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December 1, 2008

2008 FOOTBALL REVIEW

The legacy left by the 2008 Augustana football team will be one of a team that answered an awful lot of questions. Heading into the year the Vikings were coming off a 5-5 season in 2007 and uncharacteristic 3-4 mark in the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin. There was also the matter of the implementation of a new offensive scheme and the adjustment of dealing with a new defensive coordinator. Throw in the fact that of the 10 games on the schedule, five would be at night and Augustana had not won a night game since the 2005 season, when the current crop of seniors were freshmen.

When the 2008 season ended on November 15 with a solid 34-13 victory over Millikin, everyone associated with the storied and tradition-laden program could nod with satisfaction. The questions, as plentiful as they were, had all been answered. Veteran head coach Jim Barnes led his team to a 7-3 overall record, including a 5-2 mark in the CCIW that was good enough for second place. The spread offense jelled nicely and Barnes even mixed in some of the “old Augie” attack so that the Vikings once again led the league in rushing while still managing to have three receivers with over 28 catches. New defensive coordinator Rob Cushman fit in nicely and his undersized, yet scrappy unit led the CCIW in fewest points allowed and finished seventh in NCAA Division III in that category.

The night game situation? Not a problem as Augustana went 4-1 under the lights including key road wins at Illinois Wesleyan and Carthage – two places where the Vikings suffered defeats at night just a year earlier.

For a team with questions and considering the transitional phase of the offense and defense, questions were all answered in a positive way.

The biggest change, of course, was the offensive style as senior quarterback Tim Podulka (Elk Grove HS, Elk Grove Village, Ill.) was the trigger man of the spread attack. The Vikings experimented with it last year but 2008 saw a complete commitment to the new style and Podulka proved to be the right guy to spearhead the change. Not big by anybody’s standard, Podulka was a gritty and gutty field general who led the team in both rushing and passing. He gained 529 yards on 113 rushing attempts with six touchdowns and he passed for 1,570 yards by completing 140 of 204 passes with 12 touchdowns. The 1,570 yards passing is the second highest single season mark in school history.

While the spread offense was different, the Vikings still stayed with the long-held philosophy around Ericson Field of controlling the game on the ground. They averaged 204.6 yards per game rushing, numbers that paled in comparison to the wing-T days of averaging 300-plus yards per game but healthy numbers nonetheless. Senior Josh Galliart (Orion HS, Orion, Ill.) was the second leading rusher with 460 yards on 121 carries and three touchdowns while junior Jake Parke (St. Joseph-Ogden HS, St. Joseph, Ill.) added 345 rushing yards on 62 attempts with a team leading 10 touchdowns. Midway through the season sophomore Robert Wood (Rockford Boylan HS, Rockford, Ill.) caught his stride and he finished with 281 yards on 28 carries, an average of a whopping 10.0 yards-per-attempt.

It helped that the offensive line grew and matured with each game. In the season opening 21-6 win over Coe the Vikings struggled, gaining just 192 yards of total offense with the rushing attack able to generate just 152 on 48 tries. With senior center Jim Tongue (Conant HS, Hoffman Estates, Ill.) and junior tackle Blaine Westemeyer (Blue Valley Northwest HS, Overland Park, Kansas) providing the leadership, the rest of the group made constant progress. Junior David Brickner (Rock Island Alleman HS, Rock Island, Ill.) and sophomores Drew Hansen (Downers Grove South HS, Downers Grove Ill.), Adam Bohland (Orion HS, Orion, Ill.) and Mark Constantine (Waubonsie Valley HS, Naperville, Ill.) meshed nicely. In a 41-28 loss at North Central on November 8 with the conference title on the line, the offensive line enjoyed perhaps its finest hour as the Vikings rushed for 304 yards on a Cardinal unit that had allowed just 200 yards in total rushing in five previous league games.

One of the reasons for going to the spread offense, however, was to get more players involved and that certainly happened. Parke led the team in receptions with 46 for 413 yards and two touchdowns and he nearly established a new Augustana school record for catches in a single season. Parke finished just four catches behind the current record of 50, which was set by Paul Ander way back in 1968. Parke wasn’t the only threat out on the perimeter, however, as senior Jason Kwasigroch (Carmel HS, Wauconda, Ill.) chipped in with 33 catches for 561 yards and seven touchdowns and junior Matt Downing (Morton HS, Morton, Ill.) added 28 receptions for 330 yards. Junior Henry Deters (Tolono-Unity HS, Tolono, Ill.) showed his versatility by catching 19 passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 201 yards on 33 attempts with three touchdowns.

While the change in offense drew most of the attention, the defense quietly did its job, keeping the Vikings in games, especially early in the season with team concept of getting everyone involved. Cushman’s unit was tough to run against and even tougher to score on. In seven of the 10 games the Vikings held opponents under 81 yards rushing and only two teams (Wheaton and North Central) were able to score more than 20 points.

