William Penn University

2015 Football Preview

Contributed by admin on Aug 20, 2015 - 10:36 PM

Picture 0 for 2015 Football Preview

2014 record: 7-4 (3-2 MWL, 3rd)
Starters returning/lost: 17/9 (including special teams)
Letterwinners returning/lost: 34/31

Notable returners:
Hea Tuifua, Sr., Salt Lake City, Utah
(Second-Team All-America)
Tyler Hafner, Sr., Oskaloosa, Iowa
(Letterwinner, 150 rushing yards, 451 passing yards, 8 TDs)
Isaac Samek, Sr., Bolivar, Mo.
(Second-team all-MWL, 94 tackles, 3 interceptions)
Hunter Barry, Jr., Morris, Ill.
(First-team all-MWL, 49 tackles, 2 sacks)

Notable losses:
Taylor Parsons
(Three-time all-MWL)
Sam Tvedt
(First-team all-MWL)
Michael Thomas
(First-team all-MWL)
Jake Adams
(First-team all-MWL)

Notable newcomers:
Kody Jarvis, Fr., Riverton, Utah
Beau Picard, Fr., Ozark, Mo.
Nick Locher, Fr., Owensboro, Ky.

The William Penn football team will look to a veteran crew to keep it a major national player as it enters the Heart of America Athletic Conference this fall.
The Statesmen, headed by Todd Hafner, were perennially strong in the MSFA's Midwest League over the past decade.  WPU was 7-4 in 2014 (3-2 MWL), but as newbies in the Heart, it will have to prove itself all over again in a conference that features six ranked teams in the preseason poll.

Tyler Hafner (Sr., Oskaloosa, Iowa, Communications) will guide the offense behind a tremendous line, while Hunter Barry (Jr., Morris, Ill., Physical Education) and Isaac Samek (Sr., Bolivar, Mo., Industrial Technology) top a defensive unit that might be the best ever assembled in Hafner's reign.


After serving as a backup the past two campaigns, Hafner finally starts 2015 as the front-running incumbent.  In 2014, Hafner grounded it out for 150 yards (one touchdown) and aired it out for another 451 yards (7 TDs).

Returner Eric Cooper (So., Aguanga, Calif., Human Services) and incoming freshman Nick Locher (Fr., Owensboro, Ky., Physical Education) present tremendous options behind Hafner.

Slot Back

Nate Tvedt (Sr., Oskaloosa, Iowa, Business Management) and Jonathan Ward (So., Terry, Miss., Undecided) have risen to the top with the experience factor, but fellow returners Kyle Nitz (Sr., Broken Arrow, Okla., Biology), Carl Sivels (Fr., Washington, Iowa, Physical Education), and Marquise Thomas (Fr., Ann Arbor, Mich., Industrial Technology) should also earn some carries.

Among returning slot backs, Tvedt is the leader in rushing yards with 219 (two touchdowns) last fall, while Ward collected 74 yards last year.

Alex Schliesmann (Jr., Fairmont, Minn., Exercise Science) could also step into playing time right away as a junior college transfer.


Tyler Goble (Jr., Des Moines, Iowa, Secondary Education) looks to add to the tradition of hard-nosed fullbacks after earning 409 rushing yards in 2014 (one score).

Amos Johnson (So., Rock Island, Ill., Mechanical Engineering), Brandon Polito (Jr., St. Louis, Mo., Undecided), and Hunter Condit (Fr., Perry, Okla., Communications) also return to take and deliver blows with runs up the middle.

Lyle Jennings (Jr., Toronto, Ohio, Exercise Science) has picked up the system quickly as a new back.

Wide Receiver

The run-crazy Statesmen may decide to adjust their scheme a bit after seeing the talent available on the outsides as senior starters Jatavius Stewart (Rock Hill, S.C., Biology) and Kramer Patterson(Ozark, Mo., Secondary Education) return to headline the receivers.  To call Stewart a big-play receiver is to say the Grand Canyon is a pothole--he caught only 13 balls but picked up 337 yards (25.9 avg.) and six touchdowns last year.

Patterson hauled in seven receptions for 133 yards and three scores, while fellow returner Desmond Douglas (Jr., Decatur, Ala., Physical Education) had six catches for 68 yards.  Austin Cosgrove(Sr., Moravia, Iowa, Undecided) and Barry Williams (So., Lawton, Okla., Undecided) have also gained knowledge in the past and will be assets.

Tight End

Devin Verwers (Sr., Norwalk, Iowa, Industrial Technology) returns to start at tight end and will be backed up by Cory Fitzjarrell (So., Anderson, Calif., Industrial Technology); the pair will both be on the line in two-tight end formations.

Offensive Line

The engine's horsepower will be provided by five seniors who have been mainstays in the trenches.  Center Hea Tuifua (Sr., Salt Lake City, Utah, Industrial Technology) is back after being a Second-Team All-American, while J.T. Dotson (Sr., Jenks, Okla., Business Management) was a second-team all-league performer at right tackle.

