Wittenberg football starts their season on the road on Sept. 7 against Washington & Jefferson, and head coach Joe Fincham seems unfazed by the Tigers rankings going into his 24th season as head coach. Wittenberg was ranked number 27 on the ESPN Top 50 college football programs of the last 150 years, and according to Fincham, the Tigers haven’t talked about their ranking during practice and he doubts half of the players even know about the honor.
The Tigers were ranked ahead of Division I powerhouses like Michigan State, ranked #28, and Texas A&M, ranked #32 on the ESPN list . Fincham says that the ranking really speaks to the tradition of the Wittenberg football program and is hard to argue with three college football Hall of Fame inductees: Ernest Rees Godfrey, Bill Edwards and Dave Maurer.
The ESPN ranking has also not affected the Tigers goals of wining the NCAC conference title for the fourth year in a row. In addition to the ESPN ranking, the Tigers were ranked second in an NCAC preseason poll behind Wabash College, a team that Wittenberg lost to last season in overtime. The Tigers will face Wabash on the road, on Oct. 19 at 1 p.m.
The Tigers have a strong roster of returning players this year as the offensive has Nick Kendall (’20), a senior who led the Tigers in rushing yards last season with 451 yards. Thad Snodgrass (’20) also returns as leading wide receiver with 475 yards. Both Kendall and Snodgrass will be on the receiving end of the Tigers yet undecided starting quarterback who will need to fill the hole left by Jake Kennedy (’19).
According to Fincham, the quarterback position is currently between Bobby Froelich (’21), Blake King (’22) and Lance Lambert (’22). Froelich is the current leader for the starting role according to Fincham and has one career touchdown in a game against Oberlin last year.
The Tigers defensive has returning senior Troy Jones (’20) who was named to the D3Football.com preseason All-American Team over the summer and will be looked up to by a stable of returners including 2018 All-American Jonathan Seay (’20). Last season the Tiger defense allowed just 231 points over the course of ten games, the fourth best in the NCAC. They were one of the best defenses in the conference with six touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
The Tigers start their season on the road for the first two weeks, playing against Washington & Jefferson on Sept. 7 at 1 p.m., and starting conference play the following week against Hiram College on Sept. 14 at 1 p.m.
The Tigers’ first home game will be Sept. 21 at 4:30 p.m. against conference rival the College of Wooster for Champions Night at Edward-Maurer Field. Fincham is not fazed by the long period before the first home game as “the team can practice and eat dinner at Witt on Friday and stay overnight before the game on Saturday,” adding, “road trips provide an opportunity for team bonding.”