All the way to the MIAA

With conference play starting this weekend, the senior class is determined to reach a feat that they have yet to accomplish—an MIAA Championship.

In a program that has been dubbed the most successful program in the MIAA by count of championships, it is hard to believe that the Britons 2010 graduating class has not won a division title to this point. If unsuccessful in 2009, this would be the first year in head coach Craig Rundle’s time at Albion to have a class graduate without a title.

“Just because they haven’t (won an MIAA Championship) yet doesn’t mean that it’s not going to happen,” Rundle said. “We’ve had guys respond to that in the past, and the 2005 class was put under the same pressure and they ended up pulling out a title.”

Though the senior class may bear most of the pressure, they are not alone in their efforts.

“We’re competing for a title as a team, and our seniors aren’t the only player that we have on our roster,” Rundle said.

Despite starting out 0-4, the team has shown improvements while transitioning through the growing pains of coping with a young team and has yet to reach their peak level of play.

“We’ve played some tough teams and have gone through some injuries and had to play our younger players,” Rundle said. “We haven’t played as well as we would like, but once we get some guys healthy and back in the line-up it should help.”

Aside from hitting the whirlpool, breaking down the season game by game instead of pursuing the title collectively will be crucial for the Britons to end the season with an MIAA Title.

10/3 vs. Olivet College (Last season: 1-9, 0-6) Currently: 0-4

The Britons without a doubt have had a tough opening to the season, and the homecoming MIAA opener against the Comets may just be the game to light a fuse for their season. It should be a great game to watch both teams battle for their first win of the season.

If the Britons expect to break open the field, it will start with their running game. Olivet currently sits in last place in rushing defense in the conference, and with Albion in last in passing efficiency, they will need to establish the run before they can look to their receiver for yards. Albion too will have to minimize their turnover ratio in order to maximize their time of possession.  

10/10 at Hope College (Last Season: 3-7, 3-3) Currently: 0-4

Likewise to the Comets, beating the Flying Dutchmen will start with the running game, but on the defensive side of the ball. Hope is averaging over 167 yards per game rushing lead by junior tailback Tim Elzinga, who currently leads the MIAA with 371 yards on the ground.

The Britons will have to battle for first downs against a defense that presents the three leading tacklers in the conference, meaning that gaining yards after contact will be key for the Britons to put points on the board. 

10/17 at Adrian College (Last Season: 8-2, 5-1) Currently: 2-2

The midseason game against the Bulldogs could potentially be a pivotal game for the outcome of the Britons’ season. It is hard to find a fault in this line-up, which currently leads the MIAA in passing efficiency and is second in the conference in total defense.

Though Adrian currently ranks at least third in every major statistic,  their Achilles’ heel lies is in their yards lost by penalties. The Bulldog’s aggressive style of play has lost them 308 yards due to penalties this season. 

10/31 vs. Trine University (Last Season: 10-1, 6-0) Currently: 2-1

Albion will have their hands full against the reigning MIAA champions. The Thunder has returned this season with the same vigor they carried in 2008 to regain their title and have the statistics to prove it.

With Trine leading the conference in fewest points allowed per game (17.7 points per game), there is no doubt that the Britons will have to play sound defense to control the game. Holding the running game will be key. The Thunder currently leads the conference with 208 yards per game rushing offensively and 78.7 yards per game rushing allowed defensively. Albion will have to stop the running game and present poise in the quarterback position to carry the team to a victory.

11/7 at Kalamazoo College (Last Season: 2-8, 1-5) Currently: 3-1

Kalamazoo College currently has the best pre-divisional play record of 3-1.The Hornets have drastically improved their play from last season and have returned this year with a line-up that has the caliber to finish at the top of the conference.

If the Britons want to walk away from this game with a victory, they will have to contain the passing game. Senior quarterback Brandon Luczak has led the offense to over 504 yards per game in total offense with over 440 yards per game passing. 

11/14 vs. Alma (Last Season: 3-3, 5-5) Currently: 2-2

Closing out the season on a positive note is always a goal for a team, and if the Britons want to have success against the Scots, they are going to have to play a solid all around game.

Alma currently sits first in total defense with only 304.2 yards per game allowed and second in total offense with 442.2 points per game. In order to pull out a season ending victory, the Brits will have keep turnovers to a minimum and execute opportunities in the red zone.

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