Right guard Jarrett Rogers (Sr., Ozark, Mo., Business Management), left guard Ryan Westmoreland (Sr., Bolivar, Mo., Secondary Education), and left tackle Kalob Gist (Sr., Oskaloosa, Iowa, Business Management) wrap up the remainder of crew that, if healthy, should help WPU gobble up yardage at will.

Returners Connor Menown (Sr., Springfield, Mo., Physical Education) and Wes Leffelman (So., DeKalb, Ill., Exercise Science) will join up with newcomers Jake Wills (Exercise Science, Oskaloosa, Iowa, Undecided), Nick Jackson (Fr., Broken Arrow, Okla., Biology), and Beau Picard (Fr., Ozark, Mo., Biology) for impressive but untested depth.

Defensive Line

The other side of the trenches is a bit younger, but experience is certainly not wanting.  Hunter Barry (Jr., Morris, Ill., Physical Education) was a first-team all-MWL pick last year and will be a run-stopper extraordinaire at the nose position.  He will receive considerable competition, though, from Malik Young (Jr., Peoria, Ill., Physical Education) and Terrance Grimsley (Fr., Lawton, Okla., Exercise Science).

Barry had 49 tackles (eight for loss) with two sacks in 2014.

William Penn's best defensive ends are also returners with Clayton Temaat (Sr., Alba, Mo., Industrial Technology), Cameron Colbert (Sr., Jenks, Okla., Business Management), Taylan Ybarra (Sr., Wellington, Kan., Education), and Cooper Gosch (Fr., Reeds Springs, Okla., Education) looking to stop both opposing ball carriers as well as sack their quarterbacks.

Temaat tallied a 2014-high three sacks last year.


If WPU's opponents can get through that formidable front, it does not get any easier for them with Isaac Samek (Sr., Bolivar, Mo., Industrial Technology) and his squad of linebackers impatiently waiting.  Samek led WPU with 94 tackles last year and tops all returners with three interceptions.

Jake Baptiste (So., Salt Lake City, Utah, Psychology) is projected to lead the middle LB position with Desmond Wills (So., Birmingham, Ala., Undecided) behind him.

Kevin Shrauger (Sr., Nixa, Mo., Physical Education) and Mason Wisse (So., Oskaloosa, Iowa, Physical Education) will battle for another opening, while Mason Rohr (So., Nixa, Mo., Biology) has the edge for the final spot.  Kane Vigier (Fr., Baytown, Texas, Exercise Science) is next on the depth chart behind Rohr.

Shrauger was second in tackles last autumn with 59, while Baptiste corralled 25 ball carriers.

Defensive Back

Previous starts may be few among the cornerback applicants, but Hafner believes athleticism will quickly trump experience.

Antonio Brown (Jr., Midwest City, Okla., Undecided) appears to be a shoo-in for one side, while Dajon Shaw (Fr., Highland Park, Mich.,  Undecided) and Jaylen Malbrough (Fr., Fort Worth, Texas, Communications) are facing off with Shawn Charles (So., Rochester, N.Y., Undecided) for the nod on the opposite end of the turf.

The safety positions, as the word says, feel much safer with key 2014 players Keegan Murphy (Sr., Ark City, Kan., Physical Education) and Walter Eastwood (Jr., Garden City, Mo., Computer Science) back.  Kyle Baldassarre (So., Webb City, Mo., Industrial Technology) and incoming freshman Kody Jarvis (Riverton, Utah, Exercise Science) are likely to receive plenty of snaps as well.  Murphy recorded 48 tackles last year.

Special Teams

Cody Brigham (Jr., Spencer, Iowa, Elementary Education) was brought in for the sole purpose of longsnapping and the coaching staff is thrilled with what they have seen so far.

On the receiving side of the snap should again by Hafner, but there will be a new person trying to send the ball through the uprights.  Left-footed freshman kicker Samson Tamijani (Houston, Texas, Communications) will not only look to score points in the kicking game, but also returns the Statesmen to their preferred two-punter formation.

Stewart and Nitz have returned to again return punts and kickoffs for William Penn.  Stewart had 15 attempts for a 19.5 average, while Nitz averaged 18.6 yards over nine tries.


With a full 11 games on their Heart schedule, the Statesmen venture right into meaningful contests as they travel to #9 Missouri Valley for the home opener on August 29.  The following two weekends, including its home opener on September 5 versus #8 MidAmerica Nazarene, are also against ranked foes.

WPU will welcome Avila to Oskaloosa on October 3 for Homecoming, while its Niles Media Group nationally-televised game against Benedictine (Kan.) is on October 31.  The navy and gold, who are #19 in the NAIA and picked third in the North Division, have five home games this year.