The 2015 Peru State Bobcats football team will look to rebuild off the injury-plagued 2014 campaign.  The Bobcats completed the season with a 3-8 overall record and were 2-7 in the Heart of America Conference (Heart), which tied for eighth out of ten teams.
Peru State will try to begin a winning trend after ending last season losing four of their last five games.  The Bobcats will look to replace 14 seniors from last year's squad, many of whom played key roles a season ago.
However, the second season of the renovated Oak Bowl will spark life into the Peru State football program and allow for another promising recruiting class. The future for the program is bright, as well as, the expectations.

The Offense
The Bobcats will look to continue a high-powered rushing offense from the last couple seasons.  Tyler Audsley (Prescott Valley, Ariz.), a 2013 honorable mention all-conference, who took the snaps last season, will play a versatile role this year by seeing time on both sides of the ball in a multitude of positions. Freshman Travis Carnahan (Wahoo) and sophomore Tommy Wilson (Wildomar, Calif.) will join the quarterback fray as fall camp begins.
The ball carriers for the Bobcats will be a mix of young talent and experienced veterans. The backfield will be led by senior Nate Tromblee (Lincoln) and sophomore James Sluka (Exeter). Fullbacks Aaron Smith (Houma, La.) and Eric Morrison-Smith (San Diego, Calif.), both of whom saw important minutes last season will again have key roles to this year's offense.  Also in the mix will be redshirt freshman Ricardo Williams (Wesley Chapel, Fla.) along with sophomore Levi Wasser (Seward) who both had good springs.
The Bobcat wide receivers will rely heavily on senior Jon Frink (Hooper) as well as sophomores AJ Flodman (Hickman) and Jacob Coughlin (Omaha).  Former defensive end junior Jason Park (Ridgecrest, Calif.) in addition to several underclassmen will challenge one another for playing time. Those in the mix are sophomores Jake Merrill (Elkhorn), Gabe Hoins (Papillion), Don Wilkerson (Fresno, Texas), and redshirt sophomore David Bond (New Port Richey, Fla.).
The offensive line will return key players whom will be critical to the Peru State rushing attack. The big hosses up front will be led by senior Dillon Bruggeman (Lincoln). Also returning will be juniors Joe Hobert (Wichita, Kan.) and Hayden Krautner (Port Richey, Fla.).  Other potential starters include redshirt-freshmen Mason McCann (Omaha), Christian Vinsky (Murrieta, Calif.), Quentin King (Omaha), and Rob Baker (Omaha). Creating holes and protecting the quarterback is no easy job. Look for these men to step up to win the battle in the trenches. Others expected to push for playing time include senior Brian Farley (Ralston), junior Doug Kelsey (Council Bluffs, Iowa), and freshman Chase Latscha (Olathe, Kan.) and Greg Robinson (Springfield, Mo.).
The tight end position will be led by sophomores Andrew Robinson (Imperial Beach, Calif.) and Erik Osborne (Pawnee City).  In addition, Chance Baumann (Beatrice) Grant Jensen (Lincoln), Nolan Gloe (Hickman), and Jacob Anthens (Nebraska City) will compete to see time on the field. The flexible role of tight-end requires these players to be solid run blockers and have the skill to run routes and catch balls in the passing game.  
The Defense
The 2015 Bobcat defense will reload from a year ago returning eight of their 11 starters.
The defensive line will be led by senior Jon Draeger (Dunbar).  Competing on the other side of the d-line from Draeger will be sophomores Rashad Baker (Tempe, Ariz.) and David Horvath (O'Fallon, Mo.).   Junior Matt O'Neill (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) will return at the nose guard position.  In addition, Alan Barnes (Murdock) will see playing time at all three defensive line positions.  This defensive line will have to find others to step up after the graduation of Derreon Richardson (St. Louis, Mo.) who led all Bobcat defensive linemen in tackles for loss.  Also looking for time on the defensive line will be Andrew Shackelford (Bradenton, Fla.) and Nolan Siesmonsa (Plattsmouth).
The line-backing corps for the Bobcats will have to fill the holes left by last year's leader in assisted and total tackles Shane Lloyd (Ridge Crest, Calif.).  A couple linebackers returning such as Elijah Hawkins (Omaha) and Ben Watkins (Omaha) will be relied on heavily this year for Peru State.
Look for Tom Martig (Omaha) and Justin Barnes (Tallahassee, Fla.) to play a major role as outside linebackers for the 'Cats this season.  Other linebackers in the mix for playing time will be sophomores Nick Lechtenberg (Omaha) and Gunnar Orcutt (Omaha).
The secondary will look to tighten its reins on opposing HAAC wide-outs. Leading the charge will be seniors Logan Paben (Columbus) and Briar Burr (Wood River).  Also, expect a heavy dose of sophomores Neiman Sneed (Phoenix, Ariz.) and Darius Finley (Roanoke, Ala.) in the secondary for the Bobcats.  Look for juniors Jordan Steffen (Murdock) and Garrett Harring (Salem) to battle for playing time this upcoming campaign as well.
Special Teams
The Peru State coaches understand the importance of special teams. Therefore, every position on each special team is earned. There will be several players who play key roles on offense and defense and play an important role on special teams. Returning both punts and kicks for the season is expected to be Paben and Sluka.
Also returning will be kicking specialist senior Greg Conry (Harlan, Iowa).  In addition, Conry will battle Jon Frink and Miguel Garcia for punting duties.    
Other potential threats as return specialists include Flodman, Finley, and Sneed.  Look for Barnes to continue his long-snapping duties as well as Gabe Hoins as the holder.

