By PAT TRACZYKIEWICZ
November 15, 2012
For the fourth straight year, the Hopkins Blue Jays football team is your Centennial Conference Champion. Following a 14-12 loss last week against Franklin & Marshall, the Blue Jays won sole possession of the title with a decisive 49-7 win over conference rival McDaniel College. The Blue Jays jumped to an early 21-0 lead in the first quarter, largely from the help of two Jonathan Rigaud rushing touchdowns. Riguad’s second touchdown was his 20th of the year, making him the second player in school history to reach this mark in a season. Hopkins went into the half with a comfortable 28-0 lead, with the other two touchdowns coming from freshman running back Brandon Cherry. The Blue Jays tallied up over 500 total offensive yards for the fifth time this season. Their rushing attack has been their bread and butter all year, as they racked up 309 yards. The addition of 215 yards passing was just too much for the Green Terror to handle. The defense proved strong again, forcing four sacks and two interceptions on the day. Senior linebacker Adam Schweyer recorded his 200th tackle of his career, with 201 tackles now to his credit. The defensive statistic that stood out the most was holding McDaniel to just 2 for 16 on third-down conversions. The Blue Jays' dominating performance on both sides of the ball, prove that they are a different team from a year ago. Their biggest wins have come with a balanced offense attack and solid, consistent defensive play. The Blue Jays have averaged 38.6 points per game while racking up 495 yards per game. Not to be outdone, the defense has been strong all season, allowing just 14.9 points per game and 272.4 yards per game. With their most recent win, Hopkins also earned the Centennial Conference’s automatic bid into the NCAA playoffs. This is the Blue Jays’ fourth appearance in the NCAA playoffs, and their third in just the last four years. During Sunday’s selection show, the Blue Jays received the news they would host the Washington & Jefferson College Presidents. This is the second time ever that Hopkins has hosted a home playoff game. The first was just last year, when the Blue Jays saw a promising 10-0 season end shortly with a devastating loss in the first round. There is no doubt that this loss has fueled the Jays this season as they have improved greatly on both sides of the ball. Washington & Jefferson enters the game 8-2 after winning the Athletic Conference championship last week against previously unbeaten Waynesburg College. This is the 22nd NCAA playoff appearance for the Presidents, including two finishes as the national runner-up in 1992 and 1994. Washington & Jefferson poses a balanced offensive attack similar to Hopkins, with a smart, efficient quarterback and powerful running game. Defensively it’s the same story; the Presidents don’t allow many yards or points and get to the quarterback. However, with the bitter taste of last year’s loss still lingering in the player’s mouths, look for the Blue Jays to come out with a strong performance. Coming off one of the best seasons ever for a Blue Jay, Rigaud scooped up the Centennial Conference Offensive Player of the Year award. With Rigaud, and Matey passing for a yard short of 2,000 yards this season and a conference high 70% completion rate, the offense is high powered and they score relentlessly. In addition to the backfield, the Jays have weapons all over the field. Junior Dan Wodicka earned his third all-conference selection and has been Matey’s top target all year. Much of the offenses success would not be possible without the Blue Jays’ most unheralded about group: the offensive line. There were four all-conference selections on the O-line this season: junior Armand Jenifer, junior Ben Cranston, junior Vincenzo Bonaddio, and junior Kevin Quinn. This unit has provided incredible protection all year for the skill position players. The defensive side is the same story, led by Centennial Conference Defensive Player of the Year, Taylor Maciow. Maciow is backed by first team all-conference linebacker Adam Schweyer, and second team all-conference linebacker John Arena. The defense has made the game the Blue Jays play well rounded and strong going into the first round. The game is slated to start at 12 pm noon Saturday, November 12th. Come out and support your Blue Jays as the 2012 Centennial Conference Coach of the Year, Jim Margraff, looks to lead the Jays deep into the NCAA and grab their first national title.