Football: #1 Mount Union Hosts #19 Franklin in Season Opener Saturday

Matt Fechko (Photo by Dan Poel)
Matt Fechko (Photo by Dan Poel)

2013 Mount Union Football
#1 University of Mount Union Purple Raiders (0-0)
vs #19 Franklin (Ind.) College Grizzlies (0-0)
Saturday, September 7 - 1:30 pm - Mount Union Stadium (Alliance, Ohio)

Joe Tait (play-by-play), Harry Paidas (color)
WIVM Ch. 39 (Tape Delay - Sat. Sept. 7 - 11 pm, Sun. Sept. 8 - 5 pm)
FSN SportsTime Ohio (Tape Delay - Sat. Sept. 7 - 10 pm, Mon. Sept. 9 - 12 pm)

WRMU 91.1 FM (Alliance) | LISTEN LIVE




Mount Union begins its 116th season of football against Franklin College Saturday, Sept. 7 at 1:30 pm at Mount Union Stadium in Alliance, Ohio.

It is the first game for new head coach Vince Kehres who took over head coaching duties in May from his father Larry Kehres, who served the last 27 years as head football coach.

The Purple Raiders are preseason ranked No. 1 in the nation and the Purple Raiders return just five starters from a team that went 15-0 last season, won the school's 24th overall and 21st straight Ohio Athletic Conference title while winning a record 11th NCAA Division III National Championship.

Franklin is preseason ranked No. 19 in the nation and the Grizzlies won the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference title and went to the NCAA Playoffs for the fifth time in the last six seasons. Franklin lost just two games to NCAA Division III opponents last year -- Mount Union and Mary Hardin-Baylor.


All Mount Union football games are broadcast on the radio on WDPN 1310 AM and WRMU 91.1 FM and simulcast online along with a LIVE STATS game tracker. You can also here the WRMU 91.1 FM feed on any phone by calling (330) 445-7900.

Four regular season home games will be shown on television via tape delay on regional sports cable channel FSN SportsTime Ohio and WIVM TV39 (Stark County), WIVN TV29 (New Philadelphia), Time Warner Cable (ch. 989-Stark County, ch. 99-Tuscarawas County), Massillion Cable (ch. 21) and Clear Picture Cable (ch. 21-Wayne County). Image Video produces the broadcasts with Harry Paidas along with hall of fame broadcaster Joe Tait. Tait spent 39 years as the radio voice of the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers and his now 27 years of doing Mount Union football on radio and television.


This will be the third-ever meeting between the two teams. Mount Union has won both of the previous meetings beating Franklin, 45-7 last year in Indiana while the other meeting came in 1968. In 1968, Mount Union shut out Franklin, 20-0 in a night game at Mount Union Stadium in Alliance.


Vince Kehres (Mount Union '98)

is 0-0 (.000) in his in first season as head coach at Mount Union. Kehres played for the Purple Raiders and has spent the last 13 years on the coaching staff including the last eight as defensive coordinator before taking over for his father Larry Kehres this past May. As either a player or coach Kehres has been a part of 10 of the Purple Raiders' 11 national championships. His defenses have ranked among the nation's best for years including last year when Mount Union was ranked No. 1 in total defense, scoring defense and rushing defense in all of NCAA Division III.

Mike Leonard (Hanover '84)

is 76-33 (.697) in his 11th season as head coach at Franklin. He has led the Grizzlies to five Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference titles and five NCAA Playoff appearances including last year when Franklin went 9-3 and lost in the second round of the NCAA Playoffs at Mary Hardin-Baylor (Texas). Prior to coming to Franklin, he served as offensive coordinator at Hanover (Ind.) and Wittenberg along with stints at Butler (Ind.), Holy Cross, DePauw (Ind.) and Alabama.


Mount Union takes next week off before hitting the road for the Ohio Athletic Conference opener September 21 at 1:30 pm against Muskingum University in New Concord.


Franklin returns 20 starters from a team that won its conference title and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Playoffs before falling 63-17 to Mary Hardin-Baylor.

All 11 starters are back on a defense that was No. 3 in the nation last year in quarterback sacks. led by senior preseason All-American cornerback Zack Corpe. Other top names on defense include LaDarrius Calvin is the other corner, joined in the defensive backfield by safeties Zach Zehren and Jameson Brock. Middle linebacker Jordan Segner is flanked by Scott Moore and Alex Von Cleve. Colin Gallagher moves from the offensive line to defensive tackle. He is joined up front by nose tackle Nate Bryan, end Dominique Boyd, and hybrid DE/LB's Keaton Lyons and Johnny Varner.

The offense is led by the returns of preseason All-Americans in quarterback Jonny West and wide receiver Kyle Linville. West has thrown for over 6,700 yards and completed 63-percent of his passes over his career while Linville leads all active NCAA football players with 39 career TD receptions. The running back position is stacked, with captain Kyle Holzbog, Joey Pasquale, and Micah Hatch, with Sam Otley at fullback. Slot receiver Zach Cole and tight ends Dylan Jenney and Eric Drake give West additional targets and will prevent teams from keying in solely on Linville.