Junior linebacker Eric Meyer (Harlem HS, Machesney Park, Ill.) was the tackle leader with 79 total tackles (54 solos and 25 assists) while senior cornerback Billy Lynch (Loyola Academy, Chicago, Ill.) pitched in with 70 (51 solos and 19 assists). Lynch also led the team in interceptions with four. Meyer led a very active linebacker corps that also included senior Wyatt Brieser (Geneseo HS, Atkinson, Ill.) and John Mago (Cary Grove HS, Cary, Ill.) among the team’s tackle leaders. Brieser totaled 54 (29 & 25) while Mago racked up 45 (36 & 9).

The Vikings gave up an average of 13.4 points and 370.3 yards of total offense per game. They allowed just 92.9 yards rushing per game and only 3.1 yards per carry.

Westemeyer was honored at the end of the season by being named to the ESPN – The Magazine Academic All-America team by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). He is the 126 th athlete in Augustana history to earn Academic All-America honors as the Vikings rank sixth in the nation in number of Academic All-Americans produced. Westemeyer and defensive end Eric Smith (Flanagan HS, Flanagan, Ill.) were both first team Academic All-District. Parke, punter Andy Klink (McHenry East HS, McHenry, Ill.) and Meyer were second team Academic All-District.

Westemeyer and Parke were first team all-conference picks for the second year in a row. Joining them on the first team were Tongue, Lynch and Smith. Senior safety Brad Monier (Bureau Valley HS, Walnut, Ill.), senior defensive tackle Jake Snider (Troy Triad HS, Troy, Ill.), Meyer, Podulka, Galliart and Kwasigroch were all second team all-conference selections.

The Vikings opened the season with a hard-fought 21-6 win over Coe in a game played under the lights at Ericson Field on September 6. In that game the spread offense struggled with the veteran Kohawk defense and Barnes was forced to rely on some old-school Augustana wing-T to get the victory. That would prove to be a valuable weapon in the Vikings arsenal as the season progressed. Following the win over Coe the Vikings posted a 30-0 shutout over Greenville on Saturday, September 13 in another game played under the lights.

After a week off the offense failed to find its running game in yet another night game, this one at Wisconsin-Platteville on September 27 and the Pioneers posted a 13-9 win when a potential game-winning drive for the Vikings ended with a fumble inside the opponent’s 10 yard line.

Heading into CCIW play the Augustana offense revved it up and totaled 405 yards of total offense (211 rushing and 194 passing) in a 42-6 win over Elmhurst. The Bluejays have not defeated the Vikings since 1979 and this game was indicative to the one-sidedness of a series that Augustana leads 50-3.

That set up an early season showdown with Wheaton, which was ranked sixth in NCAA Division III at the time, on Saturday, October 11. The occasion was Augustana’s homecoming. The Vikings played extremely well in the first half and led 14-13 at intermission but the Thunder pulled away in the second half to post a 26-14 victory.

With a 3-2 overall record, the season hung in the balance with a pair of night games on the road. The first opponent would be Illinois Wesleyan on October 18 in Bloomington with a game against Carthage in Kenosha, Wisconsin set for October 25. A year earlier the Vikings played Illinois Wesleyan and Carthage on the road and under the lights and dropped both games.

This time around things would be different.

A stellar defensive outing keyed a 21-13 win over Illinois Wesleyan as the Titans were able to generate just 56 yards rushing. One week later it was the offense’s turn to carry the load as Augustana churned out 424 yards of total offense (234 rushing and 190 passing) in an impressive 40-16 win at Carthage.

After beating North Park 52-0 on November 1 the Vikings traveled to Naperville for a showdown with North Central for the CCIW title. Despite rolling up 304 yards rushing on the Cardinals, Augustana lost 41-28 as two critical turnovers in the third quarter proved costly.

The season ended on a positive note with a 34-13 win at home over Millikin. With the 7-3 overall record, the Vikings extended their streak of consecutive non-losing seasons to 30 straight. That string dates all the way back to 1979 and it includes 29 winning seasons and one .500 (5-5 in 2007) campaign.

2008 COLLEGE CONFERENCE OF ILLINOIS & WISCONSIN STANDINGS

 

CCIW

 

 

 

 

ALL

 

 

 

 

TEAM

W

L

FOR

OPP

.PCT

W

L

FOR

OPP

.PCT

North Central

7

0

247

136

1.000

11

1

426

216

.917

AUGUSTANA

5

2

231

115

.714

7

3

291

134

.700

Wheaton

5

2

258

172

.714

10

2

436

217

.833

Elmhurst

4

3

190

203

.571

7

3

283

237

.700

Illinois Wesleyan

3

4

174

166

.429

6

4

281

253

.600

Carthage

3

4

181

204

.429

5

5

305

307

.500

Millikin

1

6

110

200

.143

3

7

192

264

.300

North Park

0

7

119

314

.000

1

9

175

389

.100

2008 AUGUSTANA FOOTBALL SUPERLATIVES  

INDIVIDUAL AWARD WINNERS

NCAA DIVISION III ALL-NORTH REGION (D3football.com) – Blaine Westemeyer, OT

CCIW ALL-CONFERENCE SELECTIONS – First team: Jake Parke, RB, Blaine Westemeyer, OT, Jim Tongue, OC, Billy Lynch, CB, Eric Smith, DE…Second team: Brad Monier, S, Jake Snider, DL, Eric Meyer, LB, Tim Podulka, QB, Josh Galliart, RB, Jason Kwasigroch, WR.

