September 23, 2014

Elyria
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College football: Could this be the Yeomen’s year?

OBERLIN — It wasn’t his best effort, statistically. Not by a long shot. But the Kenyon game of Nov. 4, 2006, is Chris Schubert’s fondest memory in his three years of playing football for Oberlin College.
“It was a shootout,” said Schubert, a wide receiver and native of Oberlin. “We knew we would have to score a lot, and I think we scored on our last six possessions.”
Well, not quite, but the Yeomen scored touchdowns on eight of their 12 possessions in the wild 56-42 victory. Of the possessions OC didn’t score, it punted once, had a turnover and simply rode out the first half and the end of the game.
“It was a total offensive team effort, and I’m proud of that,” Schubert said.
Funny that Schubert should point to a game in which his statistics didn’t jump off the page. He caught four passes for 43 yards and scored a touchdown. Running back R.V. Carroll had the huge game, with a career-high 336 yards rushing and five TDs.
Schubert has had his share of monster games and postseason recognition. In three seasons he has caught 124 passes for 1,424 yards, rushed 40 times for 224 yards and returned 83 kicks for 1,811 yards. Schubert has scored 22 touchdowns four ways (receiving, rushing, kickoff return and punt return). He has even thrown for a TD.
He was named first-team All-North Coast Athletic Conference as a sophomore after catching 65 passes for 777 yards and was a second-team All-NCAC pick last year after pulling down 49 receptions for 621 yards and nine touchdowns.
He set school records for kick-return yardage (565) and punt-return yardage (171) in 2006.
“Chris does everything the way we want it done,” said nine-year head coach Jeff Ramsey, who has a 19-61 record. “He gives his best effort both physically and mentally. He’s a two-year co-captain and an example on and off the field.”
And now Schubert has 2½ months to make more college football memories. He’s being considered an NCAA Division III All-America candidate, but he is hardly the only OC player with All-American potential. Carroll, free safety Chase Palmer, linebacker Chris Pisani, strong safety Kris DeVant and tackle Mark Miller are OC players who could land on the list.
And that’s why there is so much optimism around Oberlin this year. The Yeomen went 5-5 in 2006 and have a real shot at their first winning season since 1974.
“We have a lot of depth,” Schubert said. “The entire offense is returning. We have eight back on defense. The core group of guys from when I was a freshman is still here, and this team knows how to win. It’s the best group of players I’ve ever been with.”
This year’s seniors went from 1-9 as freshmen to three victories as sophomores to a .500 record last season. The expectations are high. That’s something new to Oberlin, a program synonymous with losing for so long.
“They’ve grown up real well,” Ramsey said of his seniors. “If we stay healthy and stay together, well, every cliché applies.”
“It’s a new type of pressure, but it’s the good type of pressure,” Schubert said. “The pressure to win is coming mostly from outside sources and we can’t worry about that. We know we can win.”
The Yeomen get to test that when they host Case Western Reserve at Savage Stadium today at 1 p.m.
CWRU has been a tough nut to crack for Oberlin. The Spartans beat OC in overtime last year. The two previous games, both CWRU victories, were decided by three points.
As mentioned, the entire offense from a team that averaged 26.7 points per game is back. That lineup begins with junior quarterback Greg Mangan. In his first year as a starter, Mangan ended with a school-record 2,404 yards passing and a record 67.6 completion percentage en route to being named all-district.
Cassius Harris (833 yards receiving, seven TDs) is the other wide receiver. Bay Village resident and Lutheran West graduate J.J. Hepp, a junior, is the tight end. Carroll, also a junior, set Oberlin records for rushing yards (1,280) and touchdowns (13) in a season and was second-team All-NCAC in ’06.
Doing the blocking will be fullback Scott Kjellberg, 320-pound left tackle Mark Miller, 270-pound left guard Tony Miller (a Lorain Catholic grad), three-year starting center Caleb Buck, right tackle Max Roessler and right guard Justin Catalano.
The defense is anchored by Palmer, a preseason All-America selection by at least one magazine. Palmer led the Yeomen with 106 tackles and five interceptions in 2006 and was named second-team All-NCAC.
Pisani holds the Oberlin career record for sacks (19) and will join returnee Jon Feazell at end in Ramsey’s 3-3 defense. Geoff Sirockman and Max Helzberg are back at linebacker. DeVant and Clayton Thurmer are the two strong safeties. Cody Harley and Michael Evans are the cornerbacks.
Filling in at the two spots made vacant by graduation will be junior nose tackle A.J. Greene and freshman linebacker Austin Richards. Ramsey says the 215-pound Greene, who will split time with two much larger freshmen, Cody Wiewandt (250) and Adam Wigren (245), has “done so well we have to play him.”
The coach describes Richards, who replaces all-conference Andy Estep, as “a little bit small (190 pounds), but fast and possessed of great instincts.”