie Russell (32 tackles) all return to help bolster the secondary. There will be even more spots to fill in on offense as quarterback Aaron McGuire and the team's top three receivers are all gone. Running back Shon Powell (426 rushing yards, 102 receiving yards) returns as the team's leading rusher and receiver, while Alex White seems to be in line to take over at quarterback after throwing for 838 yards and scoring nine total TDs in six games last year as a freshman.
Last season: 6-4 overall, 3-3 MIAA
Coach: Dan Pifer (4th season; 12-18 overall, 5-13 MIAA)
Notable: Olivet could be the surprise team in the MIAA with 28 seniors and 20 returning starters on the roster. On defense, 10 starters are back including defensive back Garrett Reid (24 tackles, two INTs), linemen Justin Madar (36 tackles, 10 TFL, three sacks) and Andrew Pabst (28 tackles, eight TFL, 2.5 sacks), and linebackers Curtis French (55 tackles, 4.5 TFL, three fumble recoveries) and Zechariah Jenkins (45 tackles, 3.5 TFL), who will both move back to the secondary and play strong safety this season. There will be depth and heavy competition at numerous positions, especially inside and outside linebacker, but it will be hard-pressed to replace MIAA Defensive MVP Ryan Armstrong (22.5 TFL, 10 sacks), who graduated. Five all-league players headline the returning starters on offense: linemen Jacob Cramer and Ty Rozema, running back Damorria Lilly (1,023 yards, 14 TDs), receiver Kyle Bryson (43 receptions, 538 yards, 10 TDs) and tight end Dominik Givens (15 catches, 181 yards, one TDs). Also back is second-leading rusher Chris Jones (500 yards, four TDs), two-year starting quarterback Braden Black (2,725 total yards, 30 total TDs) and top receiver Jason Barbosa (54 receptions, 721 yards, five TDs). With his first senior-laden group at Olivet, Pifer believes his team will be able to finish rather fade in the fourth quarter after losing all four of its games by seven points or less. Olivet will also get home-field advantage in its conference clashes against Adrian, Albion and Hope.