A New Era Starts This Thursday Night: FSU vs. St. Francis

A New Era Starts This Thursday Night: FSU vs. St. Francis



* This Week:
The Ferris State University football team kicks off a new era and its 104th season of varsity competition Thursday, Aug. 30, as the Bulldogs visit the University of St. Francis (Ill.) Fighting Saints for a 7 p.m. (ET) non-conference matchup at Memorial Stadium in Joliet, Illinois.  The contest serves as the Bulldogs' 2012 season opener and the first game under new head coach Tony Annese.

* Ticket Information: Tickets will be sold at the stadium on Thursday.  For more information in regards to ticket sales, please contact the University of St. Francis Athletics Office directly at (815) 740-3464.

* Media Coverage: Thursday's game will be carried live locally by the Bulldog Sports Network and Sunny 97.3 FM with Rob Bentley handling the play-by-play duties and Sandy Gholston offering color commentary.  The contest will also be streamed with free live audio online at FerrisStateBulldogs.com.  USF is slated to offer a video stream accessible at www.livestream.com/gofightingsaints.  Links for all media coverage will be posted on FSU's official athletics website.

* Follow On Twitter: In addition to radio and internet coverage, Bulldog fans can also follow Thursday's contest and all other FSU games this year with live scoring updates on several social media platforms.  Visit www.twitter.com/FerrisFootball to follow the tweet-by-tweet coverage with periodic scoring updates or visit www.facebook.com/FerrisFootball.

* Season Openers: Ferris State will be participating in its 104th season opener since 1900 (no scores available in 1912 & 1916) and has compiled a 44-52-5 (.460 winning pct.) record.  The Bulldogs have won 14 of their last 23 season openers to date, which includes seven of their last 15 overall.  Ferris has won four of its last five season openers to date after a 20-17 non-league home victory over Hillsdale a year ago (9/2/11).

* Coming Up Next: Ferris opens Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) play next week by traveling to Lake Erie on Saturday, Sept. 8.  Kickoff for the contest is scheduled for 7 p.m. (ET) under the lights at Painesville, Ohio.  It will mark the Bulldogs' second-ever trip to Painesville and third overall matchup against the Storm.

* A New Era Begins: A proven winner at all of his previous coaching stops and highly-regarded across the country, Tony Annese will direct the Bulldogs for the first time this fall following three impressive years as the head coach at Grand Rapids Community College, which came on the heels of a highly successful 25-season stint at the prep level.  He owns an overall career head coaching record of 225-45 (.833) entering the 2012 campaign and was 30-4 (.882) as a junior college head coach at GRCC.

* The Records: Ferris State posted a 6-5 overall mark a season ago and was 5-5 in GLIAC play under former head coach Jeff Pierce.  The Bulldogs won five of their initial seven games of the campaign before falling in three of their last four outings.

St. Francis is currently 1-0 overall following a 44-14 home win over Concordia in its season opener on Saturday (Aug. 25).  The Saints were 10-3 overall during the 2011 campaign and posted a 6-1 mark in Mid-States Football Association (MSFA) Midwest League action.  They advanced to the NAIA National Quarterfinals a year ago.

* The Coaches: Ferris State – Tony Annese (Alma, 1993), 1st season, 0-0-0 (.000) – (0-0-0 vs. USF).  Annese recorded a 195-41 (.826) mark as a head coach in four stops at the high school level before totaling a 30-4 (.882) record in three years as the head coach at Grand Rapids Community College.  His overall career mark is 225-45 (.833) to date and includes three prep state championships and two national JUCO crowns.
St. Francis – Joe Curry (St. Francis, 2001), 1st season 1-0-0 (1.000); Curry earned all-conference honors twice as a defensive lineman for the Saints (1998, 2000). He then spent seven years (2005-11) as defensive coordinator at his alma mater, capping his tenure as the Saints reached last year's NAIA quarterfinals. He's the fourth head football coach in USF history, replacing Mike Uremovich, who left to join
the staff at Northern Illinois.

* The 104th Season: The 2012 campaign represents the Bulldogs' 104th season of varsity competition.  The program actually began in 1900, but no football was played in 1908-09, 1917-18, 1932 and from 1942-45 for various reasons.  Additionally, no scores are available from either the 1912 or 1916 seasons.  Ferris has posted an all-time record of 378-429-40 (.470) to date heading into the 2012 campaign.

* Non-League Games: Ferris is 10-8-0 (.556) in non-league games dating back to 1990 and has won seven of its last 10 outings, including a 20-17 home triumph over Hillsdale last year (9/2/11).  Twelve of Ferris State's last 16 non-conference games have been away from home.

* About St. Francis: St. Francis is ranked seventh nationally in the NAIA Preseason Coaches Poll.  USF's 2011 season was its most successful campaign since the program's inception in 1986 as the Saints won a school-record 10 games and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NAIA Football Championship Series. St. Francis finished 10-3 overall and captured a share of the Mid-States Football Association (MSFA) Midwest League title with a 6-1 mark in conference play.

