/seasons/2012/contrib/20120815gjxt7z

2012 Capital football season preview

More news about: Capital

With 11 consecutive seasons at five wins or more and 10 of the last 11 years with a record above .500 in the rugged Ohio Athletic Conference, the Capital University football team has been one of the most successful programs in both the conference and region for the past decade.

After finishing the 2011 campaign with a 5-5 mark, including a 5-4 record in OAC play, third-year coach Henry Stanford and the Crusaders look to continue the program's success while competing for their first appearance in the NCAA Division III Playoffs since 2007.

Despite the loss of five all-league selections due to graduation, Capital returns 45 letter winners to the fold, including 15 of 22 starters and both specialists, in 2012. Stanford, who is 10-10 in his two years at the helm, is confident in the returning core's ability to mentor and guide over 60 new faces into the program.

Seniors Matt DeMore (Twinsburg, Ohio) and Tyler Dugan (Columbus, Ohio) return as second-year captains, and will be joined for the first game's coin toss by fellow seniors Mike Epstein (Toledo, Ohio) and Nate Nasrallah (Norton, Ohio). Each member of the team's 18-man senior class will serve as a captain at some point during the season.

"I think all the seniors have stepped up since the last game of the season last year," DeMore, an offensive lineman, said. "That's when the next season starts ... each of the seniors has taken multiple guys under their wing to try to build up this team. At the end of the day, we all want to leave a legacy."

The Crusaders open the 2012 slate on Saturday, Sept. 1, against perennial North Coast Athletic Conference power Wittenberg. In the 2011 season opener, the Tigers defeated Capital 45-28 in Springfield. This year's opener will be played at Bernlohr Stadium, where the Crusaders will play six times during the regular season.

Capital begins a three-game stretch where it faces the OAC's top three teams from 2011 against Heidelberg on Oct. 6 as part of the institution's Homecoming festivities. The Crusaders then travel to 2011 national runner-up Mount Union on Oct. 13, and return home to face Baldwin Wallace on Oct. 20.

Capital closes its home schedule on Oct. 27 against cross-town rival Otterbein on Senior Day at Bernlohr.

See below for a position-by-position breakdown of the 2012 Crusaders.

OFFENSE

Capital will continue to deploy its spread offensive formations, featuring one tailback and four wide receivers. In 2011, the Crusaders led the conference in passing offense with 260.2 yards per contest.

Besides establishing balance between the running game and the team's potent passing attack, offensive coordinator Robert White pointed out the importance of tempo and ball control in 2012.

"We want to increase our tempo and get 90 or more snaps in per game," White said. "I think the biggest key for us is to eliminate the turnovers we had last year. We have a veteran offensive line to protect, and if we don't turn the ball over, we'll be successful this year."

Quarterback

Junior Ryan Kremchek (Sylvania, Ohio) enters the season with the most game experience on the team following the departure of Chase Carris, last season's starter. Kremchek appeared in five games during an injury-plagued 2011 campaign, passing for 527 yards and two touchdowns.

Junior Alex Nydza (Cleveland, Ohio) also looks to compete for the starting spot. After appearing in seven games as a linebacker a year ago, Nydza returns to his spot behind center, where he competed for a spot in 2010.

Bowling Green transfer Jake Sears (Miamisburg, Ohio) and freshman Ryan McSweeney (Seven Hills, Ohio) also project to be in the mix for playing time.

Running Back

Senior Casey Meridieth (Toledo, Ohio) looks to take the reins following the graduation of All-OAC second team selection Josh Anderson. Meridieth tallied 88 all-purpose yards a year ago. Sophomore Nolan Gill (Hilliard, Ohio), who appeared in six games last season, also hopes to compete for playing time.

Freshmen looking to contribute in the backfield include Chris Elledge (Pickerington, Ohio), Myles Robinson (Powell, Ohio), Bo Hardy (Galloway, Ohio) and Griffin Mouty (Cincinnati, Ohio).

Offensive Line

This seasoned unit should anchor the offense as all five starters return from the 2011 campaign. DeMore is the returning starter at center.

"I love having that title of best pass offense," DeMore said. "It means a lot to an offensive lineman, to keep the quarterback clean. Knowing that he has your trust, that means a lot ... we have to play together, keep strong and play as a unit (to keep that up this year)."

Surrounding DeMore at the guard spots are junior Anthony Colucci (Ashtabula, Ohio) and senior Troy Thompson (Pickerington, Ohio). Sophomore Trevor McGowan (Northville, Mich.) and junior David Howson (Hudson, Ohio) project to return to their starting tackle slots. Sophomore Bradley Beck (Fremont, Ohio) also returns from last season's two-deep depth chart.

