GRINNELL, Iowa – With the return of 15 starters, including nine on the offensive side of the ball, Grinnell College's football team is looking forward to an improved season in 2019.
There is a three-man competition at quarterback between Connor Headrick '21, Matt Siff '22 and Avery Hootstein '23. Siff and Headrick saw some action last year, with each completing 5-of-11 passes with Siff going for 86 yards and Headrick 66. "All three quarterbacks have shown some promise and we're looking for one to separate himself," said Grinnell coach Jeff Pedersen '02.
Grinnell returns a solid running back in Daniel Carter '22, who ran for 461 yards and five touchdowns a year ago. "We're looking for him to have a big season, and Loyal (Terry '23) could have an impact, as well," said Pedersen.
The receiving corps will be the strength of the offense, at least initially, with several key returnees including senior leaders David Taylor '20 and Max Hill '20. Taylor caught 23 passes for 221 yards and one score in 2018, while Hill brought in 26 aerials for 325 yards and two TDs. Adding to that group is Dustin Saia '22, who led the team in both receiving (53 catches, 621 yards, five touchdowns) and rushing (592 yards, two touchdowns) last season. "This is one of the most veteran groups we have," said Pedersen. "David and Max are braced for big senior years, and Dusty is looking to build on his success from last year. Clayton Burton '23 is also having a very good camp."
Pedersen said Kevin Gubner '20 and Max Ehrlich '23 have been working out at tight end and doing a good job.
The offensive line will be strong, with four starters returning in Packard Otto '21, Nat Jordan '21, Dean Khazanov '22 and Prescott Miller '22. "We return a lot of experience there, which will give us a great core," said Pedersen. "Connor Carson '22 has made big strides from one year to next and Will Edelson '23 should make an impact. Karman Bhinder '23 is also looking to find a role."
As for the defensive line, Tom Henehan '21 and Zisimos Doulaveris '20 will lead the way. "We have a good mix of veterans and youth on the line," said Pedersen. "Tom and Z bring good experience, and Luke Porter '23, Paul Hill '23 and Gavin Wagner '23 should also have an impact. Nick Pero '21 has switched from offensive to defensive line, which should help a lot."
Linebackers Rick Johnson '20 and his brother, Anthony Johnson '22, were among the team's leading tacklers last year with 52 and 53, respectively. "Those two bring a lot of experience to the table, as does Luke Howard '20," said Pedersen. "We're also looking for Mushadda Morocco '23 and Scott Nissen '23 to step up and play a big role, as well."
Pedersen said the secondary should be a factor. "Bryce Tanikawa '23 and Sal Kargbo '22 will form a talented duo at cornerback," he said. "Jelani McCray '21 and Marco Kamimura '21 are veteran safeties, and Lucas Bukowski '23 shows real promise for a first-year." Kargbo had 43 tackles last season and McCray made 30 stops. Also in the backfield is Chaz Del Mar '22, who has been slowed by injury.
Patrick Goldammer '22 and Ricky Morri '23 will share kicking and punting duties, Pero and Ehrlich are long snappers and Tanikawa and Kargbo will be primary returners.
As for an overview on the team, Pedersen noted, "Last year we were young on offense, this year we're young defensively," he said. "Hopefully we have enough veterans sprinkled in so we can have some success. Everybody is itching to take the field against Lawrence on Sept. 7."