No. 8 Football Looks To Make History On Saturday
Springfield College Pride (No. 8, AFCA, 6-0, 3-0 FFC)
at Plymouth State Panthers (0-5, 0-3 FFC)
Sat., Oct. 18, 2003 • 1 p.m. • Plymouth, N.H.
SC leads, 5-3.
The Last Meeting:
The Pride defeated Plymouth State, 41-0, on Oct. 19, 2002 in Springfield.
Last Time Out:
SC upended Western Connecticut, 21-7, in Danbury, Conn., on Oct. 11; the Panthers dropped a 28-0 decision to Kings Point in Plymouth, N.H., on Oct. 11.
About the Pride:
If history means anything, then SC took control of the race in the FFC with Saturday's 21-7 win at Western Connecticut. Since '98, the winner of that game has won at least a share of the FFC crown and earned a berth in the NCAA Division III Tournament ... the Pride is ranked No. 1 in the latest Division III New England poll. In the ECAC Division III Lambert poll, which ranks the 74 Division III teams in the East, the Pride is ranked fourth ... with a win Saturday, the Pride will tie the school record for most consecutive regular-season victories with 11. SC won nine consecutive games in 1965 and the first two games of the '66 campaign. SC has also won nine consecutive FFC contests ... the Pride has outscored the opposition 107-29 in the first half this season ... SC is 24-2 in games when it rushes for more than 300 yards over the past four seasons ... senior CB Mike Kimmel was named the FFC Defensive Player of the Week after making two interceptions in the win at Western Conn. It was his first appearance since the season-opener at Salve Regina (Sept. 6).Kimmel is the third SC player to win the conference's weekly defensive honor, joining senior LB Jesse Baker (Sept. 14) and senior SS Ryan Santo (Sept. 21).
Movin' On Up:
SC earned its highest national ranking ever this week, moving up to No. 8 in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Division III National Poll. SC was ranked No. 10 in last week’s national poll and in the final Division III poll of the 2000 season ... the '03 Pride is just the fifth team in the 111-year history of SC football to open the season 6-0 ... the school record for the fastest start is 9-0, a feat accomplished by the undefeated 1965 squad (9-0 overall), the '98 team (9-2 overall) and the 2000 club (11-2 overall) that reached the East Regional Final of the NCAA Tournament.
On the Road Again:
SC has been very successful away from Benedum Field this season. The Pride is 4-0 on the road this season, including last Saturday's 21-7 win at Western Connecticut (Oct. 11) ... SC is 8-2 in its last 10 trips dating back to the '01 campaign.
SC's efficiency in the red-zone is big reason it is one of Division III's top-scoring teams, averaging 38.3 ppg. SC is 23-of-26 (88.5%) in the red zone (21 TDs, two FG) ... this trend began last season, when the Pride scored 24 of 28 times in the red zone (85.7%), and averaged 36.5 ppg.
The Pride, which is second in Division III in rushing (366.2 ypg), has two of the top-10 rushing performances in Division III in '03. SC's 481 rushing yards in the win over Kings Point (Sept. 20) are the third most most by a Division III team this season, and the 417 yards on the ground at Coast Guard (Sept. 27) ranks 10th ... SC has gone over the 400-yard mark six times over the last two seasons, and its 586-yard effort in a 55-27 win over Union (Nov. 16, 2002) is the best performance by a D-III squad since the '01 campaign.
Get Used To Them:
Junior FB Tim Lutgens and junior QB Ryan Sylvia are part of an outstanding backfield comprised predominantly of juniors. In fact, SC's top seven top rushers will be back next season. Lutgens (124.3 ypg, 26th nationally) and Sylvia (103.2 ypg), who both have broken the 100-yard mark six times in their careers, rank first and third, respectively, in rushing in the FFC ... SC's backfield includes junior all-conference HB Kevin Domurat (9.0 ypr), junior QB Michael Judge (4 TDs), junior HB Will Davis (8.6 ypr) and sophomore FB Mike Fiscella.
Although the Pride possesses one of the best running games in college football, it also uses the pass effectively. SC QBs are 14-of-30 for 431 yards with eight TDs and just one interception this season, and receivers are averaging 30.8 ypc ... junior QB Ryan Sylvia typifies the Pride's big-play capability with seven TD passes of 20 yards-or-more ... in the last two seasons, senior SE Farrand Violette has seven catches, including four TDs, and is averaging 35.4 ypc. Junior TE Louis Conte is another favorite target. He has three catches - all for TDs - for 96 yards (32.0 ypc) ... in '02, SC completed 23 passes for an average of 24.0 ypc and 11 TDs.
Junior FB Tim Lutgens is 26th in Division III in rushing (124.3 ypg), and the Pride ranks among Division III's leaders in five categories:
366.2 ypg (rank: 2nd)
38.3 ppg (rank: 17th)
438.0 ypg (rank: 18th)
79.5 ypg (rank: t-15th)
248.7 ypg (rank: 23rd)
It came as no surprise that senior PK Greg Switaj was selected to the D3Football.com and Don Hansen's Football Gazette Pre-season All-American teams. A first-team D3Football.com All-American in '02, Switaj was one of the nation's most efficient place-kickers, drilling 9-of-10 attempts and converting 40-of-44 point-after touchdown attempts. He led all conference kickers in scoring (6.7 points-per-game, 26th nationally) and field goal percentage on the way to winning FFC Special Teams Player-of-the-Year honors ... Switaj has converted 32-of-33 PAT dating back to last season.
Pride of New England:
Entering this season, SC had the fifth winningest program currently playing Division III football in New England. SC had a 469-403-55 (.536) record in 110 seasons entering the '03 campaign. Williams (571 wins, 122 seasons), Amherst (554 wins, 123 seasons), Trinity (477 wins, 118 seasons) and Wesleyan (470 wins, 119 seasons) are the top four ... with 114 wins in 21 seasons (including two seasons at Maine Maritime), SC head coach Mike DeLong was second among active Division III New England coaches and was 20th in Division III.
SC, which is nationally ranked in rushing defense (79.5 ypg, t-15th) and total defense (248.7 ypg, 23rd), has allowed just 29 points in the first half this season. Last week's effort at Western Conn. might have been its best of the season. The Pride allowed the FFC's highest-scoring offense just seven points and the conference's top-rated passing attack only 162 yards in the air ... at Montclair St. (Sept. 13), SC forced five turnovers and blocked two field goal attempts ... against No. 25 Kings Point (Sept. 20), SC held All-America back David McNeal to 56 yards on 20 carries, which was 87 yards below his average ... coordinator Jack Holik's 3-4 set is anchored by senior captains DE Jason MacDonald, LB Jesse Baker and SS Ryan Santo.