GLIAC preview: Reigning champ Ferris State returns 18 starters
Around the GLIAC
(2018 record in parentheses)
Ashland (6-4): Sophomore QB Austin Brenner, who was GLIAC freshman of the year, leads a group of 14 returning starters, seven each on offense and defense. Senior LB Clay Shreve (six sacks) and safety Nick Powers are keys to a good returning defensive unit.
Davenport (6-5): Last season, the Panthers had an encouraging start, with six straight wins, but their defense wilted at the end, with five straight losses to finish the year. QB Deondre Ford returns to take the snaps and will look to jump-start a struggling offense.
Ferris State (15-1): The Bulldogs were the national runners-up last season and return 18 starters from the team that won the GLIAC title as well. QB Jayru Campbell, who won the Harlon Hill Award as the nation’s best Division II player, is recovering from surgery on his left (non-throwing) elbow, but it’s unclear when he’ll return.
Grand Valley (10-2): The Lakers, longtime GLIAC powers, will be strong again behind junior QB Cole Kotopka. RB Bryce Young-Walls returns after sitting out all of last season and RB Jake Provencher will give them an experienced backfield.
Michigan Tech (4-6): The Huskies have the core of their offense returning, including junior QB Will Ark and receivers Jacob Wenzlick and Ben Hartley, who was a third-team All-America selection. Senior DB Travis Tidwell leads the defensive unit.
Northern Michigan (3-8): Sophomore QB Ryan Johnson was injured early in the first game last season but returns to lead an offense that will look to get RB Deandre Caldwell the ball more in an expanded role. Ryan Knight scored five touchdowns last season and leads a good receiving group.
Northwood (3-7): QB Joe Garbarino has the reins for the fourth season as a starter, which should help the Timberwolves. Leading rusher Abdul Leavy and WR Alex Spicuzzi are weapons behind an experienced offensive line.
Saginaw Valley (8-3): First-year coach Ryan Brady takes the helm for the Cardinals, who are looking to improve on their turnaround season. Senior Ryan Conklin is one of the top quarterbacks in the conference. DT Heath Williams was an All-America selection, anchoring a defensive that returns a load of talent.
Wayne State (2-9): The Warriors struggled but will have a brighter outlook, with experienced QBs Jake AmRhein and Dakota Kupp and a loaded backfield with seniors James Hill, Deiontae Nicholas and DeOntay Moffett. Defense will be a big factor in whether the Warriors can turn things around.