Washington & Jefferson College Presidents (0-0) at Methodist University Monarchs (0-0)
Sat., Sept. 1, 2012 - Fayetteville, N.C.
Time: 1:00 pm
Site: Monarch Stadium (800)
Series: First meeting
Audio: 1450-AM WJPA; http://www.wjpa.com/sports.htm
Live Stats: http://www.sidearmstats.com/methodist/football
THE SERIES: Washington & Jefferson and Methodist are meeting for the first time. W&J posted is 28th-straight winning record last season at 6-4, but missed out on the postseason for the first time since 1998. The Monarchs won their last two games to finish last season at 3-7 and is looking for their first winning season since 2005.
THE HEAD COACHES: Mike Sirianni (Mount Union '94) owns an 85-18 (.825) record at W&J entering his 10th season as the head coach. The three-time PAC Coach of the Year and 2004 South Region Coach of the Year is fifth among all active NCAA head coaches in winning percentage (minimum five years of experience). Dave Eavenson (Methodist '96) begins his second season at the helm of the Methodist football program. He spent the previous 10 years as a member of the Monarch coaching staff, helping the team become one of the top offensive units in the USA South Athletic Conference.
W&J vs. THE USA South: W&J owns a 5-2 (.714) all-time record against current member of the USA South Conference. The Presidents have not faced a USA South opponent since 2008, when they defeated Christopher Newport 35-29 at Cameron Stadium in the first round of the NCAA Division III playoffs. Saturday's game will mark W&J's first-ever, regular-season meeting with a USA South opponent, as all seven previous games have come during the NCAA playoffs.
Christopher Newport (4-0)
North Carolina Wesleyan (0-1)
SCOUTING METHODIST: Methodist was selected to finish sixth in the eight-team USA South Athletic Conference in a vote of the league's coaches. Methodist has not posted a winning record since going 8-2 during the 2005 season and has only posted six winning seasons in the program's 23-year history, but it does return over 60 letter winners from a season ago. Max Reber returns as the starting quarterback after passing for 1,004 yards and seven touchdowns last fall as a freshman. Freshman running back John Pappillion is expected to start his first collegiate game, while last year's rushing leader, senior John Flanagan (469 yards. 5 TD) will receive carries. Junior wide receiver Vaughan Cross is the team's top receiving threat after hauling in 41 passes for 652 yards and five scores. Methodist must replace its starting front four; however, junior linebacker Navahri Holden is back after leading the team with 83 tackles (9.5 for a loss) in 2011. Senior cornerback Malcolm McCoy leads the secondary after producing 49 stops and two interceptions last year. The Monarchs have faced a current Presidents' Athletic Conference opponent just once in program history, falling to Thomas More 24-13 during the 1999 season.
TAR HEEL STATE: Saturday's meeting with Methodist will be the second-ever for W&J against a team from North Carolina and its first played in the Tar Heel State. The Presidents fell to North Carolina Wesleyan 35-34 in overtime during the first round of the 2007 NCAA Division III playoffs at Cameron Stadium.
HITTING THE ROAD: W&J will open its season on the road for the third consecutive year and the eighth time since 1999. Last season, the Presidents traveled to Huntingdon, Pa., where they blasted Juniata, 40-0, to claim their sixth victory in the last seven season-opening road contests. It was the first shutout in a season-opener since blanking Tri-State 42-0 in 2005. Saturday's game marks the 42nd time in school history that the Presidents will begin the season away from home. The team holds a 20-20-1 record in those contests. Overall, Washington & Jefferson has posted an 85-33-2 record in season openers.
PRESEASON PREDICTIONS: In a preseason poll of conference head coaches, sports information directors and media members, W&J was tabbed to finish second in the Presidents' Athletic Conference. Four-time defending conference champion Thomas More was selected to win the league.
FROM ALL POINTS: The 2012 W&J roster includes players representing 10 different home states. Pennsylvania leads the way with 80 student-athletes that call the Keystone State home. A total of 14 players are native to Ohio, while eight are from New York and three from both Florida and West Virginia.
COACHING STAFF ADDITIONS: Head Coach Mike Sirianni welcomed three new coaches to his staff in 2012. Mark DeRosa, in his third stint at W&J, will coach the defensive line. He has previously coached the linebackers and running backs during his nine previous seasons with the Presidents. Also joining the staff are Waynesburg graduate Chris Smithley, who will coach the linebackers, and cornerback and kicking coach Jonathan Widich, a Saint Vincent graduate. Sirianni will also employ a five-member student coaching staff of Greg Belle, Trenton Bedillion, Gordon Mathews, Tyler Watson, Evan Zampatti.
