August 11, 2011

Alfred picked to return to top of E8

Alfred, which became the only school other than Ithaca to win an outright Empire 8 football title in 2010, has been chosen to capture its third consecutive conference title according to the 2011 Empire 8 Football Preseason Coaches Poll. The conference champion earns an automatic berth to the NCAA Division III Championship.

The Saxons received six first-place votes and finished well ahead of second-choice Salisbury University, which is competing in the Empire 8 for the first time. Alfred, which finished 10-3 a year ago and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division III Football Championship, is ranked 18th in the D3football.com Preseason Top 25.

Senior linebacker Nick Clark and junior defensive tackle Mike Raplee of the Saxons were each named second-team preseason All-Americans by D3football.com. Clark, the reigning Empire 8 Defensive Player of the Year, is a three-time all-conference selection who led the team with 112 tackles last season, including 12.5 tackles for loss, while adding four sacks, three interceptions, and five pass break-ups. He also led the squad with 12 touchdowns as the team’s short-yardage back. Raplee recorded 87 tackles, including six sacks and a team-high 18 tackles for loss to join Clark on the all-conference first team.

Other first-team all-conference returnees for Alfred are 2010 Empire 8 Rookie of the Year Austin Dwyer, senior defensive back Roland O’Brien, and senior placekicker Eric Rockwood. Dwyer was named to the first team as a running back and all-purpose player. He averaged 146.2 yards per game rushing in conference play and ranked among the national leaders in all-purpose yards. O’Brien led the Empire 8 in interceptions, picking off a pass in six consecutive regular season contests. Rockwood set a school record with 50 consecutive extra points.

Salisbury joins the Empire 8 after a 7-3 season in 2010, which included a trip to the NCAA Division III Football Championship. The Sea Gulls have an illustrious history, which includes seven consecutive postseason appearances, seven NCAA trips, three ECAC bowl championships, and two undefeated regular seasons. The Sea Gulls received one first-place vote.

Four Salisbury players were tabbed D3 Senior Classic Preseason All-Americans. Superback Randal Smedley earned first-team south honors after a season in which he ran for 947 yards and nine touchdowns, averaging 8.2 yards per carry and 118.4 yards per game. Alex Smith anchored the offensive line, which led the way for 3,951 rushing yards in 2010. Defensive back Ricky Cassidy made 55 tackles and led the team with 11 pass defenses, and nose guard Matt Leon recorded 42 stops, including 10 for a loss.

St. John Fisher College, which has shared four of the past seven conference titles, narrowly edged Springfield College for third place in the coaches’ poll. The Cardinals, who have not gone more than two seasons without an Empire 8 title since 2003, finished 9-2 last season and finished with a 56-13 win over Renssalear in the ECAC Northwest Bowl Championship. The bowl game marked the Cardinals’ eighth consecutive trip to the postseason.

Despite the loss to graduation of 2010 Empire 8 Offensive Player of the Year Tim Bailey, St. John Fisher returns five first-team all-conference players. Senior linebacker Joe Leavell posted a team-high 98 tackles, including seven for loss, last year.

Senior Corey Balcerzak keyed an offensive line that led the Cardinals to 43.3 points and 486.7 yards per game a year ago. Senior wide receiver Ryan Schmidt, sophomore running back Ryan Kramer, and senior kick returner Ryan Francis all garnered first-team all-conference honors last season. Schmidt finished with 1,075 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns, Kramer led the team with 14 touchdowns (nine rushing, four receiving, one punt return) and Francis averaged 30 yards per kick return.

Springfield received one first-place vote and is the coaches’ choice to finish fourth. The 2006 Empire 8 co-champions are competing in the conference for the final time. Head Coach Mike DeLong enters his 30th season overall and 28th at the school as the winningest active football coach in New England Division III with 271 wins. The Pride are coming off a 9-2 season, topped off by a 26-17 win over Mount Ida in the ECAC Division III North Atlantic Bowl Championship.

Springfield averaged 389 yards rushing per game last season with 50 rushing touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Austin Bateman averaged 95.3 yards per game rushing to lead the team that featured seven rushers averaging at least 40 yards per contest. Senior offensive lineman Sean Meagher earned second-team all-conference honors last year.

