The Flying Dutchmen will be seeking to pick up where they left off as the team celebrates the 100th year of HopeCollege football in 2009.
Coach Dean Kreps' Dutchmen ended the 2008 season with three consecutive victories. It erased the memory of a seven-game losing streak and moved the Flying Dutchmen into third place in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA).
The 2008 Dutchmen finished with a 3-7 record ending a school-record stretch of 12 consecutive seasons at .500 or better. In 14 seasons under coach Kreps the Flying Dutchmen have won six MIAA championships.
The challenge of 2009 will be no less as Hope faces a challenging non-conference schedule against teams that compiled a cumulative 28-16 record in 2008. And the league season begins against defending conference champion Trine on the road!
The pre-season roster of 148 players includes 42 returning letterwinners. The roster includes 44 freshmen, 44 sophomores, 31 juniors and 29 seniors.
The captains will be seniors Chris Batterbee of Gladwin (Gladwin HS), Brett Cain of Jenison (Jenison HS), David DeBoer of Grosse Pointe (Grosse Point South HS), and Andy Johansen of Holland (West Ottawa HS).
The Flying Dutchmen could return as many as eight offensive starters. A major replacement will need to be at quarterback where graduated three-year starter Jake Manning built impressive career statistics.
Hope returns its top three running backs and receivers. Junior Tim Elzinga (Grand Rapids/South Christian HS) sophomore Josh Echtinaw (Alto/Caledonia HS) and senior Jon Rodriguez (Berrien Springs/Berrien Springs HS) combined to rush for more than 1,000 yards. Elzinga, who was injured early in the season but was able to return for the conference run, averaged 90 yards a game, including a career-best 242 yards in the season finale against Alma. Echtinaw had a team-best 7.0 yards per carry average and twice went over 100 yards in a game. Rodriguez had a team-leading 100 rushing carries. Echtinaw, who also saw action on defense, topped the team with three pass interceptions.
Junior split end Kyle Dietrich (Gobles/Gobles HS) caught a team-leading 64 passes for 966 yards and seven touchdowns. Senior flanker Scott Snyder followed with 60 receptions covering 700 yards and five touchdowns while senior tight end David DeBoer (Grosse Pointe/Grosse Pointe South HS) pulled in 44 passes for 462 yards. Dietrich and DeBoer each received All-MIAA second team honors. Dietrich also was named the All-MIAA second team return specialist. He led the MIAA in all-purpose yardage, catching 40 passes (league games) for 606 yards and averaging 25.3 yards on kickoff returns (12). For the entire season he had the fourth best pass reception total in school history with 64 catches for 966 yards.
Senior Adam Loveless (Middleville/Middleville) returns to the fullback position where he started at every game last fall. Other returning offensive veterans include senior guard Matt Larson (Grayling/Grayling HS), junior center Kyle VandenBosch (Grandville/Grandville HS), and sophomore tackle Josh Droppers (Kalamazoo/Portage Northern HS).
On defense the Flying Dutchmen need to replace nearly half of the starting lineup. Returning veterans include senior end Tim Wahmhoff (Gobles/Gobles HS), senior nose guard Jordan Moore (Grandville/Grandville HS), senior linebacker Chris Batterbee (Gladwin/Gladwin HS), junior linebacker Zach Jones (Three Rivers/Three Rivers HS), senior safety Andy Johansen (Holland/West Ottawa HS), senior safety Kevin VanDokkumburg (Holland/Holland) and junior safety Adam Diver (Deerfield/Deerfield HS).
Steve Hazekamp, a senior from Fruitport/Fruitport HS, started the 2008 season with soccer-kicking experience, but none in football. He was 6-for8 on field goals and made 20-of-23 PATs, including the last 18 in-a-row.
Senior Chris Feyes (Grand Rapids/GR Christian HS) handled Hope's punting chores in 2008, averaging 34.7 yards a punt.