Wildcat football to return strong in 2000
The Baker University football team wants to ensure the strong traditions of the past continue as fifth-year head coach John Frangoulis guides the Wildcat team into the 2000 season.
This tradition stems from the first college football game when Baker beat the University of Kansas 22-9 and continues through the team's present success. Baker has 18 winning seasons in the past 20 years.
What Baker has this season is a solid core of experienced players and a group of newcomers who should help a team that finished 6-4 and third in the Heart of America Athletic Conference in 1999 rise to the top during the 2000 season.
Seven starters return on offense and nine starters on defense. The Wildcats also have 19 other returning lettermen that will add the needed experience the team lacked last season.
"The defense this year will be led by All-Americans Carlos Grace, a senior defensive lineman from Houston, and Mark Emry, a senior defensive back from Peculiar, Mo.," Frangoulis said. "We have a strong returning defensive line, and we will rely on our defense to lead the team until the offense gets rolling."
Grace was conference defensive player of the year and NAIA All-American last year, and Emry was a second-team All-American selection in 1999. Grace led the team in sacks with nine and added 48 tackles. Emry led the team in interceptions with six and was second in tackles with 49. Senior Jason Montgomery, Topeka, who led the team with 62 tackles, returns at linebacker.
Others who will play key roles in the defense are seniors Joe Zubeck, Leawood; Tony Ward, Oak Grove, Mo.; Brock Bult, Grain Valley, Mo.; Jai Baldeo, Odessa, Texas; junior William Harris, Kansas City, Mo.; and sophomore Eric Moore, Independence, Mo. Defensive newcomers expected to make an impact are transfers Darrell Jones, sophomore from Atchison, and Mickey Ramsey, junior from Garden City.
The offense will be led by two returning quarterbacks, seniors Levi Schuck, Peoria, Ariz., and David Ewers, Mexia, Texas. Both helped the Wildcats to victories last year.
"Both our quarterbacks started at times last season and both won games," Frangoulis said. "We are fortunate to have these two quality seniors."
The offense also has two returning wide receivers, seniors Mackie Valentin, Overland Park, and Eric Sherpy, Kearney, Mo., who combined for 743 receiving yards last season. Two starting offensive linemen also return, senior Seth Langford, a four-year starter from Gilmer, Texas, and sophomore Aaron Anderson, Baldwin City, who started all 10 games for the Wildcats last season. Newcomers on offense include juniors Terrance Spencer, Lapuente, Calif.; Todd Hitchcock, Larned; Aaron Heckman, Independence, Kan.; and Danny Simpson, Monrovia, Calif.
Baker will open its regular season against non-conference opponent Southwestern College at 7 p.m. Sept. 9 in Winfield. The first home game is Sept. 16 at 7 p.m. against Lindenwood, which is also Family Day.