Cap Football Ready to Open Season with The Mount on Saturday

Nick Waters (pictured) and the 2017 Capital football team are ready to kick off the season against Mount St. Joseph University on Saturday, Sept. 2 at 1:30 p.m. from Purmort Field at Bernlohr Stadium. (photo credit: Joe Maiorana, Impact Action Sports Photography)
Nick Waters (pictured) and the 2017 Capital football team are ready to kick off the season against Mount St. Joseph University on Saturday, Sept. 2 at 1:30 p.m. from Purmort Field at Bernlohr Stadium. (photo credit: Joe Maiorana, Impact Action Sports Photography)

 Capital University Crusaders


Mount St. Joseph Lions

(0-0, 0-0 HCAC)   Saturday, Sept. 2  |  1:30 p.m.   (0-0, 0-0 OAC)
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Capital has had a busy offseason building its roster numbers, grooming newcomers, first-years and freshmen, as well as preparing its student-athletes for its athletic, academic, and social endeavors. The Crusaders enter game one with 102 on the active roster, including 43 freshmen, 20 sophomores, 26 juniors, and 17 seniors. 
Capital finished the 2016 season with a loss at home to Heidelberg, exiting the year with a 4-6 overall record and 4-5 OAC record. In Chad Rogosheske's first year as head coach, that marked a one-win improvement from the previous year, which was also the most since 2011. The Purple and White have key components returning fully healthy and escaped the preseason with minimal harm, and are now ready to keep battling to bring the program back to its once lofty status.
-- Read the full season preview! -- 
For those unfamiliar with "The Mount", the football program has come a long way since 2001. After just one winning season in its first 12 years and a winless season in 2001, the Lions stormed back to become a 10-1 team in 2004. They then put forth 9-2 campaigns in each of the next three years. From 2008-2013, The Mount hovered around the .500 mark before another breakout year in which they went 8-2. Last season, they finished 6-4 - a feat considering they lost the first three games out of the gate - and competed for the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship all the way until the final week of the season.
The Lions will be led by Tyler Hopperton, who was appointed interim head coach over the offseason. On the field, Chaiten Tomlin returns under center after earning HCAC honorable mention status and HCAC Freshman of the Year laurels in 2016. Tomlin set the Lions record for touchdown passes in a season last season, compiling 28 touchdowns in 10 games. He also threw for a total of 2,356 yards and completed 61.1 percent of his passes. His most reliable returning target is A.J. Glines (24-306-5), though the Lions will bank on the play of young receivers Kendall Sprowl (21-273-1) and Grayson Roberts, as well. The offense averaged 414.9 yards per contest, ranking third in the conference. 
The Lions' defense should not be overlooked either. They finished the 2016 season second in points allowed per game (22.3) and return senior LB Nolan Miller (38 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 3 FR) and junior DB Tyler Hannah, who led the team with four interceptions.
Capital's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) has assembled and is asking for your help to aid victims of the terrible effects of Hurricane Harvey in Texas. SAAC will be collecting clothing and monetary donations to send to those in need that have been affected. Thank you for your generosity!
PROGRAM NOTE: All gameday programs have been converted to a digital format. The gameday program is available for download here or on the link above. You can also access the program from your seat on your mobile device by scanning QR codes located around the stadium. Rosters and depth charts will be provided free of charge in the stadium, at will call, and also by digital download.
Capital has a strong foursome to lead the team into Saturday gamedays. The following individuals will serve as captains this season, as voted on by the team:
#12 Nick Iske, QB, Sr.
#13 Cory Heeter, RB, Sr.
#6   Shawn Facione Jr., LB, Sr. (injured - questionable)
#30 Derek Eibon, LB, Sr. 
What makes a quarterback happy? More weapons to throw to! Dartavious Stanford (known by most as 'Dar') joined the Crusaders this offseason after playing the last two years at nearby Ohio Dominican University (NCAA Division II) as a wide receiver. At ODU, Stanford accumulated 831 yards on 72 catches and made five touchdown grabs. In 2016, he was the Panthers' second-leading receiver after making 60 grabs for 687 yards and four touchdowns. Stanford is no stranger to starting quarterback Thomas Wibbeler. The two, as well as with offensive lineman Zach Clapper, played together at Zanesville High School on some of the program's more successful teams of late.
Junior quarterback Thomas Wibbeler is back and ready to get back onto the field after sustaining a season-ending knee injury against John Carroll (10/22) . He has been tabbed Capital's starting quarterback for the second season in a row. Prior to the injury, Wibbeler completed 114-of-214 passes (53.3%) for 1,556 yards and 11 touchdowns to just five interceptions. He became just the third CU quarterback to hit 1,500 yards passing since 2003, and that number could have been north of 2,000 had it not been for the injury.
