For Immediate Release
Football -- Sept. 2, 2011
Series History: Benedictine leads, 16-5 (7-3 in Lisle, 9-2 in Eureka)
Series Streak: Benedictine has won four in a row
First Meeting: Benedictine won 53-7 on Oct. 14, 1972 in Eureka, Ill.
Last Meeting: Benedictine won 42-7on Sept. 4, 2010 in Eureka, Ill.
Live Stats: sidearmstats.com/benedictine/football
Tickets: $5, General admission
Kickoff Weather Forecast: 79 degrees, 40% chance of storms
SETTING THE STAGE
The Eureka College football team will open the 2011 season Saturday night, visiting former Illini-Badger Football Conference rival Benedictine for a 7 p.m. kickoff under the lights at the Village of Lisle-Benedictine University Sports Complex in Lisle, Ill.
Eureka will enter its 108th season of competition in 2011, returning 16 total starters and boasting one of its largest rosters in school history.
In addition to a wealth of returning talent, which includes four All-UMAC players from last season, third-year head coach Kurt Barth will welcome 34 newcomers as the Red Devils will pursue their first-ever NCAA Division III playoff berth and first playoff appearance of any kind since 1994.
Eureka was picked to finish eighth in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference in 2011, according to a preseason coaches poll released by the league office on Wednesday.
A member of the Northern Athletics Conference and a former league rival of the Red Devils in the now-defunct Illini-Badger Football Conference, Benedictine represents Eureka’s first football opponent in 2011. The Eagles narrowly edged Aurora to be chosen as the preseason NAC favorite in a poll conducted in mid-August.
The Eagles finished last season with a perfect 7-0 record in conference play, claiming their first Northern Athletics Conference title and their first conference title of any kind in 75 years. The Eagles advanced to the 2010 NCAA Division III Football Championship for the first time in school history.
Benedictine lost its All-NAC First Team quarterback-wide receiver combo of Preston Earl and Mike Trombetta to graduation, but return First-Teamers running back John Borsellino, tight end Bryan Wiesemann and offensive lineman Kevin Novacich to their potent offense.
THE HEAD COACHES
Eureka College athletics Hall of Famer Kurt Barth enters his third season as the head coach of the Red Devils in 2011. Since being hired as the 12th head coach in program history in December 2008, Barth has rejuvenated the EC football program and installed one of the most prolific passing offenses in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference and all of NCAA Division III.
Barth is 0-1 all-time against Benedictine, 3-7 in non-conference games and 1-1 in season openers.
Jon Cooper took over the head coaching reins at Benedictine in 2005 after serving for 19 seasons as an assistant head coach, defensive coordinator and linebackers coach on the collegiate level. Overall, Cooper has more than paid his dues with 33 total years of coaching experience before stepping into his role at the Eagles’ helm.
Cooper guided the Eagles to a 7-4 record a year ago, securing Benedictine’s first Northern Athletics Conference title and first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division III playoffs.
THE ALL-TIME SERIES
Saturday’s contest marks the 22nd all-time meeting between Eureka and Benedictine and first game in Lisle since 2006. Benedictine leads the series 16-5 and has won four straight against the Red Devils.
The Eagles won the first-ever game in the series, topping the Red Devils 53-7 in Eureka on Oct. 14, 1972.
Benedictine won the previous meeting between the two schools, a 42-7 triumph at McKinzie Field to open last season on Sept. 4, 2010. The Eagles also won the previous meeting in Lisle, 35-7, on Oct. 21, 2006.
A win Saturday would give the Eagles five straight wins over the Red Devils, matching their longest win streak in the series that ran from 1972 until 1976.
Saturday’s game will be broadcast live on the internet by Benedictine at vidtechsportsvision.com. In addition to the video broadcast, live statistics will be available by visiting benueagles.com and clicking the “Live Stats” link near the bottmo of the main page.
EUREKA AGAINST THE NAC
Since the Northern Athletics Conference was formed prior to the 2006 season, Eureka is 1-2 in games played against NAC members.
The Red Devils topped former Illini-Badger Football Conference rival Concordia (Ill.) 28-8 on Sept. 13, 2008 in the rain at McKinzie Field, but the Cougars returned the favor with a 34-21 victory over the Red Devils in River Forest on Sept. 12, 2009.
Benedictine delivered Eureka’s second loss against the NAC in last season’s opener, 42-7.
BARTH IN THE NON-CONFERENCE
Eureka third-year head coach Kurt Barth will lead the Red Devils in a non-conference game for the 11th time on Saturday and carries a 3-7 non-conference record into the contest.
Barth and the Red Devils are looking to snap a four-game non-conference losing streak and win a non-conference road game for the first time since Barth was named head coach in December 2008.
