Spartans Open 2012 Season at Marietta on Saturday

Junior RB Kenny Riordan and the Spartans look to give the team an 11th-straight season-opening victory. (photo by Ed Malliard)
Junior RB Kenny Riordan and the Spartans look to give the team an 11th-straight season-opening victory. (photo by Ed Malliard)

Case Western Reserve Spartans at Marietta Pioneers
Saturday, September 1, 2012 - 7:00 p.m.
Don Drumm Stadium - Marietta, Ohio

(Dave Wilson, play-by-play; Ed Daugherty, color)


Download the complete Spartan Games Notes in .pdf format by clicking HERE.

The Case Western Reserve University football team opens the 2012 season at Marietta College on Saturday, September 1 at 7:00 p.m. at Don Drumm Stadium in Marietta. The Spartans (9-1 overall, 3-0 UAA in 2011) have won four of the past five UAA Championships with three-consecutive NCAA Playoff appearances from 2007 to 2009. Over the last five seasons, the Spartans boast an overall record of 48-6. Represenatives of the Ohio Athletic Conference, Marietta is coming off of a 3-7 season, but is 4-0 in its last four season openers and 10-1 overall in its last 11.

Saturday's game will mark the first-ever meeting on the gridiron between Case Western Reserve and Marietta, although the Pioneers did play Case Institute of Technology once in 1915 and Western Reserve University twice in 1900 and 1907.  This will also mark the third-straight season in which the Spartans have opened versus an OAC opponent. In 2010 and 2011, CWRU earned a pair of season-opening victories versus John Carroll University.

Case Western Reserve is coached by Greg Debeljak, who begins his ninth season in 2012 with a 61-23 (.726) record. Debeljak has led the Spartans to four UAA Championships in five years, including three-consecutive undefeated (10-0) regular seasons from 2007-09 with back-to-back-to-back NCAA Playoff berths. Since the beginning of the 2007 season, Case Western Reserve has posted an outstanding overall record of 48-6, earning Debeljak and his staff the UAA Coaching Staff of the Year award four times (2007-09, '11). In addition, Case has been ranked in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Top 25 in four of the past five seasons (2007-10).

Marietta is coached by Jeff Filkovski, who begins his fifth season with a 10-30 overall record. Prior to Marietta, Filkovski was the offensive coordinator at another OAC program (Heidelberg University), and he coached at the professional level as the offensive coordinator for the Cologne Centurions of NFL Europe. He also has stops as a quarterbacks coach at the College of Holy Cross (Mass.), Thomas More College (Ky.) and the University of Cincinnati. As a player, Filkovski was an All-American QB and a 1990 NCAA Division III National Champion at Allegheny College (Pa.).

The Spartans return 27 letterwinners and 13 starters with five on offense, seven on defense and one on special teams. Last season, the Spartans averaged 23.7 points, 127.3 yards rushing, 171.2 yards passing and 298.5 total yards. Case opponents averaged 12.9 ppg, 78.5 yards rushing, 201.5 yards passing and 280.0 total yards per game. The Spartans led the UAA with a +12 turnover margin.

Offensively, senior quarterback Erik Olson (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) completed 154-of-257 passes (59.9%) for 1,571 yards with 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Sophomore running back Manny Sicre (Miami, Fla./Belen Jesuit Prep) had a team-high 638 yards on 154 carries (4.1 ypc) with five touchdowns. Sicre also had 26 receptions for 128 yards and a score. Junior running back Kenny Riordan (Spring Grove, Ill./Richmond-Burton) had 556 yards rushing on 120 carries (4.6 ypc) with a pair of TDs. Sophomore wide receiver Sean Lapcevic (Presto, Pa./Chartiers Valley) posted 36 receptions for 429 yards with a TD (11.9 ypc).

Defensively, senior outside linebacker Ryan Ferguson (Wheaton, Ill./St. Francis) led the UAA with 95 tackles to go along with 6.5 tackles for loss and both an interception and fumble recovery for a touchdown. Senior linebacker Wade Self (Hawthorn Woods, Ill./Lake Zurich) posted 66 tackles with 4.5 TFL, a sack and two forced fumbles. Senior linebacker Kevin Nossem (Munster, Ind./Munster) posted 64 tackles with four sacks, three interceptions, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Senior defensive end Adam Watson (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) recorded 56 tackles, 10 TFL, 6.5 sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Senior safety Dan Calabrese (Concord, Ohio/Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin) had 46 stops with a team-high six interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns, 10 pass break-ups and a forced fumble.

The Pioneers return 31 letterwinners and 15 starters with six on offense, eight on defense and one on special teams. Last season, the Pioneers averaged 20.7 points, 61.7 yards rushing, 252.7 yards passing and 314.4 total yards. Marietta opponents averaged 32.9 ppg, 240.3 yards rushing, 148.3 yards passing and 388.6 total yards per game. The Pioneers finished with a +6 turnover margin.

Offensively, the Pioneers lost their top passer and rusher. Returning, senior QB Tom Fulton completed 8-of-22 passes for 107 yards. Senior RB Quincy Bell rushed for 34 yards on 14 attempts. Junior WR Kirby Harris had a team-high 61 receptions for 840 yards and six TDs. Junior WR Tannon Roberts caught 41 passes for 674 yards and five TDs.

Defensively, the Pioneers lost their top three tacklers. Senior LB Kadeem Corbin posted 58 tackles, including six for loss, with two sacks and a forced fumble. Junior LB Jake Hammer had 55 tackles with five for loss, 2.5 sacks and two fumble recoveries. Junior LB Franklin Holmes had 38 tackles, including 3.5 for loss, with three INTs.

Last season, the Spartans ranked seventh nationally in rush defense (75.7 ypg), 12th in scoring defense (12.9 ppg) and fourth in red zone efficiency (52%).

The Spartans have won 10-consecutive season-openers dating back to the 2002 season. The last season-opening loss came prior to the Greg Debeljak era, 42-14, at Carnegie Mellon University (Pa.) on September 8, 2001. Debeljak is 8-0 in in the first game of the season.

The Spartans were chosen as co-favorites in the UAA Preseason Coaches' Poll along with Washington University (Mo.). Case also received votes in the Preseason Top 25.

During its past 25 road games dating back to 2007, CWRU has compiled an overall record of 24-1.

Senior safety Dan Calabrese (Concord, Ohio/Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin), also the team's holder, is back as the reigning UAA Special Teams Player of the Year. Last season, Calabrese led the team with six interceptions, two of which he returned for TDs. On special teams, he returned a punt for a score, set a school record for punt return yards (367) and threw a 23-yard TD pass on a fake field goal.

The Spartans return a pair of All-UAA selections in the offensive backfield in sophomore Manny Sicre (Miami, Fla./Belen Jesuit Prep)  and junior Kenny Riordan (Spring Grove, Ill./Richmond-Burton). Last season, the two combined to rush for 1,194 yards rushing with seven TDs on the ground.

Head Coach Greg Debeljak has announced team captains for the 2012 season. Senior offensive tackle Cullen Dolan (Chicago, Ill./Brother Rice), senior linebacker Wade Self (Hawthorn Woods, Ill./Lake Zurich) and senior defensive end Adam Watson (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) were voted by their teammates to lead the squad this fall.