SI Vault
September 10, 1979
The smaller fry of college football may not get the headlines, but with postseason playoffs in the NCAA's divisions I-AA, II and III, at least there's never an argument over who's No. 1.
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September 10, 1979

Small Colleges

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Runner-up Delaware—the winningest Division II team over the last 10 years—has lost 13 starters, most notably All-America Quarterback Jeff Komlo and Receiver Pete Ravettine. However, Running Back Lou Mariani is back, and he has All-America Tackle Herb Beck to clear the way for him. The Blue Hens led Division II in only one statistical category, but it is enough to ensure the continued health of the program: Delaware was tops in average home attendance, with 19,009 fans a game.

Winston-Salem, which lost to Delaware 41-0 in the semifinals, will rely again on Running Back Timmy New-some. A straight-up rusher with long, fluid strides, Newsome gained 1,377 yards on 183 carries and scored 14 TDs in 1978. Youngstown State still has a potent combination from its semifinalist team in Quarterback Keith Snoddy and All-America Receiver Jim Ferranti.

UC-Davis has won eight straight Far Western Conference titles and has not lost a league game in 28 outings. The Cal Aggies will have to make up for the loss of Quarterback Mike Moroski and Defensive End Casey Merrill to the pros, but they are expected to win another playoff berth. So is Cal Poly at San Luis Obispo, which has Louis Jackson, the division's third-best returning rusher, with 1,131 yards in '78.

East Stroudsburg State, usually a small-college power, faces a rebuilding year, though Barry Kennedy returns to the Warrior backfield. Kennedy passed for four touchdowns in Stroudsburg's 49-4 win over Clarion State in the Pennsylvania Conference championship game. Clarion has the division's longest streak of winning seasons, 15, all of them coming under Coach Al Jacks. The Golden Eagles again will be strong contenders for the playoffs, along with Bethune-Cookman and Jacksonville ( Ala.) State. Nebraska-Omaha, which is coming off an 8-3 season that earned the Mavericks their first postseason berth, is likely to win the North Central Conference and another playoff spot.

In his 22nd season as head coach at Baldwin-Wallace, Lee Tressel faces a manpower shortage. Last season his Yellow Jackets beat Ohio Athletic Conference rival Wittenberg 24-10 in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl to win the Division HI championship, but 10 all-conference players, including All-America Tackle Paul Petrella, have departed. Wittenberg has 34 lettermen back but will feel the loss of All-America Tailback Dave Merritt and Fullback Steve Fuller.

Ithaca (N.Y.) College, which lost a semifinal Division III game to Wittenberg, 6-3, has the championship in its sights this season. With 17 of last year's starters still around, the Bombers also will be taking dead aim on an unprecedented third Lambert Bowl in six years. Ithaca should get a good idea of whether it will achieve either of these lofty goals on Sept. 15 when it plays St. Lawrence, a team that was in the playoffs last season.

The 100th birthday of Widener College football should be a happy one, with a third straight Southern Division championship in the Middle Atlantic Conference providing the icing on the cake. Franklin and Marshall—7-2 in '78—should also continue its winning ways, while Carnegie-Mellon is likely to repeat as the Presidents' Conference champion.

In 1978, for the ninth time in 10 years, the champion of the Lone Star Conference went on to win the NAIA Division I championship. This time it was Angelo ( Texas) State that turned the trick, beating Elon (N.C.) College 34-14 in the Palm Bowl. Because many of the starters that helped Angelo win a collegiate-record 14 games in one season are gone, this season's Lone Star co-favorites are Texas A&I and Abilene Christian. After slumping to 6-5 a year ago, A&I is solid once more, especially at running back, where Rocky Smith and Robert Poole star. Abilene Christian's strength is John Mayes, the NAIA's top passer in 1978, who completed 164 of 317 for 2,535 yards and 14 TDs.

Elon's entire starting backfield—including NAIA All-America Tailback Bobby Hedrick—is back, as is the defensive secondary, led by Free Safety Bryan Burney, who had—and this ain't no typo, folks—12 interceptions a year ago. The Fighting Christians figure to repeat as South Atlantic Conference champs and return to the Palm Bowl on Dec. 15 in McAllen, Texas.

Colorado's Western State, which lost to Angelo State in the semifinals, is gunning for its seventh straight Rocky Mountain Conference title. Quarterback Charlie Thompson is such a talented scrambler that he could get Western back into the playoffs as well.

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