A 34-23 win last September over the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash., helped propel Sewanee to its best football season (5-5) since 2005. But it was part of an 0-9 season for the Loggers, who aim for payback today on Sewanee Mountain.
The season opener for both teams kicks off at 1 p.m. CDT.
And they return all 11 starters from the offense that had the eighth best passing attack in NCAA Division III last year. Sophomore Braden Foley is back at quarterback after moving into the starting lineup for the last four games of 2011, and his top target is preseason All-American Adam Kniffin, who holds UPS career records of 187 receptions and 29 touchdown catches and set single-season school standards with 95 catches and 995 yards last year.
Foley was 113-of-197 passing for 1,268 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was intercepted seven times, but five of those were in his first start.
The Loggers also return their place-kicker and punter but have seven new starters on defense.
Many older area sports fans will remember Puget Sound as the team that defeated the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in the 1976 NCAA Division II basketball championship game, a year before UTC won the title. But while the Mocs soon moved up to Division I, UPS dropped to Division III but is highly regarded as a liberal arts college.
Among its former students are TV "Batman" protrayer Adam West and serial killer Ted Bundy, as well as the daughter of Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth.
Sewanee has a remarkable football tradition but had not won more than two games in a season in the five years before Tommy Laurendine took over as coach last year. Back in his native state, the 2010 offensive coordinator at The Citadel directed the Tigers offense to 23.5 points a game a season after they managed only 10.4 per game.
Curtis Johnson will start today at quarterback over fellow experienced junior Lee Schurlknicht, and senior Jase Brooks will be the chief runner. Junior Andrew Keenan will start at fullback and classmates Atticus Frank and Jake Fojtik will be at center and right guard, but the other offensive-line starters, both wide receivers (Stephen Jackson and Charlie Powell) and tailback Barrett Goodson are sophomores.
Punter Trey Knighton and place-kicker Garrett Schlosser are senior incumbents, and the defense has several established veterans in senior defensive backs Murphy Walters and J.D. Crabtree, senior linebackers John Philip Boudreaux and Johnny Davenport, junior 'backer Dave McKeithen, junior free safety and kick returner Quentin Jones and sophomore cornerback De'Nard Ford.
Sophomore J.P. McConnell will start at the outside linebacker opposite the other "J.P." Justin Taylor is a 262-pound junior defensive tackle, and Quillan Snyder is a sophomore noseguard. While five freshmen on defense and three on offense are No. 2s on the depth chart, defensive end AJ McMullen is the only one set to start today.