CWRU Football to Open 2019 Campaign at Rochester

CWRU Football to Open 2019 Campaign at Rochester

2019 Case Western Reserve University Football
Game #1 – CWRU (0-0, 0-0 PAC) at University of Rochester (0-0, 0-0 LL)
Saturday, September 7, 2019 · 7:00 PM  · Rochester, N.Y. (Edwin Fauver Stadium)

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The Case Western Reserve University football team will get its 2019 season underway this weekend, when the Spartans travel to Rochester, New York to face the University of Rochester Yellowjackets in a non-conference game on Saturday, September 7th at 7:00 p.m. at Edwin Fauver Stadium.

Case Western Reserve is coming off an 8-2 campaign last season, which included a 7-2 mark in Presidents' Athletic Conference games, good for second in the league.

The Spartans will be returning 60 letterwinners from last year's squad, including 18 starters and eight All-PAC honorees.  Included in the group of returners are three All-Region honorees in senior defensive end Cameron Brown (first team), junior wide receiver Colt Morgan (second team) and sophomore quarterback Drew Saxton (third team).  Other All-PAC returners include sophomore kicker Robertson Albrecht (first team), senior safety Patrick Crossey (first team), senior linebacker Isaac Withrow (second team), senior cornerback Kevin Chrissis (honorable mention) and senior offensive lineman Thomas Strayer (honorable mention).

The Spartans are under the leadership of Head Coach Greg Debeljak, who will be starting his 16th season with the team.  He ranks as the winningest coach in the program's history, tallying a 110-45 career record with the squad, good for a .710 winning percentage.  The 1988 graduate of John Carroll University has helped lead the Spartans to six UAA Championships, four NCAA playoff appearances and the 2017 PAC Championships.  Debeljak was named the PAC Coach of the Year in 2017, while leading the UAA Coaching Staff of the Year six times, most recently in 2017.

The Yellowjackets went 1-9 last season, which included a 0-5 record in the Liberty League.

The 2019 Rochester squad will feature 48 returning letterwinners, including 15 players with starting experience.  Among the returners for the Yellowjackets are sophomore linebacker Caden Cole, a UAA First Team pick last season, and UAA honorable mentions in sophomore wide receiver Noah Shinaman, junior cornerback Adam Baghi and senior cornerback Robert Grant.

Rochester Head Coach Chad Martinovich will be starting his second season with the team in 2019.  The 1994 Hobart graduate has a career record of 38-58, which includes a 37-51 mark during his eight-year stint at MIT.

The Spartans and the Yellowjackets renewed their rivalry last season, as CWRU claimed a 38-10 win over Rochester at DiSanto Field, in the first game between the two teams since the 2011 campaign.  Quarterback Drew Saxton made his collegiate debut in the game, completing 25-of-35 passes for 234 yards and rushed for a touchdown, while splitting time at the position with Ryan Coolidge, who completed nine-of-11 passes for 87 yards and a touchdown, and running for a pair of scores as well.  Linebacker Travis Johnston registered a team-high seven tackles in the game for CWRU.

Rochester holds a 10-9 edge in the all-time series between the two teams, which began in 1990.  The Spartans have won gone 4-6 against the Yellowjackets in games played in Rochester.

CWRU received votes in the Preseason Poll, released in early August.  This is the fourth-straight year that the Spartans have either been ranked or received votes in the Preseason Poll.  CWRU was ranked 23rd in the website's preseason poll in 2018, 22nd in 2017, and received votes in 2016.  The Spartans were also ranked 24th in the Lindy's Magazine D3 Preview.

The Spartans were picked to finish second in the PAC this season, according to the preseason poll of the league's coaches, sports information directors and local media, conducted at the PAC Football Media Day on August 6th.  This was the second-straight season that the Spartans have been picked to finish second in the PAC, matching their highest finish in the conference's preseason poll.  Washington & Jefferson was picked to finish first in the PAC this year.

The Spartans are 24-23-1 all-time in season-opening games, including wins in 15 of their last 16 season openers.  This will be the eighth time overall and the second year in a row that the Spartans and the Yellowjackets have met to open a season, with last year's win marking the first for the Spartans in a season-opener against Rochester.

Senior defensive end Cameron Brown will be looking to follow up his 2018 junior campaign, during which he was named to the AFCA All-America Second Team, becoming the fourth player in program history to receive the honor from the organization, and the 50th All-American overall in the history of CWRU football.  The PAC Defensive Player of the Year finished the year with a school record 15.0 sacks, while his 1.5 sacks per game were the second-most among Division III players.  Included in his season total was a 4.5-sack effort against Saint Vincent College on October 13, the most by any Division III player in a single game last season.  Brown's 24 career sacks are the fourth-most in program history, and nine behind the school record of 33, set by Dale English from 2008-11.

Junior wide receiver Colt Morgan was named to the Preseason All-America Third Team entering the 2019 campaign.  Morgan had a breakout sophomore campaign in 2018, earning All-Region Second Team and All-PAC First Team honors, after catching 79 passes for 1,094 yards and a program-record 18 touchdowns.  He became just the fifth player in program history to be named a Preseason All-American, and the first since former Spartan guard Tony Opperman was selected to the second team in 2010.

Quarterback Drew Saxton made an immediate impact on the Spartans last season, earning PAC Newcomer of the Year and UAA Offensive Player of the Year honors after matching a program record with 34 passing touchdowns, while completing 62.4% of his passes for 3,033 yards.  His total passing yards marked the most by any NCAA (FBS, FCS, DII or DIII) true freshman last year, other than Clemson's Trevor Lawrence (3,280 yards).

The CWRU football roster consists of 88 players from 18 different states.  There are 24 players on the team from each of Ohio and Pennsylvania, comprising more than half of the roster.  Six additional Spartans hail from New York, while five are from Florida.  Other states represented on the team include Illinois (4), California (3), Michigan (3), New Jersey (3), North Carolina (3), Texas (3), Georgia (2), Kentucky (1), Louisiana (1), Maryland (2), Missouri (1), New Mexico (1), Washington (1) and West Virginia (1).

The junior class, which consists of 30 players, is the largest group currently on the roster.  The freshman class is next with 26 players, followed by the 17-person senior class, and the 15-player group of sophomores.

Case Western Reserve is 32-4 in its last 31 night games dating back to the 2006 season, including a 14-1 record in night games over the previous three seasons.  Saturday's game will be the first of four night games this season for the Spartans, all of which will come in the team's first four games.