CANTON – With the start of the highly anticipated 2013 Heidelberg University football season almost a month away, expectations continue to rise for the Student Princes. At Tuesday’s Ohio Athletic Conference Media Day held at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Heidelberg finished second in the coaches poll and the media poll.
The Berg received two first place votes in the OAC Coaches poll and five in the Media poll. Heidelberg finished second in both. Mount Union received the remaining first place votes and led both polls.
Coming off of their first postseason appearance since 1972, it would be easy for the 2013 team to rest on their laurels. Instead, head coach Mike Hallett said his student-athletes are more prepared than ever before.
“Our guys are hungry and focused to build on last year’s success,” said Hallett, two-time OAC coach of the year. “We are squarely focused on the opening game with Alma.”
With a preseason ranking at No. 14 in the D3football.com poll, Hallett welcomes back 16 starters and 52 lettermen from the record-breaking 2012 team.
The Heidelberg offense will be led by running back Cartel Brooks. Brooks has been named a preseason All-American by nearly every major publication that covers NCAA Division III football. Left tackle Quentin Rembert anchors the most experienced returning offensive line in the OAC.
Junior quarterback Michael Mees returns for his third season under center. Mees’ 17 career wins is second among active Division III quarterbacks. After losing two key receivers to graduation, Hallett expects breakout seasons from juniors Donteea Dye and Robert Gray.
Senior fullback Aaron Kapelka spoke with the media gathered in Canton.
“We have two great backs in Cartel Brooks and Bryan Lacey,” said Kapelka. “I take great pride in giving them the biggest gaps to run through.”
Ben Poirier and Will Nunnally will lead the tenacious defensive line, which accounted for over 25 sacks a year ago. Safety Tyler Levanduski returns after spending a year with the Marine Corps Reserves. Chadd Williamson, Mitchell Kelly, Larry Massey and Chase Bauer join Levanduski in the secondary.
With the graduation of Gagliardi finalist Craig Sykes and classmate Dawson Gore, Adam Cepik will lead the linebackers in 2013.
“On the defense, we all want to do our jobs to try to make the play,” said Nunnally, who accompanied Hallett and Kapelka to Canton. “We want to disrupt the other team’s rhythym.”
On special teams, kicker Dan Kilger returns for his final season. He enters the 2013 season with a string of 92 consecutive extra points, the longest streak in Division III and second-longest in the history of the OAC.
Heidelberg opens the season with three home games against Alma, Ohio Northern and Wilmington. After playing a night game in Marietta, the Student Princes will return to Mayer Field for Homecoming against Capital on October 12.
The Berg will pack up the buses for four of the final five contests. Road games at Otterbein, Muskingum, John Carroll and Baldwin Wallace are sandwiched around a home game against Mount Union on November 2.
For the first time in recent memory, all 10 games will be carried live on WTTF AM-1600 and 93.3 FM. Every Thursday, WTTF will air The Mike Hallett Show live from the Fireside Café Pub in The University Commons on campus.
OAC Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Mount Union (8) – 80
2. Heidelberg (2) - 73
3. Baldwin Wallace - 60
4. Otterbein - 58
5. John Carroll - 49
6. Ohio Northern - 44
7. Muskingum - 31
8. Capital - 26
9. Wilmington - 16
10. Marietta - 13
OAC Preseason Media Poll
1. Mount Union (31) – 353
2. Heidelberg (5) - 324
3. Baldwin Wallace - 270
4. Otterbein - 238
5. John Carroll - 222
6. Ohio Northern - 192
7. Muskingum - 129
8. Capital - 123
9. Marietta - 61
10. Wilmington - 60