After several seasons near the bottom of the Hoosier-Buckeye Conference, the 1985 Beavers, led by seventh-year head coach Carlin Carpenter, exploded onto the NAIA small college football scene with an 8-1 record and ended the season ranked 11th in the nation. The 1985 squad was the kick-start to a five-year span where Bluffton teams notched a 44-13 record and took two trips to the NAIA national playoffs and is now the first team from that era to be inducted into the Bluffton Athletic Hall of Fame.
The 1985 team broke or tied 14 season records and nine single game records. Many of those records were later broken by teams in that five year reign, but it’s the ’85 squad’s 34.9 point per game output is still the highest in school history and its 14.6 average point difference over its opponents is still fourth best all-time.
HBC and NAIA all-district awards went to offensive stars Carl Sonneberger (g), Ed Coleman (wr), Rich Gansheimer (wr), and Hugo Sandberg (k), while defensive standouts picking up the same awards were Derek Allen (dt), Bruce Gardner (lb) and Dave Hucke (db). Greg Gilcrease (rb) and John Harding (de) also picked up HBC honors while Carlin Carpenter was named the HBC coach of the year and the NAIA district 22 co-coach of the year. Quarterback Cliff Hemmert along with Coleman and Sandberg all set individual Bluffton records.