28 AND COUNTING: W&J's consecutive winning season streak reached 28 last year the 6-4 record. The Presidents' streak currently ranks fifth among NCAA schools of all divisions behind Linfield (56), Florida State (35), Mount Union (33) and Florida (32). The current streak is tied for the 24th-longest stretch in NCAA football history.
COACHES CORNER: Head Coach Mike Sirianni owns the fifth-highest winning percentage among active coaches at all NCAA divisions with at least five years of experience. Since taking over the program, Sirianni has amassed a record of 85-18 (.825) and ranks second on the school's all-time wins list. Lance Leipold of three-time NCAA Division III defending champion Wisconsin-Whitewater ranks first with a .960 winning percentage, followed by Larry Kehres (Mount Union; .926), Chris Petersen (Boise State; .924) and Jeff Devanney (Trinity (Conn.); .854).
IN THE BRIGHT LIGHTS: W&J is proud to be the alma mater of 1981 graduate Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the National Football League. The Presidents gained a new team to root for in early January when 1984 graduate Joe Philbin was named the head coach of the Miami Dolphins. Philbin played tight end for the Presidents during his freshman year before becoming a student assistant coach. One of Philbin's early hires was 2001 W&J graduate Chris Mosley as the assistant offensive line coach. Mosley transferred to W&J from Southeastern Missouri State and played two years as a fullback, scoring five touchdowns.
VETERANS RETURN: W&J brings back 26 letter winners from last year's squad. Thirteen players who appeared in at least five games are back on both sides of the ball.
LENGTHY JOURNEY: The Presidents 490-mile trip to Fayetteville, N.C. is the fourth-longest, regular-season trip in school history, including the longest since 1934, when the squad made a 707-mile trek to Macon, Ga., to face Mercer. The lengthiest journey in Presidents' football history came in 1932 when the program made a 754-mile voyage to Marquette University in Michigan.
STILL MATES: The dynamic duo of quarterback Matt Bliss and receiver Alex Baroffio return for their junior seasons to bolster the Presidents' offensive attack. Bliss ranked first among PAC quarterbacks in passing yards per game (2,153) and total offense (2,466 yards), while Baroffio was the conference's top receiver with a league-leading 70 receptions and 1,102 receiving yards. The Bethel Park High School alums were both all-conference performers in 2011.
TIM TIME: W&J also boasted the conference's top rusher during the 2011 campaign. Senior Tim McNerney ran for 850 yards and eight touchdowns despite playing in just eight games. McNerney needs 10 touchdowns this season to move into a tie for fifth place on the school's all-time touchdown list and 125 rushing yards for 2,000 in his career.
HISTORY LESSON: Washington & Jefferson has won 681 games heading into its 121st varsity season (681-377-40) which is third behind Wittenberg (707) and Mount Union (699) among NCAA Division III schools. Widener (651) and Williams (628) round out the top five. Competing in its 24th season, Methodist owns a 94-135 all-time record.
PRESEASON LAURELS: Baroffio was selected as a Preseason Division III First-Team All American by Lindy's College Football Magazine. The wide receiver ranked 15th in NCAA Division III football with 110.2 receiving yards per game last fall, while tying for 25th in receptions (7.0 rpg). He has more receptions during the first two years of his career (100) than any player in program history.
SACK ARTISTS: W&J's defense ranked second in the PAC and 38th nationally with 2.60 sacks per game under the guidance of defensive coordinator Shawn Rohrer last season. Fifteen different players recorded at least one sack, including six who return to the roster in 2012.
GROUND BREAKING: For the first time in 17 games, W&J was held without a rushing touchdown during its 2011 season finale against Waynesburg. Prior to that game, the last time the Presidents failed to score a touchdown on the ground was Sept. 19, 2010, a 29-21 loss at Thomas More. McNerney was the main contributor, as he scored 24 of the team's 38 rushing touchdowns during the streak.
EARLY BEGINNING: A football season has started earlier than September just once in the 121-year history of W&J football. The Presidents played their only August game in history on the 31st of the month in 1984, a 48-21 victory at Allegheny.
FOUR SCORE AND...: W&J lost more than three games in a season last year for the first time since a 5-4 record in 1998. The Presidents have not lost five games in one season since 1983 (3-5-1).