2012 Football Season Preview

2012 Football Season Preview
RICHMOND, Ind. — The Neil Kazmierczak era at Earlham College begins this fall when the Quakers start the 2012 season at home against Oberlin College on Saturday, Sept. 1.

“Things have been going great,” Kazmierczak said of his first months as Earlham’s head football coach. “I am excited by all the facilities and staffing improvements that have been made and I am looking forward to further improvements in those areas down the road.”

Earlham’s season opener will feature an artificial turf surface that was installed over the summer.

“My expectations for the coming season are to field a team that displays a winning attitude and competes hard at all times,” Kazmierczak said. “We will be inexperienced at several positions, but we will not use that as an excuse.”

The Quakers have six members of their squad among the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Players to Watch. Seniors Dakota McElley, Jaysn Murphy and T.J. Sanders along with juniors Ryan Hayes, Kaleb Lingg and Justin Darden are on the list. Hayes and Lingg were All-HCAC Second Team members last fall with Murphy and Darden receiving All-HCAC Honorable Mention.

Offense

There are 10 starters back from last year’s team. Five of those returnees are on offense with the other half on defense.

“I expect us to come out of the gate with an expectation for success,” Kazmierczak said. “I expect us to always strive for improvement and to get stronger as the season goes on.”

Murphy and Lingg are the top returning receivers, while Sanders and junior Bryan James return to anchor the offensive line. Hayes, who was Earlham’s top offensive lineman a year ago, is moving to tight end. Murphy led Earlham with 35 catches for 458 yards and two scores. Lingg was a versatile
performer for the Quakers, seeing action as a receiver for the entire season and late in the year due to injuries played quarterback in several games. He was the team’s second-leading receiver with 34 grabs for 425 yards and a touchdown.

“The offensive side will be balanced,” Kazmierczak said. “It will be able to dictate tempo and attack the weaknesses of a defense. We will work hard to be great at the fundamentals and on executing our package.”

Sophomore Tre Stephens is a returning running back. Stephens was Earlham’s Newcomer of the Year in 2011 after gaining 162 yards on 60 carries. Others expected to see time in the backfield are seniors Logan Goodwin and John Edouassaint, who played on the defensive side of the ball last season. Sophomore Alex Kerby is also a running back.

Senior Andy Cain and sophomore Ryan Acosta are back at receiver. Cain had six catches for 62 yards, while Acosta had seven grabs for 52 yards. Senior Bob Endicott and sophomore Zane Foster return on the offensive line. There are 12 first-years on the roster to help the offense. Matt Couch, Alonzo Genelin, Lance Sherwood are quarterbacks. Alonzo Toscano is a running back, while Marcus Coby, Adam Jolly, Jalen Kenner and Greg Valentin are receivers. The linemen are Robert Beeler, Dooley Gabriel, Stephen Morris and Kyle Wagner.

Defense

Along with defensive backs McElley and Darden, senior lineman Eric Parton, junior defensive back Dorian Stroud and junior lineman Nate McCormick are returning starters on defense.

“The defensive side will hang their hat on playing with great effort, great execution of the fundamentals and cause turnovers,” Kazmierczak said.

McElley had 47 tackles in 2012, while Darden was fifth in tackles for the Quakers with 54 as well picking off a pair of passes, while recovering two fumbles. Parton had 45 tackles a year ago with three sacks. McCormick finished last season with 43 tackles with eight coming from behind the line of scrimmage. There are six other letter winners on defense. Junior Nathan Wallace and sophomore Kollin Wheat are back on the defensive line. The linebackers are senior Levi Simpson, junior Richard Martinez and junior Dominique Peterson. Senior Joel Lozada-Yanez returns in the defensive backfield. The defense will have 15 first-years looking for time on the field. Edgar Burton, Allen Eugene, Jacob Keolanui, Tyler Lawrence and Walter Treminio are going to be on the line. The linebackers are Kevin Bryant, D’Hari Curtis-Webster, Travis Smith and Tyler Teresa. In the defensive backfield will be Ben Ballinger, Corey Hammond, Junior Jean, Jalen Kenner, Terrell Scott and Travis Smith.

Special Teams

Last season’s kicker and punter both return to lead the special teams. Acosta made 6-of-11 field goal attempts and was 8-of-8 on PATs in his first year. He also set a school record with a 54-yard field goal against Defiance College. Simpson served as Earlham’s punter with a 34.9 yard average in 2011. He had a 75-yard punt at Defiance.

Schedule

After the season opener against Oberlin, the Quakers visit Kenyon College the following week. Earlham begins the HCAC portion of 2012 at home against Bluffton University on Sept. 15. The Quakers celebrate Homecoming Weekend against Anderson University on Oct. 20.