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So far this season, everything has gone according to plan. With five wins the Maroons have already won as many games as they did last season; they enter tomorrow’s game against Case having won the past three consecutive games with an average score of 25 points.
The problem is Case. The vaunted, undefeated, defending champions Case Western Reserve. Possessed of a 7–0 record, a sweet-slinging fourth-year quarterback named Joey Baum, ultramarine uniforms, and a website teeming with video clips of the team’s victories featuring a screeching radio announcer so excited one quickly realizes nothing else ever happens in Cleveland, Case doesn’t lose…ever.
Coming into the game ranked 23rd in the country, Case refuses to roll over. They have won 37 straight regular season games.
“We are all aware of what Case has done over the past few years,” said second-year defensive lineman Joseph Tripolitakis, an integral member of the team’s staunch run defense this season.” They have run the UAA and haven’t lost a regular-season game in a long time. What better weekend to end that streak than Halloween weekend?”
Last season, the Maroons played Case under similar circumstances: entering the game with a 4–2 record and poised to fight for the UAA championship, heading into the fourth quarter, the teams were tied at 24. However, after a few costly mistakes, the Maroons finally gave way, falling 38–24 and beginning a two-game losing streak that knocked them out of contention for the UAA championship.
But the Maroons are hot and ready for all that’s coming.
Second-year punter Jeff Sauer, who averaged 48 yards a punt last weekend against Kenyon, explained the importance of this week’s game. “This is definitely our biggest game of the year,” he said. “A win against a good Case Western team would give us great momentum throughout the UAA schedule. We will need to be very physical from the start and execute on offense, defense, and special teams to beat Case.”
The Maroons may have to rely on a special teams unit that has dominated so far this season. Led by third-year linebacker Danny Polaneczky, the Maroons tied a D-III record last week against Kenyon by blocking their fifth punt of the season.
“This is a huge game for us, the biggest one of the season,” said Polaneczky. “Our goal from the beginning of the season was to win the UAA, and beating Case is the first step to reaching that goal. They are a great team having won 37 straight regular season games, but I believe we can end that streak if we all do our jobs and play with great intensity on every play.”
Polaneczky, led the team with 13 tackles and a blocked punt last week against Kenyon on the way to being named to D-III football’s team of the week for the second time in three weeks.
The offense, led by healthy fourth-year quarterback Marshall Oium, has posted an average of 31 points a game this season.
Hosting Case this Saturday at noon will prove the litmus test for a streaking Maroons team poised to finally win a UAA championship.
“Obviously, winning this game not only ends this streak, but puts us in position to contend for a UAA Championship over the following two weekends,” summed up Tripolitakis. ”Also, the chance of making the D-III playoffs for the first time in school history is still a realistic possibility, but can only happen if we win out. Really, what can be more exciting than this?”