2022 marks the 100th season of Augustana Viking football. After an NSIC championship season in 2021, the team looks to defend its top spot this fall.
Head coach Jerry Olszewski has big plans for the team this year. He said he feels confident that, with the current roster, his players are more than prepared to make their goal a reality.
“We have a very balanced team with eight starters returning on offense, eight on defense, as well as many starters from special teams,” Olszewski said. “We also have several returning all-conference players from a playoff team last year.”
100 years can bring a lot to the table. The Vikings have had 21 different head coaches steering the ship, with five players landing in the NFL, 28 players moving on to a professional career and an overall record of 436-484-15.
“Playing football at Augustana is truly an honor,” senior quarterback Connor Neill said. “The name ‘Augustana’ across our jersey means more than just the 2022 team. It is for everyone that has stepped foot on that turf. Here at Augustana, we know the standard has never changed, whether that was players in the past or in the future.”
The Vikings have played many opponents in their 100 seasons. Viking opposition ranges from Canton High School in the 1920’s “Baby Game” to South Dakota School for the Deaf in 1922 to Boise State in 1976.
The team’s biggest opponent still remains though: the University of Sioux Falls Cougars.
With the “Key to the City” game against the University of Sioux Falls taking place Oct. 1, Olszewski knows the support of the student body is more important than ever.
“I look forward to packing KO this season,” Olszewski said. “We have a two-year, regular-season, home-win streak. We want AU to be one of the toughest places to play in the country, and student support on game day will be a big part of that goal.”
Coming off of a 31-7 win over Minnesota State University Moorhead on Sept. 17, the Vikings are currently sitting at 3-0.
Last year, after winning its first conference championship in 62 years, the team was defeated in the first round of the NCAA playoffs by Bemidji State.
This season, they avenged their loss by beating the Beavers 30-29 on Sept. 10.
Sophomore Thomas Scholten made the most of his first career start for the Vikings by throwing for 260 yards and two touchdowns against MSU Moorhead. Jarod Epperson ran for 115 yards, highlighted by an 80-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
Grayson Diepenbrock had all three sacks for the Viking’s defense.
There was no score in the game until Scholton found Mitchell Goodbary inside the five-yard line where a hit from a Dragon defender jarred the ball loose, only to be picked up by Devon Jones in the end zone for a touchdown.
A run by Epperson brought the game to 14-0. Then, Scholten found Goodbary again, but this time Goodbary finished off the play himself to make the game 21-0 going into halftime.
A Brady Pfeifer field goal and a Kyle Graham three-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter capped off the scoring for the Vikings.
A last-minute touchdown gave the Dragons something to cheer for at the end of the game, but it was all Vikings, all game.
Augustana remains in first place in the NSIC. MSU Moorhead dropped to 1-2.
“We are pleased to start off the season 3-0,” senior Logan Uttecht said. “As for the outlook on the rest of the season, we are intentional on taking things one week at a time, so all of our focus is on this Saturday’s game.”
The Vikings will return to action this Saturday, Sept. 24 against the Northern State Wolves at Kirkeby-Over Stadium.