BEREA, OHIO -- The 2014 Baldwin Wallace University football team will have the same goals it has had for decades -- to have a winning record, win Ohio Athletic Conference and NCAA Division III national titles and to produce outstanding student-athletes.
Entering his 13th season at his alma mater, John Snell (77-45 overall) welcomes back 29 lettermen and 12 starters, including seven on defense. In addition, Snell has a bevy of student-athletes who gained valuable experience a year ago.
Offensively, five starters are back. Senior Academic All-OAC quarterbacks Michael Slack (Casselberry, Fla. / Pine Castle Christian Academy) and Kyle Ohradzansky (Avon / Canton McKinley) will battle with junior Tyler Moeglin (Canton / St. Thomas Aquinas) for the starting spot. All three started at one time of another last season and combined for 1,164 passing yards and nine touchdowns and ran for 674 more yards and eight TDs. Slack completed 45-for-70 passes for 637 yards and five TDs and ran for 268 more and four TDs. Ohradzansky was 35-for-67 for 336 yards with two TDs and ran for 239 yards and three scores. Moeglin started once and was 20-for-38 for 191 yards and two TDs and ran for 167 yards and a TD.
In the backfield, senior Academic All-OAC player Nolan Sordyl (Gurnee, Ill. / Warren Township) and junior Isaac Reed III (Lehigh Acres, Fla. / Lehigh) return as the top backs. Sordyl ran for 532 yards and five TDs and Reed III had 442 rush yards and four scores. The receiving corp will be led by senior Javon Burks (Naples, Fla. / Golden Gate) (11 catches/ 161 yards/ 1 TD), senior tight end Darryl Jones (Cleveland / Villa Angela-Saint Joseph) (10/ 131/ 0) and senior WR Kyle Dunne (Rocky River) (7/ 101/ 1). Moeglin also caught seven passes for 60 yards.
The offensive line will be anchored by two returning starters in senior tackle Sean Hemlick (Uniontown / Lake) and junior guard Josh Lane (Rootstown). In addition, senior tackle Tim Pallay (Hudson) and junior center Anthony Lautanen (Mentor) also have seen action as starters. BW averaged 26.1 points and 352.4 yards of total offense per game in 2013.
Defensively, BW returns three starters on the line and a pair in each linebacker and in the secondary. BW allowed 19.5 points per game a year ago.
On the line, senior All-OAC end Luke Riemenschneider (Rocky River) will be joined by starting Academic All-OAC tackles in senior Addison Carbone (Hudson) and junior Lawrence Wolfe (Creston / Norwayne). Riemenschneider led all linemen last year with 63 tackles, including 11.5 for loss and 5.5 QB sacks. Wolfe had 20 tackles. Also look for seniors Pete Meadows (Medina / Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy), Tom Iverson (Wadsworth) and Julian Jackson-Ross (Elyria / Grafton Midview) and junior Jake Mauer (Brunswick) to battle for starting spots. In addition, if senior Isiah Kimmie comes back healthy, it will be a big plus.
At linebacker, senior All-OAC and Academic All-OAC outside backer Dan O'Brien (Warren / Howland) is joined by junior MLB Tyler Burdorff (Painesville / Riverside) as returning starters. O'Orien had 68 tackles, three sacks and three interceptions. Burdorff, who also competed at the NCAA Division III National Outdoor Track Championships in the hammer, had 39 stops, including four for loss.
In the secondary, Snell returns four players who all started at one time or another the past two years. Senior cornerback Nelson Candelario (Cape Coral, Fla. / Island Coast) is the lone returning fulltime starter. Candelario was second in the secondary with 44 stops and an interception. The others who have started include seniors Austin Cordova (Perry) and Kevin Krakora (Avon) and junior Jerry Scholle (Medina / Highland). Scholle was a starting left fielder for BW's baseball team that advanced to the 2014 Division III College World Series.
The special teams will need to be replaced as BW graduated an All-American punter Matt Harmon (Granville), two-time All-OAC placekicker Chris Moehler (Kent / Roosevelt) and two of the best return specialists in school and OAC history in Kevin Johnson (Maple Heights / Cleveland St. Ignatius) and Josiah Holt (Elyria / Grafton Midview).
BW opens its season on Saturday, September 13 when it hosts Bluffton University on Community Day at 2:00 p.m. At halftime of that game, BW will honor its three graduated 2013 CAPITAL ONE Academic All-Americans in safeties Zack Barley (Hudson) and Joe Kasper (Mentor) and linebacker David Flegal (Akron / Richfield Revere).
The Yellow Jackets open the season on Saturday, September 13 when they host non-league foe Bluffton University at 2:00 p.m. on Family and Community Day on the Tressel Field turf inside The George Finnie Stadium in Berea. The Yellow Jackets open OAC play on Saturday, Sept. 20 when they host Ohio Northern University at 1:30 p.m.