HOLLAND, Mich -- The Hope football team narrowly missed the playoffs in 2017 finishing at 8-2 and in 2nd place in the MIAA. As the team participates in spring drills, that absence in fresh in the players minds.
"It`s a springboard for sure. It`s a motivation" head coach Peter Stuursma said. "But the motivation also has to be that in the three months that we leave here in May and we come back in August their motivation - a lot of it`s gonna be intrinsic."
Senior running back Mike Miklusicak missed all of last season after tearing his ACL in a preseason scrimmage and has returned for a 5th year of eligibility and agrees with Stuursma.
"It was definitely tough, but it only gives you that much more of an edge" Miklusicak said. "There`s a little bit of a chip on our shoulder because when it comes down to it, you went 8-2 but that doesn`t mean anything. You don`t have playoffs. You don`t have a conference championship, so we have a lot to build on."
A couple of Mason's that transferred on from Davenport a couple years ago are expected to provide leadership for the Flying Dutch this year. Mason Opple (Hudsonville) accounted for 22 touchdowns (11 rushing, 11 passing) in his 1st year starting at quarterback in 2017. Linebacker Mason Dekker (West Ottawa) is the team's top returning tackler.
"Mason is a gamer. Back in our days from Davenport University now to Hope College, its just been a great a ride for both of us" Dekker said.
Opple is currently playing baseball and not participating in spring practice.
The Dutch will open the season at home Friday night August 31st against Millikin.