CLEVELAND, OHIO — The Hiram College football team was picked to finished eighth of nine teams in this year’s North Coast Athletic Conference preseason coaches poll that was released today (Wednesday, Aug. 3). [2011 NCAC Football Preseason Coaches Poll]
Hiram totaled 19 points to place eighth and ahead of Kenyon who was chosen ninth. Wittenberg University, who collected their second-straight NCAC crown in 2010, collected four of nine first-place votes from the coaches to total 74 points. Last season’s runner-up, Wabash (Ind.) College, also earned four first-place votes, but finished just below Wittenberg in the poll with 73 total points. The College of Wooster, which last won the conference title in 2004, accumulated the final first-place vote and finished third in the balloting with 66 points.
It’ll be a new look for the Hiram College football team in 2011 as the team ushers in a new field, lights, new locker room, its largest recruiting class and will dress its largest teams in program history. The Terriers welcome back 33 letterwinners this fall, including 14 starters, as second-year Head Coach Randy Moore looks to lead Hiram in a season of improvement from a year ago.
The Hiram offense will return six starters on offense, including sophomore running back Caleb Jones (Lake Placid, Fla./Lake Placid) in the backfield. Last year, Jones led the team in rushing with 324 yards in 74 carries (4.4 yards per carry) and one TD. He was also third in receptions with 30 for 118 yards and a TD. This year’s receiving corps will be led by the duo of sophomore Richard Simpson (Kissimmee, Fla./Gateway) and senior Shaun Zalewski (Cleveland/St. Edward). Simpson caught 24 passes last season for 201 yards and Zalewski contributed with 23 receptions for 212 yards and a pair of TD. In addition, Simpson was the team top kick and punt returners racking up 414 yards on kick returns in 20 attempts for a 20.7 yards per return average.
Hiram’s strength this season could be on the defensive side of the ball as eight starters return, including all three starting linebackers in All-NCAC seniors Oliver Dickerhoof (Alliance/Central Catholic), Jon Hull (Buford, Ga./Mill Creek) and Steve Brown (Lawrenceville, Ga./Central Gwinnett). Dickerhoof led the team and the NCAC in tackles with 112 (64 solo and 48 assists). He also had a team-high three fumble recoveries and finished second in both tackles for loss (seven) and sacks (3.5). Hull finished second in tackles in 2010 at 69 (26 solo and 43 assists) in addition to two fumble recoveries, 4.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. Steve Brown had a solid season with 40 stops (14 solo and 26 assists), including a fumble recovery and a forced fumble.
Hiram begins the season on Sept. 3 in a non-conference matchup against Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pa. The Terriers will play its first home game a week later on Oct. 10 against Kenyon College at Henry Field at 1 p.m.