COLUMBUS, Ohio – Head coach Chad Rogosheske is preparing his football team for its first year under his leadership. With it, changes in scheme and personnel will be most noticeable when the Crusaders hit the field on Sept. 3 against Wittenberg University.
Following their third consecutive season with an overall record of 3-7, Rogosheske is determined to change the fortunes of Capital Football. It begins with breeding a new culture while also taking advantage of a quality cast of returning players.
Rogosheske, a disciple out of the Tressel coaching camp having spent time with both legendary coaches Dick and Jim Tressel, is set to bring back a style of offense similar to the pro-style seen on Sundays. The option will not be completely abandoned. Rogosheske understands that the makeup of the team still provides an ability to run it, just not at the same frequency as years past. Capital will look to add an aerial assault to its game, taking advantage of ITS speed both on the inside and some added size on the outside.
Capita will carry three quarterbacks on this year's roster. Junior Nick Iske (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Davidson) is the incumbent who last season completed 56.6 percent of his 99 passing attempts, good for 709 yards, six touchdowns, and just two interceptions. Sophomore Conner McCloud (Reynoldsburg, Ohio/Reynoldsburg) possesses one of the better arms on the team and could compete for snaps now that the Crusaders are looking to go downfield through the air.
The Crusaders will also welcome sophomore Thomas Wibbeler (Zanesville, Ohio), a transfer from nationally-ranked Ohio Dominican University (NCAA Division II), to compete for the position. Last year, Wibbeler played in two games and went 5-for-8, 51 yards and one touchdown in limited time with the Panthers.
|Cory Heeter (Jr., RB)|
Capital is taking 14 running backs into the season opener and the committee the coaching staff puts together will have to replace the school's all-time leading rusher. The ask will be a tall feat, but the Crusaders are not without talent at the position. A key transition for the offense will be former slot back Cory Heeter (Circleville, Ohio) who moves back to his more natural position. The junior was a high school running back, and will be making the position change following a year in which he missed significant time with a shoulder injury. In four games last year, Heeter ran for 161 yards and two touchdowns.
Junior Isaiah Lyle (Youngstown, Ohio) will return as the lead returning running back after helping fill in for injured teammates last season. In seven games, Lyle posted 234 rushing yards (5.9 ypc) and two touchdowns.
Adding to the position's depth will be sophomore Christian Peach (Newburgh, Ind.). Peach is highly touted for his extreme speed and may be used in open space to keep defenses honest. Incoming freshman Freshman Nick Santavicca (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.) brings some additional speed and toughness to the position.
Wide receivers will see more action this year than any of the previous three under Rogosheske, which provides excitement for fans watching the young players set to catch passes. As it stands, two players return at that position, including junior Nick Waters (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Davidson) who worked primarily in the slot over his career. He rushed for 351 yards on 64 touches, and made four catches for 41 yards and one touchdown. Waters has shown over camp that he has the hands to reel in catches and speed to burn up field. He will likely be a favorite to take one of the outside receiver positions.
|Eddie Preciado (So., WR)|
The player most will want to keep an eye on is sophomore Eddie Preciado (Downey, Calif.), who is the team's lead returning pass catcher. He brings back 12 catches, 124 yards and one touchdown, but his potential may be unlocked with a more pass-happy offense being implemented. Expect the Crusaders to find different ways to get the ball into the playmaker's hands.
Added depth will come from Jante Wright (Delaware, Ohio/Delaware Hayes) who returns to the team and switches sides of the ball. Wright was listed as a defensive back in 2014 as a freshman. The incoming freshman class will likely get every opportunity to see the field, especially with two players six feet or taller coming in. David Barnett's size (6-3, 200) has displayed solid hands the ability to go vertical against defenses, and may be utilized in various situations. Wyatt Pertuset's 6-1, 200-pound frame is not only large but has proven to be one of reliability this fall. Also expect sophomore Nate Sperling (Marion, Ohio) to get touches over the middle of the field.
Tight end may be the thinnest position on the Capital roster, but only because in the previous offensive scheme there was never a need for that style of player. Now, Capital will look to some veterans making a position change, as well as a pair of incoming freshmen to compete for starting spots. The favorite to see significant action will be junior Trey Reese (Pittsburgh, Pa.) who over the last two seasons has been a defensive lineman by trade. Roberto Austria (Columbus, Ohio, Worthington Kilbourne) will take his 6-0, 205-pound frame from the slot position and move to jump on the line, as well.
Incoming freshmen Josh Moore (Belpre, Ohio) and Corey Sexton (Columbus, Ohio/Hamilton Township) will also be in the mix at tight end.
With a new offensive system, so too comes with it a "new" position. The H-back, as Coach Rogosheske describes it, is a position that finds itself all over the field as an upback, edge blocker or even a receiver. Chase Longwell will return to the team and has been asked to be a part of this position group, as well as sophomore Jon Eaton (Wapakoneta, Ohio) and junior Hunter Smith (Zanesville, Ohio).
|Will Weir (Sr., C)|
Thirteen young men will make up what may be the Crusaders' strongest part of the entire team, the offensive line. In each of the last three seasons, Capital has finished inside the top-10 in the nation for team rushing yards. Their true test will be this year with a new scheme and a new set of backs behind them.