CCIW PLAYERS OF THE WEEK – 11/17/08 – Jake Parke, RB vs. Millikin…10/06/08 – Tim Podulka, QB vs. Elmhurst

CoSIDA ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICA – Blaine Westemeyer, OT, first team

Co SIDA ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT – Blaine Westemeyer, OT, first team & Eric Smith, DE, first team…Andy Klink, P, second team, Jake Parke, RB, second team & Eric Meyer, LB, second team.

CCIW JACK SWARTZ AWARD – Blaine Westemeyer

CCIW ACADEMIC ALL-CONFERENCE – Brock Alekna, Corbett Ball, Mark Constantine, Chris Green, Danny Hilby, Brandon Holl, Kyle Hundman, Andrew Klink, Adam Krejci, John Mago, Brandan McAtee, Mitch McGilliard, Eric Meyer, Jake Parke, Matt Pautz, Peter Rasmussen, Andrew Rosset, David Sally, Eric Smith, David Venegoni, Jason Wagner, Blaine Westemeyer, Cody Wickenhauser, Robert Woods.

NCAA STATISTICAL RANKINGS – TOP 10

SCORING DEFENSE – 7 th at 13.40 points per game

CCIW STATISTICAL LEADERS – TEAM

SCORING DEFENSE – 1 st @ 16.4 ppg (115 points in seven games)

RUSHING DEFENSE – 1 st @ 208.3 ypg (1,458 yards in seven games)

ON SIDE KICK SUCCESS - 1 st @ 1.000 (1 for 1)

SACKS AGAINST – 1 st @ 1.14 (8 in seven games)

TIME OF POSSESSION – 1 st @ 31:37 to 28:23

CCIW STATISTICAL TOP TEN RANKINGS – INDIVIDUAL

RUSHING – 4 th, Tim Podulka @ 56.0 ypg (392 yards in seven games)

PASSING AVERAGE – 7 th, Tim Podulka @ 170.4 ypg (1,193 yards in seven games)

TOTAL OFFENSE – 4 th, Tim Podulka @ 226.4 ypg (1,585 yards in seven games)

RECEPTIONS – 9 th, Jake Parke @ 4.86 cpg (34 receptions in seven games)

RECEIVING YARDS – 7 th, Jason Kwasigroch @ 72.4 ypg (507 yards in seven games)

ALL PURPOSE – 2 nd, Jake Parke @ 124.3 ypg (870 yards in seven games)

INTERCEPTIONS – 4 th, Billy Lynch @ 0.43 pg (three in seven games)

PASS EFFICIENCY – 3 rd, Tim Podulka @ 158.3

PUNTING – 4 th, Josh Galliart @ 36.1 (541 yards on 15 punts)

SCORING – 8 th, Jason Kwasigroch @ 6.0 ppg (42 points in seven games) and 8 th, Jake Parke @ 6.0 ppg (42 points in seven games)

SCORING TD’S – 6 th, Jake Parke @ seven touchdowns…6 th, Jason Kwasigroch @ seven touchdowns…9 th, Tim Podulka @ six touchdowns and one two point conversion

KICK SCORING – 3 rd, Phil Prosia @ 4.4 ppg (31 points in seven games)

FIELD GOALS – 7 th, Phil Prosia @ 0.29 fg/game (two field goals in seven games)

EXTRA POINT PERCENTAGE – 5 th, Phil Prosia @ .862 (25-29)

TACKLES – 6 th, Eric Meyer @ 7.7 tackle/game (54 in seven)…10 th, Billy Lynch @ 6.9 tackles/game (48 in seven games)…10 th, Wyatt Brieser @ 6.8 tackles/game (48 in seven games)

SACKS – 2 nd, Eric Smith @ 0.71 per game (five in seven)

ADDITIONS TO AUGUSTANA’S TOP TEN LISTS

CAREER PASSING YARDS – 1,962 (Tim Podulka moves into sixth place)

CAREER PASS RECEPTIONS – 80 (Jason Kwasigroch moves into fifth place)

SINGLE SEASON PASSING YARDS – 1,570 (Tim Podulka moves into second place)

SINGLE SEASON PASS RECEPTIONS – 46 (Jake Parke moves into second place)

SINGLE SEASON PASS RECEPTIONS – 33 (Jason Kwasigroch moves into tie for seventh place)

TEAM AWARDS

MOST VALUABLE OFFENSIVE PLAYER – Tim Podulka

MOST VALUABLE DEFENSIVE PLAYER – Billy Lynch

MOST VALUABLE SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER – Andrew Rosset

JERRY FRECK AWARD – Matt Mencarini

MOST VALUABLE FIRST YEAR DEFENSIVE PLAYER – Ben Hall

MOST VALUABLE FIRST YEAR OFFENSIVE PLAYER – Kyle Hundman

SCOUT TEAM OFFENSIVE MVP – Tyler Trimberger

SCOUT TEAM DEFENSIVE MVP – Ryan Lee