Spartans and Fighting Scots Set to Play Final Annual Installment of Baird Brothers' Trophy Game

The Spartans look to claim the Baird Brothers' Trophy for the sixth-straight season. (photo by Matt Dilyard)
The Spartans look to claim the Baird Brothers' Trophy for the sixth-straight season. (photo by Matt Dilyard)

Wooster Fighting Scots (1-3) at
Case Western Reserve Spartans (2-3)
Saturday, October 6, 2012 - 1:00 p.m.
Baird Brothers' Trophy Game - Case Field - Cleveland, Ohio

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


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

It's the end of an era as the Case Western Reserve University football team hosts The College of Wooster in the final installment of the annual Baird Brothers' Trophy Game on Saturday, October 6 at Case Field. The Spartans try to snap their first three-game losing streak since 2006 after falling short, 14-10, in an upset bid of No. 21 nationally-ranked Wittenberg University. Wooster has dropped two-straight including a 30-22 defeat at Denison University.

The Spartans and Fighting Scots have met 24 times on the gridiron with Wooster holding a 13-11 advantage in the all-time series. Case has won the last five meetings dating back to 2007, while Wooster won the previous 10 match-ups dating back to 1995. The teams have met regularly since 1984, including games in each of the last 10 seasons. Case won the first-ever meeting between the two, 21-14, at Wooster during the 1984 campaign.

The Baird Brothers' Trophy was introduced during the inaugural meeting between the two schools in 1984 by Bob Baird, an economics professor at Case, and Bill Baird, an economics professor at Wooster. The brothers incorporated their passion for fishing into the rivalry by rewarding the winning team each season with a golden fishing stringer with carved brass fish representing each meeting. Each year, a new fish is added to the stringer with the score and winner engraved on the side. Bob Baird passed away several years ago, but Bill still carries on the tradition by presenting the trophy at the conclusion of the game. The Baird Brothers Trophy was noted in a 1995 issue of Sports Illustrated as one of the most unique trophies in college football. 

This year's meeting will mark the final annual installment of the Baird Brothers' Trophy as the University Athletic Association and North Coast Athletic Conference football scheduling agreement expires. Wooster will begin playing a complete NCAC round robin schedule, while Case Western Reserve joins the Presidents' Athletic Conference as an affiliate member in 2014.

More information on the Baird Brothers' Trophy along with complete series results can be found by clicking HERE.

Case Western Reserve is coached by Greg Debeljak, who is in his ninth season in 2012 with a 63-26 (.707) 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 50-9, 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).

Wooster is coached by Mike Schmitz in his 13th season with a 77-49 (.611) overall record. A two-time NCAC Coach of the Year, Schmitz led the Fighting Scots to a perfect regular season (10-0) with the program's first outright conference title since 1934 and its first-ever NCAA Playoff berth in 2004. Also the 2004 National Football Foundation Ohio College Coach of the Year, Schmitz has led the Scots to three 8-2 seasons.

Then senior placekicker Daniel Vasil booted a game-winning, 31-yard field goal in overtime as Case Western Reserve defeated Wooster, 24-21, on October 22, 2011 at John P. Papp Stadium in Wooster. Current senior linebacker Wade Self (Hawthorn Woods, Ill./Lake Zurich) recorded 10 tackles, a sack and forced the fumble that set up the winning field goal in OT. Current senior quarterback Erik Olson (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) finished 20-of-31 for 161 yards and a touchdown. Wooster linebacker Quinn Hood led all defenders with 13 tackles and a pair of sacks.

Through four games, the Spartans average 20.2 points, 147.4 yards rushing, 208.6 yards passing and 356.0 total yards. Case opponents average 14.2 ppg, 76.6 yards rushing, 218.8 yards passing and 295.4 total yards per game. The Spartans have a -10 turnover ratio after leading the UAA at +12 last season.

Despite a game-high 163 yards from scrimmage by sophomore running back Manny Sicre (Miami, Fla./Belen Jesuit Preparatory), Case Western Reserve fell short by a score of 14-10 in its upset bid of No. 21 nationally-ranked Wittenberg in front of a capacity Homecoming crowd at Case Field.

