After opening the season with a pair of losses to St. John Fisher and Ithaca, currently ranked fifth and 24th nationally in Division III, the Monarchs task will get no easier in its first-ever meeting with a Hampden-Sydney program that has been among the best in the respected Old Dominion Athletic Conference.
The contest will mark King’s third straight rugged non-conference game to open the 2007 season with as Monarch head coach Rich Mannello continues to prepare his team for its Middle Atlantic Conference slate. After facing Hampden-Sydney, the Monarchs will enjoy an off week before opening MAC play September 29 at Delaware Valley.
King’s will look to build on the marked improvement it displayed against Ithaca following the loss to St. John Fisher. The Monarchs offense accumulated 375 yards of total offense against Ithaca, compared to just 274 against St. John Fisher. King’s had ample opportunity to defeat Ithaca but critical mistakes, turnovers, and an inability to finish in the red zone proved costly. King’s had two turnovers inside the Ithaca 20-yard line and failed to score on another possession after advancing to the Bomber four. Additionally, with King’s holding a 7-6 lead with minutes remaining in the first half, a Bomber interception in Monarch territory led to an Ithaca touchdown and a major shift in momentum.
Similar mistakes could prove just as costly against a speedy, athletic Hampden-Sydney squad that has built a reputation of possessing one of the most high-powered offensive attacks in Division III over the last six years. The Tigers enter the contest with a 1-1 record and come off a 54-7 blowout of Gettysburg College on Saturday.
The game will present a strategic challenge for the Monarchs on both sides of the ball as King’s faces team that philosophically provides a sharp contrast to the styles of both St. John Fisher and Ithaca.
Offensively, Hampden-Sydney runs a no-huddle, one-back, three wide receiver set from multiple shotgun formations in an attempt to increase the pace of the game. The Tigers are known for their tremendous speed at the skill positions and their quick-strike philosophy is one the Monarchs rarely face in the Middle Atlantic Conference, known more for its physical brand of football.
Tiger head coach Marty Favret has led the Tigers to eight or more victories in four of the last five seasons while transforming the Tigers into one of the premier offensive units in the nation. Under Favret, Hampden-Sydney has gone 38-14 from 2002 through two games in 2007. His
2003 team finished 9-1 while his 2002, 2004, 2005 squads were each 8-2. Favret’s 2003 squad led the nation in scoring with 47.2 points per-game while his 2005 team led the country in total offense with a whopping 525.2 yards per-game average.
The Tigers slipped to 4-6 last season after suffering heavy graduation losses from the 2005 season, including all-American quarterback J.D. Ricca, the most prolific passer in school history. Still, Hampden-Sydney managed to average 26.2 points per-game in a transition year. Defensively, Hampden-Sydney also possesses tremendous team speed with a front-seven that is likely physically the smallest King’s has ever faced.
The Tigers defensive front-four averages just 6-foot, 210 pounds per-man, while the three starters at linebacker check in at an average of 5-foot-11 and 206 pounds. King’s offensive line, which averages 287-pounds perman, will hold a 77-pound advantage over the Tiger front-four. Hampden-Sydney, however, rotates a number of players into the game defensively in attempt to keep its players fresh, a tactic that could ultimately wear down an offensive line.