HANOVER, Ind. - The Hanover College football team will open the 2019 season this Saturday, Sept. 7, with nationally ranked Centre College (Ky.). The Panthers and Colonels are slated for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff.
SEASON OPENER: Hanover will open the 2019 season at Alumni Stadium with a familiar foe, as the Panthers and Colonels are meeting in the season opener for the sixth consecutive time. The meeting is the 48th overall with the Colonels holding the 32-13-2 edge. Centre has won six straight, including a 28-18 victory a season ago.
PANTHERS UNDER THEOBALD: Head Coach Matt Theobald is entering his fourth season at the helm of the Panthers. The 2019 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year guided the Panthers to an HCAC title and the team's first NCAA playoff appearance dating back to 2003. The Blue and Red earned the crown after defeating HCAC favorite Franklin as part of the 88th annual Victory Bell Classic.
PRESEASON POLL: The Panthers were picked to repeat as HCAC Champions as part of the 2019 Preseason Poll voted on by the conference's head coaches. The Panthers earned 60 points, including seven first place votes, placing them ahead of 2018 preseason favorite Franklin with 52 points. Mount St. Joseph rounded out the top three as they registered 51 points and the final first place vote.
TWO DEEP: The season opener will feature a core of veterans for the Panthers, led by senior quarterback AJ Breit (Louisville, Ky.). Breit appeared in nine games for the Blue and Red tallying 1,402 yards of total offense. He registered 17 touchdowns and ranked among the league's best in yards per game (155.8). Senior Jackson Daugherty (Greenwood, Ind.) and junior Jared Frank (Louisville, Ky.) also return to the Panther offense at the wide receiver position. Frank posted a strong 2019 campaign ranking fourth in the HCAC in touchdowns (9) while haling in 45 receptions. In the back field, junior Shawn Coane continues to be a work horse for the Panthers ranking second in the league in yards per game (117.6) and third in touchdowns (9).
TOP TIER DEFENSE: The Blue and Red return a defense that finished among the league's best last season, holding conference lows in scoring defense (15.8 points per game) and total defense (281.8 yards per game). The Panthers will look to continue to dominate the defensive side of the ball as they return All-Conference selections Zikk Omoruyi (Palm Beach, Fla.), Kyle Treber (Mishawka, Ind.) and Dakota Manion (West Lafayette, Ind.).
COMMON BOND: Hanover and Centre College share a unique bond as they both actively serve as members of the Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities. The APCU currently is made up of 50+ member institutions that seek to develop both the mind and the spirit by embracing academic freedom and inquiry, nurturing a commitment to service, and pursuing excellence.
SCOUTING THE COLONELS: Centre enters the contest ranked 20th nationally in the D3football.com preseason poll after winning the SAA and advancing to the NCAA Playoffs a season ago. The Colonels finished the season among the league's best averaging 41.92 points per game, while only allowing 20.58 points per contest. The team racked up 5,657 total yards of offense (2,121 rushing) (3,536 passing) on 768 total plays. Centre returns top passer, John Walton who appeared in seven games and tallied eight touchdowns. In the back field, Dameon Jones will look to get much of the work load after serving as the backup for Trevor Carnell and Colin Burnam in 2018.
UP NEXT: Hanover will return to Alumni Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 14 as they welcome Adrian (Mich.). The Panthers and Bulldogs will kickoff at 1 p.m.