CANTON, Ohio – The Baldwin Wallace University football team was picked to finish sixth at the annual Ohio Athletic Conference Media Day held at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The Yellow Jackets, who return 36 letterwinners and 14 starters from last year's squad that went 3-7 overall, was picked sixth by both the coaches and media. The University of Mount Union was selected first in both polls as it seeks its 26th OAC regular-season title in the last 27 seasons. John Carroll was tabbed second in both polls after claiming its first OAC title for the first time since 1994.
First-year head coach Jim Hilvert, senior All-OAC outside linebacker Sam Groff (Waynesburg/Sandy Valley) and senior defensive back Trypp Washington (Eatonville, Fla./Orlando First Academy) represented BW at the event, which was attended by all 10 league institutions. The Yellow Jackets report to preseason camp on August 8.
"Being selected in the sixth spot gives us motivation and drive for the upcoming season, commented Hilvert. "We are coming off a season where we lost five games by seven or less points so we are not too far off from being one of those top-tier teams. We are going to compete every single day in order to put out ourselves in the best position to win games and improve on our ranking by the end of the season."
Hilvert, just the fourth BW football coach since 1957, began his duties on January 17. He came to Berea from high school powerhouse La Salle where he won back-to-back Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) Division II State Championships. Hilvert was the head football coach at Thomas More (Ky.) College for eight year where he won six President's Athletic Conference titles and amassed a 67-19 overall record.
Groff, a team captain in 2016, returns as the team's top stopper as he recorded a career-high 86 tackles, including a career-best 34 solo stops and 52 assists. He also led the team with his first two career interceptions and was tied for second in tackles for loss with a career-high tying five.
A three-year letterwinner and starter, Washington anchors the secondary as he one of three starters returning to the unit. He was second on the team with 61 tackles, including a career-high 43 solo stops. Washington led the team with a career-high three interceptions and was fifth in tackles for loss with a career-best four. He also returns kickoffs and punts.
The Yellow Jackets opens their season on September 2 when they travel to Defiance for its lone non-conference game against Defiance College at 1:30 p.m.