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Taylor keeps continuity for Hamline football

Posted on 08 August 2016 by Calvin


More local college football teams than just the University Minnesota kept continuity in recent coaching changes.

While Gophers defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys taking over at mid-season for Jerry Kill made the major headlines, Hamline University made a similar move later in the off=season. Pipers defensive coordinator Chip Taylor officially took over the program for previous head coach Chad Rogosheke in March.

HU coach Chip TaylorPhoto right: New Hamline University football head coach Chip Taylor will look to guide the Pipers to more success after back-to-back 4-6 seasons. The program hasn’t finished over .500 since 1995. (Photo courtesy of Hamline University Athletics)

“I took the Hamline job because I felt strongly about the administration’s commitment to the experience of our scholar athletes,” Taylor said. “The MIAC is a great league with great football coaches.”

Taylor and the Pipers open fall practice on Aug. 13, and they will enjoy similarly continuity to the Gophers in that process. Taylor worked under Rogosheke for three seasons at Hamline, and they did the same at Division I Bucknell. Similarly, Claeys worked under Kill two decades with the Gophers and previous schools.

Taylor and Rogosheke had their share of success at Bucknell and then Hamline. Bucknell went 6-5 in 2011 after a one-win season in 2010. Similarly, they improved on a 2-8 season at Hamline in 2013 with back-to-back 4-6 seasons.

At Hamline, they sustained a little more gridiron success than Bucknell where the Bison dropped to 3-8 in 2012 after the 3-8 campaign. Moreover, he took over a Hamline program that hasn’t seen a winning season since 1995. The Pipers won only one game between 2011 and 2013.

Taylor now has the task of building on two improved seasons in a MIAC league loaded with talented squads. The University of St. Thomas made the national championship game and returns heavy talent. St. John’s University looks strong after back-to-back 10-2 seasons, and recent playoff regular Bethel University will look to prove its 5-5 season in 2015 a fluke.

Most importantly for Hamline, those three teams won by at least 20 or more points last season against the Pipers. Bethel and St. Thomas actually cruised much more comfortably than St. John’s 41-21 win.

All three teams stand in Hamline’s way for reaching the upper echelon of the MIAC. The Pipers also need to avoid losses in close games as their other three occurred by 10 or fewer points.

“We want to attack each week as one-game seasons,” Taylor said.

Hamline did show a glimpse of pulling out the close game last season though when freshman quarterback Justice Spriggs threw a touchdown pass with 20 seconds left. It completed a 31-30 comeback at St. Olaf College.

Passing looked good on paper for the Pipers last season with 221 yards per game and 15 TDs. Running the ball more effectively than last year’s 3.6 yards per carry will add to the air attack this fall.

Returning wide receiver Naji El-Araby gives both the passing attack and special teams a spark with his playmaking ability. Nick Kampa likewise could boost the passing game after a 4-TD season in 2015.

“Our strength will be our skill players,” Taylor said.

It doesn’t hurt either that Taylor brought on former Gophers quarterback coach Jim Zebrowski. The Pipers’ new QB leader knows much about Division III success. He played at Mount Union and coached at Wisconsin-Whitewater, the two most dominant programs at that level of college football.

Chase Duwenhoegger, a junior offensive lineman, gives the Pipers some size up front at 6-2 and 270 pounds. It helps a young running attack since senior backs Austin Duncan and Ryan Ferkinhoff graduated.

Hamline’s defense looks tough, with the work Taylor has done as defensive coordinator over the past three seasons. The Pipers had 17 takeaways in 2015. They also ranked fifth for the MIAC in passing and rushing yards allowed.

Junior defensive backs Anthony Hill and Zach Schwalbach will step into key roles and look to build on the secondary’s nine interceptions for 2015. Jonny Nguyen, a junior linebacker, could give opposing quarterbacks trouble again after a 4.5-sack season.

Lucjan Januszewski, a former Como Park standout, had 22 tackles last season on Pipers’ defensive line. Brendan Nachtrieb will join the line this fall, which could alleviate the graduation of Matt Wildes.

“Overall, we are looking for the team to compete each Saturday to the best of their abilities, and we want to continue to recruit the right scholar athletes to Hamline University,” Taylor said.

Hamline’s first gridiron test commences on Sept. 3 at home against Crown College with a 1pm kickoff.

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