The Marietta College football team opens up OAC play Saturday when the Pioneers travel to Columbus to take on the Capital Crusaders at 2 p.m.
Both teams will be looking for their first victories of the young season, as Marietta dropped a 26-23 decision to Case Western in week one, while Capital fell to Wittenberg 44-17.
Last season, the Crusaders downed the Pioneers by a score of 24-3 in the final game of the year at Don Drumm Stadium. Marietta has not defeated Capital since 2000, when the Pioneers defeated the Crusaders 52-21 on homecoming.
JORDAN HOLLAND The Marietta Times
Marietta College tight end Jake Kobilarcsik, left, holds on to the football with two hands as defender Garrett Brechler (23) gets ready to make a tackle during a drill at Don Drumm Stadium Wednesday. MC is slated to play at Capital Saturday.
Both teams are coming off a bye week, and should be well-rested and well-prepared for this weekend's game.
"I think the guys are getting focused," said MC head coach Jeff Filkovski. "That's why we practice. You wanna try and fix mistakes before they happen in a game."
In Marietta's opener, the Pios got a nice performance from their passing game. Senior quarterback Tom Fulton completed 21 of 37 passes for 333 yards, and threw three touchdowns to just one interception. Fulton's favorite targets were juniors Tannon Roberts and Kirby Harris. Each caught six passes, Roberts for 142 yards and Harris for 109 yards and a score. Senior Linard Williams also had 26 yards and two TDs.
While Filkovski is happy with the passing game, he wants the offense to be more balanced.
"We're focusing more on establishing the run to open up the passing game," Filkovski said. "We want to keep the defense in their base fronts and coverages, and then we can attack with the perimeter players."
Junior Chris Sanders was the Pioneer's leading rusher in the first game, totaling 31 yards on nine carries (3.4 yards per carry). Senior Quincy Bell was the next leading rusher with just five yards on six touches.
Capital's game in week one was the tale of two halves. In the first half, the Crusaders were held to just 31 yards of offense, as opposed to 206 yards in the second half. Freshman running back Bo Hardy (13 carries, 92 yards, 1 touchdown) and junior wide receiver Alex Coleman (184 all-purpose yards, 1 receiving TD) led the offense with strong performances. Junior Ryan Kremchek will start under center for the Crusaders, and hopes to rebound from a rough showing against Wittenberg (12-of-28, 77 yards, 1 TD, 3 INTs).
Capital head coach Henry Stanford was not pleased with the week one performance and is looking for a fresh start in conference action.
"I told our guys this can't happen again," Stanford said. "At the same time, I told them we're back to a 0-0 record this week in the OAC. Having the bye week after our first game is a good thing in our setting. We kind of reinvented the wheel and retaught everything. Our greatest improvements should happen between the first and second games. Some guys have jitters playing in the opener, and it's good for them to see film as they adjust to new players and new positions."
Defensively, the Pioneers will look to improve in stopping the run. Marietta allowed 219 yards rushing against Case Western and 5.1 yards per carry.
Individually, linebacker Jake Hammer led the team with 15 tackles, while corner back Robert Brown contributed 11 stops. The Pioneers had four sacks in the game, two from safety Louis DiPaolo, one from linebacker Kadeem Corbin, and one-half from linemen Keeland Bryant and Dave Olach. Brown had the only interception for Marietta.
Filkovski wants to see progression in his team's performance every week.
"We have to take care of ourselves," he said. "That's the biggest thing. We're looking for a big improvement from week one to week two. We certainly left some points on the board that reflected on the outcome of the game. Before we look at Capital, we want to focus on our business."
Like any other coach, Filkovski would love for his team start out undefeated in the conference.
"Obviously, any win is a big one," Filkovski said. "We feel like we let one get away from us in the first one. The guys are hungry for a win, and to get started off in that column."
The Pioneers will have Fulton at quarterback, Harris, Roberts and senior Sean Munfield at receiver, and senior Jake Kobilarcsik at tight end. On the line will likely be sophomore Zach Johnson, juniors Tito Jeffries, John Keener, and Ryan Brown, and senior Ashton Watts. Defensively, seniors Olach and Gaston Hayes will be the defensive ends, with Bryant and senior Joe Terrell at tackle. Corbin, Hammer, and junior Franklin Holmes will man the linebacker spots, while juniors Keith Cherry and Brown will be the corners and DiPaolo and sophomore Cody Rice will be the safeties.
Freshman Conor Durina will handle the kicking duties and Munfield the punting duties.