Finlandia ready for season debut

HANCOCK – The emphasis will be on the new when Finlandia University opens up its second football season this afternoon.

The Lions, who posted a 3-7 record in their first campaign, will entertain Concordia (Wis.) University at 1 p.m. at McAfee Field.

FU is also also dedicating its new fieldhouse before the game.

“We’re really pleased to have the new facility ready for this season,” Finlandia head coach Tim Driscoll said. “It’s going to be a big benefit for the whole athletic program.”

In Concordia, the Lions will facing a team that brings in a solid passing attack. Led by junior quarterback Aaron Nixon (2,760 yards and 24 TDs last year), the Falcons will offer a stiff aerial test.

“They like to throw the ball and they use a lot of formations to do it,” Driscoll commented. “And their quarterback is the kind of player who can also run the ball effectively.”

Nixon will have three of his top four receivers back, including senior wideout Derrick Estfan (54 receptions and eight touchdowns) a year ago and junior Dante Edwards.

The FU secondary will be led by sophomore Jayln Wade, who made six interceptions in 2015.

Wade will have help in the secondary from linebacker-defensive back Nik Walli (LL-Hubbell), who registered 52 tackles last season.

LB Jaavaid Love is another player to reckon with after moving over from tailback.

Offensively, FU will start freshman Eddie Yearby at quarterback.

Yearby, who arrived late in camp, has displayed a strong arm.

“Eddie (Yearby) is a good-sized (6-foot-2, 225) kid who can also run when he has to,” Driscoll pointed out. “He’s looked good in training camp.”

The Lions offense will have a definite Copper Country flavor. Riley Engman (Hancock) will at one of the wideout spots, Dillon Huckstaedt (Baraga) is the fullback and tackle Adrian Saterstad (Hancock) anchors the offensive line.

Newcomer Davan Ravindran (L’Anse) will also start in the line at guard.

Finlandia will travel to Lawrence University next week.