Eric Coughlin of The Detroit News provides a team-by-team outlook for MIAA teams Adrian, Albion, Alma, Hope, Kalamazoo and Olivet. Teams listed in alphabetical order.
Last season: 4-6 overall, 2-4 MIAA
Coach: Jim Deere (eighth season; 47-25 overall 28-14 MIAA)
Notable: After winning the MIAA in 2014, Jim Deere's squad has regressed in the last two years. Sophomore quarterback Hunter Hamm started four games last year before getting injured and is competing this season with transfer Clayton Uecker. Adrian will rely heavily on junior tailback Emmanuel Stewart, who has a chance to break the Adrian all-time rushing record after going for more than 1,000 yards in each of his freshman and sophomore seasons. Eight starters return on offense, including both wide receivers and four offensive linemen. On defense, senior Damon Fuller sits at 33 career sacks, just seven shy of the all-time sacks record. Two-time all-league selection Chris Adams is back at free safety along with five other returning starters. Adrian isn't deep up front, but it's got a lot of experience. If it stays healthy, it could make a run in the MIAA.
Last season: 1-9 overall, 0-6 MIAA
Coach: Craig Rundle (21st season; 116-86 overall, 80-41 MIAA)
Notable: Albion suffered its worst-ever season under coach Craig Rundle in 2016, going 1-9 overall and winless in the MIAA. Losing has not been the norm since Rundle started in 1997. He’s racked up 116 wins and seven MIAA titles in that time. Defense is Albion’s strength this year; it returns 11 players that started at least one game last year. Senior defensive ends Austin Lynn and Joe Fullerton are back, along with junior defensive tackle Sean Kubit-Miller and senior defensive tackle Hunter Shaw. Albion’s best player, senior defensive end Dallis Reynolds, returns after playing only two games last season due to injury. Sophomore defensive end Malik Bozell and junior defensive tackle Tyler George will back up the line after receiving significant playing time in 2016.
Last season: 7-3 overall, 4-2 MIAA
Coach: Greg Pscodna (sixth season; 16-34 overall, 8-22 MIAA)
Notable: Coach Greg Pscodna has improved his win total in each of the last three years. Alma returns six starters on offense, including three-year starting quarterback Dylan Zaborowski and junior running back Caleb Reinhart. Two-time all-conference linebacker Zac Peterson returns. Senior defensive end Dustin Tripp, who was second on the team in sacks last year, also returns, along with four other starters on defense. Twenty players have been in the program four years, and the team's win total has gone up every year for the class of 2018. "They want to leave a mark on the program," Pscodna said. Alma's biggest question mark is its young secondary.
Last season: 7-3 overall, 5-1 MIAA
Coach: Peter Stuursma (second season; 7-3 overall, 5-1 MIAA)
Notable: Hope has eight returning starters on offense, but senior quarterback Michael Custer is out with an injury. Coach Peter Stuursma isn't sure when Custer will be back but has ruled him out for Week 1 at Monmouth (Ill.). Senior tailback Brandan Campbell returns after garnering all-league honors while rushing for 1,383 yards. On defense, second team all-league selection Zach Telfor returns along with junior nose guard Ian Gorgenson, lightning-fast hybrid linebacker Jacob Pardonnet and four other starters. Look for Hope to rely on the run game as Stuursma starts his second year after a highly successful rookie campaign.
Last season: 3-7 overall, 1-5 MIAA
Coach: Jamie Zorbo (10th season; 32-58 overall, 15-39 MIAA)
Notable: Eight starters return on offense, including senior quarterback Alex White, who has started his entire career at Kalamazoo. Senior running back Lorenzo Redmond is back, and junior wide receiver Zak Zagon looks to bounce back after missing a large portion of last year injured. Six starters return on defense, including productive linebackers Quentin Sweeney and Jakob Frederick. Senior cornerback Josh Vance will lead Kalamazoo in the secondary. The defensive line is an unknown after many losses to graduation. "There's an element of concern about how quickly we can bring the young guys along, but our freshman class has been phenomenal. I'm really excited about the future of the program." coach Jamie Zorbo said.
Last season: 9-2 overall, 6-0 MIAA
Coach: Dan Musielewicz (first season)
Notable: First-year coach Dan Musielewicz inherits eight returning starters on offense, including junior quarterback Lane Porter, who played well last year after limited reps. Senior offensive lineman Mitchell Jorgenson, senior slot receiver Kornelius Saxton, all-conference tailback Jerome Washington, junior tight end Trent Monroe and junior halfback Andre Houston are all back after strong seasons. Eight starters return on defense, including dominant defensive tackle Tyler Douglas and outside linebacker Mike Sherman. Olivet lost some quality players from last year's team that won back-to-back MIAA titles, but it's physically talented and returns the most starters in the league, so its success will rely on how smoothly the coaching transition from Dan Pifer to Musielewicz goes.