The University of Minnesota Crookston football program will open up the 2017 season Thursday August 31 at 4 p.m. against Upper Iowa University. UMC has never beaten the Peacocks going 0-8 all time. Upper Iowa won the last meeting between the two programs in 2015 in Fayette, Iowa with the Peacocks winning 45-3.

    The University of Minnesota Crookston football program will open up the 2017 season Thursday August 31 at 4 p.m. against Upper Iowa University. UMC has never beaten the Peacocks going 0-8 all time. Upper Iowa won the last meeting between the two programs in 2015 in Fayette, Iowa with the Peacocks winning 45-3.
   

Previewing The Golden Eagles
    
    Minnesota Crookston is in their first season under Mark Dufner, who spent 15 years as an assistant coach for the Golden Eagles prior to the 2017 season.

Offense

    Expect the Golden Eagles to utilize two players behind center this year. Taylor Spier saw action last season and will share the duties with redshirt freshman Joseph Nava for the first game.    

    They have the luxury of having the two top receivers from last season returning. The program’s all-time leading receiver Adam Connette returns after amassing 760 yards on 72 receptions last season.    

    Junior Rod Stewart also returns after a strong camp. Stewart notched 36 catches for 550 yards and three touchdowns last season.    

    On the offensive line, the U of M Crookston returns Kolby Castillo, Logan Moreau, Noah Lee and J.T. Moran from last season.

Defense
    
    The Golden Eagles will look to their linebacking corps for leadership. Sophomore Will Cross returns after a successful season in 2016. Cross led the team with 90 tackles and seven tackles for losses last season. In addition, Ali Alkhatib and Chuck Lofquist both return to the fray.    

    In the defensive backfield, Minnesota Crookston returns experience at safety with Will Cole, Trevor Long, Jr. and Jake Newman, while cornerback Omar Porte returns to man one of the corner spots.    

    On the defensive line, Logan Huso is the only returnee from last season after notching 21 tackles. He will look for help from Brent Reed, Jr. and Jerrod Miller in the middle, while Austin Howard returns after sitting out last year. Howard tallied 24 tackles and 3.5 tackles for losses as a junior.

Previewing the Peacocks

    Upper Iowa posted a 3-8 mark last season. The Peacocks are in their ninth season under Head Coach Tom Shea.

Offense
   

    Brent Lammers will be taking the snaps for Upper Iowa this season. Lammers saw time as a back-up last season. In that stint, Lammers passed for 488 yards and rushed for 125. In the backfield, he will be aided by Ryan Parmely, who rushed for 566 yards and five touchdowns last season.    

    Expect Lammers to target Jarred Edmonds, who tallied 55 catches for 592 yards and seven touchdowns.

Defensively

    Upper Iowa surrendered 459.1 yards per game in 2016. They are led by Jordan Rommes, who had 56 tackles and three interceptions last season.

Where to Direct your Attention

Rod Stewart
    He might not be the pop-star Rod Stewart, but he has made quite the impact in his first two years with U of M Crookston. Stewart has tallied 845 yards on 68 receptions thus far. Stewart has made a positive impression in practice this season and is poised for a strong season for the Golden Eagles.

Adam Connette
    U of M Crookston wide receiver Adam Connette has had a great career for the Golden Eagles. He is coming off a season in which he became the all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards, surpassing Minnesota Crookston greats Carl Aho and Mark Olsonawski. Connette is looking to make one final impression in his senior year as he looks to lead the U of M Crookston to a strong season.

New Coach
    Nobody cares more about Minnesota Crookston football than new Head Coach Mark Dufner. The new man in charge is entering his 16th season with the Golden Eagles, but his first as the head coach for the Golden Eagles. Dufner is looking to set the program on the right track after a no win season in 2016. Dufner was the defensive coordinator for the past four years. He served as an assistant coach at various positions beginning in 2002. He is originally from Maddock, N.D.

Will Cross
    Minnesota Crookston sophomore middle linebacker Will Cross is looking to have another big season for the Golden Eagles after a strong debut as a redshirt freshman in 2016 where he led UMC with 90 tackles. He also added seven tackles for losses on the season. Cross is part of perhaps Minnesota Crookston’s strongest starting unit on defense with three returning starters at linebacker, including Cross, Chuck Lofquist and Ali Alkhatib.

Questions to Ask

1. Can the Golden Eagles come out of the gate strong to open the 2017 season?
2. Who will make the biggest impact at quarterback. Joseph Nava or Taylor Spier?
3. Can the Golden Eagles slow down Ryan Parmely and Jarred Edmonds for the Upper Iowa offense?
4. Will wide receivers Rod Stewart and Adam Connette make a major impact for the Golden Eagle offense?
5. Can the Golden Eagle front seven put pressure on Upper Iowa quarterback Brent Lammers?