Spartans Begin Defense of UAA Championship at Rival Chicago on Saturday

The Spartans notched a shutout versus Chicago last season en route to a fourth UAA Championship in five seasons. (photo by Dave Nash)
The Spartans notched a shutout versus Chicago last season en route to a fourth UAA Championship in five seasons. (photo by Dave Nash)

Case Western Reserve Spartans (4-3, 0-0 UAA) at
Chicago Maroons (4-3, 0-0 UAA)
Saturday, October 27, 2012 - 1:00 p.m. (CDT)
Stagg Field - Chicago, Ill.

(Dave Wilson, play-by-play)


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

The Case Western Reserve University football team begins defense of its University Athletic Association Championship at rival University of Chicago on Saturday, October 27 at 1:00 p.m. (CDT) at Stagg Field. Winners of four of the past five UAA titles, the Spartans closed out the non-conference portion of the schedule with a 24-17 overtime win at Oberlin College last Saturday. Chicago has won three out of its last four contests, including a 23-7 victory at Hiram College on Saturday, Oct. 20.

The Spartans and Maroons have a young history on the gridiron which dates back only to the 1990 season. Chicago holds the all-time series lead, 12-10, but Case Western Reserve has won five of the last six meetings, including a 6-0 triumph last season at Case Field. The first-ever meeting between the two resulted in a 25-0 Spartan victory at home in 1990.

Case Western Reserve is coached by Greg Debeljak, who is in his ninth season in 2012 with a 65-26 (.722) 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 52-9, 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).

Chicago is coached by Dick Maloney, who is in his 19th season with an overall mark of 94-79. Maloney began his tenure in 1994 and is a four-time UAA Coach of the Year with three conference championships. His .543 winning percentage is the second-best in Chicago history, behind only the legendary Amos Alonzo Stagg.

Case Western Reserve grinded out 201 yards on the ground and stopped a pair of late drives deep in its own territory to defeat Chicago, 6-0, on October 29, 2011 at Case Field. Current junior running back Kenny Riordan (Spring Grove, Ill./Richmond-Burton) rushed for 103 yards on 17 carries, while then senior defensive tackle Dale English (Middleburg Heights, Ohio/Holy Name) tallied 10 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Chicago was led by current senior wide receiver Dee Brizzolara with 103 yards receiving on five catches.

Through seven games, the Spartans average 22.3 points, 143.7 yards rushing, 206.4 yards passing and 350.1 total yards. Case opponents average 16.6 ppg, 89.3 yards rushing, 220.6 yards passing and 309.9 total yards per game. The Spartans have a -9 turnover ratio after leading the UAA at +12 last season.

Sophomore quarterback Billy Beecher (Palmyra, Pa./Palmyra Area) threw a three-yard touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Bryan Erb (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Country Day) in overtime as Case Western Reserve closed out its 2012 non-conference schedule with a 24-17 win at Oberlin.

Offensively, senior quarterback Erik Olson (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) has completed 106-of-181 passes (58.6%) for 1,344 yards with 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Sophomore signal caller Billy Beecher (Palmyra, Pa./Palmyra Area) has completed 8-of-17 passes for 78 yards with a TD. Beecher has also rushed for 132 yards on 29 carries (4.6 ypc). Sophomore running back Manny Sicre (Miami, Fla./Belen Jesuit Prep) has a team-high 467 yards rushing on 124 carries (3.8 ypc) with three touchdowns. Sicre also has 21 receptions for 275 yards and two scores. Sophomore RB Ricky Hanzlik (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) has rushed for 172 yards on 37 carries (4.6 ypc) with one TD. Sophomore wide receiver Sean Lapcevic (Presto, Pa./Chartiers Valley) has posted a UAA-high 29 receptions for 433 yards (14.9 ypc) and three TDs. Senior wide receiver Brian Rice (New Castle, Pa./New Castle) has 25 catches for 356 yards (14.2 ypc) with one TD.  Freshman WR Bryan Erb (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Country Day) has 17 receptions for 186 yards (10.9 ypc) and is tied with Lapcevic with three receiving scores.

Defensively, senior outside linebacker Ryan Ferguson (Wheaton, Ill./St. Francis) has recorded a UAA-high 81 tackles with a forced fumble, an interception and four pass break-ups. Senior linebacker Kevin Nossem (Munster, Ind./Munster) has 66 tackles, a team-high two forced fumbles and one pass break-up. Senior linebacker Wade Self (Hawthorn Woods, Ill./Lake Zurich) has 55 stops with a pass break-up and a blocked punt. Senior nose guard Michael Harris (Shaker Heights, Ohio/Shaker Heights) has 41 tackles and 3.5 sacks. Senior tackle Collin Desens (Hopewell Junction, N.Y./Arlington) has 37 tackles and leads the team with seven TFL and four sacks. Junior end Brandon Bryant (Rockville, Md./Rockville) has 20 tackles with 6.5 TFL and 3.5 sacks. Senior cornerback Cary Dieter (McKees Rocks, Pa./Montour) and senior safety Dan Calabrese (Concord, Ohio/Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin) are tied for the team lead with five break-ups.

Through seven games, the Maroons average 17.7 points, 153.6 yards rushing, 167.3 yards passing and 320.9 total yards. Chicago opponents average 17.6 ppg, 127.1 yards rushing, 166.7 yards passing and 293.8 total yards per game. The Maroons have a -4 turnover ratio.

Offensively, junior QB Vincent Cortina has completed 62-of-129 passes (48.1%) for 731 yards, seven TDs and three INTs. Junior RB Ian Gaines has rushed for 435 yards on 89 carries (4.9 ypc) with one TD. Senior WR Dee Brizzolara has team highs of 28 receptions, 516 yards (18.4 ypc) and five TDs. Senior TE Brandon Meckelberg has 19 catches for 208 yards (10.9 ypc) and three TDs.

Defensively, senior LB Alex Dzierbicki leads the team with 49 tackles. Sophomore DL Brandon Bolock has 24 tackles and leads the team with six tackles for loss to go along with 1.5 sacks. Junior DT Michael Cifor has 17 tackles, including five for loss, with a team-high three sacks. Freshman DB Vincent Beltrano has 35 tackles and a team-high two INTs.

Sophomore running back Manny Sicre (Miami, Fla./Belen Jesuit Prep) returned from injury and posted 77 yards from scrimmage at Oberlin. Over his last four games, Sicre has a total of 602 yards from scrimmage with four TDs.

Senior linebacker Ryan Ferguson (Wheaton, Ill./St. Francis) was named UAA Co-Defensive Player of the Week after totaling a career-high 19 tackles with his first interception of the season at Oberlin. Ferguson leads the UAA and ranks in the top 20 nationally with 81 stops this season. Last fall, Ferguson won the UAA tackles title with 95.

Freshman placekicker Won Kun Park (Daejon, South Korea/Kimball Union Academy, N.H.) hit a career-best 37-yard field goal to open the scoring at Oberlin. Park is 18-for-20 in extra point attempts and 6-of-9 in field goal tries as a rookie.

With 103 yards on the ground last week, Oberlin's Moses Richardson became the first player in 17 games dating back to 2010 to reach 100 yards rushing versus Case Western Reserve.

The Spartans rank 19th in Division III in rush defense, allowing just 89.14 yards per game. The team finished last season with the nation's seventh-best rush defense at 75.7 ypg.

During its past 29 road games dating back to 2007, CWRU has compiled an overall record of 27-2.

The number of wins for Case Western Reserve since the beginning of the 2007 season. The Spartans are 52-9 overall and 27-2 on the road during that span.