The 2013 Hiram College football team will have an experienced roster this fall with 37 lettermen and 15 total starters.
The Terrier offense will boast 18 lettermen and six starters. Hiram returns two players at the quarterback position from a year ago with senior George Blake (Parma) seeing the most playing time. Blake only played in one game last season before suffering a season-ending injury in the season opener. Prior to the injury, he completed four-of-13 passes for 38 yards. Also expected to compete for the starting QB role is senior transfer Rob Partridge (Massillon/Washington). Partridge transferred to Hiram from Notre Dame College were he saw playing time as quarterback and was later moved to wide receiver and punter. He began his collegiate playing career as a scholarship player at Miami (Ohio) University before transferring to NDC.
At running back, senior Caleb Jones (Lake Placid, Fla./Lake Placid) will be the most experienced returning back following a season that saw him play in every game and rush for 61 yards on 20 carries with one touchdown. He was a prime target in the passing game last season finishing third on the team in receptions with 31 for 111 yards. In addition to Jones, sophomore Dante Lambert (Winter Haven, Fla./Lake Region) also saw playing time in the backfield as a freshman in 2012. As a backup, he played in six games and carried the ball eight times for 13 yards. He also caught one pass for seven yards.
One of the most experienced positions on offense for Hiram this season will be at wide receiver. The Terriers will bring back two starters including senior Richard Simpson (Kissimmee, Fla./Gateway) who led the team last season in receptions (47), yards (455) and TD (four). He averaged 9.7 yards per catch and 50.6 yards per game. Also seeing playing time as a starter last season was senior Darren Gibson (Lakewood). Gibson caught 18 passes for 176 yards (9.8 yards per catch) in 2012 and was one of five players with 10 or more receptions. In addition to Simpson and Gibson, look for seniors Brendon James (Brunswick) and Mike Arnold (Fairview Park/Fairview) to provide depth and could battle for increased playing time in 2013. James caught three passes for 37 yards last year, while Arnold added one catch for eight yards. Other returning players who could compete for a spot on the varsity roster include sophomores Jalen Dinard (Tampa, Fla./Paul R. Wharton), Jarius Gainey (Tampa, Fla./Hillsborough), Britton Lewis (Tampa, Fla./Paul R. Wharton) and Broderick Williams (Fort Myers, Fla./Fort Myers). Complimenting the wide receivers will be a duo of returners at the tight end position led by junior Christian Dowdy (Solon). Dowdy was moved to the offensive line midway through last season, but before moving positions, he caught one pass for three yards. SophomoreTim Johnson (Winter Haven, Fla./Lake Region) could also see playing time as a tight end.
Hiram will have the luxury of having its most experienced position being the offensive line with three returning starters and four other players who saw playing time a year ago. Headlining the returning starters will be senior All-NCAC lineman Dan Fanzo(Boardman/Chaney). Joining him as returning starters are senior Matt Russell (Cape Coral, Fla./Cape Coral) and junior Kendrick Miller(Casselberry, Fla./Lyman). In addition, juniors Kyle Bates (Painesville/Thomas W. Harvey), Richard Pollard (Cuyahoga Falls), Nick Sebastian (Poland/Poland Seminary) and Cody Ward (East Canton/Canton South) all saw playing time last season and should provide depth at the position again this year. The “O-line” will also gain a player who played on defense last year in senior Harrison Dickerhoof(Alliance/Marlington). As a defensive lineman, Dickerhoof tallied 31 tackles (12 solo and 19 assists).
“With the addition of Henry Stanford as offensive coordinator, I am very confident we will move the football and score points,” said fourth-year Head Coach Randy Moore. “Henry and Offensive Line Coach Scott Knisely provide us with a tremendous knowledge of the spread offense. With the physical tools and speed we possess, I am very confident this we’ll be our best offense in my tenure at Hiram.”
The Hiram defense will also have its share of experienced players with 18 returning lettermen and nine starters.
The defensive line will have two starters returning in junior Mario Lemuel (Suwanee, Ga./Peachtree Ridge) and sophomore Garrett Primer (Madison). Lemuel played in all 10 games last year and had 32 tackles (17 solo and 15 assists), including finishing in a tie for second on the team in tackles for loss with eight. He was also second in quarterback sacks with five and had a forced fumble. Primer had a solid freshman season with 58 tackles (17 solo and 41 assists) and led the team in tackles for loss (9.5) and sacks (5.5). He also had a team-tying high two fumble recoveries. In addition to Lemuel and Primer, sophomores Chris Allen (Port Charlotte, Fla./Port Charlotte), Vince Hill (Solon) and Anthony Pesce (Hubbard) saw playing time last season and could do so again this fall. Hill ended his freshman season with 36 tackles (eight solo and 28 assists) including 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack. Pesce contributed with 10 tackles (three solo and seven assists) and Allen had four tackles (two solo and two assists).
