Washburn ready to begin 2017 season against Riverhawks

Courtesy: Washburn Athletics

First and 10
• The Washburn Ichabods will open its 127th season of football on Aug. 31 when they will travel to Tahlequah, Okla., to take on the Northeastern State RiverHawks.
• Washburn is 74-46-6 all-time in season openers and won last season’s opener over the RiverHawks 38-18 in Topeka on Sept. 1.
• Overall, the Ichabods have won seven of their last 10 season openers.
• The Ichabods finished in a tie for fourth last season finishing the season with a 7-5 record.
• The Washburn Ichabods were picked sixth in the both the MIAA Preseason Coaches and Media Polls.
• Under head coach Craig Schurig, who is entering his 16th season on the Ichabod sidelines, Washburn is 10-5.
• Washburn has averaged 30.5 points per game in the 15 openers under Schurig while allowing 20.5 with the most points coming in a 58-13 win over Nebraska-Kearney in 2013 opener.
• Thursday’s game is only the seventh time the Ichabods have opened the season in August going 5-2 …Washburn has never started a season on Aug. 31.

Washburn / Northeastern State series notes
• The Ichabods are 6-1 all-time against the RiverHawks and have won the last five in the series.
• Washburn and Northeastern State have opened the last two seasons against each other and the Ichabods won 38-19 on Sept. 1 in Topeka.
• The RiverHawks lone win came in the second meeting in the series in a 35-30 win on Sept. 24, 1988 in Tahlequah.
• Washburn is 4-0 in games played in Topeka and 2-1 in games played in Tahlequah.

Washburn Ichabod head coach Craig Schurig . . .
• was named head coach of the Ichabod football program Dec. 28, 2001.
• is 103-69 (.599) in his 16th season as the Ichabod head coach.
• is 85-58 (.603) against the MIAA.
• has led the Ichabods to three NCAA Playoff appearances and three bowl appearance championships.
• led the Ichabods to the 2005 MIAA regular season outright championship.
• led the Ichabods to the program’s first 10-win season and their first NCAA or NAIA playoff game victory in school history with a win over Abilene Christian during the 2011 season.
• is Washburn’s all-time winningest football coach with 101 wins.
• is 5-0 against Northeastern State.

Northeastern State head coach Rob Robinson . . .
• is in his fourth season as the RiverHawks head coach.
• was named the 19th head football coach in school history on Dec. 19, 2013.
• owns a 5-28 all-time record at Northeastern State.
• spent 12 years under Craig Schurig as a member of the Washburn Ichabod coaching staff, serving as the offensive coordinator for the last four seasons in Topeka.
• directed the running backs from 2007-13 and coached the wide receivers from 2002-06
• served as the recruiting coordinator from 2002-10 and was the academic coordinator from 2010-13.
• Robinson is the second former coordinator under Schurig’s tutelage to become the head coach of another program in the MIAA, joining Fort Hays State’s Chris Brown.