All five starters will return in the form of senior Jake Hooks (6-2, 300), junior Zack Kennedy (6-3, 295), senior Jack Harding (6-2, 250), senior Zach Bennington (6-6, 290) and staple Will Weir (6-2, 255). Weir is the line's anchor from the center position, and the men on each side of him are just as strong. Adding depth will be junior Zach Clapper (6-1, 265), senior Robert Beck (6-4, 250), sophomore Logan Hernon (5-11, 215) and incoming freshman Michael Robinson (6-2, 275).
Rogosheske cites that this may be the deepest position group the Crusaders have. "Really what's amazing is how even it is across the board. We really feel we have 10 guys that we feel
On the other side of the ball, Rogosheske has entrusted the defense to coaches David Parrott '11 and his former assistant Wes Lynch, who will serve as co-defensive coordinators. Together, they will be looking to rebuild a defensive that has allowed an average of greater than 37 points per game over the last few seasons.
The defensive line may have the most upside from side to side of the line. Beginning in the center, senior Nick Wright (5-10, 280) will serve as the line's anchor. Swallowing up backs and linemen has been his specialty over the past two seasons, and he'll look to do more of the same for his companions on either side. Wright was second on the team lead in tackles for loss (3.5) and also registered 18 tackles. Sophomore Drew Selegue (6-0, 260) earned significant time on the inside last year and is the favorite to join Wright in the middle.
Seniors Tyler Conner (6-2, 220), Jimmy Ahern (6-0, 215) and Ben Heilman (6-0, 215) served as the team's main outside pass rushers and look to assume those roles once again this season. Conner is the line's leading returner after posting 36 tackles, one sack and a team-leading four tackles for loss. Ahern and Heilman will join him in the rotation, as will junior Kristopher Lee (5-11, 222). Lee served as a linebacker last year, but will be shifted to the interior line in order to take advantage of his aggressive nature and explosive speed off of the snap.
|Derek Eibon (Jr., LB)|
The linebacking corp will be an open competition this year. Junior Derek Eibon (Amherst, Ohio) is the team's leading returner at that position, bringing with him the second-most tackles (68) and 2.5 tackles for loss from a season ago. He'll likely retake his position in the middle of the Capital defense, but around him will be a cast of hungry players looking to make an impact and a long-term stay. Senior Shawn Facione (Marion, Ohio) is a favorite to regain a spot on the outside after posting 36 tackles in 2015.
Returners Kane Murray, Julian Mendoza, and Justin Scott will be in the mix as well as a cast of four incoming freshmen, and Anderson Cotton who missed the 2015 season. Murray is the front runner to be the STAR linebacker, a hybrid position that will require cover and inside tackling skills to be brought to the table.
The safety tandem of J.R. Garrigo (Miami, Fla.) is certainly one to look forward to in 2015. Garrigo was the Crusaders' top tackler with 75 while also breaking up a pair of passes. Three times he finished with 10 or more tackles in a game, including his collegiate debut where he tallied 13 against Wittenberg. Opposite Garrigo is likely to be junior Austin White (Hebron, Ohio), who has been making great progress in his own position transformation after coming to Capital as a quarterback two seasons ago.
|J.R. Garrigo (So., S)|
Junior Eric Stroski (Concord, Ohio) provided depth at safety last season and also finished fourth on the team in tackles. He'll likely serve as a key part of the rotation in the backfield. Also joining the program and expected to make a serious contribution is Division I transfer Lashaun Saunders. Sanders, a redshirt-sophomore, returns to his hometown after spending time at Ohio University where he was listed as a safety. He has the ability to play both up top and on the outside.
On the outside, Jordan Duncan (Sunnyvale, Calif.) had a solid start to his collegiate career after obtaining a starting spot at cornerback and racking up 37 tackles and three pass defenses. He is a heavy favorite to regain that starting position, while a cast of incoming freshmen will compete to fill the depth chart at that position.
Left-footed senior Keegan Irwin will be at the forefront of the special teams kicking game. Last season, the Cincinnati native excelled as the team's punter, but he also has the capacity to kick point-after attempts and kickoffs, if necessary. That may prove to be the case being Berlin, Germany). Galal, a lifelong soccer player, began playing football early in his high school career and actually made a full time switch during his senior season for the football cleats for a strong Toledo Start program in Northwest Ohio.
Waters was the team's leading kick return option, averaging toward the top of the conference rankings in yards per return (19.3), but Preciado may be asked to go back and return as well. Preciado returned 11 kicks for 161 yards, and has the skills needed to give the Capital offense great field position.
Capital kicks its season off against a strong opponent out of the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) in Wittenberg University on Sept. 3 in Springfield, Ohio. Wittenberg is outside of the top-25 but receiving votes in the opening pre-season poll, according to D3Football.com.