At linebacker, the Terriers will have three returning starters back in seniors Tyler Williams (Ravenna/Rootstown), John Davis (Newton Falls) and junior James Romanowski(Chagrin Falls/Kenston). Williams was second on the team in tackles in 2012 with 92 (34 solo and 58 assists). He also had three tackles for loss, including a sack, in addition to an interception, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble. Romanowski played in four games last year before having his season cut short due to injury. Prior to his injury, he tallied 31 tackles (13 solo and 18 assists). Davis started all 10 games last season and was moved to fill in for Romanowski following his injury. He finished third on the team in tackles with 81 (31 solo and 50 assists). Davis also had four tackles for loss, including two sacks. Also returning who saw playing time in multiple games a year ago are sophomores Jacob Dengg (Jefferson/Jefferson Area) and Jeremy Kerola (Hubbard). Dengg played in three games as a freshman and had two tackles, while Kerola played in four games and had five stops.
The secondary will have the most returning position players including five players who saw time as starters. Leading the defensive secondary will the duo of All-NCAC senior Josh Peacock (Carson City, Nev./Carson) and All-NCAC sophomore Tevin Weaver (Garfield Heights). Peacock lead the team, and finished third in the NCAC, in tackles with 106 (52 solo and 54 assists). He also finished tied for second in tackles for loss (eight) and interceptions (two). In addition, he had one fumble recovery and blocked a kick. Weaver had a standout freshman season both on defense and as a member of the special teams. On defense, Weaver tallied 44 tackles (22 solo and 22 assists) to along with two interceptions and was tied for second in pass breakups with five. Joining Peacock and Weaver are juniorsPhil Arnold (Eastlake/Eastlake North), Roodely Forvil (Worthington/Thomas Worthington), Mike Helco (McDonald), Kieffer Jean-Baptiste(Fort Myers, Fla./Riverdale), Matt Moore (Twinsburg/Thomas Worthington), Robert Scott (Dorset/Jefferson Area), and sophomoresDevonte Fleetion (Youngstown/East), Trey Solon (Longview, Wash./Robert A. Long) and Andrew Torres (Cape Coral, Fla./Mariner). Fleetion was fourth on the team in tackles with 74 (36 solo and 38 assists) with 2.5 tackles for loss, a sack, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble. Arnold recorded 31 tackles (15 solo and 16 assists) with 2.5 tackles for loss, a sack, an interception, a fumble recovery and five pass breakups. Helco finished just behind Arnold with 25 stops (10 solo and 15 assists) with 3.5 tackles for loss, including two sacks, and a forced fumble. Forvil rounded out the players with double-digits in tackles with 16 (eight solo and eight assists) in addition to one pass breakup.
On special teams, Hiram will return junior Greg Klisuric (Mentor) who did not play last season, but will rejoin the squad in 2013. As a freshman in 2011, Klisuric was the team’s primary place kicker making two-of-six field goal attempts and converting all 13 extra point attempts. He also saw playing time at punter averaging 24.0 yards per punt in four attempts. Rob Partridge could also see playing time at punter in addition to competing at QB. Last season, he 36.6 yards per punt while at Notre Dame College in 53 attempts. He had three punts of over 50 yards, including 10 punts inside the 20-yardline. Tevin Weaver will be the team’s top returning kick and punt returner. Last season, Weaver averaged a team-best 25.6 yards per return in 25 attempts and returned one kickoff for a 94-yard touchdown. Richard Simpson also saw playing time on special teams and could do so again this fall. Last fall, he returned seven kickoffs for 105 yards for a 15.0 yards per return average.
“David Price will take over the role of defensive coordinator in 2013,” said Moore. “He is a bright young coach that knows the talents of our defensive players and schemes very well. Along with Chris Kosiorek as defensive backs coach, I am sure the Hiram defense will be one of the best defenses in my tenure at Hiram.”
The 2013 schedule will feature a new format as the NCAC has now adopted a complete “round-robin” schedule allowing all teams in the conference to play each other. The Terriers will have one lone non-conference game which will be against Westminster (Pa.) College on Saturday, Sept. 7 in the season opener. Hiram will then open conference play the very next Saturday with a trip to Denison University on Sept. 14 in Granville. The schedule will feature five home games with the Terriers hosting Westminster at Charles A. Henry Field. The game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
“Don’t Back Up, Don’t Back Down is the Hiram football program motto for 2013,” added Moore. “While our team is well aware of the lack of success for the last 25 years, we are not going to “back up” and dwell on the past. We are going to push forward and anything less that a winning season will be a disappointment in 2013. We will not “back down” when adversity hits and we will continue to play hard and produce wins.”