Illinois Wesleyan 2008 Football Stories
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Senior wide receiver Martin Ceisel was named as the offensive most valuable player for the third straight year and senior linebacker Dan Souder was tabbed as the most valuable defensive player for the 2008 Illinois Wesleyan football team. Ceisel, who also earned the team's "Best Skill" award for the second year, finished his career third at IWU with 3,011 receiving yards and 34 touchdown receptions and was fourth all-time with 203 catches. He also earned the team's "Doug Schmied Award", named in honor of the former Titan captain who died in 2005. Junior wide receiver Chris Messina was named as the team's "Most Improved Player" and "Best Special Teams Player, while senior tight end Rick Podkowa earned "Best Big Skill" honors and linebacker Ryan Gresko was the team's "Most Valuable Freshman." Sophomore Max Brooks was chosen as the team's "Best Lineman" while freshmen Matt Berg (running back) and Sean Derrig (linebacker) were the top offensive and defensive junior varsity players, respectively.
Four Illinois Wesleyan football players were named to the first team of the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin all-star squads and five more were chosen to the second team in voting done by league coaches and announced on Tuesday, Nov. 18. Defensive back Robert Beauchamp, tight end Rick Podkowa, offensive lineman Travis Boothe and wide receiver Martin Ceisel were chosen to the first team while second team honorees were defensive back Roman Hunter, linebackers Dan Souder and Nick Nikolich, defensive lineman Max Brooks and offensive lineman Keely Flood. Ceisel was a first team selection for all four seasons, along with Wheaton defensive back Pete Ittersagen, becoming the first players to be four-year first team all-CCIW since Carthage running back Kevin Burris (1996-99). The Titans finished with a 6-4 overall record and were 3-4 in the CCIW.
The Illinois Wesleyan football team ended its season with a 46-21 win over North Park on Saturday, Nov. 15 at IWU Stadium in Bloomington. The Titans end with a 6-4 overall record and the Vikings fell to 1-9, 0-7 CCIW on IWU's "Seniors' Day." Senior Christian Winston rushed the ball 22 times for 172 yards and two touchdowns and senior Tom Almanzo caught two touchdown passes and had five catches for 101 yards. IWU rolled up 521 yards of total offense compared to 369 for the Vikings and had the ball for 37:29 to 22:31 for North Park. Senior Dan Souder had five total tackles to pace IWU while Ryan Gresko and Dan Rogers each had four. Erich Bushong, Lucas Spoerl, Adam Crouch and Robert Beauchamp all had interceptions in the Wesleyan victory.
Illinois Wesleyan fell to 5-4 overall and 2-4 in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin with a 44-10 loss at Wheaton on Saturday, Nov. 8. The Titans managed only 235 yards of total offense while surrendering 448 to the Thunder, who improved to 7-2, 4-2 CCIW. Trailing 7-0, IWU got on the board with 9:37 to play in the first quarter on a 37-yard field goal by Joe Duffy but did not score again until there was 5:54 to play in the game when, trailing 37-3, Brien Rooney connected with Chris Messina on a 14 yard touchdown pass. Dan Souder had five solo tackles and assisted on 11 more to lead IWU defensively. Rooney rushed for 84 yards and threw for 54, going seven-for-16 with two interceptions. Kraig Ladd was six-of-14 for 79 yards and Martin Ceisel made five catches for 51 yards. The Titans close out their season with a 1 p.m. game against North Park at home on Saturday, Nov. 15 on "Seniors' Day."
The Illinois Wesleyan football team was guilty of three fumbles and four interceptions in a 30-7 loss at North Central on Saturday, Nov. 1 in Naperville, Ill. The Titans (5-3 overall and 2-3 in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin) amassed 294 yards to 281 for the No. 2-nationally ranked Cardinals (8-0, 5-0 CCIW) and had 254 passing yards in a game that saw all the scoring done in the first half. Junior Kraig Ladd completed 25 of 40 for 240 yards and senior Martin Ceisel made eight catches for 103 yards. Ladd found Chris Messina on an 18 yard pass with 1:46 to play in the first half for IWU's only touchdown. Nick Nikolich made seven total tackles and Max Brooks has six tackles and made a quarterback sack along wth Ryan Jenkins. IWU plays at Wheaton at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 8.
Illinois Wesleyan junior quarterback Kraig Ladd and senior defensive back Robert Beauchamp have been named offensive and defensive players of the week, respectively, in the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin on Oct. 27. Ladd threw for four second half touchdowns to four different receivers to bring Wesleyan out of a 10-7 halftime deficit, leading the Titans to a 35-24 win over Elmhurst on Oct. 25. Ladd was 17-of-23 for 248 yards in the second half alone, and for the game, completed 23-of-34 passes for 330 yards (the 14th best in an Illinois Wesleyan game). His touchdown passes went for 42 yards (Jack Scalcucci), 27 (Rick Podkowa), three (Jon Meacham) and five yards (Tom Almanzo) respectively. Beauchamp made 11 solo tackles and assisted on one in the win. He had a quarterback sack for minus six yards and made two other tackles for losses, totaling six yards. In addition, he ran back two kickoffs for 24 and 20 yards respectively.
