The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

GV football to take on Colorado Mines in a top 5 matchup

Courtesy GVL Archives

Grand Valley State University will take on the Colorado School of Mines in a battle of the top five nationally ranked teams in their season opener once again. 

GVSU travels to Golden, Colo. in the higher elevation of 5,675’ (compared to Allendale’s 653’) to break in their new head coach. According to new Lakers’ Head Coach Scott Wooster, the elevation is something that you cannot prepare for in Michigan.

“I’ve talked to some people, I know some people in my professional network in the NFL, about when they play in Denver or in Mexico City. When you don’t have the resources or ability to go train at elevation it’s just about stressing the cardiovascular system,” said Wooster. “There’s really no way to replicate it here.” 

The Lakers are coming off of one of their best seasons in recent memory where they finished 12-1 under former head coach Matt Mitchell. The 2022 season opener was at home in Lubbers Stadium against the Orediggers. The Mitchell-coached Lakers took a 25-23 lead with under a minute remaining as Quarterback Cade Peterson led a game-winning drive that capped the clutch performance with a touchdown pass to Jayk Slager.

Since former Head Coach Matt Mitchell has moved on to become the special teams coordinator and outside linebackers coach at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wooster was promoted after serving as the offensive line coach for GVSU during the last three seasons. 

With four 2022 Don Hansen DII Football Gazette All-Americans returning for the 2023 season, Wooster has plenty of veteran leadership on the field as well. Senior Linebacker, Abe Swanson, Defensive Lineman, Christian McCarroll, Offensive Lineman, Garrett Carroll, Running Back, Tariq Reid and Peterson help to ease some concerns for Wooster. Swanson earned the GLIAC Defensive Back of the Year in 2022 while McCarroll was the Defensive Lineman of the Year. All five of those players plus Senior Offensive Tackle, Jordan Davis, were named to the preseason D2 Football Elite 100 Watch List for 2023.

GVSU is no stranger to the highly ranked and anticipated matchups. Last season they took on Ferris State University twice in top-five matchups on top of their season opener against the Orediggers. This year they take on the Orediggers again who are number two according to the D2 Football rankings and number four in the country according to the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) preseason poll. GVSU sits at third overall in the D2 Football rankings and second in the AFCA poll.

As a battle-tested team, they feel like they know what they need to accomplish to get over the Ferris hump. Now it is just about execution under the bright lights.

“When we get in these big-time games we have to be able to respond to adversity well. We need to win clutch moments,” Peterson said. “That’s what helped us win that game up in Big Rapids last year and it’s what hurt us here at Lubbers. Games like that can really only be two or three plays to decide it.” 

Now, two of the top QBs in the country will be dueling it out to help kick off the Division II college football season. The Senior Quarterback for Colorado Mines, John Matocha, took home the Harlon Hill Trophy for the top quarterback in the country in 2022 as Peterson won the GLIAC Offensive Player of the Year. 

As the Defensive Coordinator, Louis will be tasked with slowing down Matocha and the pass-heavy scheme of the Orediggers.

“I’ll have called the game probably somewhere between 15-20 times throughout the week. We’re really anticipating them trying to get out there and spread us out and throw the ball around,” Louis said.

Both sides of the ball are bringing back considerable talent, but players and coaches are taking notice of one guy on the defensive line who could be making a jump in development.

“We have an edge rusher in Niles King who really stepped up in the pass rush,” said Jay’viar Suggs sophomore defensive lineman.

A sophomore, King stands at 6 ‘5” and 260 lbs also popped off of the tape to Defensive Coordinator Jim Louis. 

“Niles (King) came on during the later part of the regular season in 2022 and in the playoffs. He had an excellent spring. He’s really turned himself into a complete player,” Louis said. “He’ll really complement some of our other guys in Colton Hyble and Christian McCarroll who are maybe more of a physical presence in the pass rush. Him and a couple other guys are going to bring a little more of that athletic presence with speed and bend as opposed to power.” 

The offensive side of the ball is also facing a unique challenge said Offensive Coordinator Matt Vitzthum.

“Mines is going to present a great test for us offensively. They’re going to play a three-down front, which we don’t see in our league, so it’s going to be a big adjustment for us as we prep for them,” Vitzthum said. “I think the best part about it is that we did get to play them last year, so there are definitely some things that we can learn from watching our tape from last year.” 

Due to the return of all of their starting defensive linemen and four of their starting offensive linemen, GVSU has an uncommonly deep rotation on the offensive and defensive lines. Attrition will be important in the thinner air, especially in the trenches. 

The players and the coaches feel like this team has something special, and now they are setting out to prove it.

The game will be live-streamed on the Orediggers’ RMAC Network page as well as broadcast on 96.9 FM for WLAV radio on Aug. 31 at 8 p.m.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Nelson Hubbell
Nelson Hubbell, Sports Editor
Nelson Hubbell is the Sports Editor for the Lanthorn for the 2023-2024 school year. A senior at Grand Valley State University, before his time with the Lanthorn, he was a staff writer for The Collegiate Live, Grand Rapids Community College's student publication where he was a student for two years. He worked for a restaurant for four and a half years in Holland, Mich. called Hops at 84 East, a place he holds close to his heart. During his time there he was a manager for roughly two years. He loves camping, hiking and being outside in general. He is super passionate about football, basketball, baseball and hockey and loves all things sports and competition. Nelson will be pursuing a career in sportscasting as a play-by-play broadcaster and or as an analyst after his time at GVSU. Graduating Winter 2024 Major: Multimedia Journalism