FOREST, Va. – For the first time since 1995, Guilford College earned the top spot in the 2015 Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) Football Coaches’ Preseason Poll released Friday. The Quakers received the maximum number of first-place votes (7) and outdistanced the league’s other seven teams with 49 total points. Hampden-Sydney College, the defending league champion, shared second place with Bridgewater College and Emory & Henry College with 35 points apiece.
Head coach Chris Rusiewicz begins his fifth Guilford season with 10 returning All-ODAC performers and 19 starters back from last year’s 8-2 unit, which matched the school records for wins and league wins (5) in a season. He expects 77 returning letter winners in preseason camp, which opens August 12. Some 18 of the veterans are seniors, marking one of the biggest senior classes in school history.
Senior quarterback Matt Pawlowski (Greensboro, N.C./Northwest Guilford), the defending J. Stokely Fulton ODAC Offensive Player of the Year, is back for his fourth and final season as the Quakers’ starter. He has completed over 63 percent of his career pass attempts for 8,292 yards and 77 touchdowns. Pawlowski has thrown for 6,849 yards, 62 touchdowns with six interceptions in the past two years. His favorite target is classmate Adam Smith (Mocksville, N.C./Davie), a 2015 Lindy’s Sports preseason Second Team All-American. The three-time All-ODAC selection enters his final season with 158 career catches for 2,726 yards and 28 touchdowns in 30 games.
Guilford expects a strong running game as well, thanks to the return of All-ODAC backs Josh Schow (Herndon, Va./Herndon) and De’Eric Bell (Jackson, Ga./Jackson), plus first-team all-league tackle Wes Johnson (Wilmington, N.C./Laney). Schow, a senior and two-time second-team all-league honoree, set Guilford’s career rushing touchdowns record last fall (20) and stands fifth all-time at Guilford with 1,741 yards. Bell, a sophomore, ranked second to Schow in 2014 with 473 rushing yards and four scores. He ranked ninth in the league with 104.5 all-purpose yards per game. Johnson, a 6-3, 275-pound senior, captured First Team All-ODAC honors as a junior and second-team recognition in 2013.
While the Quakers’ defense graduated 2014 Lou Wacker Defensive Player of the Year Satiir Stevenson ’15, Guilford welcomes back four all-league defenders. Junior linebacker Hunter Hoots (Midway, N.C/North Davidson) collected First Team All-ODAC and Third Team D3football.com All-South recognition last fall thanks to a team-high 102 tackles and 4.5 sacks. Senior linebacker Daytwyn Rascoe (Pikesville, Md./McDonogh) received third-team all-conference honors as a junior and boasts 161 career tackles. The return of seniors Hunter English (Greensboro, N.C./Western Guilford) and Robert Smith (Winston-Salem, N.C./R.J. Reynolds) after a year’s absence also bolsters the defense. English, a 2011 Third Team All-ODAC selection, has 193 career tackles, including 21 for loss, in 25 games. Smith, a three-time all-league pick, has 31.5 tackles for loss among his 245 stops in 29 career tilts.
As it has for three years, Guilford’s kicking game rests on the capable right leg of senior Tyler Hunt (Gibsonville, N.C./Eastern Guilford). Tabbed a 2015 Division III Preseason All-American punter by The Sporting News, Hunt is a three-time All-ODAC honoree with two career All-South commendations from D3football.com. Last month he was one of 41 college kickers named to the Fred Mitchell Award Watch List. Hunt won third-team all-region and first-team all-league punting laurels in 2014 after topping the conference with a 42.7 yards-per-kick average. He also handles Guilford’s kickoffs and was a First Team All-ODAC place-kicker who made seven-of-11 field goals and connected on each of his school-record 52 point-after touchdowns. Hunt stands prominently among the school’s career kicking leaders and has a 40.9-yard average in 105 career punt attempts.
Rusiewicz’s Quakers open the season with the 19th annual Gate City Soup Bowl against Greensboro College Sept. 5 at 7:00 p.m. at Grimsley High School’s Jamieson Stadium.
# Q U A K E R S #
Old Dominion Athletic Conference Football Coaches’ Poll (first-place votes in parentheses)
1. Guilford (7) 49, T2. Bridgewater 35, T2. Emory & Henry 35, T2. Hampden-Sydney (1) 35, 5. Randolph-Macon 31, 6. Washington and Lee 17, 7. Shenandoah 15, 8. Catholic 7.
Guilford College Athletics