Friday, August 27, 2004

Lions beginning to climb ladder

Set to play in new stadium

By Colleen Kane
Enquirer staff writer

M O R E   I N F O R M A T I O N
Mount St. Joseph schedule

Date Opponent Time
Sept. 4 Wilmington College 1:30 p.m.
Sept. 11 Rose-Hulman Inst. of Tech. 6:30 p.m.
Sept. 18 at Kalamazoo College 1 p.m.
Oct. 2 at Hanover College 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 9 at Franklin College 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 16 Manchester College 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 23 at Defiance College 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 30 Bluffton College 1:30 p.m.
Nov. 6 Anderson University 1 p.m.
Nov. 13 at Thomas More College 1:30 p.m.

Mount St. Joseph coach Rod Huber called last year's school-record 6-4 season "another step in the right direction." This year, the Lions' next steps are toward home.

Mount St. Joe, which previously played home games at Mariemont High, will play this year in the team's new 2,400-seat stadium on campus. The new sports complex is one of several moves forward in the Lions' program. Huber, now in his fifth year as head coach, also hired the first full-time offensive coordinator in William "Mac" McDaniel, and added Scott Peters as a defensive line coach and former Bengals and Xavier coach Dick Selcer as the linebackers coach. He also arranged for a five-game junior varsity schedule.

That energy translated into 100 players showing up at the Lions' football camp this year, the biggest turnout in school history.

The Lions return a solid crew on offense and defense, but must replace team leaders in quarterback Mike Dane, who threw for 2,090 yards and 15 TDs last year, and defensive linemen Pat McAtee and Eric Johnson, Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference's 2003 Defensive Player of the Year.

Bryan Hamrock replaces Dane and will be helped by the experience of receiver Andy Wellendorf (42 catches, 767 yards, eight TDs last year) and running back Ricky Story (908 yards, nine TDs). The offensive line, which returns starters Chris Hafertepen (all-HCAC), Adam Sayer (all-HCAC), Neal Nieberding and Ryan Masson, could be the biggest strength.

The defense allowed the fewest yards and touchdowns in school history and finished 12th in Division III in rushing defense last season. All-conference lineman Eric Schneider linebackers Andrew Ackerman and Brooks Klosterman, and leading tackler P.J. Volker also return.

The Lions were picked to finish second in the HCAC behind defending champion Hanover. They begin their quest for their first conference championship with the opener against Wilmington at home Sept. 4.

"We need to keep them humble, tell them, 'You're not as good as you think you are - yet,' " Huber said. "We've got enough talent. We just need to stay focused."