No. 9 St. John Fisher Cardinals (1-0) at Washington & Jefferson College Presidents (1-0)
Sat., Sept. 8, 2012 – Washington, Pa.
Time: 1:30 pm
Site: Cameron Stadium (3,500)
Series: First meeting
Audio: 1450-AM WJPA; http://www.wjpa.com/sports.htm
Live Stats: http://www2.washjeff.edu/Athletics/xlive.htm
THE SERIES: Washington & Jefferson and St. John Fisher are meeting for the first time. Last week, W&J won its 12th season opener during the last 14 years. The Cardinals, ranked ninth nationally by D3football.com, advanced to the NCAA Division III quarterfinals last year. SJF opened with a 13-7 overtime home victory against Thomas More in a matchup of nationally-ranked teams.
THE HEAD COACHES: Mike Sirianni (Mount Union '94) owns an 86-18 (.827) 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). Paul Vosburgh (William Penn '75) is in his 22nd year as head coach at St. John Fisher. Vosburgh has led the Cardinals to nine-straight postseason berths, including three appearances in the NCAA Division III quarterfinals. In 2006, SJF made the national semifinals.
W&J vs. EMPIRE 8: W&J owns a 15-9 (.625) all-time record against current members of the Empire 8 Conference. The Presidents last faced a current Empire 8 opponent in 2010, when they defeated Frostburg State 21-6 at Cameron Stadium although the Bobcats were not a E8 member at that time. The last time W&J faced an active E8 member was a 23-19 win over Ithaca in the 1994 NCAA playoffs.
Buffalo State (4-5)
Frostburg State (6-0)
St. John Fisher (0-0)
SCOUTING ST. JOHN FISHER: St. John Fisher currently ranks ninth in the D3Football.com poll and was selected to finish second in the Empire 8 Conference during the preseason. A two-yard rushing touchdown by Cody Miller lifted the Cardinals to a 13-7 overtime victory against Thomas More during week one. Quarterback Ryan Kramer led the Fisher offense with 186 yards passing along with 127 rushing yards, as the Cardinals racked up 403 yards of total offense. The Fisher defense suffocated the Saints' offense all night, allowing 130 yards, including just six in the first half. Despite the yardage disparity, the teams entered the locker rooms at halftime tied at seven. TMC received the first possession in overtime, but turned the ball over on downs, setting up Miller's game-winning scamper into the end zone on the Cardinals' third play. St. John Fisher was plagued by four turnovers, including two inside of the Thomas More 10-yard line.
EMPIRE STATE OF MIND: W&J has not faced an opponent from the state of New York since 2003, when it fell to Buffalo State by a score of 10-7. Throughout history, the Presidents have fared well against teams from the Empire State, holding a 20-15-1 record against those opponents.
HOME SWEET HOME: Washington & Jefferson is 7-2 in home openers under 10th-year Head Coach Mike Sirianni. The Presidents have outscored their opponents 319-166 during those games while averaging 422.2 yards of total offense.
TOP-10 FOES: The last time a top-10 ranked opponent visited Cameron Stadium was last season when No. 8 Thomas More defeated W&J 35-32. The Presidents have not defeated a team ranked in the D3football.com Top 10 since 2008, when they downed No. 3 Millsaps 35-20 in the second round of the NCAA Division III playoffs in Jackson, Mississippi.
HOLD ON TO THE BALL: W&J ended the 2011 regular season by not turning the ball over against Waynesburg and did not commit a turnover in its first game against Methodist, marking the first time since 2008 that the team played consecutive games without turning the ball over. Since 2000, W&J has not gone three-straight contests without a turnover.
28 AND COUNTING: W&J's consecutive winning season streak reached 28 last year with a 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 86-18 (.827) 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.