The Illinois Wesleyan football team, behind four second half touchdown passes from junior Kraig Ladd, defeated Elmhurst, 35-24, at IWU Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 25. Ladd completed 23 of 34 passes for 330 yards and TD passes to Jack Scalcucci, Rick Podkowa, Tom Almanzo and Jon Meacham. Travis Brubaker rushed for 84 yards on 11 carries as the Titans improved to 5-2 overall and 2-2 in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin while Elmhurst has an identical record. IWU amassed 423 yards of total offense and the Bluejays had 395, led by the 216 passing yards from Chris Kudyba. Ladd was 17 of 23 in the second half alone. Robert Beauchamp led the IWU defense with 12 total tackles while Nick Nikolich had nine and Neal Loftus made seven tackles and had an interception. The Titans travel to North Central to meet the nationally-ranked Cardinals next Saturday, Nov. 1.
The Illinois Wesleyan football team was outscored, 14-3, in the second half and lost a 21-13 decision to Augustana on Saturday night, Oct. 18 at IWU Stadium. The Titans and Vikings are both 4-2 overall while Wesleyan is now 1-2 in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin and the Vikings are 2-1. IWU scored 3:24 into the game on a pass from Kraig Ladd to Tom Almanzo and Augustana answered with a score 3:30 later. A 37 yard field goal by Joe Duffy made it 10-7 IWU at the half. After the Vikings took a 14-10 lead in the third quarter, Duffy added a 25 yard field goal to cut the margin to 14-13. The Vikings tacked on a touchdown with 5:17 to play in the game to make the final margin. Ladd was 19 of 36 for 201 yards, finding tight end Rick Podkowa for seven catches and 83 yards. Augie had 173 yards on the ground compared to 56 for Wesleyan. Adam Crouch led the Titans with nine tackles while Dan Rogers contributed eight. IWU hosts Elmhurst (5-1, 2-1 CCIW) next Saturday, Oct. 25 at 6 p.m.
Senior receiver Martin Ceisel made nine catches for 170 yards and two touchdowns as Illinois Wesleyan defeated Millikin, 42-0, in Decatur on Saturday, Oct. 11. The Titans improved to 4-1 overall and 1-1 in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin while the Big Blue fell to 2-3, 0-2 CCIW. Adam Crouch started the scoring with a 90 yard interception return for a TD in the first quarter and Ceisel caught the first of his two TDs in the second quarter. Bo Lanter rushed for 46 yards and Travis Brubaker ran for 43 yards and both had touchdowns. Kraig Ladd completed 14 of 25 passes for 177 yards and one TD while Brien Rooney threw two TD passes and rushed for a team-high 52 yards. Joe Duffy was perfect on six extra point kicks. The linebacking corps of Nick Nikolich (7), Dan Rogers (6) and Dan Souder (5) were the leading tacklers for Wesleyan, who hosts Augustana (3-2, 1-1 CCIW) at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 18.
The Illinois Wesleyan football team lost its Homecoming game by a 26-21 score to Carthage on Saturday, Oct. 4, in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin opener for both teams. Carthage jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter before the Titans got on the board with 8:29 to go in the half on a 16 yard pass to Jack Scalcucci from Kraig Ladd. Carthage led 20-7 when Jon Meacham caught a 6-yard TD pass from Ladd with 5:07 to play in the half to make the score 20-14 at intermission. Bo Lanter, who finished with 93 yards rushing, scampered in on a 9-yard TD run in the third quarter to put Wesleyan ahead, 21-20, but the Red Men marched 62 yards on 11 plays to score, capped by a 24 yard pass from Evan Jones to Nick Merchut with 2:35 to play. The Red Men had 444 yards on 92 plays while IWU had 265 yards on 65 plays. Ladd was 23 of 39 for 212 yards and was sacked four times. Robert Beauchamp and Nick Nikolich led the way defensively with 13 total tackles while Neal Loftus had 10 tackles. The Titans, who play at Millikin next week, and Red Men are both 3-1 overall.