Another key returner coming back from an injury is senior running back Cory Heeter. Heeter was lost during game six against Mount Union, but was well on pace to break the single-season rushing touchdown record after posting seven over his first four games. He is just 181 yards from hitting 1,000 in his career. The current record is 14 set by Al White in 1959.
Like water, senior WR/RET Nick Waters has seemed to find the cracks in opposing defenses and special teams units. Last year, Waters finished third in the OAC in yards per kickoff return (22.7) and all-purpose yards per game (139.3). On the receiving end, he finished seventh in yards per catch (13.2) and even turned in the third-longest kickoff return of the season (63 yards).
Waters will again line up as a starting wide receiver and serve as the primary return man on both punts and kickoffs.
Through 10 games in 2016, Capital had 19 turnovers and 23 takeaways (+4). In all of their wins last season, Cap won or equaled their opponent in the turnover battle.
Senior linebacker Derek Eibon sees the field better than anyone, and that makes sense considering he is looking to pursue a career in optometry. As highlighted at OAC Media Day, Eibon is studying to practice in the field after serving two internships with different family members that are also optometrists. 
On the field, Eibon led the team and finished seventh in the OAC with 81 tackles. He ranked second in the conference in assisted tackles (53) and tackles per game (9.0). For his career, he has 161 tackles and is averaging 6.7 per game since becoming a starter as a sophomore. 
Looking to maximize his built frame and knack to do great things with or near the ball, senior Isaiah Lyle has switched positions from running back to linebacker. In three seasons as a running back, Lyle ran 64 times for 282 yards and one touchdown. His best season was in 2015 when he filled in for the injured Brent Walton and ran 40 times for 234 yards and one score. 
He has done so well in the offseason he has been listed as the No. 2 middle linebacker behind senior Derek Eibon.
A couple of this year's Crusaders took a year (or two) off, or came to Cap Football from other sports and now are donning purple and white.
#31 Antwan Shipp, DB
Played in seven games in 2015, made one tackle.
#67 James Zamor, DL
Played in 10 games between 2014-15.
#84 Ben Drake, WR
Played baseball at Cap in 2016, first year of football.
#86 Noah Dall, TE
Played two games at slotback in 2014.
Immediately after team pictures were taken on August 20, each position group embarked on different philanthropic projects around Columbus.
The defensive backs and offensive line beautified the Capital campus by cleaning up trash left behind following move-in weekend.
The defensive line served as the cleanup crew at the Jewish Community Center located nearby on College Avenue.
Capital wide receivers and specialists made a trip to Grove City where they served those who served at American Legion Paschall Post 164. There, the group helped with an ongoing fundraiser for veterans by setting up, cleaning, tearing down, and everything in between during and after the event.
Capital linebackers made a trip to the local Ronald McDonald House to visit and interact with families and children residing at or visiting the location.
Perhaps the most inspiring story of the day came from the quarterbacks, who spent the afternoon at Nationwide Children's Hospital. Among the many children that the group spent time with, one brave young man stood out among the rest. A young man named "Garrett" was rehabilitating from a surgery he elected to undergo, and the Capital quarterbacks made the most of their time with him. Full of funny faces, selfies, jokes, and football talk, Cap and Garrett swapped motivations to make 2017 "the year of the bounceback".
Capital tight ends and H-backs were the first to get busy with its philanthropic endeavors while doing some heavy lifting during Capital's move-in day on Thursday, August 17. They and many other Capital athletic teams joined the campus-wide movement to welcome the newest members of the #CapFam to its new home. 
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Until the very last game of the 2016 season, Capital had one of the best punt coverage units in the league and was top 50 in the nation. One return changed that. In season finale on Nov. 12, 2016, Heidelberg's Justin Hutchins returned a punt 59 yards for a touchdown. Prior to that, Capital had not allowed an opposing team to return a punt for a touchdown in nearly six years. Jasper Collins of Mount Union was the last to do so when he went 47 yards the other way on Oct. 23, 2010. 
At this year's OAC Football Media Day, the coaches and media member were polled to see their views on how they believe the season will play out. Capital Football was tabbed to finish eighth by the coaches, and seventh by the media.
Polls are just polls, but here they are:
COACHES: 1. Mount Union (80, 8), 2. JCU (74, 2), 3. Heidelberg (6), 4. ONU (54), 5. Otterbein (52), 6. Baldwin Wallace (38), 7. Marietta (32), 
8. Capital (31), 9. Muskingum (18), 
10. Wilmington (11).
MEDIA: 1. Mount Union (345, 26), 2. JCU (327, 9), 3. ONU (265), 4. Heidelberg (244, 1),  
5. Otterbein (212), 6. Baldwin Wallace (180), 
7. Capital (143), 8. Muskingum (101), 9. Marietta (101), 10. Wilmington (40).
For complete coverage from media day, including interviews with SR LB Derek Eibon and SR WR Nick Waters plus Head Coach Chad Rogosheske,click here.


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