Wartburg enters 2014 at number 23 in our rankings. Check out our Top 25 Season Preview for more on the top college teams to watch this fall. Can’t find your team in the Top 25? View our full rankings to see where every team stands.
Last Season: 9-3 (6-1) Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
The Wartburg Knights won the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title with a 6-1 conference-record and an 8-2 record overall. Their lone regular-season non-conference loss was in week two, at Bethel, a result that shocked few. Their only conference-loss was a bit of a surprise however, since it was at home, to Coe, by a margin of 24-10. Despite the two losses, Wartburg finished the regular season at the top of the IIAC table and took home the Championship and the automatic playoff berth that comes with it.
In the playoffs, they handled their first opponent – Illinois Wesleyan – on the road 41-7 and booked themselves a return trip to St. Paul to face Bethel on their home field for the second time last season. Their second game was a defensive struggle for three quarters, with the two teams tied at 14 going into the final frame. After starter Erik Peterson went down with a shoulder injury, Bethel’s backup QB Tom Keefe led the Royals to three-straight TDs. Even [tooltip text=”Logan Schrader’s huge day” gravity=”n”]28/44, 347 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs[/tooltip] wasn’t enough to pull out the victory for Wartburg . The 34-27 loss ended their season.
– Taylor Jacobsmeier QB – Honorable mention All-IIAC, 66/114 (57.9%), 11 TDs, 5 INTs, 100 carries, 567 yards, 4 TDs
– Ben Bentil DL – First team All-IIAC, 28.5 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 1 sack
– Martin Hyatte DL – Second team All-IIAC, 28.5 tackles, 13.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks, 2 FRs, 1 FF
– Ryan Billings LB – First team All-IIAC, 85.5, 22 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 4 INTs, 7 pass defenses, 1 FR, 1 FF
– Jared Wauters DB – First team All-IIAC, 67 tackles, 5 TFL, 8 pass defenses, 1 FR, 1 FF
What to Watch For
Week Two – Last season, the Knights travelled to St. Paul, Minnesota to play the Bethel Royals week two of the young season. They lost that game 30-17. Despite the out-of-conference loss, they earned a spot in the D3 playoffs as the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Champions. In week two of the playoffs, they again travelled to St. Paul, and again lost to Bethel – this time by a score of 34-27. After an offseason of change for both teams, they’ve got another week two clash on the books – in Waverly this time. Bethel will still be strong but they aren’t nearly as experienced or talented as the team that handed Wartburg two of their three losses last season. Week two seems as good a week as any for revenge.
Logan Schrader will be a junior this year and the offense will be his to control. Dual-threat QB Taylor Jacobsmeier graduated this offseason, along with four other all-conference performers (all from the defensive side of the ball). The Knight offense should improve with such little player-turnover and a defined direction with Schrader at the helm, but the defense will struggle without Ben Bentil, Ryan Billings, and Jared Wauters from the defensive line, linebacking corps, and defensive backfield respectively. The IIAC is Wartburg’s to lose, but the primary focus early-on should be the grudge-match with Bethel week two. Once that’s done it’ll be time to look forward to owning the conference and advancing to the playoffs, where the Knights should believe they can put on a better show than they did in last season’s second round exit.