The Buena Vista football team was picked to finish sixth in the Iowa Conference for the 2005 season, according to a poll of conference coaches.
The Beavers return six starters on offense, but just two on defense off last year's team that tied for third in the IIAC with a 5-3 mark. BVU was 6-4 overall.
Three-time defending Iowa Conference football champion Wartburg College is the favorite for a 2005 IIAC title, according to the poll.
The Knights received six of nine first-place votes and totaled 70 points. Luther College was second in the voting with 62 points, including two first-place votes.
Picked to finish third was Coe College (60 points, 1 first place vote). Following were Simpson (51 points), Central College (47 points), Buena Vista University (34), Loras College (31 points), Dubuque University (24 points) and Cornell College (17 points)
Last season Wartburg and Coe tied for the IIAC title with 6-2 marks. The Knights were 8-3 overall and Coe 7-3 overall.
The following are short preview capsules of each 2005 Iowa Conference football team, as provided by Iowa Conference information officials:
Buena Vista - BVU was 5-3 in the conference last year, tying for third place. The Beavers won five of their first games last fall but struggled in their final four games, finishing 6-4 overall.
BVU returns two first-team all-conference players in running back Chad Pearson and wide receiver Jesse Schmidt.
Pearson, a senior, was second in the league in rushing, gaining 950 yards on 188 carries, averaging 5.1 yards per carry.
Schmidt finished the 2004 season with 37 receptions for 626 yards, averaging nearly 20 yards per catch. He caught 12 touchdown passes, third in the conference.
Other key returnees on offense and special teams include senior fullback Dustin Crook, sophomore tight end Todd Christensen, junior offensive guard Mitch Giese, sophomore offensive guard Mark Hobart, senior center Brent Koedam and junior punter Chris Kemmerer.
The Beavers return just two starters on defense, including two-time all conference senior tackle Rick Ohlinger and senior cornerback Chad Hinrichs.
BVU coach Steve Osterberger, last year's IIAC Coach of the Year, had this to say about his 2005 team: "(We) will be led by 17 seniors and five outstanding captains. We will have a good mix of experience and youth that should make for an exciting year."
Wartburg - Wartburg, looking for its fourth straight IIAC football title, returns seven starters on a defense that has been ranked highly nationally for the last three seasons.
Five experienced offensive linemen, an all-conference running back and a three-year starter at quarterback will lead the offense.
Key offensive returnees for the Knights include senior QB Reed Hoskins, all-IIAC running back Dan Hammes, senior fullback Ben Thompson, wide-out Ben Thomsen, offensive linemen Jason Ingle, Lincoln Taylor, Andrew Hummer, Mike Wubben and center John Power.
Last season, Hoskins passed for 1872 yards, completing 159 passes on 305 attempts. He threw 14 TD passes but threw 15 interceptions.
Hammes was third in the IIAC in rushing, gaining 1,007 yards on 203 carries.
Knights coach Rick Willis talked about his team and the IIAC race in 2005: "This looks to be as tough as the Iowa Conference has been during my nine years at Wartburg. Although we have several experienced returnees, we have numerous question marks."
Luther College - Luther's 2004 season turned around when Tyler Sherdan moved from defensive back to running back late in the fourth quarter. The Norse went 5-1 in their last six games, with Sherdan rushing for a conference-high 1,057 yards.
Sherdan leads a group of eight returning starters on offense, including senior quarterback Nate Rolland. Last season, Rolland hit on 101 of 209 passes for 1,399 yards, including 13 TD's and 11 INT's.
Luther returns seven defensive starters. According to Norse coach Paul Hefty said, "we're looking to improve."
Coe College - Last season Coe ranked second in the IIAC in total offense behind the No. 2 passing offense and the No. 4 rushing offense.
The Kohawks graduated 2004 Conference MVP and quarterback Joe Brannen, but return all-conference running back Neil Suckow and fullback Ashton Northern.
Last season, Suckow gained 862 yards on 209 carries, scoring 17 touchdowns. He caught 22 passes for 430 yards and two scores.
Coe, which has shared two of the last three IIAC titles, returns nine starters on defense, six of which are seniors.
Simpson College - The Storm returns 19 of 22 starters from a 2004 team that led the IIAC in scoring defense, pass defense and pass offense.
The Simpson offense will be led by two-time all-conference receiver Dusty Kain, who is on pace to break all of the school's receiving records. Each of the past two seasons, Kain has 1,000 receiving yards.
Defensively, Newell-Fonda alum Jason Ripke leads a defensive unit that returns nine starters and three all-conference selections.
A defensive end, Ripke gained All-American honors and was a first-team IIAC pick for the second consecutive year. As a junior last fall, the former Mustang football standout led the nation in tackles for a loss with 31. He was second in the country in sacks with 15.5 added 87 tackles.
Simpson returns Scott McCarty at quarterback. Last year, he threw for 1,646 yards with 11 TD's and 13 INT's.
Central College - The Dutch will be young at several positions, with just three offensive and four defensive starters returning.
Nick Mulder, who started at tight end last year, could move to the defensive side of the ball, according to coach Jeff McMartin.
Last fall, Central finished 5-3 in the conference and tied for third. Key losses to graduation were quarterback Mark Isaacson, running backs Tyler Baethke, Durk Pearson and wide out Derrick Livingston.
Central lost some close games in 2004; three of its conference losses were by a combined 13 points.
Loras College - Chris Klieman, Loras' defensive coordinator for the past three years, takes over as head coach this season for Loras. He replaces 28-year veteran coach Bob Bierie.
Klieman will have to replace all-conference running backs Jeremy Brown and Dee Hill, along with QB Matt Hinz and wide-out Nick Brown.
The Duhawks hope quarterback Ron Jankovich can lead an offense that returns just three starters. Loras lost six starters on defense.
In 2004, Loras was 3-5 in conference play for a seventh-place finish. They were 4-6 overall but five of those losses were by a combined 15 points.
The Duhawks return seven defensive starters, including three defensive tackles and two-time all conference defensive end Ross Dillavou.
Dubuque - Dubuque was 1-7 in the conference last season and 2-8 overall. The Spartans return 45 letterwinners and 15 starters, including most starters at the skilled positions.
UD's top two quarterbacks were injured early last season, but junior QB Jemar Jackson is back and healthy this season. He missed the 2004 season because of injury, but as a sophomore, passed for 1,181 yards, notching seven TD passes and six rushing scores.
The Duhawks return running back Maurice Avant and receivers Dauntae Peterson and D.J. Moore.
On defense, Dubuque returns standout senior free safety Price Bussie, who was second to BV All American Michael Irvin in tackles last season with 117,
Cornell College - Last season, the Rams tied for last place in the conference with a 1-7 mark and were 2-8 overall.
With the graduation of quarterback Adam Hadenfelt and running back Ricky Legree, Cornell lost 78 percent of its total offense from 2004.
Nate Newmeister is the team's top offensive returner, but is moving from running back to quarterback. Defensively, Cornell returns linebackers Adam Eichor and Chris Gustafson. Both ranked in the top ten last season in conference tackling stats.
Ram coach Ray Reasland summarized his team's offense this season by adding: "We will return to a more explosive-style offense by utilizing its athleticism. We'll spread the field and implement as unique option concept."