* Coaching Staff: In addition to a new head coach in Tony Annese, the Bulldogs feature an entirely new coaching staff for the 2012 season.  Rob Zeitman, who most recently served as the head coach at Grand Rapids Northview High School, takes over as offensive coordinator for the Bulldogs with Ryan Oshnock serving as the defensive coordinator.  He was a graduate assistant under former FSU player and coach Butch Jones at both Central Michigan and the University of Cincinnati following a collegiate playing career at GLIAC member Wayne State University.  The other full-time assistants include former Bulldog players Ryan Hodges and Sparky McEwen along with ex-Grand Valley State quarterback Ryan Brady.

* Interesting Fact: Current Ferris State assistant coach Ryan Hodges, who coaches the defensive backs, tallied 11 total solo tackles along with an interception, a pass breakup and a tackle for loss in FSU's most recent game against St. Francis in 1998.  After wrapping up his Bulldog playing career as an all-conference player in 2000, he served as an assistant under FSU head coach Tony Annese at both Muskegon High School and Grand Rapids Community College before joining him on the staff at Ferris State.
* Another Bulldog Alum: Former Ferris State quarterback Charles "Sparky" McEwen joined head coach Tony Annese's staff last spring as an assistant coach and directs the wide receivers.  McEwen, who played for the Bulldogs from 1987-90, spent more than a decade as a professional football coach in the Arena Football League with both the Grand Rapids Ramapge and the Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz.  He currently ranks 14th among the school's all-time passing leaders with 2,183 career yards. His son, A.J. McEwen, is a wide receiver for the Bulldogs.
* Evening Football: Ferris State's first six contests of the 2011 season will be evening games with all scheduled for 7 p.m. (ET) kickoffs.  Three of the outings are at home with three on the road.  After the opening six-game stretch, the remaining five regular-season games will be afternoon starts at various times.
* Sunny 97.3: Thursday's game continues the broadcast partnership between FSU Athletics and Sunny 97.3 FM.  Rob Bentley and Sandy Gholston will call the action starting with the "Bulldog Pregame" show at 6:30 p.m.  Sunny 97.3 and the Bulldog Sports Network will again carry all home and away football contests this campaign with the broadcasts streamed live online at www.FerrisStateBulldogs.com.
* Bulldog Sports Network: Fans can follow all the action of Ferris State football live online via the Bulldog Sports Network multimedia portal again this season.  A live audio and video pay-per-view webcast will be offered for all home games with free audio for all road contests.  The package also includes live stats, live chat and a live blog at select times. Visit www.FerrisStateBulldogs.com for more info.
* All-GLIAC Returners: Ferris State returns five players who received GLIAC postseason accolades in 2011.  The list includes senior linebacker Tayo Moss (South Rockwood/Monroe St. Mary's), who earned All-GLIAC First Team honors.  Senior defensive end Jordan Morgan (Chicago, Ill./Mt. Carmel) was an All-GLIAC Second Team honoree for the second year in a row.  Meanwhile, senior defensive end Brad Iskow (Bad Axe), senior running back Skyler Stoker and senior offensive tackle Trevor Smolinski were all-conference honorable mention choices last season.

* Welcome Back: The Bulldogs return 18 starters and 40 letterwinners from last season.
* Under The Lights: Ferris is 39-53-4 (.427) in evening games going back to 1961. The Bulldogs are 12-28-2 (.310) on the road and 27-25-2 (.519) at home during that period.
* Former Counterparts: Ferris State and St. Francis matched up four times in the 1990's as the Fighting Saints joined the Bulldogs as a member of the former Midwest Intercollegiate Football Conference (MIFC) from 1993-98.

* Thursday Night: Thursday's contest at St. Francis will mark FSU's first "Thursday" opener since 1999 (9/2) when the Bulldogs fell 55-35 at North Dakota State to open the season.  FSU went on to capture the GLIAC Championship that campaign.

* Familiar Names: Two familiar names to Bulldog fans will be on the opposite sideline on Thursday night.  New St. Francis head coach Joe Curry served three seasons as the Bulldogs' defensive line coach from 2002-04 before leaving to become the Fighting Saints' defensive coordinator.  Additionally, his first-year offensive coordinator, Matt McCarthy, ranks as the Bulldogs' all-time passing leader as he threw for 8,669 yards and 68 TD's from 1996-99.  He then served as a Bulldog assistant coach for 10 seasons from 2000-09, including nine as the offensive coordinator under Jeff Pierce, before serving on the staff at the University of Cincinnati.

* Preseason All-American: FSU senior linebacker Tayo Moss received preseason recognition by being named to the 2012 Beyond Sports College Network Division II Preseason All-America Second Team.  He was also tabbed as one of the top three players to watch in the GLIAC his fall by the Beyond Sports College Network. A 2011 All-GLIAC First Team selection, Moss received all-conference recognition for the first time last fall after finishing the 2011 regular-season campaign as the GLIAC's leading tackler (10.7 tpg.) with 35 solo stops and 85 assisted hits for 118 total tackles.  Moss had 10 tackles or more in seven games, including the last three of the season when he twice had 15 stops or more.

