Aug. 5, 2009
LANCASTER, PA - The Johns Hopkins football team, which has grabbed at least a share of four Centennial Conference Championships in the last seven years and sports a 53-22 overall record since the start of the 2002 season, tops the 2009 Centennial Conference Preseason Poll, which was announced Wednesday. The Blue Jays picked up 10 first-place votes and totaled 115 points in the poll of league coaches and sports information directors. This is the fourth time in the last six years that the Blue Jays have topped the poll as they were also selected in 2004, 2005 and 2006.
The balance of the league was on display in the results of the poll as four different teams picked up at least one first-place vote. Two-time defending league champion Muhlenberg picked up five first-place votes and totaled 102 points to tie Dickinson for second place. The Red Devils earned a pair of first-place nods. Moravian, which tied Johns Hopkins for second place in the final standings a year ago, picked up the other first-place vote and placed fourth with 91 points. Gettysburg (75), Franklin & Marshall (63), Ursinus (45), McDaniel (26) and Juniata (22) round out the poll.
Johns Hopkins posted an 8-3 record, including a 6-2 mark in the Centennial, last season. The Blue Jays jumped out to a 3-0 start before dropping back-to-back games at Moravian and at home against Muhlenberg. Hopkins then reeled off five straight wins to finish the regular season at 8-2 and hosted Catholic in the ECAC Southeast Championship game. The Cardinals edged the Blue Jays, 18-17, to snap a three-game winning streak in ECAC Playoff games for the Blue Jays.
The success the Blue Jays enjoyed during the 2008 season came despite fielding one of the youngest teams in the league. Players who totaled 4,122 of JHU's 4,158 yards of total offense (99.1 %) and all 34 of the team's offensive touchdowns are due to return in 2009.
Senior running back Andrew Kase headlines a group of nine returning starters on offense as he rushed for a school-record 1,635 yards and 17 touchdowns a year ago. He enters his final season as JHU's career rushing leader (2,954) after finishing eighth in the nation in rushing a year ago.
While Kase grabs most of the headlines, the offense also returns sophomore quarterback Hewtitt Tomlin, wide receivers Tucker Michels and Sam Wernick and four starters on the offensive line. Tomlin set JHU and Centennial Conference freshman records with 1,847 yards passing last season, while Michels and Wernick combined for 100 receptions for 1,345 yards and eight touchdowns a year ago. Senior tackle Mike Stoffel and senior guard Tim Miller return to anchor the offensive line after grabbing All-Centennial honors a year ago.
The Blue Jay defense allowed just 53 points over the last five games of the 2008 season and returns a solid nucleus from that group. Two-time All-Centennial selection Colin Wixted counts 147 tackles, including 18 for losses, to his credit over the last two years and will lead the team from his strong safety spot. Senior Glenn Rocca is one of four starters returning on the defensive line and is coming off a 50-tackle season that included 4.5 TFLs and 3.5 sacks.
A trio of sophomores - Kale Sweeney (SS), Sam Eagleson (CB) and Tyler Brown (LB) - made an immediate slash last season and provide a bright future for the defense. The threesome combined for 125 tackles, 15 tackles for losses, six sacks and 14 pass breakups a year ago and may be one of the top young defensive trios in the Centennial Conference.
Jim Margraff is entering his 20th season as the head coach at Homewood and carries a 119-72-3 record into the 2009 season. He is the all-time winningest coach in school history and has guided the Blue Jays to four Centennial Conference Championships (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005), three ECAC Championships (2002, 2003, 2004) and one appearance in the NCAA Playoffs (2005).
Johns Hopkins, which is ranked 18th in the Sporting News Preseason Poll and 24th by Lindy's, will open the 2009 season at Delaware Valley on September 5. The Aggies are ranked in the top five in both preseason polls. The Blue Jays' league opener comes two weeks later when they host Gettysburg (September 18 7 pm).
2009 Centennial Conference Preseason Football Poll
Rank School (1st-place votes) Points
1 Johns Hopkins (10) 115
2T. Muhlenberg (5) 102
2T. Dickinson (2) 102
4 Moravian (1) 91
5 Gettysburg 75
6 Franklin & Marshall 63
7 Ursinus 45
8 McDaniel 26
9 Juniata 22