Whitworth will play its first game of 2012 when the Pirates travel to Duluth, Minnesota on Saturday to take on College of St. Scholastica. The game will kick off at 1:00 pm (CDT) / 11:00 am (PDT) and will be heard live in Spokane on KSBN 1230am and on the internet on KSBN.net.
Whitworth finished 4-6 overall and 3-0 in the Northwest Conference last season by winning three of its final four games. The Pirates are picked third in this year's NWC Coaches Poll.
CSS went 10-1 overall and 9-0 in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference last season and advanced to the first round of the NCAA Division III playoffs. This will mark the Pirates' first game against any school from the UMAC.
Whitworth (0-0, 0-0 NWC)
St. Scholastica (0-0, 0-0
Saturday - Sept. 1
The Pirates: Whitworth returns 15 starters from last season, including all of its offensive skill position players and its entire linebacking corps and most of its secondary.
The offense will be led by a cast of very talented skill position players. Ronnie Thomas was named First Team All-NWC last season after rushing for 1,044 yards and 11 touchdowns. Wide receivers Jake DeGooyer and Austin Ehlo both earned Second Team All-NWC honors in 2011 after combining for 90 receptions for 1,197 yards and 12 touchdowns. Devin Lind returns at the third WR position and Wade Meyer is the returning tight end.
Bryan Peterson took over as starting QB midway through his freshman campaign last fall and completed 63.2% of his passes for 1,420 yards with 14 touchdowns and six interceptions. Michael McCune will provide backup.
The big question facing the offense is on the line where Whitworth returns only two starters: Right tackle Nate Guthrie, who earned Second Team All-NWC last season, and right guard Liam Brown, who is a team captain this fall. Gavin Horst won the battle to start at center, while Dalton Cosby will start at left tackle and Greg Vibbert will start at left guard.
The defense returns seven starters, including all three starting linebackers. Scott Carr and Ryan Loutsis return as the outside backers while Nic Brockhoff returns as the middle linebacker. Grant Livingston, who started several games in place on an injured Loutsis, actually gives Whitworth a fourth returning starter at that position.
The secondary returns three of last season's four positions and appears to be the deepest area of the team. Casey Monahan and Fernando Noriega return as the starting safeties, while Paul Miller is back at one corner. Kainoa Raguindin and De' Hall have battled throughout camp for the other starting corner back spot and both will see plenty of action in the team's nickel set.
Like on offense, it is at the line of scrimmage where Whitworth has to replace the majority of its starters on defense. Defensive tackle Brodrick Hirai is the lone returning starter. Rob Geisler, who gained valuable experience off of the bench last season, will start at the other tackle spot. Drew Powell will start at right end, while freshman Danny Welstad will start on the left side.
Special teams appear to be in strong shape. Austin Ehlo earned First Team All-NWC in his first year as a punter last season after averaging almost 40 yards per kick. Dominic Aliano joins the team as a place kicker after transferring from Diablo Valley College in California. Jake DeGooyer will once again hold down much of the return duties, especially on punts.
On the Air Again: Whitworth's games will once again be carried live this season on KSBN 1230am in Spokane. The relationship between Pirate athletics and KSBN goes back to 1994, a span of almost 20 years. Bob Castle, whose voice has become synonymous with Whitworth athletics on the radio, is back as the voice of the Pirates in 2012-13. Bob has called Whitworth games for the past 12 seasons, as well as in 1997-98. Bob has 20 years in radio and his experience as a sports broadcaster includes stints as the voice of Spokane Indians Baseball, Gonzaga University baseball and Washington State women's basketball.
Three SWX Broadcasts: Local cable station SWX will carry three of Whitworth's four this season: The home opener vs. Chapman (Sept. 22), the Hall of Fame/Homecoming game vs. Willamette (Oct. 6) and the regular season finale against Lewis & Clark (Nov. 10). There is still a chance that the Oct. 20th game against Puget Sound will also be picked up. SWX stands for Sports & Weather Right Now and is owned by local NBC affiliate KHQ channel 6. SWX can be seen both over-the-air and through some cable services in the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene, Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, and Yakima viewership areas. In the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene area, SWX is found on digital channel 6.2, on Comcast channel 115 in Spokane and Time Warner channel 306 in North Idaho. Click here for a complete list of station numbers throughout the Eastern Washington/North Idaho region.
