SEWANEE, Tenn. - The 123rd season of Sewanee Football will begin on Saturday at Historic Hardee-McGee Field at Harris Stadium with a noon kickoff against Kenyon College.
NEW COACH, NEW POSSIBILITIES: Travis Rundle is the 31st head football coach at the University of the South. He comes to the mountain after serving as Defensive Coordinator for Illinois Wesleyan for the past six seasons.
SERIES HISTORY: In the ninth meeting between the two schools, the Tigers lead the season series, 7-1. Kenyon earned its first win of the series last season with a 21-17 victory on their home field. The first meeting between the two schools occurred in 1946, with the Tigers defeating the Lords, 13-6.
KENYON NOTES: The Lords finished the 2016 campaign with a 3-7 mark, but Chris Monfiletto's program finished second in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) in passing yards per game with 292.8. Monfiletto enters his sixth season as head coach of Kenyon, and he is 16-34 overall. Sophomore Thomas Merkle was short of a 3,000-yard season through the air by 72 yards, but he completed 59 percent of his passes (276-for-464) for 2,928 with 15 touchdowns. Nat Henry, another Sophomore for Kenyon, ran the ball for 405 yards and three touchdowns. In the receiving core, the Lords will need to replace Brian Hunca, who caught almost 3,300 yards in his career, 1,283 came during his senior year. Ian Bell is the leading returner with 546 receiving yards. On the defensive side of the ball, Kenyon will need to replace three starting linebacker spots from a year ago.
UNDER CENTER: Throughout preseason, sophomore Sam Hearn and freshman Alex Darras have been neck-and-neck on who will be under center for the opener Saturday. Hearn, in his freshman campaign, went 118-for-197 (59.9 percent) with 1,115 yards and six touchdowns. Darras comes to Sewanee from Ooltewah, and the freshman shows a lot of potential.
RUN, MIKEY, RUN: Senior running back Mikey Plancher rushed for 581 yards, averaging 64.6 yards per carry last season. The Naples, Fla. native is nearing 1,000 rushing yards in his career, needing 271 yards to accomplish the feat.
FROM HEARN TO HEARN: Senior wide receiver Steven Hearn was a prime target for his younger brother, Sam, catching 55 passes for 593 yards and five touchdowns. Steven will be a prime target for the Tigers offense in 2017, thanks to 1,327 career receiving yards in 30 games with the Purple and Gold.
GET READY, WE HAVE A LONG DRIVE: Sewanee finished second out of 244 NCAA Division III teams in time of possession, keeping control of the ball for 35:51.
DEFENSIVE PRESENCE: The Tigers return three of the top-5 tacklers from 2016: John Cleveland (54), Lee Menefee (37) and Glenn Ireland (29). Cleveland, who led the team in the category, registered 40 solo tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss and an interception. Menefee also caught a pass from the opposition, while Ireland had 0.5 tackles for a loss.
FROM THE SAA: The Southern Athletic Association (SAA) announced last season the departures of Washington (Mo.) and Chicago as affiliate members. With the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) disbanding football as a conference sport due to four schools left with football, the SAA accepted Trinity (Texas) and Austin (Texas) into the SAA as affiliate members. The other two SCAC football schools, Texas Lutheran and Southwestern, join the American Southwest Conference (ASC) as affiliate members.