posted November 15, 2000

NCAA Football Preview

  • The MIAA champion Flying Dutchmen will entertain the Panthers of Hanover College Saturday in a first round game of the 28-team national tournament. The goal of both teams is to begin the march to the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl in Salem, Virginia next month.
  • The Flying Dutchmen are one of eight at-large teams in the tournament field while the Panthers gained an automatic berth as co-champions of the Heartland Conference.
  • The game will spotlight two distinguished Christian liberal arts colleges, Hope with an enrollment of 3,015 students and Hanover a student body of 1,100. Founded in 1866, Hope is affiliated with the Reformed Church in America while Hanover, the oldest private college in Indiana (1827), is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA).
  • Hope is appearing in the playoffs for just the second time in school history and the first time in 14 years. In 1986 the Dutchmen were defeated by Augustana, Ill. 34-10 here at Holland Municipal Stadium. Augustana went on to win its fourth consecutive national championship.
  • Hanover is making its 10th post-season appearance, the fourth as an NCAA member. Previous Division III appearances were in 1995, 1997 and 1999. The Panthers have yet to advance beyond the first round. Hanover earned trips to the NAIA national playoffs in 1974, 1975, 1980, 1984, 1986 and 1987.
  • The teams took a similar path in the playoffs. The Flying Dutchmen lost their season opener to Valparaiso, then the nation's top-ranked NCAA I-AA team, but rebounded to win eight consecutive games clinching Hope's first outright MIAA championship since 1987 with a thrilling 14-9 victory over Albion last Saturday. Hanover had just one victory after three games and stood 2-3 at mid-season, but the Panthers closed the season with a five-game winning streak. Hanover shared the Heartland championship with Bluffton, Ohio with each team posting 5-1 league marks. Hanover earned the trip to the playoffs on the basis of its 24-15 victory over Bluffton in mid-October.
  • The teams had two common opponents. Each defeated DePauw, Ind., Hope by 30-24 in overtime and Hanover by 24-21 with a field goal on the game's last play. Each was victorious over Alma of the MIAA, Hope by 35-25 and Hanover by 25-7.
  • The winner of Saturday's game will face the winner of another first round game being played this afternoon in Springfield, Ohio between host Wittenberg (10-0) and Aurora, Ill. (7-3). The second round will be played Saturday, Nov. 25 at a site to be determined.
  • Hope's 14 senior players have the distinction of playing on three MIAA championship teams. Only five senior classes in the 91-year history of Hope football have accomplished that feat. Hanover's senior class ranks as the winningest in its school history with a 36-6 mark.
  • Look for footballs to fill the air when Hanover is on offense. The Panthers feature an offense very similar to Alma's pass-oriented "Scotgun." This season the team averaged 350 yards a game passing compared to 78 yards rushing. Senior quarterback Eric Bruns completed 258-of-401 passes for 3,231 yards with 27 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Bruns has thrown for over 7,000 yards in his collegiate career.
  • Hanover set a school record with 19 different receivers catching a pass. One of four Panthers to have more than 40 receptions, senior wingback John Agan led the corps with 88 catches for 1,056 yards and nine touchdowns. Senior receiver Bill Wilcox has scored 12 touchdowns, eight through passes and four from rushes.
  • Hope, on the other hand, features a balanced offensive attack. The Flying Dutchmen averaged 153 yards rushing and 196 yards passing this season gaining 81 first downs from running plays and 85 from completions. Senior quarterback J.D. Graves, chosen the most valuable player in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association for the second consecutive year, is very effective in executing the option. He ran with the football 118 times this season scoring seven touchdowns and completed 129-of-246 passes for 1,706 yards and 13 touchdowns. Tailbacks Adam Magers and John Sloothaak combined for 1,101 yards and nine touchdowns rushing.
  • Brian Adloff leads the Hope's receiving corps. Switched from tight end to wide receiver this season, the three-time All-MIAA player, caught 47 passes for 618 yards and seven touchdowns to set Hope career marks for receptions (139) and yards (1,658). Two other favorite targets have been wide receiver Mike Gle (40 catches for 570 yards) and tight end Jim Lamb (25 catches for 447 yards).
  • Special teams could spell the difference in the game. Hope punter Vince Scheffler averaged 38.1 yards a kick; Barry Swisher of Hanover averaged 33.8. Hanover placekicker B.J. Black set a school record by kicking 10-of-13 field goals and 28-of-33 extra points. Hope kicker Kyle Blackport, who joined the team near mid-season, was 20-of-27 on PATs and 2-of-3 on field goals. Hanover had several kickoff returns of more than 40 yards this season led by Terrell Cummings who averaged 21.9 yards on 19 returns. Hope did not have a kickoff return go more than 35 yards. John Sloothaak led the team in both kickoff (18.1) and punt (7.1) returns.
  • Hope will put a nationally ranked defense on the field. The Flying Dutchmen allowed opponents an average of only 53.8 yards rushing per game. However, perhaps more important in today's game will be the pass defense. Hope has allowed opponents to complete only 47% of their passes this season (Hanover QB Eric Bruns has a completion rate of 64%.) and the Flying Dutchmen have intercepted 21 passes, second best in a season for a Hope team. Eight Hope players intercepted a pass this fall led by sophomore Nick Conrad with six. Hanover junior defensive back Marty Adkins has seven interceptions.
  • Hope's pass-rush will be led by linebackers Matt Bride and Josh Baumbach and tackle Ryan Kerstetter who combined for 18 quarterback sacks this season. Kerstetter had another 10 tackles for lost yardage. Senior nose guard Jason Welty leads the Hanover defense. The 1999 Heartland defensive player of the year, Welty had seven sacks this season.
  • There will be a new addition to Holland Municipal Stadium on Saturday -- the 25 second clock. During the regular season the time in which the offensive team has to get off a play (25 seconds) is kept by an official on the field. The use of a field clock is optional at the Division III level during the regular season, but is required for tournament games. Watch for the 25-second clock to become a permanent stadium fixture in the future.
  • Hanover athletic trainer Myra Przybyla Stockdale is a Hope College graduate, class of 1988. Myra is one of several athletic trainers at the collegiate and professional level who have studied under Dr. Richard Ray, athletic trainer and associate professor of kinesiology at Hope.
  • Three of this year's playoff teams have the nickname Flying Dutchmen -- Hope, Central of Iowa and Union of New York.