John Carroll enters 2014 at number 18 in our rankings. Check out our Top 25 Season Preview for more on the top college teams to watch this fall. Can’t find your team in the Top 25? View our full rankings to see where every team stands.
Last Season: 9-2 (8-1) Ohio Athletic Conference
For the second season in a row, John Carroll finished second place in the Ohio Athletic Conference behind perennial powerhouse Mount Union. The Blue Streak started the season on a hot-streak as the defense shut out their opposition in four of their first nine games and didn’t allow a single team to score double-digits – an incredible run. They won those first nine games by an average score of 45.6-3.6. Then, in the final week of the regular season, they travelled to meet the [tooltip text=”reigning conference champs” gravity=”n”]who had reigned for 21 seasons in a row[/tooltip], Mount Union.
The two teams had identical 9-0 records (both 8-0 in OAC play), and this game would decide who would take the conference title, and the automatic bid to the D3 playoffs that comes with it. The Blue Streak went up three at the start of the second quarter before Mount Union went on a 21-point run to end the first half. John Carroll managed to pull it back to within a touchdown, but never got closer than eight points. They lost 42-34. With 34 points, the Blue Streak matched the highest point-total scored on the Purple Raiders all season, but the Purple Raiders 42 points were more than the John Carroll defense had allowed in every game last season combined. Their 9-1 overall record was good enough to earn them a spot in the D3 playoffs, but they fell in their first game to St. John Fisher, 25-16, and ended their stellar season on a two-game losing streak.
– AJ Short OL – Second team All-OAC
– Breen Cullivan C – Second team All-OAC
– DaQuan Grobsmith RB – First team All-OAC, 146 carries, 664 yards, 11 TDs, 25 receptions, 197 yards, 1 TD
– Matt Feeney LB – First team All-OAC, 63 yards, 8 TFL, 4 sacks, 2 INTs, 1 FR, 2 FFs
– Mitch Krotz LB – First team All-OAC, 91 tackles, 9 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 1 FF
– Randy Greenwood DB – First team All-OAC, 25 tackles, 3 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 INT, 3 pass defenses, 3 FFs, 1 blocked kick
What to Watch For
Low Turnover – John Carroll lost far fewer starters than most of our top 25. Their biggest losses on the defense were linebackers Matt Feeney and Mitch Krotz – both first team All-OAC performers, along with defensive back Randy Greenwood. While those three were key contributors, they only lost six contributing seniors from a defense that finished with the second-fewest points allowed of any team in D3. The offense lost some studs as well: All-OAC linemen AJ Short and Breen Cullivan, and running back DaQuan Grobsmith, but they retained their quarterback – Mark Myers, their leading rusher – Tommy Michals, and their leading receiver – Aramis Greenwood. The Blue Streak should be able to build on last season’s success with these veterans in place.
Obviously they need to take this season one game at a time, but you couldn’t blame the Blue Streak for circling the season finale against Mount Union on their schedule. The Purple Raiders have owned this conference for more than two decades, but last season made it clear that they aren’t invincible anymore. The Blue Streak know they can win, and this time, they’ll get Mount Union at home. Expect John Carroll to show the same defensive dominance they did last year, even without their dynamic duo of linebackers, and if that happens, expect them to go into their clash with Mount Union undefeated. Once again the season finale will decide it all, and home field advantage could be what tips the scales. It might be time for a new champion in the OAC – at least that’s what John Carroll fans should hope for.