First-year head coach Dufner overseeing a revamped staff

    The University of Minnesota Crookston football team was picked to finish 16th in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) Preseason Coaches’ Poll released July 31 by the conference office. The Golden Eagles were slotted eighth in the NSIC North standings.

     Minnesota State University, Mankato was selected as the overall and south division preseason favorite in the NSIC for 2017. They had four first-place votes and 213 points overall. They were four points ahead of University of Minnesota Duluth, who actually garnered more first-place votes at seven. The Bulldogs were the league’s top-choice in the north division. Defending Mineral Water Bowl Champion Bemidji State University was picked third at 184 points. They had two first-place votes.

     Bemidji State quarterback Jordan Hein and Minnesota State University Moorhead wide receiver Damon Gibson were selected NSIC North Division Preseason Co-Offensive Players of the Year. BSU’s Gunner Olszewski was named NSIC North Division Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. University of Sioux Falls running back Max Mickey was selected as the NSIC South Division Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, while Minnesota State defensive end Evan Perrizo was named as the NSIC South Division Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.

     The University of Minnesota Crookston enters their first season under Head Coach Mark Dufner, a long-time assistant coach for the Golden Eagles, in 2017. Dufner will look to put the U of M Crookston on a positive trajectory after going 0-11 last season. The Golden Eagles will have new coordinators on both sides of the ball with returning staff member Levi Bullerman taking over as defensive coordinator and returning staff member Dave Volk sharing the offensive coordinator duties with new addition Michael Orts.

     On the offensive side of the ball, the U of M Crookston will look to the program’s all-time leading receiver Adam Connette (Sr., WR, Corona, Calif.), an NSIC Player to Watch. Connette will look to put a stamp on an already great career as he heads into his senior season. Last season, he had 72 catches for 760 yards with five touchdowns.

     On the defensive side of the ball, the Golden Eagles look to Ali Alkhatib (R-Jr., LB, Rosemount, Minn.), who is also an NSIC Player to Watch. The Rosemount-native was second on the team with 77 tackles last season. He led the team with 11 tackles for loss and added one sack on the year.

     Minnesota Crookston will kick off the 2017 season Thursday, Aug. 31 at 4 p.m. against Upper Iowa University at Ed Widseth Field. The Golden Eagles will host six games at Ed Widseth Field this season. They will play a second Thursday night game Sept. 14 at 7 p.m. against Wayne State College. The game will be the “NSIC Thursday Night Game of the Week” on Midco Sports Network. The Golden Eagles will host Bemidji State University for homecoming Sept. 30. They will also have home games against MSU Moorhead, Minot State University and Northern State University.