Wide Receiver

Epstein and junior Alex Coleman (Columbus, Ohio) return to the wide receiver corps, which lost all-conference and all-region selection Matt White from a year ago. Epstein is the team's leading returning receiver with 36 receptions for 301 yards and a touchdown, while Coleman followed closely behind with 272 yards on 28 catches with three touchdowns.

Projected returning contributors at wide receiver include juniors Justin Bubar (Strongsville, Ohio), Jacob Batcho (Massillon, Ohio), sophomores Benjamin Woycke (Mason, Ohio) and Nick Gonzales (Cleveland, Ohio).

DEFENSE

Consistency will be critical for the Capital defense. In 2011, the Crusaders allowed just 12 points or less three times, but surrendered 37 or more points four different times. Eight starters return to the unit, including all four defensive backs.

"We've got to play every play like it's our last play," Dugan said. "You've just got to get on the field and treat it like you're not going to play again."

Defensive Line

Eight defensive linemen with a plethora of game experience return for the Crusaders, who will rely on strong play up front from a seasoned group of veterans.

Seniors Nate Nasrallah, Jay Bondzeleske (Columbus, Ohio), Aaron Knisley (Bexley, Ohio), Aaron Rittgers (Pickerington, Ohio), Jason Hutchins (Springboro, Ohio), Seth Nelson (Columbus, Ohio), Zac Randall (Greenville, Ohio) and Blayne Cornwell (Proctorville, Ohio) form the core of the line. Nasrallah is a 2011 All-OAC honorable mention pick, while Knisley and Nelson are also returning starters. The trio combined for 122 tackles, including 13 sacks, a year ago.

Linebackers

Despite the loss of all-conference and all-region honoree Troy Spiker, Dugan, the lone returning starter at linebacker, is confident that others around him will step up.

"Troy Spiker was a great player," Dugan said. "He had to fill the shoes of (2010 OAC Linebacker of the Year) Sam Jacobs, so we just constantly have that 'next man' mentality, where you don't know when your number's going to be called, so you've got to be ready to go."

Dugan is the team's returning tackler with 58 stops (40 solo) in 2011. Junior Kyle Shaeffer (Pickerington, Ohio), who appeared in four contests last season, looks to fill the void in the middle. Others projected to be in the rotation include sophomores T.J. Langermeier (West Jefferson, Ohio), Wesley Meadows (Athens, Ohio) and Gene Rucker (Marion, Ohio).

Defensive Backfield

All four starters return to the defensive backfield, including 2011 All-OAC honorable mention pick Domenic Hebebrand (Hinckley, Ohio), who placed fourth on the team with 50 tackles and a combined 15 pass breakups and passes defensed. Senior Ryan Neuberger (Milan, Ohio) is the team's other starter at safety and led the Crusaders with three interceptions a season ago.

Juniors Antoine Roberts (Lithonia, Ga.) and Andre Cousin (Fostoria, Ohio) project to return to their starting cornerback positions. The two combined for 67 tackles in 2011.

Senior Ted Cox (Marysville, Ohio), junior Larez Harper (Columbus, Ohio) and sophomore Clay Smith (West Jefferson, Ohio) were mainstays on last year's two-deep and look to contribute as well.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Senior kicker Nick VanMeter (Marion, Ohio) and sophomore punter Joseph Riley (Twinsburg, Ohio) form the kicking corps. VanMeter booted three field goals and averaged 57.4 yards per kickoff last season, while Riley averaged 40.0 yards per punt and pinned opponents inside the 20-yard line six times. Rittgers returns as the team's long-snapper, while Coleman will handle the bulk of punt and kick return duties.

