The Flying Dutchmen enter the second century of Hope College football eager to get back on the winning track. The Flying Dutchmen are coming off back-to-back losing campaigns for only the third time over the past 40 years.
The 2009 team posted a 3-7 overall record for the second consecutive season and tied for fourth place (3-3) in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA).
Coach Dean Kreps begins his 16th season with 31 returning letterwinners, evenly balanced among offensive (14) and defensive (16) players. There are 14 players who were starters a year ago, six on offense and eight on defensive. The pre-season roster includes 52 freshman prospects, 27 sophomores, 25 juniors and 18 seniors.
The co-captains of the team are junior Josh Droppers of Kalamazoo (Portage Northern HS), senior Chris Feys of Grand Rapids (Grand Rapids Christian HS), and senior Zach Jones of Three Rivers (Three Rivers HS).
The Flying Dutchmen return five players who received All-MIAA honors in 2009. Returning first-team honorees include senior tailback Tim Elzinga of Grand Rapids (South Christian HS), senior wide receiver Kyle Dietrich of Gobles (Gobles HS), and junior offensive tackle Josh Droppers of Kalamazoo (Portage Northern HS). Players who received second-team distinction are senior linebacker Zach Jones of Three Rivers (Three Rivers HS) and junior defensive back Kyle Warren of Grandville (Unity Christian HS).
Dietrich has led the Flying Dutchmen in pass receptions the past two seasons and enters 2010 ranked fifth all-time in both catches (112) and yards (1,775).
Last season Elzinga became the eighth player in Hope football history to rush for more than 1,000 yards. He rushed for 1,038 yards, averaging 5.2 yards on 199 carries. Elzinga was also among the Division III leaders (330) in all-purpose yardage (rushing-receiving-punt returns-kickoff returns), averaging 144.5 yards per game. He enters the 2010 season ninth on the all-time Hope career rushing list (1,725 yards).
Feys passed for nearly 2,000 yards in his first varsity season, completing 150-of-310 attempts for 10 touchdowns. He was among the leaders in Division III (#71) in total offense, rushing for 294 yards and passing for 1,979. Zach Jones led the MIAA in tackles and ranked ninth in all of Division III with a per-game average of 12.2.
The Flying Dutchmen, who will be seeking their first non-league victory since the 2004 season-opener, have a change in their pre-conference schedule. The team will travel to Milwaukee, Wisc. to meet former MIAA member Wisconsin Lutheran on September 11 and a week later will meet first-time opponent Millikin University of the CCIW in Decatur, Ill. The non-league schedule concludes September 25 with the renewal of a rivalry that has been dormant for 40 years at home against Lakeland, Wisc.
The season begins Saturday, Sept. 4 with the traditional Community Day game against Illinois Wesleyan.
The conference season will feature three games at home and three away highlighted by the October 23 Homecoming showdown against defending MIAA champion Trine.