The 2022 MIAC football regular season officially starts Thursday, Sept. 1 when Concordia plays at Valley City (ND) State. St. Paul’s Hamline University is one of eight conference teams that will kick off their seasons on Saturday, Sept. 3—the Pipers will play at Crown (MN) College.
Hamline looks to make improvement by leaps from last season’s 4-6 campaign, said Head Coach Chip Taylor. “I’m the most excited about a Hamline football team since 2016,” which was his first season at the helm, Taylor told the MSR after a practice a couple of weeks ago. “This is an older team,” he noted.
We also talked to seven seniors, and each player said they share their coach’s enthusiasm. Each was on the Pipers roster when the 2020 season was called off because of COVID, and they want this season to be memorable.
“We’re just ready to win,” said Terrell Jones of St. Paul. “We’ve been working really hard over the summer.”
Evan Miller of Elk River said, “It’s been a while since we’ve been really competitive out here. I’m looking forward to winning some games.”
“I’m excited for guys to come out and ball out and prove ourselves this season,” added Sam Fritz of Blaine.
Ryan Lauterbach of Spooner, Wis. said, “I’m excited because we have a lot of potential.”
“This is a good group,” stressed Ryder Hutton of Victoria, Minn., “and I feel like this is one of the closest groups we’ve had.”
“I’m looking forward to the unfinished business,” said Eli Danielson of Hayward, Wis.
Carson Reinard of Victoria said, “I’m excited to see what will happen when we put it all together this season.”
Coach Taylor said that with a new quarterback and a new offensive coordinator this season, “It’s gonna take some time.” But in other areas, he believes the Pipers are ready.
“We bring everybody back on defense,” he continued. “These guys are putting in a lot of work. We got a great freshman class. I’m really excited.”
Back for a second year, MIAC divisional play with five “crossover” games begins Sept. 24, and Oct. 8 begins in-division contests.
However, fans will see eight new rule changes after the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved them this past April. This includes more restrictions on blocking below the waist; allowing a targeting penalty appeal opportunity when the foul occurs during the second half in games that include instant replay; and referring potential incidents of feigning injuries to conference offices for potential action. The NCAA also put out a helpful resource for changes to contact and equipment use timelines earlier this month.
The MIAC has also improved its website and launched a new mobile app over the summer. The updates are intended to be more user-friendly and interactive for student athletes, league officials said. The new app is free to fans and can be downloaded from both the Apple App Store and the Google Play store. It replaces the former “Front Row” app that was retired and is no longer updated.
Finally, the MIAC throughout the regular season will recognize top weekly individual performances: Football Offensive, Defensive, and Special Teams Players of the Week awards. Athlete of the Week awards will begin on Sept. 6 and be announced each Monday (after weekend games) through the end of the regular season.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.