Salisbury (30th), Springfield (32nd), and St. John Fisher (39th) all received votes and were ranked in the D3football.com Preseason Poll.

To show the depth of the conference, five-time conference champion (including four of the five solo titles in Empire 8 history) Ithaca has been chosen fifth in the preseason coaches’ poll. The Bombers are coming off a 6-4 season overall for their 40th consecutive winning season.

Senior defensive back Mike Conti, junior defensive back Spencer White, and senior punter/placekicker Andrew Rogowski all return after being named to the all-conference first team a season ago. Conti intercepted six passes and broke up seven more, returning an interception and a fumble recovery for touchdowns. White totaled 50 tackles with a pair of interceptions and four pass break-ups. Rogowski was named the first Special Teams Player of the Year in history. He averaged 35.3 yards per kick, placing 22 punts inside the 20-yard line, and made a conference-high nine field goals.

Utica College, which finished at .500 last season, is the coaches’ pick to place sixth this year. Senior defensive back Jon White returns for the Pioneers after earning second-team all-conference honors last season. The Pioneers averaged 46.8 points per game in non-conference play in 2010.

Hartwick, which shared the 2007 conference championship with St. John Fisher, was picked to place seventh in the preseason poll. Senior running back Anthony Cassimano and senior wide receiver Jordan Wilkins were each named to the all-conference second team last year.

Frostburg State is the coaches’ selection to finish eighth in its inaugural season in the conference. Senior quarterback Josh Volpe is the career leader in completion percentage and ranks 11th in career touchdown passes and 13th in career passing yards.

In nine seasons, the Empire 8 has recorded 24 postseason victories, including a 4-1 mark last season. The returning Empire 8 teams posted a 29-6 non-conference record last season (with Springfield, St. John Fisher and Utica going undefeated in non-conference play) and an 83-29 mark against non-conference Division III opponents over the past four years for a .741 winning percentage.