The other preseason All-American returning is punter Michael Parks, who was the nation's top punter a year ago with a 41.74 per punt average. (parts of preview from Kickoff)


182-7 - Mount Union's win-loss record since 2000

55, 54 - The Raiders hold the NCAA's two longest consecutive college football win streaks -- 55 from 2000-2003 and 54 from 1996-99

15 - Mount Union has college football's longest active win streak at 15 games

129-0 - Since 1996, the Raiders record when winning the turnover battle.

174-1 - The Raiders record since 1990 when winning the turnover battle. That lone loss was a 20-17 loss to Wisconsin-LaCrosse in a 1995 national semifinal game in Alliance. In that game, the Raiders had a +1 turnover margin.

11 - The Raiders 11 National Championships (1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2012) are a record for college football teams in a playoff format. Notre Dame has the most college football titles (11) for teams playing in a non-playoff format.

73 - game regular season win streak for Mount Union dating back to a 21-14 loss to Ohio Northern in Alliance on Oct. 22, 2005.

67 - game home winning streak for Mount Union dating back to a 21-14 loss to Ohio Northern in Alliance on Oct. 22, 2005.


While there has been change at the top of the Mount Union football program, the Purple Raiders are planning for business as usual as they look to continue a run of 21 consecutive Ohio Athletic Conference Championships (1992-12) while contending for a record 12th NCAA Division III National Championship.

Vince Kehres, who takes over the head coaching duties from his father and athletic director Larry Kehres, has spent 13 years as an assistant coach with the last eight as defensive coordinator. His defense has consistently been ranked among the nation's best and last year was no exception as the Raiders were ranked No. 1 in total defense, scoring and rushing defense. In total, Vince Kehres has been part of 10 of the Raiders' 11 national titles as either a player or coach.

Kehres will remain defensive coordinator and there are four starters returning on that side of the ball in seniors Matt Fechko and Nyejel Thomas, junior Ted Rosalva and sophomore Hank Spencer. Fechko is an All-American lineman that has played in every game each of the last three seasons while Thomas has played in all but three of those games and the duo have combined for 40.5 sacks. Rosalva led the team a year ago with 6.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss while as a true freshman Spencer was third on the team in tackles as each were All-OAC honorable mention picks.

The offense is led by All-American junior quarterback Kevin Burke, who was the OAC's Offensive Back of the Year as he was the nation's highest rated signal caller for the No. 1 scoring offense in the nation. Burke threw for nearly 3,800 yards, rushed for 776 yards to account for 4,543 yards of total offense and topped all of NCAA Division III with 9.14 yards per play.

A core of 38 letterwinners with 22 of those that were on the depth chart at the end of last year all return in 2013.


Seniors Colton Bridges (Valrico, Fla./Durant) and Matt Fechko (Twinsburg/Twinsburg), juniors Kevin Burke (Westlake/Lakewood St. Edward) and Luc Meacham (Toledo/Toledo Central Catholic) and sophomore Hank Spencer (Greencastle, Ind./North Putnam) have all been selected team captains by their teammates.


Preseason All-American senior Matt Fechko is not going to lack work as he is expected to see time both at defensive tackle and left tackle on the offensive line. Fechko had 50 tackles last year -- 12.0 for loss and was second on the team with 6.0 sacks. It is the second straight season that the Raiders have had a two-way player as Blair Skilliter played defensive back and running back a year ago.


Preseason All-American junior quarterback Kevin Burke (Westlake/Lakewood St. Edward) finished last season as the nation's No. 1 rated passer with a rating of 188.65. He is looking to follow up a season in which he generated 4,548 yards of total offense (3,772 passing and 776 rushing) which was the third most yards of total offense for a Raider in school history. Burke's 3,845 career passing yards is 10th on the Mount Union all-time list.


Sophomore linebacker Hank Spencer (Greencastle, Ind./North Putnam) is the top returning tackler for a year ago as he had 61.0 tackles (7.0 for loss) with 1.5 sacks, two interceptions, a fumble recovery and a blocked a punt that resulted in a touchdown against Mary Hardin-Baylor in the NCAA semifinals. Spencer is a fast starter off the field as well as he graduated high school early, was an early enrollee at Mount Union last spring and currently has a 4.0 grade point average.


With Larry Kehres retiring, the NCAA active coach with the highest winning percentage and at least 10 years as a head coach is Ohio State's Urban Meyer at .835 (116-23 in 11 years). Second on that list is 1994 Mount Union alum Mike Sirianni who has at .816 (93-21) in 10 years as head coach at Washington & Jefferson (Pa.).

Mount Union has won 25 straight season openers dating back to a 17-15 home loss to Wooster on Sept. 12, 1987.