* Home Opener: Ferris State's home opener will be on Saturday, Sept. 15, as the Bulldogs host the Ashland Eagles for a GLIAC matchup starting at 7 p.m. (ET).  It will also be Agriculture Day presented by Mecosta County Farm Bureau with a variety of activities taking place, including a concert by Gunnar and the Grizzly Boys.  Other events include a petting zoo, display of farm implements, a tribute to farmers along with contests, prizes and giveaways.

* Training Camp Notes: Ferris' officially opened fall camp Wednesday, Aug. 8, as the squad reported to campus for the first time. The first official practice was held Thursday, Aug. 9. Ferris' three-week training camp period not only has featured practices and scrimmages, but also meetings, lifting, conditioning, testing and various orientation sessions. FSU's final preseason scrimmage was held last Thursday (Aug. 23). Classes at Ferris State University began Monday (Aug. 27).

* Did You Know?: Ferris has had a winning season in 15 of its last 23 seasons overall.  The Bulldogs won five consecutive conference championship titles from 1992-96 and were league co-champions with Northwood in the 1999 season.

* GLIAC Preseason Poll: The Ferris State University football team was selected to finish sixth in the 2012 GLIAC Football Coaches Preseason North Division Poll, which was released in mid-August in conjunction with the launch of the GLIAC Football Media Day website. The Bulldogs received 45 points in the balloting, which was conducted by the conference's 16 head coaches. Grand Valley State and Ashland were picked as the North and South Division favorites, respectively.

* Bulldog Figures: Senior defensive back William Miles (Stockton, Calif./Tokay) became only the 17th player in Bulldog history to record five or more interceptions in a campaign two years ago, but missed all of last season due to injury. He was a preseason All-American a year ago ........ Senior defensive end Jordan Morgan's 19 career sacks ranks ninth to date in school history among FSU's all-time leaders. He's a half-sack away from catching former Bulldog Jason Feasel (1999-02) for eighth place on the list.  Jim Lenz (1990-93) is Ferris State's all-time leader with 33 career sacks.

* New Starting QB: There's a good chance a new starting quarterback will take the field on Thursday night as the Bulldogs open the season.  Redshirt freshman Jason Vander Laan (Frankfort, Ill./Chicago Christian) and sophomore Taylor Masciewicz (Rockford) have battled throughout fall camp for the starting nod.  Former Bulldog signal caller Tom Schneider started most of the past four years for FSU and is currently playing professionally in Germany.

* Starting Early: A total of five newcomers to the Bulldog program are projected starters on this week's two-deep for Thursday's opener at St. Francis.  They include center Justin Glover (Grand Rapids/Union) and right tackle Carlin Landingham (Muskegon) on the offensive line along with defensive tackle Corey Stone (Sterling Heights/Stevenson) and cornerbacks Jamar Wimberly (Marshall) and James Stewart (Detroit/University Prep). Glover, Landingham, Stone and Wimberly all earned game action on head coach Tony Annese's squad at Grand Rapids Community College last year.

* New Uniforms: In addition to a new coaching staff, the Bulldogs will also unveil new uniforms this season as part of a new era.  The new uniforms, which are designed by Nike, include both a red and white jersey along with gold and red pants.  Additionally, a new red helmet with a matte finish and black facemask displays the official "Bulldog" head logo. The red home jerseys feature gold lettering trimmed in black while the white road uniforms have red numerals outlined in gold.  The colors reflect the university's approved "Crimson & Gold" color scheme.

* Home Ticket Information: Season and single-game tickets for the 2012 home campaign are currently on sale now.  Fans are encouraged to buy tickets in advance this season for a discount over the normal gameday rates.  For more info on ticket sales, please contact the FSU Athletics Ticket Office at (231) 591-2888 or www.FerrisStateBulldogs.com.

* Bulldog Gameday: Complete information on every Bulldog home and road contest this year can be found by visiting the Bulldog Gameday page on the FSU Athletics Website at www.FerrisStateBulldogs.com (click on football and then Gameday).  The Gameday information, which will be updated several days prior to each game, includes links to all pertinent notes and statistics for both teams as well as links for the respective broadcast and internet media coverage available for the contest.

* Yearbook Available Online: The 2012 Ferris State University Football Yearbook is available to view as an online publication. The publication features such information as 2012 player rosters, season outlook, player biographies, coaching staff information, 2011 season statistics, career and season statistical records, series records, game records, etc.  Visit the FSU athletics website at www.FerrisStateBulldogs.com to find the publication online.

* More Radio Coverage: Ferris State Football will be featured throughout the year as part of the "Bulldog Sports Update", which will air Monday thru Friday at 7:30 a.m. (ET) on Sunny 97.3 FM.  Additionally, the football team will also be featured at various times on "Ferris State Friday's", which can be heard at 7:30 a.m. (ET) on Grand Rapids' WBBL as part of the "Bakita & Bentley" morning show.