The 2014 football season for the United States Collegiate Athletic Association opens this weekend with five of the six schools in action. Each week, the USCAA will select an offensive, defensive and special teams Player of the Week and at the end of the year will select an All-USCAA team.
Below are some notes on each of the six USCAA football playing schools.
Alfred State University
- The Pioneers are coming off a 4-6 record, as they head into their second year as a member of the USCAA and NCAA. Head Coach Mick Caba is in his 15th year at the school and sports a 64-74 record at Alfred State, while 100-170 as a collegiate head coach.
- This is their second year of competition in the NCAA and will face a 10-game schedule that has nine four-year schools.
- They’ll face a pair of upstate New York NCAA powers in the University of Rochester and St. John Fisher College. The Pioneers will also play two games this year against USCAA opponent The Apprentice School.
- Running back Rasheed Williams, who ran for 1,017 yards in 2013, looks to become first Pioneer with back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons. The team features four players, Keegan Phalen, Matt Munson, Nick DePofi, and David Londono, who will be the first Pioneers to compete at Alfred State for all 4-years.
- They open on Saturday against Morrisville State College.
The Apprentice School
- The Builders finished 2013 with a 1-9 record and will be lead by first-year head coach Paul White in 2014.
- Junior Leonard Leak is the leading returning rusher from last season running for 347 yards, while sophomore Joseph Hodge ran for 278 yards. Senior Erol Carter will spearhead a defense as he had 68 tackles last season and was a second team All-USCAA honoree. Fellow senior Tequan Mayfield had 40 tackles, seven pass breakups and two interceptions will be a key player in the defensive backfield.
- Senior Blake Penix was a first-team All-USCAA selection at punter last year when he averaged over 38 yards per punt and he will be a huge weapon for the Builders.
- Apprentice School faces five NCAA Division III opponents and four NAIA members in its 10-game slate. They’ll play a home-and-home this year against Alfred State for its only games against USCAA members.
- They open at home on Saturday against the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy
- The Hornets were 1-9 in 2013 scoring a win against NJCAA member Arkansas Baptist 21-20.
- They’ll face a loaded schedule as they take on NCAA Division I (Samford University), NCAA Division I-AA (Arkansas-Pine Bluff), NCAA Division II (Central State Univ., Univ. West Alabama, Delta State Univ.), NCAA Division III (Wesley College) and NAIA members Point University, Southeastern University, Ave Maria University and Warner University.
- Concordia will host Wesley College for its Homecoming game on October 11. Wesley is a perennial NCAA Division III Top-5 team.
Iowa Wesleyan College
- The Tigers are in their second year in the USCAA and finished 2013 with a 2-8 record playing in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference and spotted a 2-7 record in the NCAA Division III conference.
- Senior Zandro Diaz will be a key contributor in the offense at quarterback this year. He threw for over 2,300 yards last year and had a favorite target of fellow senior Raul Becerril who had over 400 yards in receptions and two touchdowns.
- Defensively, the team will be young but athletic. Sam Balbach returns as a senior defensive lineman who had 67 tackles in 10 games, while Nate Daniels will be counted on at linebacker coming off a 32 tackle season in 2013.
- In the defensive backfield, RyanGerleman and Raul Lozano are key returners for the Tigers. Gerleman played in 10 games last season and recorded 80 tackles for the Tigers, while Lozano had 50 tackles.
- Iowa Wesleyan opens against Simpson College on Saturday.
- The Eagles played their first-ever season of football in 2013 and went 6-1 against a club team schedule.
- After a season-opening loss to The Ohio State University’s club team (19-12), they ran the table to finish at 6-1.
- This year they’ll also play a seven-game schedule and will open at home on September 13 against the Buckeye’s club team looking for some revenge.
- Optimism abounds at Williamson with an increased roster size to nearly 40 players after finishing 2013 with a 1-7 record and 25 players. The roster size has increased to 38 and of the 17 freshmen new to the team, 14 were either all-conference, all-league or all-state. Needless to say 2nd year head coach Dan Drake is pleased so far.
- An area to watch for the Mechanics will be the growth of its offensive line, not only game-to-game but in size as they will start and entirely freshman line that averages over 275 lbs.
- One of the biggest things Drake wanted to do was bring in a QB who would challenge incumbent Nick Rentos. Not only has he done that, but he might just have brought someone in who will win the job outright as Rentos and freshmen Nick Rotandi have been neck and neck so far.
- The biggest thing the added numbers have done is allow guys to play on one side of the ball exclusively. Pre-season USA College Football USCAA All-American Matt Sinex took every snap at center last year while also leading the team in tackles! With him being able to focus on just defense in 2014, he is set for an incredible year-as are fellow All-American candidates Josh Schneider and Logan Fetterhoff.
- The Mechanics open the season on Saturday against Jersey Coast Academy.
Special thanks to the Sports Information Offices at each of the schools for pre-season information.