By Matt Florjancic
CLEVELAND -- Versatility has become a key to success in football and nowhere is that more evident than on special teams.
Case Western Reserve senior cornerback Bobby Bott was sixth on the team with 54 total tackles last season, 28 of which were solo stops. Bott broke up eight passes, defended another 15 and forced a fumble. Bott registered seven interceptions and returned two of them for Case Western Reserve touchdowns.
Though Bott was rewarded and recognized for his skills as a defender, he also returned kicks for the Spartans. Bott averaged 25.6 yards per return on 12 kicks. Bott took one kick back 84 yards for a touchdown against the University of Rochester.
"I like special teams," said Bott. "I get the chance to make more plays. I like touching the ball. On defense, I don't get to get my hands on it too much. We do 20-minute sessions every day on special teams. By now, we're pretty conditioned and ready to go."
"He's a very good kick returner," said Case Western Reserve coach Greg Debeljak. "He always has been. He's just a great athlete. He's a great basketball player, a great baseball player.
"He's just one of those guys that does a lot of things well whereas now so many kids concentrate on one sport," Debeljak added. "Bobby's been a multiple-sport guy and I think that carries over on the football field. He's a good one to have."
In Case's first two games this season, Bott is again pulling double duty.
He has returned two kicks for 35 yards and one punt for eight. Of the three punt returns Case has on the season, Bott is the only player with any return yards.
Bott has seven solo tackles with two passes defended and another broken up. In the season opening win over Kenyon, Bott had an interception return of 38 yards down inside Kenyon's 5-yard line. His return set up a 1-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Dan Whalen to D.J. Suitca.
"It was a cover-two press," Bott said of the play he intercepted. "I jammed the outside guy. He needed a mandatory outside release and failed. I don't think the quarterback saw me coming in. I saw him eye-up. He was locked on the No. 2 coming out."
Bott had his hands full in the season opener. He was responsible for covering 6-4, 225-pound wide receiver/kicker/kick returner Harry von Kann.
Von Kann caught 14 passes for 142 yards, but only one was a touchdown. He accounted for 46 percent of Kenyon's receptions and 59 percent of its total passing yardage.
"Harry von Kann is a pretty good football player," said Bott. "He's a big kid, a pretty good receiver, probably one of the best I'll see all year. They wanted to get him the ball and it was a good challenge. I talked to him afterward and he really liked the challenge coming against me too.
"There are not too many bigger than him that can move and catch like he can," he added. "I've just got to be physical with those big guys, be solid. You've got to work hard."
In his next game against Chicago, von Kann had 11 catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns. He also eclipsed the 2,000-yard career receiving mark.
"We matched him up with their best kid," Debeljak said of the Bott-von Kann battle. "That was the guy that we wanted to take away and I thought he did a great job with the exception of the one play on man coverage. He's going to make some plays, but that's why Bobby's an All-American. A lot of the time, when the quarterback got sacked, he couldn't get rid of the ball because Bobby had him covered."
News and notes
Adrian needed every advantage it could muster in a 31-16 victory over Defiance last weekend. Those advantages came in the forms of linebacker Bronson Gonzales and punter Kevin Allaer.
Gonzales earned Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Defensive Player of the Week honors with a seven-tackle, two-sack performance in the win. He had three tackles for a loss of 28 yards and also forced a fumble.
Allaer, a native of Wallaceburg, Ontario, Canada, punted the football eight times for an average of 40.1 yards en route to being named the MIAA Special Teams Player of the Week. He twice pinned Defiance inside its own 20-yard line and had a long kick of 48 yards. ...
Wabash always fights and the Little Giants (1-0, 1-0 North Coast Athletic Conference) took that motto to heart in their 56-7 win over Denison (1-1, 0-1 NCAC). Junior wide receiver Wes Chamblee scored three first half touchdowns and gained a total of 195 yards (62 rushing, 42 receiving, 20 punt return and 71 kick return).
Junior Kody LeMond's two touchdown receptions put him in a ninth-place tie on Wabash's career touchdowns list. ...
Bethany running back Eric Walker helped his team break a nine-game road losing streak with a 41-33 victory at NAIA Kentucky Christian last weekend. Walker ran for a career-high 172 yards and one score, while setting the school record with three touchdown receptions.
Great Lakes Region Teams in D3football.com's Top 25 Poll This Week
No. 1: Mount Union (OAC): No Change following bye week
No. 7: Ohio Northern (OAC): Up two spots following bye week
No. 8: Washington and Jefferson (PAC): Up two spots after 34-12 win against Frostburg State
No. 10: Case Western Reserve (UAA): Up three spots following 45-14 win at Rochester
No. 13: Wabash (NCAC): Up three spots with 56-7 victory over Denison
No. 19: Otterbein (OAC): Up two spots following bye week
Others Receiving Votes: Trine (MIAA), Thomas More (PAC), Carnegie Mellon (UAA)
Games of the Week
No. 1 Mount Union (1-0) at No. 7 Ohio Northern (1-0), 1:30 p.m.: After an opening weekend upset of North Central (Ill.), the Ohio Northern Polar Bears burst back onto the national scene and vaulted themselves into the D3football.com Top 25.
The reward for such an accomplishment is a home game against the No. 1 team in the country, Mount Union. Ohio Northern was very balanced in its offensive attack of North Central. The Polar Bears gained 206 yards on the ground and 196 through the air.
Mount Union's defense sent a strong message in its 52-10 win at St. John Fisher. The Purple Raiders gave up 13 rushing yards and 134 yards of total offense in the win.
Ohio Northern was the last Ohio Athletic Conference team to beat Mount Union, a feat the Polar Bears accomplished on October 22, 2005.
Carnegie Mellon (2-0) at No. 17 Hobart (0-1), 12 p.m.: For the eighth time in the last ten years, Carnegie Mellon started out the season with a 2-0 record. However, the Tartans will get their first road test after two home victories.
The Tartans average better than 218 rush yards per game, but the defense allows opponents to gain 158 yards on the ground. The key for a Tartans win could be drawing major penalties. While Carnegie Mellon has committed 11 penalties for 85 yards, its first two opponents have combined for 13 penalties for 124 yards.