/columns/around-the-region/greatlakes/2015/albion-tempo-offense

Albion is in a hurry

More news about: Albion
Dominic Bona is the point guard of Albion's basketball-paced offensive attack. 
Photo by Lowell McGinnis 

Albion's football team plays on artificial turf at Sprankle-Sprandel Stadium.

However, it may seem like the Britons are actually running on the track that encircles the playing field when they have the ball. Albion's high-octane, up-tempo offense keeps the team in constant motion and forces opponents to play at a faster speed.

It keeps the statisticians and scoreboard operators pretty busy, too.

The Britons' offense averages 578.5 yards per game, which ranks fourth in the country. The team scores 49.2 points per outing as well. That ranks ninth in the nation.

"When it's a track meet, it's fun," Albion senior quarterback Dominic Bona said. "You're scoring a lot and it's the mentality that we're faster than you and you can't stop us."

The Britons aim to snap the ball within 16-18 seconds every time they touch the ball on offense. The approach is more than a novelty. It's led the squad to a 6-0 record and a 3-0 mark in the MIAA.

"I think our guys have been playing well. We are excited about a quick start, but there's a lot of football left to play. We have to keep it rolling," Albion coach Craig Rundle said. "I think anytime you're having success, it's a lot more fun. This is our third year in the offense and every year we have gotten a little better and expanded it some. For the seniors, this is their third year in it and they have it down well and that helps us play even faster."

Just like any other team, Albion's goal is to get the ball into the end zone. Only, the Britons want to do it as quickly as possible.

"Since this is our third year in the offense, there's less thinking and more reacting. We've gone deeper in the offense each year and evolved. There's a little more pressure on the offense this year and we like that," Bona said. "It's just about us and our focus on scoring touchdowns and what we can do to adjust. I think the key to keep going is to worry about ourselves and not to get complacent. We talk about starting the game fast and ending it fast."

Bona, a starter for nearly his entire four years, is one of 29 seniors on the team. He continues to rewrite the program passing record books almost as fast as the team scores points.

"Anytime you can have a quarterback starting for multiple years, it is nice. He has seen a lot. He has gotten better every year," Rundle said. "He is a great competitor. He studies the game and is his harshest critic. He is awful hard on himself. He wants to be as good as he can, but he's also a great team player."

Under the tutelage of quarterbacks coach Steve Wasil, a former Albion standout passer and Arena Football League QB, Bona has continued his progression.

"He has taught me a lot here. We have spent a lot of time together," Bona said. "It's a fun relationship. He has been one of my coaches since my sophomore year. He does everything he can to make me better. I've spent hours with him watching film. I am very lucky he is my QB coach. It's a blast."

Of course, Bona is not the only weapon in Albion's arsenal. Senior running backs Mike Czarnecki (863 yards) and Colin Parks (715) have run wild.

"Mike is kind of the speedy, lightning guy. Tom Parks is the thunder and smash-mouth kind. They split time and do a great job. Our offensive line does a fantastic job as well," Bona said. "It's the best thing for a quarterback to have a rushing game like ours. It makes it so much easier for me."

Six different players have caught at least 10 passes in seniors Mikal McKoy, Chris McCall, Joe Mayone, Kyle Slotnick and Czarnecki and junior Jon Alandt. Up front, juniors Andrew DiFranco and Brandon Brown join seniors Nate Peters, Dalton Nagle, Chris Wilson and Jon Ackley as the main guys on the line.

"Our offensive line is a veteran group, too. A lot of times that gets overlooked," Rundle said. "Someone needs to block. They do a good job of it."

There's one bad aspect to the Britons' quick offensive approach – there's not a lot of time for their defense to catch its breath. Albion yields 34.5 points per outing.

"We still want to play good defense. We don't accept playing badly. Because we play so fast, other teams get more snaps. In college football now, the game has changed so much. Time of possession and rushing yardage used to be two big indicators for defenses. I don't think they mean as much," Rundle said. "Now, it's about red zone stops and not giving up touchdowns. Turnovers are big and so are explosive plays. If you're winning the red zone battle, turnover battle and getting more explosive plays, you have a good chance of winning."

While teams will score on the Britons, Bona is confident in the defense. The unit came up with a stop in the final minute of Saturday's 30-25 triumph over Adrian. It did so two weeks earlier in a 21-20 victory at Hope as well.

"Our defense has got some crucial turnovers. Our defense knows when to step up," he said. "That's how we know we have a good team. Someone knows how to step up when we need it."

Lighting up the scoreboard

No. 15 Washington and Jefferson scored 52 points in the first half and posted a 66-42 win over Bethany in PAC action. Both squads combined for 925 yards of offense. Ryan Ruffing continued his strong play for the Presidents as he racked up 116 yards and three scores on 17 carries. The Bison's Jalen Holmes rushed for 180 yards and two scores, while Eric Blinn caught 11 passes for 146 yards and three scores.

Down to the wire

Hiram scored 12 points in the final 8:58 to post a 32-31 home win over Ohio Wesleyan in a wild NCAC finish. The Terriers came within 31-20 on a field goal and had another field goal blocked. However, on the ensuing Battling Bishops drive, Ronnie Jones came up with a pick-6 to cut the deficit to 31-29 with 3:22 to go. Hiram's defense forced a punt and quarterback Nic Paolo found Britton Lewis for a 52-yard passing play. That set up the Terriers' Sam Conway for the winning 22-yard field goal with eight seconds left in regulation for the team's first win of the year (1-5).

What to watch

Case Western Reserve gets its biggest PAC challenge when it welcomes No. 15 Washington and Jefferson for a 6 p.m. tilt on Saturday. Behind sophomore dual-threat quarterback Rob Cuda, the Spartans have been one of the PAC's surprises this year. Thomas More looms on the horizon (Nov. 7) as well, but Case can't look past the Presidents. It's a must-win game for Washington and Jefferson, too.

In the polls

No. 1 Mount Union (6-0) defeated Heidelberg, 51-7. The Purple Raiders trek to Wilmington on Saturday in search of their 100th straight regular season triumph.

No. 9 Wabash (6-0) moved up one spot after its 35-0 win at Kenyon in NCAC action. The Little Giants visit Wooster on Saturday.

No. 11 Thomas More (7-0) pulled away from St. Vincent with a pair of touchdowns in the final frame to post a 42-28 win. The Tomcats voyage to Grove City on Saturday.

No. 15 Washington and Jefferson rolled to the 66-42 win over Bethany. The Presidents (5-1) travel to Case Western for a key PAC battle (see above).

No. 18 John Carroll (5-1) defeated Marietta, 35-10. The Blue Streaks visit Capital.

More features

September 18, 2019 A half-century at Lycoming Ever since the Beatles broke up, Steve Wiser has been part of the Lycoming football program. And after 50 years, he can stay...
September 18, 2019 Building a new home across town Former Hardin-Simmons quarterback Jordan Neal didn't plan on returning to his hometown of Abilene, but when crosstown rival...
September 11, 2019 That extra jolt of inspiration Jordan McInerney has moments where he’s worn out, where he teeters on the brink of feeling as if he as doesn’t...
September 11, 2019 Finding the medium for the message He's a rising young street artist, who has drawn interest nationally. And he's also a senior offensive lineman for Manchester...

Joe Sager

Joe Sager is a freelance writer based in Pittsburgh. He has written about sports since 1996 for a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites. He first covered D-III football in 2000 with the New Castle (Pa.) News.

2012-14 columnist: Brian Lester
2011 columnist: Dean Jackson
2007-10 columnist: Matt Florjancic

Other Columnists