Aug 28, 2017

Football 2017 Season Preview

A Winning Tradition

 
  • One post-season appearance (1960 Crusader Bowl)
  • 20 All-NWC Athletes 
  • 6 NWC Student-Athlete of the Week Awards 
  • 2 D3Football.com Team of the Week (Justin Leatherman, 2014; Lenana Meekisho, 2015)
  • 1 D3Football.com All-West Region Team (Nolan Schuler, 2016)
  • 2 NSCA All-American (Justin Kruse, 2015; Dane Jensen, 2017)
  • 2 NFL Draft Picks 
 

NEWBERG, Ore. --- After last season's historic feat of recording the school's first winning season since football was reinstated, the George Fox football team has gained momentum for the 2017 season.

The Bruins will play their toughest schedule to date, with three teams ranked in the D3Football.com Top 25 Poll, and one team receiving votes.

The Bruins kick off their season against No. 15 University of Wisconsin – Platteville on the road at 11 a.m. (PST) on Saturday, Sept. 2. They follow that game with another ranked opponent in the home-opener against No. 25 Redlands Saturday, Sept. 16, at 1:30 p.m. Their third-ranked opponent comes in the form of Northwest Conference rival Linfield, who is the highest-ranked opponent on the schedule at No. 9. The Bruins square off against the Wildcats in McMinnville on Saturday, Oct. 21, at 1:30 p.m.

"We measure ourselves by the best," said head coach Chris Casey. "We purposely play a tough non-conference schedule to get us ready for conference. Our guys are confident that we can get the job done with such a tough schedule. Every game for us is a championship. We look at every single game like it's a championship. Our mindset stays the same with everyone we play."

Casey says the message has stayed the same as well.

"We build championship people in a championship program," he explained. "That's our identity. We look at every practice, every film study and every game as if we are playing for a championship. Our guys have done a great job buying into that."

Casey's 2017 roster will include the final group of the "zero year" players from the 2014 season.

"This season is special because we have those 'zero year' guys completing their final season as a Bruin," Casey said. "We couldn't have done this without them. They are what this program is. The leadership we have on this team is tremendous. This will not only be special for our guys, but for the fans, the community and for us coaches as we've watched these young players grow up into men."

That leadership will be backed by 28 seniors, nine of whom have been on the team from that 'zero year'. That list includes Damian Cook, Justin Kruse, Brad Lander, Tyler McQuain, Robert Mitchell, Ryan Russo, Grant Schroeder, Derek Richwine, Nolan Schuler, and Charles Riga. Riga is the only player on that list with junior elgibility since he missed the 2015 season. 

The George Fox football program has improved dramatically with each season, seeing substantial growth in almost every statistical category. The development we've seen over the years has been tremendous," Casey said. "Our guys have gotten better about controlling their emotions, how they act off the field and how they approach the game. We will always play hard.

That type of mindset helped the Bruins finish a program-best third in the conference with a 5-2 record in 2016. Leading the way was quarterback Grant Schroeder, who has held the starting position since the Bruins took to the gridiron. Schroeder will be the leader again on offense in his final year as a Bruin.

On defense, the Bruins will lean on linebacker Riga and defensive end Caleb Dalzell. Riga was named first-team All-NWC Defense, and Dalzell earned second-team All-NWC Defense. Riga led the Bruins with 92 total tackles and 2.5 sacks. His 92 tackles were fourth in the conference. 

It's not just the returners that Casey is excited about, either.

"This is our best recruiting class," he said. "We wanted to strengthen some areas with this class and bring in a player for each position group. They will learn a lot this year with the leadership that we have in place."

The Bruins have led the conference and ranked nationally in attendance since relaunching the program and expect to do the same this year. Season tickets in the covered grandstands and general admission tickets can be purchased at georgefox.edu/tix or at the gate the day of the game.