Augustana looks to improve last season’s 6-5 record

Thomas Elness

tkelness12@ole.augie.edu

 

Hitting the road hasn’t been the easiest endeavor for the Vikings head coach. Mike Aldrich’s squad is 2-2 so far on the 11-game regular season.  The Vikings are undefeated at home but winless on the road.

Augustana will try to feed off of Saturday’s loss to University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD).

The Bulldogs led 35-6 at the half, but Augustana charged back, scoring 28 second-half points.

Division II national champions in 2010, UMD ranks second in the nation right now.  The Vikings are hoping to build on their momentum  from the second half of their last game against a top-caliber team.

“I give a lot of credit to the team for coming back,” assistant coach Joe Evenson said after Saturday’s loss.  “We look at that second half as a preview for the rest of the season.  If we can produce that for 60 minutes, we can beat any team in country.”

One of the keys moving forward, according to Evenson, will be the sole leadership of 5th-year senior quarterback Josh Hanson.

The Watertown native added the final three Augustana scores in the final half of the conference loss with touchdown passes to wide receivers Darren Niklason, Grant Gebhardt and Ben Parsley.

Evenson recognized the on-field leader following the UMD game. “Josh Hanson has been outstanding,” he said “He led the charge in the second half.”

Gebhardt found a niche with Hanson, hauling in 100 plus yards in three of the first four games.  The 6’ senior has scored over 20 percent of the team’s points.

Despite being handed a conference road loss, positives can be drawn from the trip to the northland.

“It’s always adversity going on the road,” Evenson said. He noted essential team bonding that takes place.

“You spend time together for the whole time you’re on the trip,” Evenson said. “There aren’t distractions when you’re all together.”

While road games have yielded two Viking losses, home games at Kirkeby-Over Stadium this season have ended in wins.

Looking forward, Evenson said, “It’s always good to win those home games.  We have to find ways to win close games on the road.  Football is football no matter where you’re playing.”

For the seven remaining regular season games the team will keep the 1-0 per week mentality.  Evenson stated that the team looks to build on the previous game while looking at every Saturday as a fresh start.

Augustana has very clear positives moving forward to divisional play.

“I’m pretty positive of where we go from here.  Our youth has turned into experience very fast,” Evenson said looking ahead to the next seven weeks. The remaining games will be played against divisional opponents.