Story courtesy of the OAC
Photo courtesy of Mount Union Athletics
AUSTINTOWN, Ohio - Mount Union, under the direction of Head Coach Larry Kehres, was picked in both the preseason media and coaches’ polls to win the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) football title in 2012. The preseason polls were released today at the OAC Football Media Preview, held at the Doubletree Hilton Hotel in Independence, Ohio.
Mount Union received 30 of 31 first place votes (309 points) in the media poll and nine of 10 first place votes (81 points) in the coaches’ poll. Head coaches do not vote for their own teams in the balloting.
The Purple Raiders return a talented and experienced senior class, who wants to finish their careers on a high note as they look to continue a run of 20 consecutive Ohio Athletic Conference Championships (1992-11), while finishing with a record 11th NCAA Division III National Championship.
Coach Kehres returns for his 27th year on the sidelines as one of only 11 coaches in college football history to win over 300 career games. His career record currently stands at 303-22-3.
Just six starters return to the nation’s No. 2 ranked defense from a year ago, including a pair of All-American seniors, safety Nick Driskill (Wabash, Ind./Southwoood) and defensive end Charles Dieuseul (Winter Haven, Fla./Lake Region). Driskill was the nation’s defensive player of the year and OAC’s defensive back of the year as he had a team-high 113 tackles, 17 of those for loss, along with 6.5 sacks, four interceptions, two fumble recoveries, a forced fumble and a blocked kick. Dieuseul, who was the OAC’s defensive lineman of the year, had 78 stops with a team-best 20.5 tackles for loss including 10.5 sacks.
The offense returns nine starters from a unit that averaged nearly 38 points and 440 yards of offense per game a season ago, including senior running back Jeremy Murray (Martins Ferry), who averaged 312 carries and 1,623 yards over each of the last two seasons. In front of him is senior fullback Jake Simon (Parma Hts./Holy Name) and four returning offensive lineman in seniors Antonio Tate (Cleveland/Villa Angela-St. Joseph), Matt Mattox (St. Joseph Mich.), Mac Knisley (Perrysburg) and Cody Forbus (Longwood, Fla./Lyman). Tate, an All-American, was the OAC’s Offensive Lineman of the Year while he and Mattox were also All-OAC First Team picks.
All-OAC senior wide receiver Jasper Collins (Geneva, NY) will lead a deep and explosive wide receiver unit. Collins, who missed four games in 2011, still led the team with 67 catches for 844 yards and 13 touchdowns a year ago.
The Purple Raiders will look to senior quarter back Neal Seaman (Louisville), who started nine games in the 2011, completing nearly 61-percent of his passes with eight touchdowns
Senior kicker Tyler Almeida (Elyria) and senior punter Brandon Mathie (Louisville) are also back among a group of returners on special teams.