Spartans Set to Open Football Season at Home against Chicago

Spartans Set to Open Football Season at Home against Chicago
2016 Case Western Reserve University Football
Game #1 - CWRU (0-0, 0-0 PAC, 0-0 UAA) vs. Chicago (0-0, 0-0 SAA, 0-0 UAA)
Saturday, September 3, 2016 · 12:00 p.m. ET · Cleveland, Ohio (DiSanto Field)

To download the full game notes in .pdf format, click here.



The Case Western Reserve University Spartans (7-3 overall, 6-2 PAC, 1-2 UAA in 2015) will open their 2016 season against a University Athletic Association (UAA) rival, the University of Chicago (6-4 overall, 5-3 SAA, 1-2 UAA), on Saturday, September 3rd at DiSanto Field in Cleveland, Ohio at 12:00 p.m.



The Spartans received votes in the preseason poll, marking the first time that CWRU has received votes in the organization's preseason poll since prior to the start of the 2012 campaign. Last year, the Spartans were ranked as high as 18th in the regular season poll.


After finishing third in the Presidents' Athletic Conference with a 6-2 league ledger in 2015, Case Western Reserve was picked to finish third in the Presidents' Athletic Conference in its preseason poll, voted on by coaches, sports information directors, and members of the media. The Spartans received four first-place votes, second among all PAC teams, and marked the team's highest finish in the PAC Preseason Poll during its three years as a football affiliate member of the conference. Thomas More was selected to win the conference, followed by Washington & Jefferson.


Last year's campaign was the Spartans' eighth winning season in the last nine years, with the team going 69-24 (good for a .741 winning percentage) during the stretch.


Last season, the Spartans topped Saint Vincent College 49-14 in their home-opening game at DiSanto Field. Entering Saturday's game, CWRU has won its last two home opening games by a combined score of 79-14. The Spartans are 10-2 in home-opening games under Head Coach Greg Debeljak.



Spartan players hail from 26 different states, including 20 players from Ohio, 17 from Pennsylvania and 11 from Illinois. The roster is made up of 29 freshmen, 24 sophomores, 28 juniors, 12 seniors, and a graduate student.



The Spartans have named their team captains for the 2016 season, led by senior tight end Zech Medved, who will be in his second year as a team captain. Other captains include junior defensive back Cody Calhoun, senior defensive lineman Tyler Doty, senior defensive back Nick Kwon, and junior offensive lineman Ryan Merlau.



In addition to their success on the field, the Spartans also received numerous individual accolades for their achievements in the classroom last year. Recently graduated players Dayton Snyder and Scott Suren were each named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America First Team, while Snyder also received the prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. Cody Calhoun, Bryan Erb, and Nick Kwon joined Snyder and Suren on the UAA Presidents Council Scholar-Athlete Team, while 24 Spartans earned UAA All-Academic honors, and 25 were selected to the PAC Honor Roll. Fourteen seniors from last year's team were named to the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame Hampshire Honor Society.



Case Western Reserve is coached by Greg Debeljak, who has a career record of 82-41 (.667) during his 13 seasons with the team. Debeljak has led the Spartans to four UAA Championships in the last nine years with three consecutive undefeated (10-0) regular seasons and NCAA Playoff berths from 2007-09. Since the beginning of the 2007 season, Case Western Reserve has posted an outstanding overall record of 69-24, earning Debeljak and his assistants the UAA Coaching Staff of the Year award four times (2007-09, '11).


Chicago is led by head coach Chris Wilkerson, who has gone 20-9 during his three seasons with the team. He is a 1974 graduate of Eastern Illinois.



Case Western Reserve is returning 39 letterwinners and 13 starters from last year's squad, which finished the year ranked 29th among all NCAA Division III teams with 38.7 points per game and 32nd with 468.4 yards per contest, while allowing just 22.4 points and 343.6 total yards per game in 2015. Among the Spartans' returners are All-PAC First Team selections in center Gage Blair and quarterback Rob Cuda, and Second Team honorees in kick returner/ safety Cody Calhoun, kicker Ben Carniol, and cornerback Nick Kwon.



Chicago is scheduled to return 71 letterwinners from last year's team, including 14 starting players. Included in that group are All-Southern Athletic Association First Team honorees in running back Chandler Carroll, offensive lineman Andrew Maneval, and defensive lineman Eddie Giannina, and a second team selection in linebacker Jackson Garrey. The Maroons averaged 25.9 points per game on 382.4 yards and allowed 24.8 points per game on 430.0 yards.



Chicago has won the last two meetings with the Spartans, and holds a 13-12 in the overall series between the two teams, which dates back to the 1990 season. Case Western Reserve is 8-4 all-time against the Maroons at home.


Last season, the Spartans were edged by the Maroons 31-30 on the road, as Chicago scored on a 46 yard touchdown pass with 3:18 left to play to secure the one-point win on its home field. Making his first collegiate start in the loss, CWRU quarterback Rob Cuda turned in an outstanding effort, completing 21-of-35 passes for 339 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing for 65 yards and a touchdown.