The Alma College football team (4-6 in 2017) opens the 2018 season on the road traveling to Berea, Ohio, to face the Baldwin Wallace Yellow Jackets in non-conference play. Alma's game is the first Division III game to be played in the 2018 season.
FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING
This will be the first meeting between Alma's and Baldwin Wallace's football programs.
O CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN
Sophomore running back Steven Sowa and senior defensive lineman Hunter Hoffman have been named the two team captains this season. Sowa missed all of the 2017 season due to injury and looks to be one of a number of backs Alma will use to make up for the graduation of Caleb Reinhart. Hoffman played in every game in 2017 and recorded 19 tackles from the defensive line. The team has also formed a Captain Council which is made up of 20 players, two of which will be chosen as co-captains to go along with Sowa and Hoffman for each game.
NOTES ON THE OFFENSE ...
- Alma's rushing game was in top form for the second straight year. It amassed 2,138 yards and 23 touchdowns on the ground, both landing in the top six on the all-time program list.
- This season will be a transition year for Alma's offensive backfield as it is tasked with replacing two of the program's best talents. Junior QBs Mason Ippel and Ryan Stevens are first in line to replace the graduated Dylan Zaborowski. Ippel has backed up Zaborowski for the last two seasons, appearing in a total of 13 games in limited action. Stevens, Alma's starting point guard on its men's basketball team, played quarterback for Lowell High School in 2014 and 2015, winning the district title twice and the regional title in 2015.
- Junior RB Brenden Newvine and sophomore RBs Steven Sowa and Austin Spratling are among those trying to establish themselves Caleb Reinhart's replacement. Spratling ran for 201 yards on 48 carries last season, Newvine had 67 yards on 21 carries in six games and Sowa spent the season injured.
- Alma returns eight members of its offensive line among the top two players at each position from last year's team. Two starters graduated and three remain in John Aloisi, Dakota Jelinek and Jacob Headlee while Dino Deliyanne and Mason McCloughan moving up the depth chart.
NOTES ON THE DEFENSE...
- Senior DL Hunter Hoffman anchors the defense as the lone returning starter on the defensive line. Jacob Wildenhaus also gets moved up the depth chart as Alma must replace a defensive line that racked up 30 sacks last year, the most in the MIAA.
- Michael Hallada and Max Kretzschmar return as starters in the secondary. The two combined for four pass breakups, one interception and 39 tackles.
NOTES ON SPECIAL TEAMS...
- Senior PK Jacob Plisko is returning for his third season as a starter. Plisko, who originally came to Alma College to be a part of the men's soccer program, ranked third on the team in points (44) a year ago and made 29 of his 33 extra-point attempts and 5-for-5 on field goal attempts. He also averaged 53.6 yards per kickoff, fifth-best in school history.
- Alma is 64-56-3 all-time in season-opening contests and owns a 7-14 record in road season openers since 1975.
- The Scots are looking for their third straight win in road season openers. Alma against Saint Vincent College last season
- Alma is carrying a 114-man roster this season that includes 16 seniors, 27 juniors, 28 sophomores and 43 freshmen.
- Alma has won an MIAA championship in each decade dating back to the 1900s. The Scots' last league title was in 2004.
Alma will host Manchester University (IN) at Bahlke Field on Saturday, Sept. 8 at 6:00 p.m. The Scots are 4-1 in home night games at Bahlke Field and took its first loss under those circumstances against the Spartans last season in a 33-31 defeat. Alma was down two and driving down inside the Manchester 40 yard-line when the Spartans forced an interception. Manchester Head Coach Nate Jensen served as the Scots' defensive coordinator from 2012-15 before taking over the Spartans' program, while assistant coaches Riley Fisher (Alma College, 2015) and Justin Thelen (Alma College, 2017) are both products of the Scots' football program.