Football: #3 Mount Union Opens Season at Bethany

Vince Kehres

2014 Mount Union Football 
#3 University of Mount Union Purple Raiders (0-0) vs Bethany College Bison (0-0)
Saturday, September 6 - 1:30 pm - Bison Stadium (Bethany, W.Va.)

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THE GAME

Mount Union begins its 117th season of football in Bethany, West Virginia, Saturday, Sept. 6 at 1:30 pm against Bethany College in Bison Stadium.

The Purple Raiders, who won their 25th overall and 22nd straight Ohio Athletic Conference title and advanced to the national title game for a ninth straight season a year ago, are preseason ranked No. 3 in the nation and have 15 players listed on the depth chart that have started.

Mount Union, which has won 26-straight season openers, enters this week's game with an 83-game regular season winning streak dating back to a 21-14 loss to Ohio Northern
Bethany, a member of the Presidents Athletic Conference, went 4-6 a year ago including a win against PAC champion Washington & Jefferson.

THE SERIES

This is the ninth meeting between the teams but first since 1965. Mount Union holds a 7-0-1 lead in the series and that meeting in 1965 was a 35-19 Mount Union win at Bethany.

THE COACHES

Vince Kehres (Mount Union '98) went 14-1 in his first season as head coach in 2013 to set an NCAA record for most wins (14) by a first year college football coach. He earned OAC Coach of the Year and Lee Tressel Ohio College Football Coach of Year awards. Kehres spent 13 years, eight as defensive coordinator, on the Raiders coaching staff for his father Larry Kehres. As either a player of coach, Vince Kehres has been part of 10 of Mount Union's 11 national championships.

Bill Garvey (Iona, N.Y. '97) enters his second season as head coach at Bethany after leading the Bison to a 4-6 record a year ago. Garvey served as offensive coordinator at Bethany for seven years before taking over as head coach and over his time as an assistant the Bison set 66 new school records. He also had assistant coaching stints at Stonehill (Mass.), Harvard and Hofstra.

STORYLINES

  • Senior quarterback Kevin Burke (Westlake/Lakewood St. Edward) was Mount Union's only returning starter on offense a year ago and went on to throw for 3,800 yards and rush for 1,000 yards on his way to being the first junior to win the Gagliardi Trophy given to the best all-around football player in NCAA Division III.
  • Chris Kappas moves from receivers coach to defensive coordinator for the Raiders. Kappas played defensive back and was on the 2005 and 2006 national title teams, was on the coaching staff for the 2008 national title, then spent three years as an assistant coach at Bowling Green before coming back a year ago. He takes over a unit that brings back seven starters from a year ago.
  • Mount Union is 24-11-3 against current members of the Presidents Athletic Conference. The Raiders have scrimmaged PAC member Washington & Jefferson for over 30 years. W&J and Mount Union met in the first round of the NCAA Playoffs last year and the Raiders won the game 34-20.

SCOUTING THE BISON

Bethany returns 19 starters from a team that had its best finish in the Presidents Athletic Conference since 2010 and included a win against PAC champion Washington & Jefferson.

One starter not returning is quarterback Matt Grimard, who started 39 games and threw for over 11,000 career yards and a year ago led the nation's No. 11 passing offense. Sophomore Brian Vales takes over the quarterback position and will have a number of veterans around him. Senior wide receiver Eric Blinn returns after a 2013 season in which he was second in NCAA Divsion III in receptions with 95 and third in yards with 1,300 yards. Two more seniors will run the football in backs Phil Acrie and Brandon Hill while five juniors start on the offensive line.

The Bison play a 4-3 on defense and are led up front by the return of all four starters along the line headlined by sophomore end Khallid Pierce, who had 12 tackles for loss and seven sacks a year ago. The top two tacklers on the team are also back in linebackers Chris Burg and Larry Kpadehyea as they combined for nearly 150 stops. The secondary is led by senior defensive back Wyssmy Despagne.

Bethany also returns the PAC's top punter in senior Stephen Amic, who averaged 38.8 yards per punt last season.

BY THE NUMBERS

728

Mount Union has an NCAA Division III best 728 wins as a program.

195-8

Mount Union's win-loss record since 2000.

55, 54

The Raiders hold the NCAA's two longest consecutive win streaks -- 55 from 2000-03 and 54 from 1996-99.

114

Mount Union has 114 consecutive regular season road wins dating back to a 21-18 loss at Baldwin Wallace on Sept. 28, 1991.  Overall Mount Union has won 95 straight road games dating back to a 34-33 loss at Albion in the 1994 NCAA Playoffs.

136-0

Since 1996, the Raiders are 136-0 when winning the turnover battle.