Offensively, senior quarterback Erik Olson (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) has completed 87-of-138 passes (63.0%) for 1,025 yards with seven touchdowns and six interceptions. Sophomore running back Manny Sicre (Miami, Fla./Belen Jesuit Prep) has a team-high 424 yards rushing on 107 carries (4.0 ypc) with three touchdowns. Sicre also has 17 receptions for 241 yards and two scores. Sophomore wide receiver Sean Lapcevic (Presto, Pa./Chartiers Valley) has posted a team-high 22 receptions for 305 yards (13.9 ypc) and a TD. Senior wide receiver Brian Rice (New Castle, Pa./New Castle) has 20 catches for 243 yards (12.2 ypc).

Defensively, senior outside linebacker Ryan Ferguson (Wheaton, Ill./St. Francis) has recorded a team-high 49 tackles with a forced fumble and three pass break-ups. Senior linebacker Wade Self (Hawthorn Woods, Ill./Lake Zurich) has 44 stops with a pass break-up and a blocked punt. Senior linebacker Kevin Nossem (Munster, Ind./Munster) has 44 tackles and a pair of forced fumbles. Senior nose guard Michael Harris (Shaker Heights, Ohio/Shaker Heights) has 26 tackles and is tied for the team lead with 3.5 sacks. Senior tackle Collin Desens (Hopewell Junction, N.Y./Arlington) has 33 tackles and three sacks, while junior end Brandon Bryant (Rockville, Md./Rockville) has 15 tackles with a team-high 6.5 TFL and 3.5 sacks. Senior outside linebacker Michael Fioramonti (Loxahatchee, Fla./Seminole Ridge) and junior safety Jordan Banky (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mt. Lebanon) each have an interception.

Through three games, the Fighting Scots average 17.5 points, 93.0 yards rushing, 191.5 yards passing and 284.5 total yards. Wooster opponents average 21.2 ppg, 152.2 yards rushing, 163.8 yards passing and 316.0 total yards per game. The Fighting Scots have a -3 turnover ratio.

Offensively, junior QB Richard Barnes has completed 62-of-116 passes (53.4%) for 660 yards, six TDs and three INTs. Barnes has also carried the ball 53 times for 107 yards and a score. Freshman running back Jonathan Miller is the team's leading rusher with 153 yards on 28 carries (5.5 ypc) and a TD. Senior WR Jordan McIntyre has team-highs of 17 receptions and 199 yards (11.7 ypc). Fellow senior wideout Zack Weidrick has 13 catches for 132 yards (10.2 ypc), while sophomore WR Justin Rice has 10 receptions for 138 yards (13.8 ypc). McIntyre, Weidrick and Rice each having a receiving score.

Defensively, sophomore DB Mitchell Czerniak and junior LB Quinn Hood are tied for the team lead with 33 tackles. Sophomore DB Brandon James has 30 stops with an INT and a forced fumble. Senior DE Rob Holtz has 26 tackles, including nine for loss, with seven sacks and an interception. Freshman DB Lenard Rivers has a team-high two INTs.

Sophomore running back Manny Sicre (Miami, Fla./Belen Jesuit Preparatory) totaled 163 yards from scrimmage versus Wittenberg last Saturday, including a career-high-tying 83 yards receiving. Over the last three games, Sicre has 525 yards from scrimmage (294 rushing/231 receiving) with three scores. In each game, Sicre has reached at least 163 yards from scrimmage.

The Spartans have dominated time of possession over the last two weeks. At Ohio Wesleyan, the Spartans maintained a difference of 36:18 to 23:42 then followed with a margin of 35:38 to 24:22 versus Wittenberg. 

Last week's Homecoming crowd of 2,758 was the largest in Case Field history. Open since 2005, the stadium's previous attendance record was 2,600 set on October 15, 2005 versus Washington University (Mo.).

The number of wins for Case Western Reserve since the beginning of the 2007 season. The Spartans are 50-9 overall and 26-2 on the road during that span.