Setting the Scene… Merchant Marine enters Saturday's season finale against St. Lawrence in search of a .500 record for the 2012 season as well as the Hoffman Cup. USMMA last posted a .500 season at the end of a 6-4 campaign in 2003. The Mariners are looking to bounce back from a road loss at the hands of Union last week. St. Lawrence will be looking to end the year with its first victory after falling to #7 Hobart, 34-14, in their last contest. The match-up is the first athletic event held at Kings Point since Hurricane Sandy struck the Northeast two weeks ago.
View From the "Toop"... Check out the final interiew of the season with head coach Mike Toop:
Series History... Merchant Marine trails the all-time series against the Saints, 7-5. St. Lawrence also leads the Hoffman Cup series, 5-4, and has won the last three installments of the annual clash. The Saints picked up a 20-10 victory in 2011 behind Ethan Sutton's three touchdown receptions. USMMA last knocked off St. Lawrence in a 23-17 victory in 2008. Each team selects a MVP after the game; USMMA's selection will change for the first time in three years as Michael Mitchell captured the honor in 2009, 2010, and 2011.
Home Sweet Home… The Mariners have fared much better at home in 2012, posting a 3-1 record at Brooks Stadium. The USMMA offense is averaging almost 100 more rushing yards per game and 5.6 extra first downs per game when playing at home. The defense has also fared better at Tomb Field, surrendering 21 less points per game while on their home turf. A triumph over St. Lawrence would secure the team's best home record since 2003.
Avoid a Streak; Avoid a Loss?… In all five of Merchant Marine's losses this season their opponent has rattled off 20 unanswered points at some point in the game. In the Mariners four victories in 2012 an opponent has scored back-to-back touchdowns on just one occasion.
Scouting the Saints... St. Lawrence is averaging just 15.4 points per game in 2012, which ranks seventh in the Liberty League. Wide receiver Mike Tateosian paces the SLU attack, averaging 67.4 yards per game and racking up six touchdowns this year. The Saints have had two quarterbacks play significant time in 2012 with Zane Fish and Danny Metzgar both totaling over 1,000 passing yards. Joe Napolitano leads the defense with 74 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and one interception this season. St. Lawrence stayed competitive against #7 Hobart last week, who clinched the Liberty League crown with a victory, as the two sides entered halftime tied at 7-7.
Around the Liberty League... Hobart clinched back-to-back Liberty League Championships with a 34-14 triumph over St. Lawrence last weekend. The Statesmen have represented the Liberty League throughout the season in the top-ten in the nation as chosen by the weekly AFCA Division III poll. Hobart will be looking to finish the regular season with a perfect 10-0 record, 7-0 in league play, as they clash with Rochester this week. Offense was in high demand last week with every winning team scoring at least 34 points. Union will battle RPI and with a win the Dutchmen will own sole possession of second place in the standings. The final game of the 2012 regular season features WPI and the conference's newest member, Springfield.
Senior Day… 19 Mariners will be playing the final collegiate game of their career Saturday against St. Lawrence. Those players will have their send off in front of a home crowd at Brooks Stadium. Graduating seniors who have seen consistent time as starters this season include: Alex Coviello, Michael Tobin,
Richard Lyons, James Cameron, Scott Bartlett, and Chris Dumesnil.
Defense at a Premium… Saturday's contest could very well come down to which defense is able to end the season on a high note. The two sides enter the game as the lowest statistically rated defenses in the Liberty League. Both teams are allowing over 33 points per game as well as over 390 yards per game. USMMA's high mark of the season came as they held rival Maritime (NY) to 14 points in a 19-14 victory. The St. Lawrence defense has played better as of late, holding Norwich to 20 points two weeks ago before limiting Hobart to seven points in the opening thirty minutes last week.
Washington Stands Tall … Junior Tyler Washington (Chatham, NY) leads the Merchant Marine defense with 68 total tackles in 2012, including 51 solo stops. He also has one interception and 1. 5 tackles for a loss on his season stat line. It was Michael Biehn (The Woodlands, TX) who paced the USMMA defense last week with eight tackles. Biehn has made plays in the backfield all season, recording a team high 6.5 tackles for a loss this year.
Thriving Under Pressure… Three of USMMA's victories have come in one possession games. The Mariners knocked off Coast Guard by six points, Maritime (NY) by five points, and RPI in a three point affair. All five of Merchant Marine's losses in 2012 have been by a double digit margin.