Washburn notes
• The Washburn Ichabod offense returns seven starters off the 2016 squad which averaged 365 yards of offense a game along with 27.3 points per game helping lead the Ichabods to a 7-5 overall record going 7-4 in the MIAA tying for fourth place in the conference race. Overall the Ichabods were 10th in the MIAA in total offense, eighth in rushing offense and 11th in passing offense with the eighth-best scoring offense in the league.
• The Ichabods lose all-MIAA quarterback Derek McGinnis to graduation, but return sophomore Logan Twehous who appeared in five games during the season. Making the switch from wide receiver where he played in 2016 after transferring from Division I Texas State is sophomore Blake Peterson who made the transition during spring ball to quarterback where he was an all-state selection at Washburn Rural High School in Topeka.
• Senior Mickeel Stewart is the Ichabods’ leading returning rusher after starting all 12 games finishing with 662 rushing yards on 171 carries with eight touchdowns averaging 55.2 yards per game and 3.9 yards per carry. Also back is sophomore Zach Willis who appeared 12 games as a freshman and sophomore Curtis Whitten who rushed for 149 yards on 44 carries and had five catches for 99 yards in 11 games last season.
• At fullback, the Ichabods return senior Michael Shirk who appeared in 11 games making six starts grabbing two catches for 12 yards at fullback and junior Logan Lexow who made five starts appearing in 10 games recording two catches for 32 yards. Also in the mix will be sophomore Jackson Kirby as well as Ian Urban who redshirted in 2016.
• The Ichabods return four different players who have started at one time or another at Washburn led by junior Jake Horner who started eight games recording 18 catches for 467 yards averaging 25.9 yards per catch and 58.4 yards per game receiving and three touchdowns.
• The Ichabods have junior all-MIAA performer Bob Marco is back at right tackle. Making the move from center to right guard is sophomore Jake Riederer and junior Trevon Allen will be at left guard. Sophomore Colton Dunkle is moving from guard to center this season and at left tackle will be sophomore Kyle Hinton.
• The Ichabods return two players from 2016 who saw action in redshirt sophomore Michael Lickteig and junior Semaj Johnson. Lickteig played in one game before suffering an injury in the season opener and Johnson had four catches for 37 yards.
• The Ichabod defense returns seven starters and have experienced players at the remaining positions entering the 2017 season. In 2016, the Ichabod defense was the fifth-ranked defense in the MIAA allowing 397.5 yards per game while ranking third in rushing defense allowing 128 yards per game and eighth in pass defense at 269 yards per game. The Washburn defense was also second in the MIAA in interceptions with 18 and fifth in sacks with 30.
• The Ichabods return two starters on the defensive line in all-MIAA selection, senior tackle Trey Parker and fellow senior Jalen Durham at nose guard. Parker started 11 of 12 games recording 38 tackles with 20 solo stops adding 5.5 tackles for loss for 24 yards and two sacks for 12 yards. Durham started all 12 games recording 37 tackles with 14 solo stops adding 6.5 tackles for loss for 22 yards and three sacks for 14 yards.
Also back in the middle of the line is junior Gary Wilson and senior Ricardo Olivieri who each played in 11 games last season. At defensive end, senior Kastin Spencer has started four games in his career and on the other side is sophomore Rashade Chester who played in 11 games as a freshman in 2016. True freshman Landen Urban and transfer Will Jones will also see time on the defensive line.
• The Ichabods’ leading tackler from 2016 returns in senior Austin Tillman who led Washburn with 102 tackles en route to all-MIAA honors. He started all 12 games finishing with a team-high three fumble recoveries adding six tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. At the other linebacker spot is Derrick McGreevy who made one start finishing with 55 tackles in 12 games finishing second on the team with 9.5 tackles for loss for 26 yards forcing two fumbles. Junior Cedric Gonzalez, who played in 12 games in his first season as an Ichabod had 34 tackles with 4.5 for loss and 3.5 sacks along with redshirt freshman Garret Barnett-Kruger will also compete for time.
• The Ichabods return four starters in the 4-2-5 defensive backfield as senior Peter Pfannenstiel, junior Corey Ballentine and sophomores Josh Wright and Dwane Simmons are back. Ballentine was an all-MIAA pick in 2016 with 65 tackles with 43 solo stops and 6.5 tackles for loss. Pfannenstiel had 61 tackles with four for loss and Wright finished with 15 tackles. Simmons is back after sitting out the 2016 season after making 11 starts in 2015 at a cornerback’s position. New to the Ichabods is senior D.J. Olmstead, a NCAA Division I transfer from Idaho, who joined the Ichabods for spring practice. Sophomore Heath Tucker moves into a starting position at safety and senior Chris McGee, Jr., is moving from offense to defense sliding into the other safety spot.
• The Ichabods will return a two-time all-MIAA pick at the kicking positions as well as experience at longsnapper and at the kickoff and punt return positions. Junior placekicker/punter Perry Schmiedeler was a preseason second team All-American pick by Lindy’s magazine and was also a Fred Mitchell Award watch list nominee.
• Junior Perry Schmiedeler was named second team all-MIAA offense as a placekicker after hitting 19 of 24 field goals including a career-long 50-yard attempt against Missouri Western. The 19 field goals led the MIAA and tied for most on the Ichabod single-season chart enroute to leading the Ichabods in scoring with 92 points in 2016 connecting on 35 of 36 extra points.
• Schmiedeler, who also earned second team all-MIAA honors as a punter with his average of 41.2 yards per punt ranked third in the MIAA connecting on a career-long attempt of 70 against Emporia State on Nov. 12. He had 16 punts of more than 50-yards, which led the MIAA.
• The Ichabods were sixth in the MIAA last season in kickoff returns averaging 20.4 yards per attempt. Sophomore Josh Wright led the Ichabods with a 25.8 yards per return average on 19 attempts, which was fourth in the MIAA last season. Corey Ballentine, will also return kickoffs.
• As a unit, the Ichabods were eighth in punt return average at 6.9 per return.
Sophomore Kenyatte Harris, Jr. is the Ichabods’ most experienced punt returner with 10 returns and a 4.2 yard average per attempt.
• Junior Zach Downing will return for a third year of snapping for the Ichabods. He recorded five tackles after snaps last season on special teams adding a fumble recovery.

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