Washington University was chosen to capture its third consecutive football title and 11th in history in the University Athletic Association preseason coaches’ poll for the 2014 UAA football season.
The Bears, who are seeking a three-peat for the first time since winning four consecutive titles from 2001-2004, earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III Football Championship in 2013, their second NCAA appearance in program history.
Washington returns 15 starters from last season’s 8-3 team, including nine First Team All-Association honorees. Senior preseason All-America Fade Oluokon is one of five returning starters on a defense that ranked fifth in NCAA Division III in 2013, allowing 11.9 points per game. Eight starters return on offense, four of whom were named to the All-Association First Team last season: senior wide receiver Tim Bartholomew, senior tackle Connor Meneough, junior tight end Mitch McMahon, and junior running back Cody Ratermann. Junior kicker Alex Hallwachs and junior punter Alec Stanke were each named to the All-Association First Team last season and anchor the special teams unit.
Case Western Reserve University and the University of Chicago tied for second place in the preseason poll. The Spartans posted a 2-1 UAA mark last season to place second and both teams finished over .500 overall.
Eight of the 12 returning starters for the Spartans are on the defense. Junior Gavin Sandidge leads an All-Association trio at linebacker and is joined by junior defensive end Justin Williams, who earned First Team All-Association recognition a year ago despite missing the first four games of the season due to injury. Senior wide receiver Sean Lapcevic has caught 108 career passes and shared UAA Special Teams Player of the Year honors in 2013.
The Maroons, who set a program record by allowing just 14.4 points per game in a 10-game season, return 13 All-Association players from last season. Junior cornerback Vincent Beltrano was named D3Football.com Third Team All-Region and shared UAA Special Teams Player of the Year last season. Senior running back Zak Ross-Nash, who rushed for 705 yards in 2013, will run behind an offensive line that returns four of five starters. A trio of junior wideouts are also back from last year.
Carnegie Mellon University returns nine starters, including two-time All-Association First Team honoree Tim Swanson, who led the Tartans in receiving with 26 receptions, 548 yards, and three touchdowns last season. Senior outside linebacker Alexander D’Angelo paced the team in 2013 with 49 tackles (31 solo), and two forced fumbles. 2013 ECAC South All-Star Vince DeMarchi tallied 43 tackles and two interceptions.
From 2008-2013, UAA teams posted a combined 106-65 record (.620 winning percentage) in non-conference play. This season marks the first in which Carnegie Mellon and CWRU are also affiliate members of the Presidents’ Athletic Conference. Chicago and Washington will join the Southern Athletic Association as affiliate members next season. All teams will remain members of the UAA as well and continue to play a round robin Association schedule.
The 2014 UAA schedule begins the first week of the season as the traditional rivalry between Carnegie Mellon and Case Western Reserve for possession of the Academic Bowl trophy kicks off both UAA and PAC play.
2014 UAA Football Team Previews
Carnegie Mellon University: : Carnegie Mellon returns nine starters. Senior outside linebacker Alexander D’Angelo, senior defensive lineman Dustin Schneider, junior defensive backs Vince Demarchi and Malcolm Guya along with junior linebacker Nico Comsa are the starting returners on defense. D’Angelo, the top returning tackler for the Tartans posted career numbers a year ago with 49 tackles, 31 solo, while forcing two fumbles and recovered one for a touchdown. He appeared in all 10 games with nine starts and tallied 2.5 sacks. Schneider has started all 21 games over the past two seasons and has been the leader up front for the defense. Demarchi, a 2013 ECAC South All-Star, tallied 43 tackles while recording two interceptions. He totaled nine pass breakups to tally 11 passes defended to tie for tops in the UAA. Guya, the team’s second leading tackler returning, had 45 stops including 26 solo last season. Comsa appeared in nine contests with four starts while totaling 25 tackles. Offensively, running back Troy Witt returns for his junior campaign after leading the Tartans a year ago with 431 rushing yards. Witt was the third leading receiver with 24 catches for 238 yards last season. Senior wide out and two-time All-Association honoree Tim Swanson returns after leading the Tartans in receiving in 2013 with 26 receptions, 548 yards and three touchdowns. Up front the Tartans return junior tackle Will French and sophomore guard W. Tyler Reid. Reid appeared in all 10 games with three starts while French saw action in nine contests with two starts.
