EUREKA, Ill. – The first full nine-game Upper Midwest Athletic Conference schedule, another trip to the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minn. and the three farthest western road trips in program history highlight the 2011 Eureka College football schedule, released by third-year head coach Kurt Barth on Monday. The Red Devils will open the season on the road on Sept. 3 for the first time since 2008 before opening the league schedule at home on Sept. 17.
The Red Devils will open their 108th season of football competition on Sept. 3 with a visit to the Chicago suburbs for a 7 p.m. kickoff against Benedictine (Ill.) in Lisle, Ill. The contest marks the only non-conference game of the season for Eureka, who will play an outdoor night game for the first time in the Kurt Barth era. The Eagles spoiled Eureka's home opener last season with a 42-7 triumph and are looking for their fifth consecutive victory in the all-time series that dates back to 1972. Benedictine won the Northern Athletics Conference last season to earn its first-ever NCAA National Playoffs berth.
Following a week off, Eureka will open the UMAC schedule on Sept. 17 at McKinzie Field when Crown visits for a 1 p.m. kickoff in Eureka's home opener. In the only previous meeting between the two schools in Eureka, the Red Devils and Purple Storm put together the highest-scoring game in NCAA Division III history when Crown pulled out a 69-63 win on Nov. 7, 2009. Crown won last season's game in St. Bonifacius, Minn., 36-14.
Eureka's third opponent of the season is first-year UMAC program Presentation (S.D.). That game is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Sept. 24 in Aberdeen, S.D. The trip to Aberdeen replaces Eureka's road trip to Graceland in Lamoni, Iowa in 1977 as the farthest western road trip taken in program history. Andy Carr, the former assistant head coach at Division II Southwest Minnesota State, has been hired as Presentation's first head coach. The Saints represent the only team not on the Eureka schedule from a year ago and the Red Devils' only first-time opponent in 2011. Barth is 3-3 in his first two seasons against first-time opponents.
The Red Devils will return home for its annual homecoming game the following week, hosting Westminster on Oct. 1 at 1 p.m. Eureka will be shooting for its first-ever victory over Westminster after dropping its first three games to the Blue Jays over the previous three seasons.
The return home will be short, as the Red Devils will make their first of three trips to Minnesota in the month of October when Eureka travels to New Ulm, Minn. for the first time in program history to play Martin Luther on Oct. 8 at 1 p.m. The Red Devils and Knights have split their first two meetings, with Martin Luther claiming a 52-13 win at last season's Dome Day event on Oct. 30.
Eureka will have less than a week to prepare for its next trip to the North Star State. The Red Devils will play at Minnesota-Morris for the first time in program history in a 1 p.m. kickoff on Oct. 15 in Morris, Minn. The Cougars topped Eureka in an offensive showcase last season in the first all-time meeting between the schools, holding off a late Eureka rally for a 47-29 win on Sept. 25 in Eureka.
Longtime rival Greenville represents Eureka's next home opponent when the Red Devils welcome the Panthers for a conference game on Oct. 22 at 1 p.m at McKinzie Field. The UMAC marks the third conference the two schools have called home together, as the Red Devils and Panthers played as rivals in the Illini-Badger Football Conference (1987-2007) and St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (2008) before settling as associate members of the UMAC in 2009. Greenville extended its win streak against the Red Devils to eight games last season with a 62-27 win in Greenville on Nov. 6. The Panthers own a 15-9 advantage in the all-time series.
The Red Devils will make their third straight appearance in the UMAC's 12th annual Dome Day on Oct. 29 when Eureka takes on Northwestern (Minn.) at 4 p.m. in the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minn. Eureka is 1-1 all-time in the event, rallying for a 21-20 victory over St. Scholastica in 2009 and falling to Martin Luther last season. While the 454-mile trip will be Eureka's fourth trip of the season of 400 miles or more, the St. Paul, Minn.-based Eagles will need to travel only seven miles from its own campus for the matchup at the NFL venue. The Red Devils romped to a 40-14 win over Northwestern last season in Eureka, the first-ever meeting between the new UMAC rivals.
The Red Devils will continue their longest-running active rivalry on Nov. 5 when they make their only southern road trip of the campaign to square off against MacMurray at 1 p.m. in Jacksonville, Ill. The Red Devils and Highlanders have met every season in football since 1985 with MacMurray owning a 17-9 advantage in the all-time series. Eureka has won three of the last four games to have the upper hand as of late, including a 42-21 victory last November at McKinzie Field.
Eureka will close the regular season and go for back-to-back Senior Day wins for the first time since 1996 when it welcomes St. Scholastica to McKinzie Field on Nov. 12 for a noon kickoff. The Saints rallied for a 38-21 win in Duluth, Minn. last September to even the all-time series between the two schools after Eureka posted a 21-20 win in the first meeting at Dome Day in 2009.
With the addition of Presentation and moving to a complete round-robin schedule, every UMAC team will play nine conference games in 2011 for the first time in the league's history. The regular season conference champion will earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III National Playoffs, also a first for the UMAC.
"Last year, our young team improved from start to finish," Barth said. "We are excited about this season, as we had a very productive offseason. We are eager to get started and face the challenges that lie ahead."
The Red Devils will fall a game short of matching last season's record-high five games outside the state of Illinois. Eureka will play only four home games for the second consecutive season and just the fifth time since 1985. Eureka returns a majority of its starters from last season's 2-8 squad, including all four All-UMAC selections. The Red Devils finished seventh in the nine-team league with a 2-5 conference record.