Coaching Staff
The Bobcat football family is continuing to build upon the early successes of the 24th coach in program history. Entering his fourth year as the head coach of the Bobcats, Steve Schneider looks to lead a team with aspirations of another winning season. Continuing to build a strong program will allow Peru State to make a run at the playoffs and take back its rightful place as one of the NAIA powers. The staff is a blend of longevity and youth which should serve the Bobcats well.
Besides Schneider, there will still be plenty of familiar faces on the Bobcats sidelines. Schneider will serve as the quarterbacks coach and will be joined on the offensive side by assistant coaches Lou Varley – wide receiver coach; Andy Kohls – offensive line; and Brian Maher – tight ends.
Defensively, the coaches include Derek Derr – linebackers and coordinating the defense; Peru State and Nebraska Football Hall of Fame member Chuck Mizerski – defensive line; and Jeff Reed – secondary and safeties.
The two new graduate assistants are De'Ontae Pannell who will help with the secondary and cornerbacks while Tyreece Palmer will assist with the running backs.
Jim Simpson is serving as the punting/kicking assistant coach and is in charge of quality control.
Student assistants this year, all of whom were on the Bobcat team at one point, include Dustin Gerdes, Cody Sullivan, Derreon Richardson, and Cody Piotrowski.
Heart 2015
The Bobcats will look to climb the mountain, so to speak, when taking on some of the NAIA's top competition within the Heart. The conference had four teams in the Top 25 with three teams in the Top 10, who all made the playoffs. This year will be a great challenge with no easy road wins when traveling through Missouri, Iowa, and Kansas. The 'Cats look to continue to improve their record as they enter the fourth year in the conference.  During their first four years in the Heart, Peru State finished: 2011: 2-8, 2012: 5-6, 2013: 7-4, and 2014: 2-7. Time will only tell if the Pale Blue and White can make a run at a playoff berth.
In 2015, the Heart has solidified itself as the best football conference in the NAIA with two additions from Iowa, Grand View University in Des Moines and William Penn University in Oskaloosa. Grand View won the 2013 NAIA Football National Championship and William Penn has competed at a high level over recent years. Peru State is no stranger to either school beating Grandview in its program's first year of football in 2008 winning 18-17. PSC traded wins with William Penn in 2009 Peru won 20-12 and lost the following year 70-6.
The Schedule
The Bobcats look to welcome fans, alumni, and guests to the second year in the newly-renovated Oak Bowl. The 'Cats will host six home games this season. This year the entire schedule will feature a complete conference slate. Peru State will face members of the southern division during the first six weeks. All Heart teams will have the same bye week on Oct. 10. Starting Oct. 17, the teams within their respective divisions will face each other.
The Bobcats will open the season on August 29 at 6:00 p.m. when they battle Central Methodist University.  The following week, the Bobcats will go on the road to face Evangel University in Springfield, Mo., which is also a night game.  The third week of the season, Peru State will be back home at the Oak Bowl to play Avila University on September 12 at 1:00.
The following three weeks will be tough tests for the 'Cats as they will face three straight top 15 preseason teams (#9 Missouri Valley, #8 MidAmerica Nazarene, and #15 Baker) before heading into the bye week on Oct. 10.
Coming off of the bye, Peru State will play at home against one of the two new conference additions, William Penn University.  The following week, the Bobcats will travel Des Moines, Iowa, to battle Grand View University, the other addition to the Heart of America Conference.  The 'Cats will end the month of October with Homecoming on Halloween at 2:00 p.m. versus Graceland University.  Peru State will then hit the road to Canton, Mo., to face Culver-Stockton College before returning home for the regular season finale against Benedictine College on Senior Day, November 14.

Coach Schneider's Outlook
Schneider is cautiously optimistic going into the fall, but knows full well that the competition in the Heart will be tough every single week, especially having six teams ranked in the first preseason poll.
"Our guys are excited to get the season going.  We had a great offseason and are ready to go." stated Schneider.  He added, "We have a nucleus of players back.  This is my fourth year as head coach and this is as much experience as we've had."
"In my tenure as head coach, when you have experience and depth it usually pays off and is likely for success.  For example, six of the eight returning defensive starters have multiple years of starting experience," stated Schneider.  Continuing, Schneider said, "My view on successful football teams starts with staying healthy.  Also, we have to win the big play battle and the turnover ratio."  Schneider concluded, "In 2013, we had a 7-4 season where we did all three of those things.  Whereas in 2014, we did not succeed in any of those three areas."
Complete Schedule
8/29/2015    *    Central Methodist University (Swenson Presentation)    Peru, Neb.    6 p.m.
9/5/2015        *        Evangel University    Springfield, Mo.    6 p.m.
9/12/2015    *    Avila University (Winter-Spring Student-Athletes Recognition)    Peru, Neb.    1 p.m.
9/19/2015    *    Missouri Valley College    Marshall, Mo.    1:30 p.m.
9/26/2015    *    MidAmerica Nazarene University (Hall of Fame Day)    Peru, Neb.    1 p.m.
10/3/2015    *    Baker University    Baldwin City, Kan.    2 p.m.
10/10/2015        BYE WEEK        
10/17/2015    *    William Penn University (1990 Football Championship 25th Anniversary) ESPN 3 Televised    Peru, Neb.    11  a.m.
10/24/2015    *    Grand View University    Des Moines, Iowa    12 p.m.
10/31/2015    *    Graceland University (Homecoming)    Peru, Neb.    2 p.m.
11/7/2015    *    Culver-Stockton College    Canton, Mo.    12 p.m.
11/14/2015    *    Benedictine College (Senior Day)    Peru, Neb.    1 p.m.