Kaneland alum battling for starter spot at Augustana

Rock Island, ILL.—According to Augustana College’s Associate Director of Athletics Dave Wrath, Kaneland graduate and Augustana Junior Eric Dratnol “might have the inside track for the center position” as the Vikings set their rosters for the upcoming football campaign.

The team is trying to rebound from a difficult 2011 season.

When head coach Rob Cushman was asked to assess the Augustana football team’s chances for the 2012 season, he got right to the point.

“Without question we have a lot of change from a year ago,” said Cushman, whose team went 2-8 overall and 2-5 in the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin in his first year at the Vikings’ helm. “It starts with a coaching staff that lost some very valuable and longtime members, and it continues with the exciting plans for a new stadium and the fact that we will be playing on a new turf this fall. There is an excitement amongst our players as we start the year. Even with all the changes that have and will happen, this program still has the same goals as always. We want to contend for a conference title and be a factor in the national picture.”

What happened in 2011 was a plethora of games that were decided in the last minutes of games. Of the eight losses, five were decided by less than eight points, and the Vikings trailed CCIW champion North Central on the road by just 10-3 before the Cardinals put up two late scores in the final minutes.

“I have been coaching 30-plus years and I don’t think I have ever seen a season like that,” Cushman said. “We all know that the ball bounces in funny ways, but it sure didn’t bounce our way last year. That was quite a learning experience for all of us, and I think we learned from it.”

The Vikings kick off their season Sept. 1 when they travel to the University of Dubuque.