Football Gears Up Salve Regina In Season Opener
Game Day Quick Facts
This is the first meeting ever between the teams.
SC vs. The NEFC:
SC has a 2-2 mark against New England Football Conference teams since becoming an NCAA Division III member in 1995.
Last Time Out:
SC upset No. 16 Union, 49-35, in Schnectady, N.Y., to close out the 2001 season.
About the Pride:
Tonight's game kicks off the 2002 Division III football season across the country. There are 1,136 regular-season games scheduled ... 14 starters are back from last season's squad that finished 4-5 and dropped four games by a total of 10 points ... the Pride followed up a 4-5 season in 1997 by winning the FFC championship and playing in the NCAA Tournament. After a 4-6 mark in 1999, SC rolled to an 11-2 record, the conference title and a berth in the East Region Final in 2000 ... sophomore quarterbacks Michael Judge and Ryan Sylvia are coming off outstanding performances in pre-season camp. Judge gets the starting nod tonight, but Sylvia should take some snaps ... the Pride's front seven is anchored by middle linebacker Jesse Baker, a three-year starter and an all-FFC selection last season.
About the Seahawks:
Salve Regina finished with a 4-4 record last season after dropping four four of its last five games ... senior QB Mike Golden connected on 50 percent of his passes last season, and his 63 completions were just four shy of the school record.
The Pride has enjoyed good luck in its season openers. SC has an impressive 62-37-7 record in openers. As a Division III program, SC has won five of seven season openers dating back to the 1995 season ... since 1994, the Pride is 5-1 when it plays its season opener at Benedum Field. In those six games, SC outscored its opponents 260-87 (34.3-14.5) and held the opposition to seven points-or-less three times. In 2000, SC rollled to a 62-30 victory over visiting UMass-Dartmouth. The 62-point performance was the fifth highest point total in the progam's 108-year history.
On The Run:
The Pride led the FFC in rushing for the seventh consecutive season at 278.7 ypg in 2001, which was sixth nationally. SC was 4-1 in games when it rushed for more than 300 yards ... SC captured its second consecutive NCAA Division III rushing title in 2000, and third in five seasons. Only three other teams have won it three-or-more times. SC averaged a Divsion III-record 427.5 ypg on the ground in 2000. In 1999, the Pride averaged 375.3 ypg and, in 1996, SC rushed for 351.2 ypg.
SC's defense was outstanding during the 2001 campaign. Heading into the final game of last season - a 49-35 win at No. 16 Union (Nov. 10) - the Pride led the FFC in four categories: total defense, rushing defense, pass defense and opponent first downs, and was second in scoring defense and pass efficiency defense. SC ranked seventh nationally in total defense, 10th in pass efficiency defense, and tied for 23rd in scoring defense ... against No. 25 Western Conn. State (Oct. 6), SC held the highest scoring team in the FFC to just 88 yards and no offensive touchdowns. The week before against No. 21 Ithaca (Sept. 29), which came in averaging 39.7 ppg and 441.3 ypg, SC did not allow a touchdown until there was 5:29 left in the game.
In the Trenches:
All-region center Kevin Vacca graduated, but five starters on the offensive line are back from 2001. RT Ben Bristol, LG Andrew MacFadyen and LT Carl Mintken are three-year starters ... along with spearheading one of the nation's best rushing games, SC's veteran offensive line provided quarterbacks with tremendous protection last season. The Pride allowed a conference-low eight sacks in nine games.
Pride of New England:
SC football has earned its reputation as one of the region's elite programs. Springfield has the fifth winningest program currently playing Division III football in New England. SC had a 461-401-55 (.533) record in 109 seasons entering the 2002 campaign. Williams (564 wins, 121 seasons), Amherst (549 wins, 122 seasons), Trinity (470 wins, 117 seasons) and Wesleyan (465 wins, 119 seasons) are the top four ... with 106 overall wins in 20 seasons (including two at Maine Maritime), SC head coach Mike DeLong is second among active Division III New England coaches and is tied for 21st in Division III. DeLong has won more games (94) than any other coach in the 109 seasons of the SC program.
In The Polls:
Springfield College was selected to finish second in the FFC Preseason Coaches’ Poll. The Pride received two of seven first place votes and 38 total points ... last season’s co-champion, Western Connecticut, was picked to repeat as conference champions. The Colonials, who were 8-2 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division III Playoffs last season, received 45 points and four of seven first place votes. SC will host Western Connecticut in a Friday night showdown on October 11th at Benedum Field at 7 p.m. ... Plymouth State, which shared the FFC Championship with Western Connecticut last year, received the other first place vote and 36 total points. The Panthers visit Benedum Field on Oct. 19.