181-1

Since, 1990, the Raiders record when winning the turnover battle with that one loss being a 20-17 defeat to Wisconsin-LaCrosse in a national semifinal game in Alliance.  In that game, Mount Union had a plus-1 advantage in turnovers.

11

The Raiders 11 national titles are a record for college football teams in a playoff format.

83 and 76

Mount Union has won 83 straight regular season games and 76 straight home games dating back to a 21-14 loss to Ohio Northern on October 22, 2005.

2014 SEASON PREVIEW

An experienced Mount Union football program, returns in 2014 as the Purple Raiders look to continue a run of 22 consecutive Ohio Athletic Conference Championships (1992-13) while contending for a record 12th NCAA Division III National Championship.

The experience returning is in 17 players that have some starting experience on the roster with that list headlined by senior quarterback Kevin Burke (Westlake/Lakewood St. Edward). As a junior, Burke threw for over 3,800 yards and rushed for over 1,000 yards accounting for 58 total touchdowns as he earned the Gagliardi Trophy as the nation's top all-around football player.

Burke is joined by another returning All-American on offense in senior receiver Luc Meacham(Toledo/Toledo Central Catholic) while all-conference selections in sophomore running backBradley Mitchell (Detroit, Mich./South Lake) and junior wide receiver Brian Gainer (Tampa, Fla./Steinbrenner) are also back. Meacham had 51 catches for 945 yards with a team-best 12 touchdowns a year ago, Mitchell had a freshman school record 1,365 yards on the ground while Gainer had 44 catches for 716 yards.

Seniors Pat Mahoney (Jeannette, Pa./Greensburg Central Catholic) and Alex Goff(Mansfield/Madison) along with junior Michael Frank (Eastlake/Eastlake North) are back to lead the offensive line as the Raiders were fourth in the nation in total offense a year ago and averaged 46.7 points per game.

On defense, six players return that earned all-conference or all-region honors a year ago that make up the core of this year's unit.

The top five tacklers from 2013 are back in juniors Alex Kocheff (Chagrin Falls/Kenston) (98 tackles), Jonathan Gonell (Pembroke Pines, Fla/University School, Fla.) (86 tackles), Tom Lally(Fairview Park/Lakewood St. Edward) (82 tackles and 10 sacks) with seniors Joshua Scott(Hamilton/Fairfield) (71 tackles and five interceptions) and Cody Pogorelc (St. Petersburg/St. Petersburg) (68 tackles). Junior linebacker Hank Spencer (Greencastle, Ind./North Putnam) (56 tackles) along with senior lineman Ted Rosalva (Boynton Beach, Fla./American Heritage) (6.5 sacks) and Josh Butler (Lorton, Va./South County) along with junior defensive back Tre Jones (Twinsburg/Twinsburg) (four interceptions) are also back on this deep talented defense.

The experience also on the special teams led by senior placekicker/punter Edward Ruhnke(Bayville, N.J./Central Regional) and senior long snapper Charlie Avila (Covina, Calif./Charter Oak).

AYE CAPTAIN

Mount Union's players have voted four players -- Quarterback Kevin Burke, safety Alex Kocheff, wide receiver Luc Meacham and linebacker Hank Spencer -- captains for 2014. Burke, Meacham and Spencer were all captains last year as well.

BURKE AND KOCHEFF PRESEASON ALL-AMERICANS

Mount Union senior quarterback Kevin Burke (Westlake/Lakewood St. Edward) and junior safety Alex Kocheff (Chagrin Falls/Kenston) have been named preseason All-Americans by D3football.com, Lindy's and The Sporting News.  Burke, a two-time All-American and regining Gagliardi Trophy winner as NCAA Division III's top all-around player, generated a school-record 4,855 yards of total offense (3,830 passing, 1,025 rushing) and led the nation with 44 touchdown passes in 2013.  Kocheff had a team-high 98 tackles for the Purple Raider defense on his way to All-Ohio Athletic Conference First Team and All-North Region Second Team honors in 2013.

MOUNT UNION STADIUM TURNS 100

The University of Mount Union will celebrate the 100th birthday of Mount Union Stadium Saturday, Sept 27, 2014 with an afternoon of events culminating with the Purple Raiders home opener against Marietta College at 7 pm.

Since its dedication in 1914, Mount Union Stadium has hosted everything from Mount Union and Alliance High School football games, concerts, campus and community events along with being the home of the Raiders' men's and women's track and field, men's and women's soccer and men's and women's lacrosse teams. The stadium is the oldest college football stadium in Ohio.

Log on to http://athletics.mountunion.edu/sports/fball/stadium100 for more info.

UP NEXT ...

Mount Union takes next week off before starting Ohio Athletic Conference play against Muskingum Saturday, Sept. 20 in New Concord, Ohio.



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