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Seven consecutive Monon Bell victories. A 12-1 overall record. A 10-0 North Coast Athletic Conference record and a seventh conference championship. A berth in the NCAA DIII playoffs. A trip to the tournament quarterfinals before losing to the eventual national runner-up. The 2015 season was memorable for the Wabash College football team. And new Head Coach Don Morel is ready to lead the Little Giants for the 2016 Season!
The Little Giants enter the season ranked 14th in the D3football.com preseason poll and eighth by Lindy's Sports College Football Preview. Wabash earned its top-15 spots in the national polls after ranking fifth in the nation in total defense last season, holding opposing teams to 241.1 yards per game. The Little Giants finished in the top 50 in total offense with an average of 448.9 yards per game. The Wabash defense also finished third in interceptions (26), fourth in rush defense (72.2 ypg), sixth in scoring defense (11.9 ppg), seventh in sacks (4.0 spg), and eighth in tackles for losses (9.3 tflpg) among DIII teams in 2015. Senior quarterback Connor Rice will lead the Wabash offensive unit in 2016. He took over the starting duties in week two last season, eventually throwing for 2,318 yards and 19 touchdowns. Shamir Johnson missed the final four games of the season with a broken arm after posting 533 yards and seven TDs in nine games as the Little Giants' backup running back. Drake Christen returns after leading the receiving corps with 67 catches for 604 yards and five TDs. Fellow senior Sammy Adams hauled in 25 passes for 436 yards and three scores. Sophomores Oliver Page and Ryan Thomas caught 22 and 14 passes, respectively. Page finished with 465 yards and five TDs, while Thomas added 164 yards and one TD to the Wabash totals. Senior center Kyle Stucker anchors the offensive line at center after earning First Team All-NCAC honors in 2015 as the Little Giants' starting center. Deryion Sturdivant, another All-NCAC selection, is healthy and ready to go at offensive guard after missing the final seven games of the season with a knee injury. Despite a solid group of returning starters on both sides of the football, Morel also sees room for improvement. One such area is penalties and penalty yards. Of the ten teams in the NCAC, Wabash surrendered the second-most penalty yards last year. "I get it all the time, 'you guys were 12-1; how can you improve the program?'" Morel said. "We need to coach to be penalty free. Whether the call was right or wrong, you can't complain about it. At some point we were committing penalties so we're going to coach that. Offensive linemen are going to be coached to keep their hands inside and we're going to stay onside. We're not going to get stupid personal foul penalties, and we're going to be more disciplined."
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