Overall, Eureka has lost 16 straight non-conference road games and last won a true non-conference road game on Sept. 11, 1999 at Monmouth, a 42-28 triumph.
Saturday’s game against Benedictine is Eureka’s only non-conference game of the 2011 season.
PRESEASON UMAC POLL
Eureka was picked to finish eighth in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference in 2011, according to a preseason coaches poll released by the league office in late August. Defending UMAC champion Greenville was picked unanimously to win the 10-team conference.
St. Scholastica was chosen second and received the remaining first-place vote, while Minnesota-Morris, Martin Luther and Westminster rounded out the top five.
When the Red Devils hit the field in Lisle Saturday night, more than half of the members of the starting lineup will have already earned a starting assignment before.
The Eureka offense will have a load of experience at its offensive skill positions this fall -- the Red Devils will return their leading passer (Sam Durley, 1,994 yards), rusher (Ethan Lord, 306 yards) and receiver (Wes Schmidgall, 890 yards) from the previous season for the first time since 2004 when Andy Swenson (rushing), Dwayne Siggers (passing) and Andy Craig (receiving) returned.
Sixteen of Eureka’s 22 starters enter Saturday’s game with at least one starting lineup experience and 21 of the players are returning letterwinners. Right tackle D.T. Thornton is the only newcomer scheduled to start Saturday.
Additionally, three of Eureka’s specialists have significant experience, including junior kicker Travis Huber, junior punter Jordan Jefferson and senior return specialist Mike Minehan.
MORE NEW TALENT
Third-year head coach Kurt Barth and his staff continued their tireless recruiting last offseason, welcoming a group of 34 newcomers. Eureka’s roster size in 2011 will eclipse 70 for the second consecutive season.
Including the 44 newcomers from Eureka’s 2010 team, Barth and his staff have successfully recruited 78 new players to play for the Red Devils for at least one season since the fall of 2010.
Eureka College seniors Alex Hess, Mike Minehan and Wes Schmidgall have each been selected to the D3PRODAY.com Preseason All-America Third Team, according to an announcement from the website in late August.
D3PRODAY.com is the nation’s first and only Division III Pro Day and Combine for seniors after the regular season. D3PRODAY.com Preseason All-Americans represent the board’s best seniors in Division III. The selection board is made up of pro scouts, NFL and CFL agents and former NFL coaches and players.
DURLEY’S AIR ATTACK
Junior quarterback Sam Durley is within striking distance of one of many career milestones this Saturday night. The 6-foot-5 Roanoke, Ill. native enters Saturday’s contest with 2,490 career passing yards. With just 10 yards passing against the Eagles, Durley can become the first Eureka quarterback to hit 2,500 career passing yards since Nick Lindsey hit the plateau on Oct. 18, 2008 at Principia.
Lindsey, who ultimately started 33 games, threw for 5,544 career yards and was chosen as the 2009 UMAC South Division Offensive Player of the Year, needed 23 games to reach 2,500 passing yards. Durley will be playing in his 20th career game and starting for the 10th time on Saturday.
In addition to returning as the top two tacklers on the Eureka defense, senior free safety Mike Minehan and sophomore linebacker Jacob Carls are the top two returning tacklers in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference.
Minehan finished second in the league with 12.1 tackles per game a year ago, while Carls finished fifth with 9.8 stops per game. The duo is ranked 1-2 among returning UMAC players and are the only two returning players in the 10-team league that averaged at least 9.0 tackles per game in 2010.
Additionally, Minehan’s 12.1 total tackles per game ranks sixth nationally in Division III among players with eligibiltiy remaining beyond the 2010 season.
As part of Eureka’s new merchandising deal with Nike, the Red Devils will wear new Nike uniforms beginning in 2011. The home jerseys have been changed from maroon to black, while numbers have been added to the shoulders on the new white road jerseys.
Ultimately, each of Eureka’s 18 varsity teams will switch to Nike uniforms. The football program is the first to make the change.
PUSHING FOR THE PLAYOFFS
For the first time since the 2007 Illini-Badger Football Conference season, the Red Devils will be competing for an automatic berth to the NCAA Division III Playoffs.
Since the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference welcomed former St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference football members Eureka, Greenville, MacMurray and Westminster as associate members in 2009, the regular season UMAC champion will be an automatic qualifier for the first time to the 32-team tournament that begins in late November.
WHO’S THE NEW GUY?
Four coaches from Kurt Barth’s original coaching staff in 2009 remain on this season’s staff, but Barth is welcoming only one newcomer in 2011. Former NCAA Division III football student-athlete Joe DeLucia will join the Eureka football staff in 2011. He will serve as a defensive assistant.
He was a part of the Concordia (Ill.) coaching staff as a graduate assistant coach for the 2000 and 2001 seasons before ultimately serving as an assistant coach in 2002.
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