No. 2 Marian (Ind.) (1-0) at No. 4 Saint Xavier (Ill.) (0-0)
Saturday, Sept. 7 | 6 p.m. CDT | Bruce R. Deaton Memorial Field | Chicago, Ill.
Live Video (Saint Xavier) | Live Stats | Live Audio (Marian)
• No. 4 Saint Xavier (Ill.) (0-0) hosts No. 2 Marian (Ind.) (1-0) in a meeting of the NAIA’s previous two national champions Saturday evening at Bruce R. Deaton Memorial Field in Chicago, Ill. The contest is considered a Mid-States Football Association (MSFA) crossover game, as 2013 sees the Cougars residing in the Midwest League while Marian is a member of the Mideast League.
• Saint Xavier and Marian shared the 2012 MSFA Mideast League regular season title a year ago.
• The Cougars own a dominant 6-1 all-time record in the series, including a 23-6 victory in 2012. Marian’s only win against Saint Xavier came on Nov. 5, 2011, 27-9.
• In last season’s game, both teams tallied more than 420 yards of total offense with Marian churning out a game-high 440 yards. Eventual NAIA Player of the Year Jimmy Coy led the Saint Xavier offense, completing 17-of-35 passes for 314 yards and three touchdowns. Additionally, running back Nick Pesek eclipsed 100 yards for the fourth time with 108 yards on 20 carries, including a game-high scamper of 42 yards.
• In its August 31 season opener, Marian claimed a 23-0 victory over Kentucky Christian, who is a receiving vote’s team in the NAIA Football Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll. After nearly two hours of weather delays, officials called the game with 5:42 remaining in the second quarter and awarded the Knights their fifth-straight victory dating back to last season. Marian’s defense was the highlight in the contest, holding Kentucky Christian’s offense to only 59 total yards and two first downs in just under 25 minutes of action. Quarterback Joey Hecklinski, who was making only his second career appearance, was efficient, completing 8-of-15 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown.
• The Knight’s most decorated returner from the 2012 national championship squad is junior running back Tevin Lake. Lake, a 2012 American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) NAIA All-American, boasts back-to-back 1,200-plus rushing seasons, including 1,594 yards a year ago. He averages 5.3 yards per carry for his career and has scored 38 touchdowns. Against Kentucky Christian, Lake tallied nine rushes for 20 yards and two touchdowns. He also had two catches for 13 yards.
• Defense has been a key to Marian’s success since the program began in 2007. The Knights have ranked in the top 20 nationally in total defense each of the last three years, including leading the NAIA in 2011. In 2012, Marian was sixth in rushing defense (93.9) and 11th in total defense (287.2).
• Individually, senior defensive end Bryan Derence and sophomore linebacker Ryan Hartnett pace the team with five tackles each.
• Marian head coach Mark Henninger is in his first season and is the second head coach in program history. Previously, Henninger spent five seasons as the head coach at NCAA Division III North Carolina Wesleyan, where he amassed a career record of 26-25.
• Saturday acts as the season opener for Saint Xavier. Since 2004, the Cougars are 7-2 in season opening contests with their only losses coming at NCAA Division I Illinois State in 2004 and at NCAA Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater in 2008.
• Senior quarterback Joe Gill, who is taking over for 2012 NAIA Football National Player of the Year Jimmy Coy, will be under center for Saint Xavier on Saturday. Gill owns 1,826 yards passing and a 57.4 percent completion percentage for his career in mostly a reserve role for the Cougars.
• In addition to Gill, senior running back Nick Pesek will play a key role in the offense. Pesek, Saint Xavier’s all-time leading rusher with 2,383 career yards, galloped for 1,125 yards and eight touchdowns in 2012.
• Defensively, the Cougars, who ranked eighth in scoring defense last season (16.5 points per game), are led by senior linebackers Zach Dolph and Dave Marciano. Dolph set a program record with 128 tackles (64 solo) as a junior, including 19.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks, while Marciano was second with 91 stops (46 solo).
• Saint Xavier head coach Mike Feminis is in his 15th season at the helm of the Cougar football program. He boasts a 127-43 career record, which enters 2013 tied for eighth on the NAIA’s active coaching wins list.
Note – Portions of this information was provided by the Saint Xavier and Marian Sports Information Departments
This Week Around the Top 25
• This week (Sept. 2 – Sept. 8) features fifteen Top 25 teams in action in addition to the two programs featured in the NAIA Game of the Week. Those contests include
o Thursday – Ohio Dominican University at No. 6 Georgetown (Ky.)
o Saturday – RV Valley City Sate (N.D.) at No. 1 Morningside (Iowa)
o Saturday – No. 7 Montana Tech at Eastern Oregon
o Saturday – No. 25 Cumberland (Tenn.) at No. 8 Cumberlands (Ky.)
o Saturday – No. 9 Bethel (Tenn.) at RV Kentucky Christian (Ky.)
o Saturday – Montana State-Northern at No. 12 Carroll (Mont.)
o Saturday – No. 13 Northwestern (Iowa) at RV Bacone (Okla.)
o Saturday – No. 14 Southern Oregon at Montana Western
o Saturday – No. 18 Ottawa (Kan.) at No. 15 Baker (Kan.)
o Saturday – No. 17 Tabor (Kan.) at RV Nebraska Wesleyan
o Saturday – No. 19 Grand View (Iowa) at Siena Heights (Mich.)
o Saturday – No. 20 Doane (Neb.) at RV Friends (Kan.)
o Saturday – No. 21 Belhaven (Miss.) at Louisiana College
• Top-ranked Morningside (Iowa) opens the season Sept. 7 against Valley City State (N.D.).