Illinois Wesleyan scored twice in the last 5:04, including the winning touchdown with 21 seconds left to claim a 31-28 nonconference win at Aurora on Saturday, Sept. 20. Tom Almanzo caught his second TD pass with 5:04 left to play in the game and give the Titans a 24-21 lead, but Aurora (2-1) took a 28-24 lead with 2:37 to play after an interception was returned for a score. Sophomore quarterback Brien Rooney then directed Wesleyan on a 14-play, 65-yard drive, running in for the winning score himself from four yards out. IWU tied the game at 7-7 with a Kraig Ladd touchdown pass to Martin Ceisel in the first quarter, then took a 14-7 lead when Ladd connected with Almanzo in the second quarter. A 32-yard field goal by Joe Duffy sent IWU into the locker room with a 17-14 advantage. Ladd was 24 of 38 for 203 yards and Christian Winston rushed 22 times for 82 yards. Nick Nikolich had eight tackles to pace IWU while Dan Rogers had seven tackles and an interception. Roman Hunter and Adam Crouch also had interceptions. The Titans are 3-0 for the first time since 2002 and play next at home on October 4 against Carthage in a 2 p.m. Homecoming game.
Junior quarterback Kraig Ladd tied a school record with six touchdown passes as Illinois Wesleyan improved to 2-0 with a 48-34 win over Alma at IWU Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 13. Ladd completed 17 of 26 passes for 272 yards in tying the TD passing efforts by Lon Erickson (North Park, 1995) and Brad Forsyth (Carroll, 1989). Two TD passes were to Martin Ceisel and two more to Tom Almanzo while Eli Williams and Rick Podkowa each had one. Senior Christian Winston rushed for 126 yards on 30 carries. The last time the Titans scored more than 48 points was in a 2003 win over Millikin (49 points). Nick Nikolich led IWU with seven tackles and Robert Beauchamp added six. Josh Monk blocked a punt early in the game that was returned for a 15 yard TD by Chris Messina. Alma’s Mackenzie McGrady completed 26 of 41 passes for 352 yards and two touchdowns but was sacked six times. Jeremy Stephens caught 11 passes for 192 yards for the Scots (1-1). Travis Martin had a game-high 13 tackles for Alma.
Illinois Wesleyan senior kicker Joe Duffy (Oak Lawn, Ill., Brother Rice High School) has been named "Special Teams Player of the Week" in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin Duffy had field goals of 39 and 36 yards in Illinois Wesleyan’s 28-25 win over Hope on Saturday. His 39-yard field goal came just 59 seconds into the game to give the Titans a 3-0 lead. His 36-yard field goal came with 1:51 to play to stake Illinois Wesleyan to a 28-19 lead and proved to be the margin of victory as Hope scored a minute later. Duffy also added two extra-point kicks.
Illinois Wesleyan scored 15 third quarter points and held off a late rally to defeat Hope, 28-25, in the season opening football game for both teams in Holland, Mich., on Saturday, Sept. 6. The Titans scored first just 59 seconds into the game on a 39-yard field goal by Joe Duffy, then took a 10-7 lead with 1:05 to play in the first half when Kraig Ladd tossed a 3-yard TD pass to Rick Podkowa and Duffy added the extra point. Trailing by a 13-10 count, the Titans got two third quarter TD passes from Ladd – one of 10 yards to Martin Ceisel and the other of 32 yards to Christian Winston. Duffy kicked a 36-yard field goal with 1:51 to give IWU a 28-19 advantage. Ladd completed 18 of 32 passes for 250 yards and Winston rushed for 112 yards on 28 carries. Ceisel finished with 10 catches for 156 yards. Defensively, IWU was led by the linebacking corps of Nick Nikolich (11 total tackles), Dan Souder (10) and Dan Rogers (7) and end Ryan Jenkins made three quarterback sacks for -21 yards. The Titans host Alma at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 13. Alma, picked fourth in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association preseason poll, was a 49-0 home field winner over Bluffton on Sept. 6.
The Illinois Wesleyan football team has been picked to finish third in the 2008 College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin preseason coaches' poll. The Titans, who open their season on Sept. 6 at Hope College, got 33 points from the league coaches. North Central got six first place votes (and 48 points) to finish first in the poll, followed by Wheaton (two first place votes, 44 points). After Wesleyan comes Augustana, Carthage, Elmhurst, Millikin and North Park. Last year IWU finished 7-3 overall and earned a share of the CCIW championship for the first time since 2001. It was IWU's 13th league title. Leading the returning players is senior Martin Ceisel, who made 60 catches for 742 yards and eight TDs in 2007 and is fourth in IWU history with 2,194 career receiving yards. The Titans are also ranked No. 40 in the preseason D3football.com poll.
The defending conference champion Illinois Wesleyan football team opens its 2008 season on the road on Sept. 6 at 12:30 p.m. (Central time) against Hope College in Holland, Mich. The Titans, coached for the 22nd season by Norm Eash, were 7-3 last year and 6-1 to tie for first place in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin. Hope, who has "Community Day" on Sept. 6, was 6-4 overall in 2007 and 6-1, tying for first in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association. IWU opens its home season on Sept. 13 vs. Alma and had its CCIW opener on Oct. 4 against Carthage in the IWU Homecoming game. Eash has a career record of 126-73-1 with six conference championships.