At 6-3, 220 pounds, senior defensive lineman Andrew Lonneman is frequently giving about 50-plus pounds to the offensive lineman he is pitted against in the trenches known as the line of scrimmage. Often times he is double-teamed and even tripled-teamed in an effort to slow down the lineman so his teammates can make plays for the Gustavus Adolphus Gusties defense. Lonneman has proven to have been an integral part of a team that is under-sized in body, but quite big in heart.
Lonneman is not a loud guy who fires up the troops. He is a guy who is quiet on the field, simply going about his business with quiet professionalism and deadly skill. Junior linebacker Zach Martinez coined the phrase “silent but deadly” in relation to the senior. He is a young man who gives 100 percent on every play, and when he lowers the boom, watch out!
Lonneman’s attitude about playing defense is perfect for the Gusties scheme. This is a team that is smaller in size than most in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC), and so speed, physicality and fearless desire is what has helped to make this team one of the better ones within the conference. The Gusties have allowed the third fewest yards per game and they lead the conference in sacks with 23. This is a team that plays smart and uses their skill and desire to make plays, and Lonneman is the epitome of how the team plays.
“Andrew Lonneman is a fearless competitor,” His coach, Peter Haugen explains. “There is no quit in him. He is simply relentless.”
This is a sentiment that his teammates echo. “Lonneman is just a fearless beast on the field. Silent buy deadly. He doesn’t say much out there; he lets his play do his talking for him,” is Zach Martinez’s assessment.
Safety Jake Forcier agrees with the assessment. “He plays with great intensity. Our line is so huge in how they play, holding the line so we can make plays, and he really puts his hat in there and battles with the best of them. The guy has a motor that never stops going.”
Forcier is quite accurate in his assessment of Lonneman and the defensive line as a whole. This is a group that is not making a huge amount of plays. Their job is to butt heads with lineman and take out five or six guys so their talented group of linebackers and defensive backs can make the tackle. The senior is the leader on the defensive line in tackles with 29, and has a sack and a fumble recovery to his credit. He absorbs those blocks play after play so that others can get the glory, and that is perfectly fine with the lineman.
“I don’t care if I am making tackles or not. I have a job to do out there, and as long as I am giving my all that is what matters. We have all bought into the concept and vision for the defense. We trust each other on defense, and rely on each other to do their jobs. There is such a strong trust between us. There is a great cohesion.”
Lonneman is a fierce competitor no matter what venue he is in. “I hate to lose. I hate it when I don’t get a top grade on a test. I hate losing in mini-golf. I really hate losing to my dad in golf. I want to win no matter what the stakes are.”
While he hates losing to his dad, Andrew Lonneman has the utmost respect and love for the two people he credits for turning him into the man he is today. “My parents mean everything to me. They are so amazing. They have come to every one of my games for as far back as I can remember, and they are such an inspiration to me. There are not a better group of parents out there.” And what drives the senior? “I want to make my parents proud. I know I am a success if they are proud of me. They have set such a high standard of how a person should be, and I hope I can be like them. When they are proud of me I feel like I have reached that level.”
The senior has always given his all on the field, but this year he has dug even deeper to find a little something extra. This is his last season on the field, and the thought that life is about to change drastically for him has not been lost on Lonneman. “I have learned not to take things for granted. This is my last month on the football field, and seven months from now I will be graduating. I have learned not to take the little things for granted anymore, because those little things are not going to be around for me much longer.”
This Saturday will be Andrew Lonneman’s last in a Gustavus Adolphus Gusties jersey. You can be sure that it will be a very emotional time for the senior. He will have a great deal of emotion and passion about not dawning the team’s uniform any longer. That passion will be directed somewhere I am sure. God help the Tommies offense when it is.
By Robert Pannier