W&J-St. John Fisher Game Notes
(Photo courtesy Eric Kelley, D3photography.com)
Washington & Jefferson College (1-0) at #19 St. John Fisher College (1-0)
Pittsford, N.Y – Growney Stadium (2,500)
Saturday, September 14 – 1:00 pm
Audio: 1450-AM WJPA; http://www.msasports.net/broadcasts/washington-and-jefferson-mens-footba...
Live Stats: http://www.sidearmstats.com/sjfc/football/
Series: 1-0 SJF
Only Meeting: SJF 28, W&J 24 -- 9/8/12
THE SERIES: Washington & Jefferson and St. John Fisher meet Saturday for the second time in history. Last year, the Cardinals overcame a 17-7 halftime deficit, using two fourth-quarter touchdown passes to earn a 28-24 victory at Cameron Stadium. The Presidents outgained the Cardinals 445-258 and had 28 of the game's 40 first downs, but SJF scored two TDs on 90-plus yard plays.
THE HEAD COACHES: Mike Sirianni (Mount Union ’94) owns a 94-21 (.817) record at W&J during his 11th season as head coach. The three-time PAC Coach of the Year and 2004 South Region Coach of the Year is second among all active NCAA head coaches in winning percentage (minimum 10 years of experience). Sirianni was the W&J offensive coordinator for four years before taking over as head coach. Paul Vosburgh (William Penn '75) is in his 23rd year as head coach at St. John Fisher with a 133-118-1 overall record (.530). Vosburgh has led the Cardinals to 10-straight postseason berths, including three appearances in the NCAA Division III quarterfinals. In 2006, SJF made the national semifinals.
W&J vs. EMPIRE 8: W&J owns a 15-10 (.600) all-time record against current members of the Empire 8 Conference. Prior to last year's W&J-Fisher meeting, the last time W&J faced an active E8 member was a 23-19 win over Ithaca in the 1994 NCAA playoffs.
Buffalo State (4-5)
Frostburg State (6-0)
St. John Fisher (0-1)
SCOUTING ST. JOHN FISHER: The 19th-ranked Cardinals started the season with an impressive 28-0 road shutout of Otterbein, a member of the perennially strong Ohio Athletic Conference. St. John Fisher, which has hosted the last 14 Buffalo Bills training camps on its campus, limited Otterbein to only nine first downs, 14 yards rushing on 30 attempts (four sacks) and 145 total yards. Senior defensive end Mason Judd and junior inside linebacker Dalton Donk paced the defense with 10 tackles and a sack. Offensively, the Cardinals scored twice in the second quarter (two minutes apart) before tacking on touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters. Senior running back Cody Miller rushed 17 times for 83 yards and a late 3-yard touchdown, while senior quarterback Tyler Fenti rushed for 27 yards and passed for 233 yards and two scores. Fenti completed 19-of-24 pass attempts. Senior running back Ryan Kramer, who played quarterback versus W&J last year, led all receivers with seven catches for 70 yards. Junior punter Ryan Sweet also had a big day, averaging 41.2 yards on four punts.
ELDER STATESMEN: Saturday's game will be dominated by players in the final collegiate seasons. W&J has 12 senior starters (7 offense), while the Cardinals start 11 seniors (6 offense). Both teams also rely on senior placekickers.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN: W&J plays its second-straight road game this week, marking the first time the Presidents opened a season with back-to-back away contests since 1988. W&J tied Juniata (13-13) and defeated John Carroll (20-13) to start that season en route to claiming the PAC title.
PICK SIX: W&J sophomore cornerback Marlon Brown returned an interception 75 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter at Wooster during his first career start. Brown's INT return was the longest by a President since Ryan Graft picked off a pass and raced 82 yards for a score against Bethany on Oct. 18, 2003. During that 2003 season, Mike Sirianni's debut year as head coach, W&J had four interception returns, including three that covered 70 or more yards.
THIRTY SOMETHING: W&J hopes to increase its streak of consecutive winning seasons to 30 this fall. The Presidents' 29-year streak currently ranks fifth among NCAA schools (all divisions) behind Linfield (57), Florida State (36), Mount Union (34) and Florida (33). W&J's current streak ties for the 21st-longest stretch in NCAA football history.
1) OHIO STATE, 2) W&J: Head Coach Mike Sirianni ranks among the top coaches in NCAA history. Sirianni owns a 94-21 record for an .816 winning percentage, the best among all current NCAA Division III coaches with at least 10 years of experience. Wittenberg’s Joe Fincham (154-35, .817), Mary Hardin-Baylor’s Pete Fredenburg (147-34, .812), Wartburg’s Rick Willis (120-31, .795) and North Central’s John Thorne (97-27, .782) are the top four active coaches behind Sirianni. Among active coaches in all divisions, only Ohio State’s Urban Meyer (118-23, .837) has won more consistently than W&J’s Sirianni (minimum 10 years of experience). In the history of college football, Sirianni ranks 21st among NCAA coaches who spent at least 10 years on the sidelines.
HISTORY LESSON: Washington & Jefferson has won 690 games in its 122-year history (690-380-40), third behind Wittenberg (717) and Mount Union (715) among NCAA Division III schools. Widener (662) and Wabash (633) round out the top five. Including all NCAA divisions, Michigan leads with 904 victories and W&J is 25th.
