Another One in the Books

Bulldogs finish out wild season without playoffs

by Published: Nov 22, 2013

Despite miss­ing play­offs this sea­son, the Bulldogs con­tested for a shot at the post-season as they fin­ished the year with eight wins.

Ferris State (8−3) fin­ished the 2013 foot­ball sea­son with a 35–22 win over Northern Michigan University, cap­ping off a four game win streak and fin­ish­ing out the year on a high note.

In most sea­sons, eight wins will get you a shot at a con­fer­ence title and a play­off berth, but due to the out­stand­ing play of both Saginaw Valley (9−2) and Ohio Dominican (10−0), the Bulldogs just missed out on a chance at a post-season.

“I thought that we made huge progress (this sea­son), even though we want to be in the play­offs this week­end,” Ferris State head coach, Tony Annese, said. “All in all, I really think we hit our stride and played great foot­ball down the stretch.”

With Annese at the helm, the Bulldogs ended the year with an 8–2 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) record. Ferris has won eight con­fer­ence games only once since 1996 prior to this sea­son, show­ing how the pro­gram has grown in recent years to become one of the biggest con­tenders for the com­pet­i­tive conference.

A big part of Ferris’ suc­cess this year can be attrib­uted to the play of the Bulldogs dom­i­nant ground game led by sopho­more quar­ter­back Jason Vander Laan.

Vander Laan cruised past defenses this sea­son, amass­ing 1,607 yards on 265 car­ries and 21 rush­ing touch­downs, break­ing the NCAA Division II quar­ter­back rush­ing record and offi­cially mak­ing him­self a can­di­date for the 2013 Harlon Hill Trophy for DII player of the year.
Vander Laan also fin­ished the sea­son with 1,741 pass­ing yards with 15 touch­downs and nine interceptions.

“I didn’t know what to expect com­ing into the year,” Vander Laan said. “Once we started being a dom­i­nat­ing run­ning team behind our o-line, I knew we would be putting up good stats.”

Many other Bulldogs also had notable years on offense as Ferris State led the GLIAC in total yards with 5,417 yards. They also scored 58 touchdowns.

Junior run­ning back, Jamaal Jackson, fin­ished sec­ond on the team with 399 rush­ing yards and five touch­downs while also act­ing as the lead blocker for Vander Laan.

Sophomore slot receiver Antonio Agurs and junior wide receiver Jake Lampman,led the team in the pass­ing game as they com­bined for 942 receiv­ing yards and six touch­downs in Ferris’ run-heavy “veer” attack.

Defensively, the Bulldogs over­came a slow start to fin­ish the year as one of the GLIAC’s most improved squads. Ferris fin­ished the sea­son as the num­ber one team in the con­fer­ence against the run, allow­ing an aver­age of only 136.1 yards per game. The Bulldogs also ended the year first in the GLIAC in defen­sive touch­downs with three.

Ferris’ defense was led by, among oth­ers, senior safety and University of Michigan trans­fer Marvin Robinson, who led the team with 89 total tack­les includ­ing 50 solo takedowns.

Junior cor­ner A.J. McEwen led the GLIAC with five inter­cep­tions while also hav­ing 12 pass breakups.

“I thought our defense showed a lot of tough­ness and deter­mi­na­tion,” senior safety, Jamar Wimberly, said. “I felt like when we needed to make a big play, we exe­cuted. We improved a ton since week one and we have got­ten bet­ter and better.”

Along the defen­sive line, sopho­more defen­sive end Justin Zimmer had a break­out year as the Academic All-District and All-GLIAC pick ter­ror­ized offenses. Zimmer fin­ished the sea­son with 10.5 tack­les for a loss includ­ing 7.5 sacks while also adding a 20-yard pick-six.

With the col­lege foot­ball off­sea­son among us and spring ball months away, the team has already switched its focus to win­ning games next sea­son and mak­ing another run at the GLIAC.

“I already have switched (to next sea­son) in my mind, and I am really excited about next year,” Annese said. “Next year I just believe that we will be a group of play­ers that have that swag­ger, that con­fi­dence, and that belief that we’re good and we can beat them all and that we are the team about that every­one has to worry about. To me we have res­ur­rected this pro­gram and the mind­set of our play­ers from being a mid­dle of the road team to being a pow­er­house, and that’s where I want to be.”