• Ranked teams finished last week with a 7-4 record.
• Four Top 25 teams lost last week: No. 25 Cumberland (Tenn.) lost to NCAA Division I FCS Tennessee Tech, 63-7; No. 9 Bethel (Tenn.) lost to No. 16 William Penn (Iowa), 34-8, in the NAIA Game of the Week; No. 14 Southern Oregon lost to RV Rocky Mountain (Mont.), 35-30; and No. 23 Langston (Okla.) lost to NCAA Division I FCS Northern Colorado, 31-10.
• To view the complete 2013 NAIA Football Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll, click here.
For the Record
• Rocky Mountain (Mont.) and Jamestown (N.D.) were the first college football teams to play a regular season game in 2013, as the two sides squared off August 23 at Connors Stadium in Miles City, Mont. Quarterback Bryce Baker tossed three touchdowns to rally the Battlin’ Bears to a 34-20 victory. Baker passed for 265 of Rocky Mountain’s 495 yards of total offense. He also rushed for one score.
• Three new programs made their NAIA debut August 31: Oklahoma Baptist, who was playing in its first football game since 1940, lost at Southwestern (Kan.), 26-22, while Reinhardt (Ga.) fell 40-37 to NCAA Division I FCS Mercer (Ga.) and Warner (Fla.) dropped a 31-3 decision at NCAA Division II Stetson (Fla.). All three teams will be back in action Saturday against NAIA opponents
• Future NAIA football programs are: College of Idaho (2014), Missouri Baptist (2014), Southeastern (Fla.) (2014) and Lyon (Ark.) (2015). Since 2008, the NAIA has added 16 varsity programs (portions of this information from the National Football Foundation).
• Morningside head coach Steve Ryan rests two wins away from becoming the 10th active NAIA coach to reach 100 wins. He enters the 2013 season with a 98-31 career mark. Ryan’s top-ranked Mustangs open the season Saturday when they host Valley City State (N.D.).
• Bryce Baker of Rocky Mountain (Mont.), Zach Hollier of Grand View (Iowa) and Zach Keenan of Benedictine were named the first NAIA Football National Players of the Week for the 2013 season. To read the complete release, click here
• Grand View (Iowa) and Pikeville (Ky.) earned week-one victories against NCAA Division I FCS opponents. Grand View, whose win is its first-ever against a NCAA Division I school, knocked off Drake (Iowa), 21-16. Viking quarterback Derek Fulton had a career day, completing 26-of-40 passes for 291 yards and one touchdown en route to the win. Propelled by 100-yard efforts by Seth Millar and Marquis Terrell, Pikeville took down Morehead State (Ky.), 13-10. Both sides finished with 300-plus yards of total offense, but three Morehead State turnovers played a key role in Pikeville’s season-opening victory.
National Statistics (through games played on August 31)
• 2012 Team Offensive Leaders
o Scoring Offense per Game: Point (Ga.) – 57.0 points per game
o Total Offense per Game: Cumberlands (Ky.) – 599.0 yards per game
o Rushing Offense per Game: Cumberlands (Ky.) – 485.0 yards per game
o Passing Offense per Game: Rocky Mountain (Mont.) – 432.0 yards per game
o Turnover Margin per Game: Peru State (Neb.) – 5.0 turnovers per game
o First Downs per Game: Benedictine (Kan.) – 32.0 first downs per game
o Third Down Conversion: Southern Oregon – 57.9 percent (11-of-19)
o Fourth Down Conversion: Nine teams tied at 100.0 percent
• 2012 Team Defensive Leaders
o Scoring Defense per Game: Three tied – 0.0 points per game
o Total Defense per Game: Marian (Ind.) – 59.0 yards per game
o Rushing Defense per Game: Carroll (Mont.) – (-27.0) yards per game
o Passing Defense per Game: Marian (Ind.) – 11.0 yards per game
o Sacks: Faulkner (Ala.)/Montana State-Northern – 10.0 sacks
o Opponent Third Down Conversion: Faulkner (Ala.) – 6.7 percent (1-of-15)
o Opponent Fourth Down Conversion: 12 tied at 0.0 percent
• For a complete look at the 2013 NAIA statistical leaders, click here.
Looking Ahead to the National Championship
The 58th annual NAIA Football National Championship will take place at Barron Stadium in Rome, Ga., for the sixth-straight season. The 2013 championship will be contested Dec. 21 at 4:30 p.m. EDT. The NAIA Football Championship Series is scheduled for Nov. 23, 30 and Dec. 7 at campus sites.
NAIA Football National Championship Visitor Information – Click HERE