2011 Empire 8 Football Preseason Coaches Poll

1. Alfred University (6 first-place votes)              48 points
2. Salisbury University (1)                                    39
3. St. John Fisher College                                     36
4. Springfield College (1)                                     35
5. Ithaca College                                                   27
6. Utica College                                                    15
7. Hartwick College                                              14
8. Frostburg State                                               10
Sep. 23: All times Eastern
Final
at Bridgewater State 34, Fitchburg State 25
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Sep. 24: All times Eastern
Final
Christopher Newport 17, at TCNJ 0
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at Hobart 27, Union 23
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Final
at Thomas More 20, Carnegie Mellon 16
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at Massachusetts Maritime 32, Worcester State 14
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at Endicott 37, Nichols 0
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MIT 30, at Maine Maritime 13
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at Buffalo State 40, Morrisville State 24
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at Salve Regina 48, Coast Guard 10
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St. Lawrence 20, at RPI 14
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at Framingham State 23, Western Connecticut 17
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at Montclair State 21, Rowan 14
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at Stevenson 54, FDU-Florham 15
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at Trinity (Conn.) 38, Bates 7
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Final
at Western New England 59, Curry 28
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at Utica 24, Cortland 13
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Colby 9, at Williams 7
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at Middlebury 40, Bowdoin 3
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at Amherst 34, Hamilton 0
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Kean 24, at William Paterson 13
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at DePauw 66, Hiram 17
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Franklin and Marshall 45, at Juniata 22
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at Kenyon 31, Allegheny 7
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Salisbury 35, at Southern Virginia 0
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Albright 20, at Delaware Valley 17
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Final
Lycoming 28, at Misericordia 24
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at Plymouth State 30, Mass-Dartmouth 14
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at Husson 35, Alfred State 0
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at Springfield 28, WPI 23
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at Moravian 24, Dickinson 10
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at Denison 45, Wooster 7
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at Wittenberg 24, Wabash 14
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at St. Vincent 57, Grove City 32
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at Susquehanna 55, Gettysburg 40
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at King's 21, Lebanon Valley 17
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at Alfred 20, Ithaca 6
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at Widener 25, Wilkes 23
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at McDaniel 30, Ursinus 27
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at Muskingum 28, Marietta 10
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at Minnesota-Morris 28, Iowa Wesleyan 27
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at John Carroll 42, Heidelberg 14
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Ohio Northern 16, at Otterbein 10
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Case Western Reserve 35, at Waynesburg 7
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at Franklin 44, Bluffton 38
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Rose-Hulman 23, at Defiance 15
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at Centre 49, Chicago 27
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at Mount St. Joseph 38, Manchester 19
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Hanover 49, at Anderson 25
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at Merchant Marine 55, Rochester 7
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Johns Hopkins 30, at Muhlenberg 24
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Concordia-Chicago 42, at Maranatha Baptist 10
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Final
Washington U. 36, at Birmingham-Southern 21
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Final
UW-Platteville 56, at Lakeland 0
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at Northwestern (Minn.) 38, Martin Luther 20
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at Eureka 28, MacMurray 13
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at Westminster (Mo.) 35, Greenville 14
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Dubuque 30, at Luther 17
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Monmouth 52, at Lake Forest 6
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St. Thomas 33, at St. John's 21
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Final
at Augsburg 49, Carleton 17
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Bethel 44, at St. Olaf 7
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Final
at Hamline 42, Gustavus Adolphus 40
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Final
at UW-Whitewater 35, Morningside 21
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Final
at Hardin-Simmons 48, Texas Lutheran 38
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Final
at UW-River Falls 42, Southwestern 22
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Simpson 17, at Buena Vista 9
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at St. Scholastica 49, Crown 13
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Cornell 46, at Beloit 41
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at Carthage 27, Augustana 24
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Coe 48, at Nebraska Wesleyan 17
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at Wartburg 56, Finlandia 0
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at Wheaton (Ill.) 10, Elmhurst 6
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Hendrix 42, at Millsaps 14
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Illinois Wesleyan 45, at North Park 10
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at Macalester 34, Grinnell 0
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at Ripon 33, Knox 19
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Illinois College 40, at Lawrence 15
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UW-Oshkosh 77, at Morthland College (Ill.) 0
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Central 42, at Loras 34
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Final
at Geneva 35, Thiel 27
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UW-Eau Claire 40, at Wisconsin Lutheran 14
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St. John Fisher 42, at Brockport 38
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Final
UW-Stevens Point 44, at Adrian 19
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UW-La Crosse 41, at Carroll 7
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at Berry 41, Sewanee 3
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Final
Westminster (Pa.) 38, at Bethany 9
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Ohio Wesleyan 29, at Oberlin 16
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at Tufts 17, Wesleyan 14
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Mount Union 49, at Baldwin Wallace 7
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5:43, 4th quarter
21 Wilmington
35 Capital
Video Preview Live Stats
7:00 PM
Austin at Southwestern Assemblies
Video Preview
7:00 PM
Langston at McMurry
Video Live Stats
Final
at North Central (Ill.) 42, Millikin 7
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1st - 08:47
3 Trinity (Texas)
0 Chapman
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Sep. 24: All times Eastern
Final
at Thomas More 20, Carnegie Mellon 16
Box Score Recap
Final
at Hobart 27, Union 23
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Final
Christopher Newport 17, at TCNJ 0
Final
at Wittenberg 24, Wabash 14
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Final
Salisbury 35, at Southern Virginia 0
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Final
Albright 20, at Delaware Valley 17
Box Score Recap
Final
at Utica 24, Cortland 13
Box Score Recap
Final
at Stevenson 54, FDU-Florham 15
Box Score Recap
Final
at Franklin 44, Bluffton 38
Box Score Recap
Final
Johns Hopkins 30, at Muhlenberg 24
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Final
St. Thomas 33, at St. John's 21
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at UW-Whitewater 35, Morningside 21
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Final
at Hardin-Simmons 48, Texas Lutheran 38
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Final
at Wheaton (Ill.) 10, Elmhurst 6
Final
UW-Platteville 56, at Lakeland 0
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Final
UW-Oshkosh 77, at Morthland College (Ill.) 0
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Final
Central 42, at Loras 34
Box Score Recap
Final
St. John Fisher 42, at Brockport 38
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Final
Mount Union 49, at Baldwin Wallace 7
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Final
at North Central (Ill.) 42, Millikin 7
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