IN THE BRIGHT LIGHTS: W&J is proud to be the alma mater of 1981 graduate Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the National Football League. The Presidents' football program gained a new team to root for last year when 1984 graduate Joe Philbin was named the head coach of the Miami Dolphins. Philbin played tight end for the Presidents during his freshman year before becoming a student assistant coach. One of Philbin's early hires was 2001 W&J graduate Chris Mosley as the assistant offensive line coach. Mosley transferred to W&J from SE Missouri St.
VETERAN QB: Senior Matt Bliss had the most accurate passing day of his career at Wooster, completing 27-of-33 tosses. His 312 yards marked the fourth 300-plus yard game of his career and tied for the second-most yards that he's thrown for as a President. Bliss can move into fifth place on the W&J passing yardage list ahead of Bob Strope '93 with 492 yards. He will also pass Gino Rometo '11 and Pat Aigner '89 for fifth place in career touchdown passes with 11 more.
GETTING WIEGAND WITH IT: Senior running back Dion Wiegand (pronounced WIGG-uhnd) started the season quickly with a 51-yard touchdown run on the fourth play from scrimmage. He added two more touchdown jaunts in the first quarter and recorded the first 100-yard game (128) of his career.
WEEKLY HARDWARE: Wiegand was honored by the PAC as the offensive player of the week after his big rushing night Saturday at Wooster. In addition, senior wide receiver/kick returner Alex Baroffio was named the PAC and ECAC Southwest Region Special Teams Player of the Week. Baroffio's 257 all-purpose yards (96 receiv., 92 KR, 69 PR) were the eighth-highest total in the nation during week one and five of his returns (3 punts, 2 kickoff) directly led to W&J touchdowns. Finally, sophomore Jon Turner produced nine tackles and two sacks during his first collegiate start and was selected to the D3football.com National Team of the Week, presented by Scoutware. Turner was one of two defensive tackles selected to the national team.
MIKE'S MARK: Including Mosley, who also spent time as an assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, five former assistant coaches under Sirianni have gone on to work at the Division I level or the NFL. Matt Caponi and Mike DiAngelo are on Rich Rodriguez's staff at the University of Arizona, while former Ohio State cornerback Richard McNutt is the NC State cornerbacks coach following stints with the Cleveland Browns and Northern Illinois. 2000 W&J graduate Eugene Crosby worked as an assistant offensive line coach during Sirianni's first season in 2003 and has moved on to stints on the staffs at Oregon State and Youngstown State.
ALEX THE GREAT: Preseason All-America wideout Alex Baroffio could become the all-time leading receiver in school history on Saturday. After a nine-reception performance during the opener, Baroffio currently ranks second at W&J with 187 catches, six behind school record holder David Ravida (192). Baroffio's 78 receptions last fall ranked fifth on the single-season list. If Baroffio matches his season total from a year ago, he would finish tied for 25th in NCAA Division III history for career receptions. In addition, Baroffio has racked up 2,249 receiving yards, leaving him 906 yards shy of W&J Hall of Famer Ryan Silvis' school record.
ACCURATE ERIC: Senior placekicker/punter Eric Eberle arguably had the greatest season by a specialist in W&J history last season. He became the first kicker in school history to earn All-America honors (2nd Team Beyond Sports Network) and received preseason accolades from the same organization in August. Eberle made 11-of-14 field goals (tied for 21st nationally) and 31-of-32 extra points to lead the team with 64 points. His 44-yarder versus Thiel was the longest by a President since 1995. For his career, Eberle has made 16-of-21 field goal attempts and averaged 35.9 yards on 105 punts.
DYNAMITE DEBUT: Junior linebacker Jared Pratt led the Presidents in tackles (12) during his first appearance in a W&J uniform. A Colgate transfer, Pratt tied for fifth nationally with 11 solo tackles during week one. Pratt was a high school teammate of Baroffio and Bliss at Bethel Park.
AMONG THE BEST: Alex Baroffio ranks fourth among active Division III players and 11th among all NCAA divisions with his 187 receptions. He is also 19th in NCAA football (all divisions) in receiving yards (2,249) just ahead of Wisconsin's Jared Abbrederis (2,243), Texas' Mike Davis (2,203) and Pittsburgh's Devin Street (2,188).
TURNOVER FREE: Since Mike Sirianni took over as head coach in 2003, the Presidents have played turnover-free football 20 times and hold an 18-2 record in those contests. Both losses occurred in the NCAA playoffs (2010 Mount Union; 2007 NC Wesleyan).
SCORING PARADE: The 58 points scored by the Presidents were the most in a season opener since a 63-20 rout of Ursinus in the first game of 2002. W&J's 28-point first quarter was the highest total during any quarter since piling up 35 in the third quarter of the 2007 meeting with Bethany.
BRIGHT LIGHTS: The Presidents started playing regular home night games in 2003 and own a 15-0 record in games starting at 6:00 pm or later on their home turf. W&J has also played six road night games during that time frame and has all six making Sirianni's teams a perfect 21-0 at night.