Ferris State football is back in action this Saturday, as the Bulldogs will play in the annual Crimson & Gold spring game at 12 p.m. at Top Taggart Field.
Last year’s game was a close one before the Gold team was deemed the victor by a score of 29-24 over the Crimson squad. The scoring system is different in the game, where each first down results in a point, and defensive takeaways are rewarded with three points to the defense. These methods go along with the traditional scoring methods.
The Dawgs are coming off an 11-1 season last year after going undefeated in the regular season and falling to Ohio Dominican 46-33 in the second round of the NCAA Division II Playoffs after having a bye in the first round. The Dawgs began spring practices on March 20, and will end the spring season with the game this Saturday.
“Just having family and friends coming out and appreciating our hard work makes the memories,” said senior wide receiver Jake Lampman, “It’s a lot of fun! It’s just a chance to debut the young guys and their talent. They’re just trying to crack into the lineup and the competition is awesome! It’s fun to see these younger guys get to showcase why they were recruited. There’s a lot of great talent coming in this year.”
The Bulldogs will be returning upwards of 50 players from last year’s GLIAC champion team. Among the players returning is quarterback Jason VanderLaan, the 2014 Harlon Hill Trophy winner. The Harlon Hill is the Division II equivalent of the Heisman Trophy.
Also returning to the Bulldogs is fourth year Head Coach Tony Annese, who led the Dawgs to their first playoff appearance in 18 years last season.
“Well the spring game for us is more for show, so we breakup our teams and we’ve had fun in the last couple of years; it’s been competitive. Jeff and Brian Carmody are going to be the honorary coaches, so we’re going to have fun with it, and it’s a good opportunity for our guys to be competitive but also enjoy the day,” said Annese.
Just because the team will be having fun doesn’t mean they aren’t working hard in the offseason.
Annese said, “Most of these guys come to work every day with the mindset of from the moment the season ended to the moment spring ball began they’re trying to improve themselves individually. We got a lot stronger in the weight room, winter conditioning was awesome and now we’ve got spring ball.”
The Bulldogs will be working toward making another playoff run next season, hopefully this time a little deeper into the postseason. The team will kick-off next year’s regular season on Sept. 5 against an opponent that is yet to be announced. In their first game last year, the Dawgs demolished McKendree University by a score of 75-14.