Sep. 23: All times Eastern
Final
at Framingham State 50, Massachusetts Maritime 7
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Muhlenberg 56, at Juniata 40
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at Dean 25, Becker 10
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Salisbury 27, at TCNJ 7
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MIT 38, at Catholic 21
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Merchant Marine 56, at Maine Maritime 31
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at Hobart 34, Endicott 17
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at Morrisville State 44, Nichols 22
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at Delaware Valley 27, Stevenson 7
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at Albright 9, Widener 7
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Christopher Newport 16, at Montclair State 8
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at Westminster (Pa.) 41, Bethany 14
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Middlebury 41, at Bowdoin 14
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Williams 24, at Colby 7
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Amherst 36, at Hamilton 6
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Ursinus 35, at Moravian 17
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Trinity (Conn.) 51, at Bates 0
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at LaGrange 38, Brevard 28
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Geneva 33, at Thiel 24
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at Plymouth State 37, Mass-Dartmouth 7
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Kean 28, at Southern Virginia 14
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Frostburg State 24, at Rowan 10
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Union 17, at Curry 14
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at Carnegie Mellon 37, Thomas More 17
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Lycoming 44, at King's 41
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at Western New England 21, Husson 14
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Johns Hopkins 41, at Dickinson 10
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at DePauw 51, Wooster 24
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at Ohio Wesleyan 37, Allegheny 21
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at Misericordia 43, Wilkes 14
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at Alfred 45, Rochester 7
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Wesley 66, at William Paterson 0
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at N.C. Wesleyan 35, Maryville (Tenn.) 25
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Huntingdon 31, at Ferrum 28
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at McDaniel 27, Gettysburg 20
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at Buffalo State 33, RPI 21
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Franklin and Marshall 27, at Susquehanna 24
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at Denison 45, Oberlin 17
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at Northwestern (Minn.) 10, Westminster (Mo.) 7
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at Eureka 44, Crown 20
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at Lebanon Valley 24, FDU-Florham 14
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at Heidelberg 47, John Carroll 21
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at Ohio Northern 35, Otterbein 7
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at Mount Union 55, Baldwin Wallace 7
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at Rose-Hulman 37, Defiance 14
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at Marietta 49, Muskingum 25
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Franklin 59, at Bluffton 30
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at Hanover 64, Anderson 21
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Mount St. Joseph 31, at Manchester 14
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Worcester State 34, at Westfield State 10
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Coast Guard 13, at Norwich 9
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at Fitchburg State 31, Bridgewater State 29
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Wittenberg 48, at Kenyon 11
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at Wabash 25, Hiram 21
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North Central (Ill.) 51, at Millikin 21
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at Millsaps 17, Sewanee 13
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at Rhodes 35, Birmingham-Southern 9
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at Hendrix 36, Austin 24
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at Martin Luther 34, Greenville 20
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Final - OT
at Trinity (Texas) 41, Chapman 35
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at Loras 73, Buena Vista 34
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at Wartburg 30, Washington U. 20
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at Gustavus Adolphus 51, Hamline 7
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Augsburg 48, at Carleton 28
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at Bethel 64, St. Olaf 7
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at Luther 21, Dubuque 17
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at Central 52, Nebraska Wesleyan 27
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Simpson 38, at Coe 33
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Wheaton (Ill.) 40, at Elmhurst 15
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St. Norbert 66, at Grinnell 13
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at Knox 13, Ripon 6
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at MacMurray 32, Iowa Wesleyan 14
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Hardin-Simmons 63, at Howard Payne 3
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Southwestern 37, at Louisiana College 34
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Monmouth 26, at Macalester 0
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at St. Thomas 20, St. John's 17
@ Target Field, Minneapolis
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at Springfield 42, WPI 10
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at Cornell 55, Beloit 36
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at Brockport 28, Utica 14
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at Hartwick 24, St. John Fisher 21
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at UW-La Crosse 41, Carroll 6
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at St. Scholastica 37, Minnesota-Morris 3
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at George Fox 44, UW-Eau Claire 0
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at Western Connecticut 37, Salve Regina 23
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at UW-Stevens Point 41, Adrian 28
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at Wesleyan 24, Tufts 17
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at Averett 35, Methodist 6
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at Berry 28, Centre 14
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at Case Western Reserve 56, Waynesburg 21
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at Grove City 24, St. Vincent 14
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at Illinois Wesleyan 18, North Park 0
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at Mary Hardin-Baylor 50, Texas Lutheran 7
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at UW-Platteville 56, Lakeland 22
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Carthage 55, at Augustana 14
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Chicago 28, at Illinois College 7
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at Sul Ross State 35, McMurry 7
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at Wilmington 37, Capital 30
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Lake Forest 42, at Lawrence 26
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at East Texas Baptist 79, Belhaven 40
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Arizona Christian 56, at Whittier 38
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Sep. 23: All times Eastern
Final
at Delaware Valley 27, Stevenson 7
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Wesley 66, at William Paterson 0
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at Alfred 45, Rochester 7
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Johns Hopkins 41, at Dickinson 10
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Frostburg State 24, at Rowan 10
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at Heidelberg 47, John Carroll 21
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at Mount Union 55, Baldwin Wallace 7
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Wittenberg 48, at Kenyon 11
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at Wabash 25, Hiram 21
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Hardin-Simmons 63, at Howard Payne 3
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North Central (Ill.) 51, at Millikin 21
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Final
Wheaton (Ill.) 40, at Elmhurst 15
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at St. Thomas 20, St. John's 17
@ Target Field, Minneapolis
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Final
at Brockport 28, Utica 14
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at Case Western Reserve 56, Waynesburg 21
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at Illinois Wesleyan 18, North Park 0
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at UW-Platteville 56, Lakeland 22
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at Mary Hardin-Baylor 50, Texas Lutheran 7
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