Albion Faces Butler in 2011 Opener
GAME DATA: Albion College's 125th season of intercollegiate football begins Saturday when it squares off against Butler University. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. inside the Butler Bowl.
BROADCAST: The Albion-Butler game will be broadcast over the air on WXLW (950 AM) in Indianapolis and will be streamed live at www.bigplayradiosports.com. Programming begins at 12:40 p.m.
ALL-TIME SUCCESS: Albion's record entering the 2011 season stands at 562-375-44 (.595). The Britons' proud history includes a Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association-best 33 championships and the 1994 Division III national championship.
A CHALLENGING STRETCH: Albion will face an ambitious schedule during the month of September. Butler is a member of the NCAA's Football Championship Subdivision and then the Britons take on two non-league foes who are ranked in D3football.com's Top 25. Wheaton, Albion's Sept. 10 rival, is No. 8 after a 10-2 campaign a year ago. The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Albion's opponent for the Sept. 24 Homecoming game, checks in at No. 23.
PRE-SEASON POLLS: Albion was issued a challenge in the form of the MIAA's pre-season poll of the league's coaches. Despite having a pair of pre-season All-Americans on the roster in senior cornerback Chris Greenwood (Detroit/Martin Luther King) and junior running back Clinton Orr (Buchanan/Buchanan), the Britons were picked to finish second.
Butler, looking to return to the play that brought a league championship two years ago, has been picked fifth in the Pioneer Football League's preseason coaches' poll. Defending league co-champion Jacksonville was tabbed as the coaches' preseason favorite.
THE HEAD COACHES: Craig Rundle is in his 15th season at Albion. The 1974 Albion graduate has led the Britons to a 80-59 (.576) record, four MIAA championships, and NCAA Division III playoff appearances in 1998 and 2005. Rundle, who is in his 26th year as a head coach at the collegiate level after previous stops at Saint Mary's (Calif.) from 1986-89 and Colorado College from 1990-96, boasts a career record of 137-105-1 (.566).
Jeff Voris, a 1989 graduate of DePauw University, has guided Butler to a 28-28 (.500) record in five seasons. His 10-year career mark stands at 43-62.
WELCOME TO THE LINEUP: Albion has some new names in the lineup as the 2011 begins. On offense, first-year player Tyler Kramer (St. Johns/St. Johns) is expected to get the start at tight end. Also new on the offensive platoon are junior right guard Andrew White (Jackson/Vandercook Lake), sophomore tackles Eric Alamat (Brighton/Detroit Catholic Central) and Chris Ogston (Eaton Rapids/Eaton Rapids). Alamat, Ogston, and White are all former defensive linemen.
Junior Lorenzo Reese (Ypsilanti/Belleville) will get his first career start in the defensive backfield. On special teams, first-year player Justin Hunter (Southgate/Carlson) has won the kicking job and sophomore Mike Schepper (Bay City/Bay City Central) will punt.
CLINTON ORR: Albion's junior running back is a two-time all-MIAA performer (second team in 2009, first team in 2010) who finished second in D-III for all purpose yards and ninth in rushing yards per game. The Buchanan product already holds school records for most rushing yards in a game (306 against Alma in 2009) and he is looking to add the all-time mark by the end of the season. With 2,163 yards in just two seasons, Orr trails Jeff Robinson (1991-94) by 924 yards.
CHRIS GREENWOOD: A senior cornerback from Detroit (Martin Luther King), Greenwood is a two-time all-MIAA first team performer. He has three career interception returns for touchdowns, including a 62-yard effort against Adrian last October. Greenwood and Orr were listed on pre-season All-America teams released by Lindy's and D3football.com.
QUOTES FROM COACH RUNDLE: "We've had a good two weeks of camp. I've been real pleased with the team's willingness to work. There are things we need to work on before we play Butler but we are going in the right direction. We had a few injuries on the offensive line so we are trying to develop a consistent unit there, but we saw better things from that group (in the scrimmage against Defiance College).
"Our front four (on the defensive line) are not big, but they have good motors and play hard every snap. They are going to have to do that to overcome their lack of size. Those guys are further ahead than I would have anticipated at this point.
"They understand we have a tough non-league schedule. We want to get experience for some of the guys who haven't played very much. We also want to get some answers whether we have guys in the right spots so when we do start league games we've got both the offensive and defensive groups where they need to be.
THE SERIES: Butler has won the last four meetings to claim a 6-5 lead in the series. The series began in 1998 (Rundle's second season as Albion's head coach) as the Britons scored a 44-21 victory. Albion's other wins over Butler came in the 2000, 2004, 2005, and 2006 campaigns.
A NEW PLAYING SURFACE: Sprankle-Sprandel Stadium was transformed this summer with a $1.1-million project that included the installation of artificial turf on the football field and a new running surface on Elkin Isaac Track as well as improved facilities for spring field events.
Work on the state-of-the-art field began days after graduation in May with installation of a new drainage system. It was topped with a crushed stone base, cushioned infill, and finally the artificial turf.
Work shifted to the track and field areas once the football field was complete in July. The project involved more than resurfacing the 400-meter track, as the athletes in the long and triple jumps now have two runways and four jumping pits for training and competition. A new cage was installed east of the stadium to host the hammer throw.