Case Western Reserve University: Case Western Reserve returns 30 letterwinners and 12 starters from a team that finished 5-4 a season ago. The Spartan defense looks to be the strength of the team with eight returning starters – all juniors – and six All-UAA honorees. Junior Gavin Sandidge leads an All-UAA trio at linebacker that accounted for 222 tackles last fall. Junior defensive end Justin Williams was named to the All-UAA First Team despite missing the first four games of the year due to injury, and junior safety Scott Suren returns after a Second Team All-Association campaign. The offense will look to establish an identity built around senior quarterback Billy Beecher, who has played in 15 games during the last two seasons. Senior wide receiver Sean Lapcevic, 2013 UAA Specials Teams Co-Player of the Year, figures to be a focal point of the offense with 108 career receptions. In addition to their traditional three-game UAA schedule, the Spartans will also compete for the first time as an affiliate member of the Presidents’ Athletic Conference. CWRU has seven consecutive winning seasons with a 59-14 overall record since the beginning of the 2007 campaign. During that span, the Spartans have won four UAA Championships with three straight undefeated regular seasons and NCAA playoff berths from 2007-09.
University of Chicago: Under first-year head coach Chris Wilkerson, the University of Chicago football team posted a 6-4 record overall and a 1-2 mark in the University Athletic Association (UAA) in the 2013 season. The Maroons boasted a stifling defense that shut out two opponents and set a school record with 14.4 points per game allowed in a 10-game season. Overall, the Maroons return 13 of their 19 All-UAA performers from last season. Senior running back Zak Ross-Nash headlines the ground attack with 705 rushing yards in 2013. Four of the five main cogs on the offensive line also return in the trenches. The receiving corps remains intact with a trio of junior wideouts – Cole Thoms (390 yards, four touchdowns), Sam Coleman (475 yards, five touchdowns) and Colin Macri (172 yards, two touchdowns). With Vincent Cortina’s graduation, the quarterback position is open for competition. Junior cornerback Vincent Beltrano capped a stellar 2013 campaign by being named Third Team All-Region by D3Football.com and Co-UAA Special Teams Player of the Year. Beltrano tallied a team-high five interceptions. The junior quartet in the secondary includes Christopher Dengler (three interceptions), Greg Thome (four interceptions) and Jacob Romeo. Senior Schuyler Montefalco led the defense in tackles (86) and tallied 11 tackles for a loss from his linebacker spot. Senior defensive end Brandon Bolock led the team in both sacks (5.5) and tackles for a loss (11.5). Senior defensive lineman Scott Mainquist contributed 4.5 sacks of his own.
Washington University: Washington University is coming off its 10th University Athletic Association (UAA) Championship and an appearance in the NCAA Division III playoffs for the second time in school history. The Bears won their final seven regular-season games in 2013 and finished with an 8-3 overall record. Washington U. returns 58 letterwinners and 15 starters from last year’s squad, including nine First Team All-Association honorees. The Bears have eight starters returning on offense, including First Team All-Association honorees in senior wide receiver Tim Bartholomew, senior tackle Connor Meneough, junior tight end Mitch McMahon and junior running back Cody Ratermann. Senior preseason All-America linebacker Fade Oluokun leads a group of five returning starters on a defense that ranked fifth in NCAA Division III allowing 11.9 points per game in 2013. Oluokun, senior safety Ryan Bednar, and junior cornerback Quincy Marting earned First Team All-Association honors a year ago. Junior kicker Alex Hallwachs and junior punter Alec Stanke both earned First Team All-Association honors a year ago and will anchor the special teams unit. Head coach Larry Kindbom enters his 26th season on the Danforth Campus with an overall record of 156-95 (.622). The winningest coach in school history, Kindbom has guided the Bears to a winning record in 20 of 25 seasons. He ranks fifth in NCAA Division III in winningest active coaches and 18th in Division III history with 184 career victories.