Team Captains: The Pirate team captains in 2012 are offensive lineman Liam Brown, running back Ronnie Thomas and linebacker Scott Carr. Brown and Thomas are first time captains, while Carr served in that role last season.
Looking Back at 2011: Whitworth finished 4-6 after starting the season 1-5. Of the five losses in the first six games, two came on field goals on the last play of the game. Two were by a single touchdown. Then the young team found itself and won three of its final four contests – including a double-overtime victory at Willamette. The lone loss in that final stretch was 42-38 against highly-ranked Linfield. Ronnie Thomas (running back) and Austin Ehlo (punter) were named First Team All-NWC.
NWC Poll: Whitworth finished third in the NWC preseason coaches poll with 26 points, three points behind second place Pacific Lutheran. Whitworth got one first place vote, while defending champion Linfield finished first in the poll with the other six first place votes. Link to NWC Football Coaches Poll.
On the Road Again: Like in 2010, Whitworth will play four of its ten games on the road, including flights out of state the first three weekends. After opening the season in Duluth, Minnesota, the Pirates fly to California over the next two weeks.
Not the First Time: Though this is the first meeting between Whitworth and St. Scholastica, this is not the first time the Pirates have opened the season in Minnesota. Whitworth opened the 2003 season Arden Hills against Bethel College, falling to the Saints 25-10.
|Last Week's Game:||None||Box Score||Wrap up|
|This Week's Game:||Sept. 1 at St. Scholastica||1:00 pm (CDT)||Duluth, Minn.|
|Next Week's Game:||Sept. 8 at Whittier||1:00 pm||Whittier, Calif.|
The Saints: College of St. Scholastica is a member of the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference and has an undergraduate enrollment approximately the same size as Whitworth's (2,400). The Saints went 10-0 during the regular season last year, winning all nine of their UMAC games, the last eight in a row by double digits. CSS was defeated by St. Thomas in the first round of the NCAA Division III playoffs and the Saints were picked second in a tightly-packed preseason UMAC coaches poll.
This is only the fifth year of football at St. Scholastica and the Saints' rise to power has come under the direction of head coach Greg Carlson, who is 22-17 in the first four years. He is formerly the head coach at Wabash College.
CSS returns 15 starters from last season, including Jake Jensen and Travis Nehowig at running back, who each netted more than 700 yards last year and combined for 17 touchdowns. Three players also return along the offensive line, including Pete Stanley at center. But the Saints have to replace the graduated Alex Thiry at quarterback. Thiry led the CSS rise to power and was named D3football.com's All-West Region QB after completing 70.5% of his passes for 2608 and 37 touchdowns last fall. In addition, the Saints graduated Keegan O'Neill and Jonny Bennett, two of their top three receivers from 2011.
Like Whitworth, CSS expects to be deep in the defensive secondary. Safety Jake Turkowski led the Saints' with three interceptions and six total passes defended a year ago.
CSS returns three of four starters on the defensive front, led by Chas Lemon at defensive end who had six tackles for loss among his 35 total stops in 2011.
Mike Theismann made all four of his field goal attempts and 58 of 64 PATs last season, while Justin Bosman averaged 36.8 per punt.
The Head Coach: John Tully heads into his 18th season as head coach of the Pirates with an 89-74 record at Whitworth. He has led the Pirates to a 76-40 record over the past 12 years and has been named the NWC Coach of the Year three times (2001, 2006 and 2007). Tully is the winningest coach in school history, as well as the longest serving Pirate football coach. Prior to his arrival, Whitworth had suffered through 11 losing seasons in 12 years. Overall he is 120-95 heading into his 22nd season as a head coach. He previously was head coach at Eureka College in Illinois.