by Alan Babbitt
Five of the Hope College football team's impact players have received 2018 All-Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association First Team honors from the league's coaches: defensive back Kimani Dooley, defensive lineman Ian Gorgenson, defensive end Tate Knapp, quarterback Mason Opple and offensive lineman Zach Smith.
Five more Flying Dutchmen claimed All-MIAA Second Team recognition: defensive back Luke Beckhusen, receiver Christian Bos, linebacker Mason Dekker, offensive lineman Timothy Ivery, and running back Mike Miklusicak.
Dooley is one of four first-team defensive backs. The senior from Detroit, Michigan (Clarenceville HS) returned from a knee injury that sidelined him last season to be a shutdown corner for Hope.
Against MIAA opponents, Dooley totaled 19 tackles, four pass breakups, and two interceptions. He was a significant contributor to a defense that allowed the fewest points, passing yards, and rushing yards in MIAA play this season.
Dooley also claimed All-MIAA honors in 2016.
"In my opinion, one of the best pure cover corners in the country," head coach Peter Stuursma said. "Kimani is long, has great range, and has incredible closing speed. His statistics are a direct reflection of teams throwing away from him. He has a physical presence unlike many corners and is an imposing figure on the defense. He makes quarterbacks find out where he is lined up every time the opposing offense snaps the ball."
Gorgenson is one of four first-team defensive linemen. The senior from Dewitt, Michigan (Lansing Catholic Central) recorded 29 sacks and two sacks during MIAA games. He was a disruptive force in the interior for the Flying Dutchmen.
"The unsung hero of our defense as Ian took on double teams, sometimes triple teams, which allowed for other guys to run free," Stuursma said. "Ian has been a staple in the middle of our defense who plays with passion and energy and makes everyone around him better. Ian started a few games as a freshman and has never left the lineup since, he is durable, dependable, and a 'team first' player."
Knapp joined Gorgenson as a first-team defensive line selection. The senior from Dorr, Michigan (Hamilton HS) was difficult for opponents to block as he made 39 tackles and collected 10 sacks against MIAA foes.
"Named a captain by his teammates, yet it is his quiet presence with an incredible work ethic, and a motor that never stops, that creates the ultimate in respect from his teammates," Stuursma said. "He is the prototype defensive lineman, speed, great hands, and a willingness to work."
Opple was chosen the MIAA's first-team quarterback. The junior from Hudsonville, Michigan (Hudsonville HS) passed for 1,033 yards and 10 touchdowns during MIAA games while rushing for a team-best 738 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Opple threw just one interception in 131 attempts against league foes. He had a completion percentage of 64.1 percent (84-131).
"A competitor is the truest sense of the word," Stuursma said. "Mason was the horsepower behind the offense. He did not turn the ball over, was accurate as a passer, a beast as a runner, and is the ultimate team guy. He gave us a chance every time he took a snap from center."
Smith is one of five first-team offensive linemen. The junior center from Suttons Bay, Michigan (Suttons Bay) anchored Hope's offensive line and helped the Flying Dutchmen rush for the second-most yards during MIAA games.
"Zach was named a captain as a junior for his willingness to outwork everyone and is the glue that holds the O-line together," Stuursma said. "Consistency from Zach is his biggest attribute. He has started 20 straight games for us. The play begins with Zach making the calls, and adjustments all go through Zach. He is an awesome pass blocker and a great run blocker."