Football: #1 Mount Union Opens 2018 Season Saturday at Home

The 2018 Mount Union football team captains -- Louis Berry, Danny Robinson, Nick Brish, head coach Vince Kehres, Luke Herrington and Jared Ruth
The 2018 Mount Union football team captains -- Louis Berry, Danny Robinson, Nick Brish, head coach Vince Kehres, Luke Herrington and Jared Ruth

#1 Mount Union Purple Raiders vs #20 Rose-Hulman Fightin' Engineers

The Matchup: The Matchup: No. 1 ranked Mount Union begins its 121st season of football hosting No. 20 ranked Rose-Hulman (Ind.) Saturday, Sept. 1 at 7 p.m. at Mount Union Stadium.

The Purple Raiders climbed back to the top of NCAA Division III football in 2017 winning their 28th Ohio Athletic Conference title and record 13th national championship. Mount Union's challenge to stay on top falls to the return of 12 starters and 50 returning letterwinners in 2018.

No. 20 ranked Rose-Hulman has won eight games in each of the last two seasons and made the NCAA playoffs in 2016. The Engineers are projected to bring back nine starters from a squad that averaged 39.7 points scored and allowed 21.9 points per game a year ago.

The Series: This will be the first-ever meeting between the schools. Mount Union has an 11-1 all-time record against current members of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference. Most recently, the Raiders played a non-conference series with Franklin (Ind.) in 2012 and 2013.

The teams will open the 2019 season with a game on Saturday, Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Dom Capers Day: Mount Union will honor alum and longtime NFL coach Dom Capers prior to kickoff.

Capers spent 45 years as a football coach with a 32-year stint in the NFL as an assistant and the first-ever head coach of both the Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans. He was the 1996 NFL Coach of the Year, 1999 NFL Assistant Coach of the Year, coached four NFL Defensive Players of the Year and was the defensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers when they won Super Bowl XLV in 2011.

The native of Buffalo, Ohio, graduated from Meadowbrook High School, played safety and linebacker for Mount Union from 1968-71, and graduated with a degree in physical education and a minor in psychology. He also earned his master's degree in administration from Kent State.

The press box at Mount Union Stadium is named in his honor.

Let's Go Streaking: The Purple Raiders have won 30-straight season openers dating back to a 17-15 loss to Wosoter in 1987 at Mount Union Stadium.

Team Captains: Mount Union has five senipr team captains in 2018 in wide receivers Luke Herrrington (Wintersville/Steubenville) and Jared Ruth (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike), safety Nick Brish (Milford, Mich./Brighton), linebacker Danny Robinson (Massillon/Massillon Washington) and defensive back Louis Berry (Pittsburgh, Pa./Shady Side Academy).

Up Next: Mount Union has a bye week before opening Ohio Athletic Conference play Sept. 15 at Baldwin Wallace with a 2 p.m. kickoff in Berea. The Raiders return home Sept. 22 with a 1:30 p.m. game against John Carroll which will also be the M Club Hall of Fame game.
 
Scouting the Engineers: Rose-Hulman is coming off its third straight season of winning at least eight games and is led by honorable mention All-American defensive end Mike Riley, who led college football 1ith 17 sacks in 2017 He is one of four first-team all-conference returnees, joining safety John Kirby, left guard Lucas Leiner and junior running back Garrett Wight, who led the HCAC in rushing last season with 1,036 yards on 181 carries. Kirby, from Lebanon, is one of 11 Ohioans on the roster. 
 
Fulford is QB1: Mount Union returns six starters on offense led by junior quarterback D'Angelo Fulford (Miramar, Fla.), who was the natiom's highest rated passer a year ago as he threw for 3,096 yards with 50 touchdowns to just five interceptions.

Air Raid: Mount Union brings back seven of its top eight receivers from a year ago led by senior Jared Ruth (Indianapolis, Ind. / Pike) and junior Justin Hill (Circleville) Ruth missed the 2015 season but has played in 33 games with 93 catches and 21 touchdowns. Hill was the 2017 OAC Receiver of the Year as he led the nation with 20 touchdown catches along with 1,202 yards receiving on 54 catches.

Thunder and Thunder: Mount Union has a 1-2 punch in its backfield with the return of a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in senior Jawanza Evans-Morris (Coral Springs, Fla. / Taravella) and sophomore Josh Petruccelli (Perry). They were the first two Mount Union running backs to go over 1,000 yards in a season since 2005 (Nate Kmic and Aaron Robinson). Evans-Morris had 1,089 yards and 11 touchdowns while Petruccelli had 1,063 yards with six scores.

Line Items: Two juniors that started last year will anchor the offensive line in right tackle Sean Sherman (Springboro / Middletown Fenwick) and right guard Brandon Klaus (Brighton, Mich.). The other three projected starters are all juniors who have seen game time in left tackle Stephen Sumner, left guard Jonny Todd and center Tavis Stika.

Danny Boy: At the center of a defense that brings back five starters is senior linebacker Danny Robinson (Massillon / Washington). Robinson had 101 stops last year as the second straight year he led the team in tackles. A Mechanical Engineering major with a 3.75 grade point average, Robinson is also a nominee for the AFCA / Allstate Good Works Team which honors football players for exceptional work both on and off field.

No Fly Zone: The other four returning starters are in a secondary that was fourth in the nation last year with 24 interceptions. Seven of those picks came from senior cornerback Louis Berry (Pittsburgh, Pa. / Shady Side Academy), five from senior safety Trevor Cox (Hillard / Darby) and three more from junior cornerback Gabe Brown (Plant City, Fla. / Durant) . Senior safety Austin White (Wadsworth) was second on the team in tackles a year ago and is back along with Stagg Bowl MVP in fellow senior safety Nick Brish (Milford, Mich. / Brighton).

Up Front: Three new starters on the defensive line are a trio of juniors in Andrew Roesch (Avon), Adam Pastor (Mantua / Walsh Jesuit) and Ethan McComb (Huntingtown, Md.)

Just For Kicks: Mount Union senior Adam Snyder (Baltimore / Liberty Union) is entering his fourth season as the Raiders punter. Snyder averages a school-record best 37.28 yards per punt. He is second in Mount Union history with 152 punts which is 13 behind the record total of 165 kicked by Rodney Chenos from 1998-2001.

The Raiders will have a new placekicker this season and three juniors are on the dress list this week in Cory Barnett (Grove City / Teays Valley), Max Righetti (Salem) and David Sebuke (Salem).

At the Helm: Vince Kehres is 70-4 since taking over as head coach in 2013 and led the Raiders to the national title game four times in five seasons. No college football coach has won more games since 2013 than the 70 by Kehres. Vince has been part of 12 of Mount Union's 13 national titles as either a player, assistant coach or head coach.