HIRAM, OHIO — 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.
“We made some strides last season and our players really made some improvement throughout the course of the year,” said Moore. “Although we didn’t neccessarily have the year that we wanted record wise, our team got another year of experience and that should help us be more successful in 2011.”
The Terriers will have some holes to fill on offense with none being larger than at wide receiver with the loss of All-North Coast Athletic Conference and All-Ohio wideout Glenn Campbell to graduation. Campbell caught a school and NCAC record 91 passes last fall and became the first Terrier in program history to have 1,000 yards receiving in a single season in addition to setting four other records.
“Glenn was an amazing athlete,” said Moore. “We will definitely miss having him around, but I think that the combination of guys that we have coming back can fill the void and be a threat for opposing defenses.”
Another question mark for the Hiram offense will be the role of quarterback as returning starter Brendan Rehor (Bay Village/Bay) has already been lost for the season due to injury. A year ago, Rehor set school single-season records in pass completions (222) and attempts (364) for 1,910 yards and 10 touchdowns. Of the remaining QBs on the roster, only sophomore George Blake (Parma) saw any playing time last fall completing three-of-four passes for 28 yards.
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. Joining Jones will be junior Chris Austin (Cleveland/Glenville) and senior Rodney Jacobs (St. Petersburg, Fla./Seminole). Both were used in backup roles with Austin ending the 2010 campaign with 43 carries for 121 yards (2.8 yards per carry) while Jacobs rushed for 51 yards in 21 attempts (2.4 yards per carry) and had one 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. Also look for sophomore Brendon James (Brunswick) to compete for playing time this season at wideout after finishing his rookie season with 10 catches for 70 yards.
The remaining returning starters are on the offensive line in veterans Vincent Grandillo (Tiffin/Calvert), Jeff Petrilli (Warren/Niles McKinley), Joe Richissin (Brunswick) and Matt Russell (Cape Coral, Fla./Cape Coral). Last season, the offense posted 2,932 total yards (690 rushing and 2,242 passing) and recorded school single-season records in passing first downs (108), pass attempts (418) and completions (255).
“We will have some challenges on offense this season with the loss of some key players from last year,” said Moore. “But we have the luxury of an experienced offensive line and returning specialty players that will allow us to be competitive.”
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.
The defensive line will be led by returning starters and All-NCAC senior Jarrod Lewis (Petersburg/Springfield Local), senior Robert Woods and senior Alex Sinclair (South Euclid/Brush). Lewis recorded 39 tackles last year (21 solo and 18 assists) and led the team in tackles for loss (nine) and sacks (5.5) in addition to one fumble recovery. Woods had 42 tackles (18 solo and 24 assists) to go along with 5.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and a fumble recovery while Sinclair added 14 tackles (five solo and nine assists), 1.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble. Also on the defensive line, look for senior Brandon Nuby (Spring Hill, Fla./Nature Coast) to play a significant role. A year ago, Nuby posted 48 tackles (24 solo and 24 assists) with 4.5 tackles for loss and one forced fumble.
The defensive secondary will be without some experienced players, but will still return some veterans led by senior Mike Brown (Cleveland/Glenville) and sophomore Josh Peacock (Carson City, Nev./Carson). Mike Brown led all returning secondary with 56 tackles last season (37 solo and 19 assists). Peacock had an impressive first year with the program with 44 tackles (31 solo and 13 assists), including three tackles for loss, an interception and a team-high three blocked kicks. Joining Mike Brown and Peacock, will be senior Dominick Harper (Akron/Kenmore). Harper tallied five tackles in 2010 as a backup and had one fumble recovery. Also expect Sam Gallagher (Strongsville) to see his share of playing time at defensive back following a 2010 season that saw him total 41 tackles (20 solo and 21 assists) to go along with one forced fumble. In addition, look for junior Matt Laird (Shaker Heights) and sophomore Tyler Williams (Ravenna/ Rootstown) to compete for playing time.
“We’ll have some talented players on defense this season and we will rely on them to come up with some big plays,” said Moore. “We’re pretty solid in all areas and I think we will be able to surprise some people.”
The 2011 schedule will have one of its own “firsts” as well as Hiram will play in its first ever night game when the Terriers host The College of Wooster on Oct. 29. The team will also play in a neutral site home contest against Macalester (Minn.) College on Oct. 8 at Elmhurst College in Elmhurst, Ill. 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.
“It’s an exciting time for our football program and I think it will be shown this fall,” said Moore. “We had a great spring practice and the players and coaches are all looking forward to getting the 2011 season started. We’ll have the largest team in program history this fall and we’ll have a large group of talented players that should result in a positive step forward for Hiram football.”