Finlandia looks for a win in season opener against Concordia

Photo courtesy of Finlandia Athletics Finlandia's Taylor Bonetti runs an interception for a touchdown in a game last season. The Vulcan product 26 tackles a year ago as a defensive back.

HANCOCK — As a new coach, Travis Wiltzius knows the importance of doing well in the first game.

That’s why he’s pointing at Saturday’s home opener against Concordia (Wis.) College.

“It’s a big game for us as a team, but also to show the people in the area that we can go out and compete,” Wiltzius noted. “We want to give them something to cheer about …. let the city of Hancock know we’re there to represent them.”

In Concordia, the Lions will be facing a team they’re familiar with. The Falcons defeated FU a year ago by a 42-6 score.

“We had couple of tough breaks in that game and the game turned around late in the first half,” Wiltzius said. “But I believe the kids feel they can go out there and win.”

If it is to come out with a win, Finlandia will have to slow down junior quarterback Aaron Nixon, who connected for two touchdowns against FU a year ago.

Nixon accumulated 2,140 yards through the air a year ago. Josh Sanders led the team, 2-8 last season, with 31 catches for 506 yards and six scores.

Another Concordia threat will be wideout Isaiah Tenette, who caught 46 passes in 2017. He also had a 99-yard TD kickoff return in the Finlandia contest.

The Lions will counter with sophomore quarterback DeLlontae Johnson. Johnson is the first signal caller to return for a second season at FU.

Running back Justin Woolever is a returnee, having gained 401 yards season. Newcomer Eric Kostreva is a transfer from Michigan Tech who could help the running game.

Johnson will look to Tyler Kangas, a senior flanker, for more production in the passing game. Kangas also handles the punting.

A pair of Baraga County products, senior linebacker Dillion Huecksteadt (Baraga) and sophomore end Dylan Harden (L’Anse) will bolster the Lions defense.

Wiltzius said his roster now has 49 players.

“We’re looking for a few more, but we feel good with the numbers right now,” he said.

Finlandia will enter its first season in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) with seven games versus league foes.

Game time at McAfee Stadium is 1 p.m.