FUMBLEROOSKI: Senior linebacker John Hunter returned a fumble 63 yards to help set up the Presidents' second touchdown on Saturday, marking the first time since Oct. 24, 2009 (at Westminster) that W&J returned a fumble for positive yardage. The Presidents had recovered 19 fumbles during that span, but did not return a single one. Hunter's run was also the longest return of a fumble since Erik Franklin's '96 return of 69 yards in 1995.
TD TIM: After scoring twice at Methodist, senior running back Tim McNerney needs eight touchdowns to move into a tie for fifth place with R.J. Zitzelsberger '06 on the school's all-time touchdown list. He is also 34 rushing yards shy of 2,000 for his career, putting him 1,277 yards behind Ryan Mendel '06 for fifth place on that list.
PAC MAN: Junior defensive back B.J. Monacelli was honored as the Presidents' Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week on Monday. Monacelli racked up five solo tackles, an interception, a forced fumble, two deflections and one pass breakup. With Methodist driving deep in Presidents' territory early in the third quarter, Monacelli stripped the ball from a Monarch wide receiver which helped set up W&J's second touchdown of the game. Monacelli's interception came in the end zone, as he again thwarted a scoring opportunity after the Monarchs had moved the ball inside of the W&J 10-yard line late in the third quarter. In 11 career games, Monacelli has accumulated 44 tackles (two for loss), two forced fumbles and one sack.
HISTORY LESSON: Washington & Jefferson has won 682 games in 121st varsity seasons (682-377-40) which is third behind Wittenberg (708) and Mount Union (700) among NCAA Division III schools. Widener (652) and Williams (628) round out the top five. St. John Fisher owns a 129-125 record since beginning varsity football in 1971.
CALL TO HALL: Former W&J quarterback Brian Dawson '03 and former player/coach Bill Amos '28 were two of the newest inductees into the W&J Athletic Hall of Fame last night and will be honored at halftime this afternoon. Dawson still ranks 14th in NCAA Division III history with 10,257 passing yards, while Amos was a two-time All-America fullback for the Presidents who served as head coach following his graduation from 1929-31. Also inducted into the hall of fame were former volleyball/women's basketball coach Vicki Staton, women's basketball standout Kelley (Ryan) Mistretta '95 and men's swimming star Rafael Perez-Mendez '91.
RAISING THE BAR: Junior wide receiver Alex Baroffio's 11 catches against Methodist were the most ever by a W&J player in a season-opening game and only five players in NCAA Division III had more last week. Jordan Roycroft '10 owns the Presidents' single-game record with 14 receptions against Thomas More in 2010. With 111 career catches, Baroffio needs just 61 receptions to move past Ryan Silvis '00 for fifth on the team's all-time receptions list. He entered this season as the first player in school history to amass 100 receptions during his first two years on campus.
BEHIND THE LINE: W&J recorded 10 tackles for loss at Methodist for the first time since making 14 stops in the backfield last year at Westminster. The Presidents five sacks were also the most since racking up six in that contest with the Titans. Since 2005, W&J has recorded five or more sacks 16 times (80 games). Only seven NCAA Division III teams had more sacks last week than W&J.
STINGY ON THE SCOREBOARD: The Presidents' defense has held its season-opening opponent to less than 10 points six times since 2001, including Saturday. However, W&J's week two opponents have not been held below 10 points since a 48-0 thrashing of Grove City in 1995.
WELCOME BACK: Senior Zach DeCicco suited up in his red and black uniform for the first time in two years last week; however, he appeared on the opposite side of the ball. DeCicco, who tore his left PCL as a wide receiver in the 2010 season opener at Delaware Valley, has moved to safety this season had five tackles and one pass breakup at Methodist. DeCicco's older brother, Dom, played linebacker and special teams for the Chicago Bears last season, while his younger brother, Brock, is a redshirt junior tight end for the Wisconsin Badgers.
BLISSTERING: Junior quarterback Matt Bliss made his 10th career start on Saturday and he has thrown at least one touchdown pass nine times. His interception on the first play of the second quarter snapped a streak of 109 consecutive pass attempts without one.