Game #1 vs. WPI, Saturday, September 3, 2011, 7 p.m., Warrior Field
MERRIMACK OPENS 2011 AGAINST WPI AT WARRIOR FIELD
Game 1 - Merrimack College (0-0) vs. Worcester Polytechnic Institute (0-0)
Merrimack opens the 2011 season against Division III WPI, its lone non-conference home game of the season.
This will be the first-ever meeting between the two teams. Merrimack last faced a Division III team in 2009, blanking Husson 23-0.
TRIO OF CAPTAINS LEADS 2011 SQUAD
Merrimack's 2011 squad is unquestionably led by its trio of captains, linebackers Tony Johnson and Shawn Loiseau and quarterback James Suozzo. All three will arguably go down in school history as the top player at their position.
LOISEAU, JOHNSON PRESEASON ALL-AMERICANS
Loiseau and Johnson were both named preseason All-American by numerous outlets. Loiseau, a first-team selection on three squads, is the only Northeast-10 player on any first team.
FAST START IS KEY
With its three final games against New Haven, AIC, and Southern Connecticut, a fast start is essential if Merrimack hopes to compete for its third-ever NE-10 Championship.
MERRIMACK THIRD IN PRESEASON POLL
The Warriors were picked third in the NE-10 Preseason Coaches' Poll, behind New Haven and Southern Connecticut. They received one first-place vote and 47 overall.
PERRY'S HIGH-SCORING OFFENSE RETURNS FOR FOURTH YEAR
Fourth-year head coach John Perry will look to lead the conference in scoring, passing offense and total offense for the fourth straight season. In 2010, Merrimack averaged 34.8 points per game, 312.2 passing yards per game, and 461.7 total yards per game, which ranked ninth in the country.
DEFENSE LOOKS FOR IMPROVEMENT
On the defensive side of the ball, Merrimack surrendered 34.7 points per game, 7th in the conference and 126th nationally. Led by new defensive coordinator Mike Gennetti, eight defensive starters return looking to dramatically improve on last season.
TOUGH AT HOME
Although Merrimack lost its final two home games of 2010, it won seven straight prior.
LOISEAU EYES ALL-TIME TACKLES MARK
After setting the all-time school mark for tackles in a season in 2009 and again in 2010, Shawn Loiseau enters 2011 needing 64 tackles to tie the all-time mark of 325 (Jimmy Festa, 1996-99). Loiseau needs 141 tackles for the all-time Northeast-10 mark of 402 (Steve Sheeler, Stonehill, 2000-03).
SUOZZO NEARS NUMEROUS SCHOOL RECORDS
Already the program's leader for touchdowns in a game, points in a game, pass attempts, yards for a season, and completions for a game and season, James Suozzo is closing in on virtually every quarterback school record. Suozzo needs 21 touchdowns, 2,032 passing yards, 152 completions, and 304 attempts for the school record for a career. He has an outside shot at the career rushing records, needing 235 attempts and 1,322 yards this season.
OFFENSIVE LINE DOMINANT FOR 3RD STRAIGHT YEAR
Merrimack was tied for second in the league in fewest sacks allowed with 12 last season, ranking in the top-two in the NE-10 for the third straight season.
Merrimack's defense, led by Tony Johnson who had .8 sacks per game, most in the league, was tied for second in the league with 21 sacks last year.
LOISEAU 2ND NATIONALLY IN TACKLES
Shawn Loiseau led the NE-10 and was second nationally with 13.3 tackles per game. In the NE-10, Loiseau was tied for first in fumbles forced, was third in tackles for a loss, and was tied for fourth in sacks per game.
LEADERS AMONG TACKLES FOR A LOSS
Tony Johnson led the Northeast-10 in tackles for a loss with 1.45 per game.
MAJOR HONORS FROM 2010
Loiseau was the 2010 NE-10 and the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston Defensive Player of the Year, while Johnson was the NE-10 Defensive Lineman of the Year. Suozzo and Desjardins earned NE-10 second team honors.
OTHER PROJECTED IMPACT PLAYERS:
Jimon Hill (RB): Ran for 425 yards on 83 carries (5.1 per carry), scoring once last year. Finished last season with a career-high 197 yards on 25 carries at Pace.
Isaiah Voegeli (WR): Led team with six touchdown catches and totaled 804 yards. Collected eight catches for 222 yards and two touchdown at Pace. Opens camp as top receiver.
Nick Desjardins (DL): Totaled 41 tackles including seven tackles for a loss, earning second-team all-conference honors in 2010.
Justin Marsan (S): Moved into starting role in 2010, leading team with three interceptions, while making 50 tackles and recovering two fumbles.
SECONDARY LOOKS FOR DRAMATIC IMPROVEMENT
After allowing 258.9 passing yards per game in 2010 while being decimated with injuries, Merrimack's secondary heads into the 2011 season healthy and more experienced. Projected starters include juniors Artis Holt and Jesse Fowler, who both missed time last season with injuries. The safeties include senior Ryan McCarthy and junior Justin Marsan, both of whom transitioned from linebacker. Senior Jason Fischer, who started in 2009 but did not play in 2010, also returns, as do sophomores Vincent Gallo and Anthony Szwez.
HOLT COMPLETES A SPECIAL TEAMS RARITY
Artis Holt recorded a defensive PAT, the first in the program's history, intercepting a Bryant two-point attempt in the end zone and returning it 101 yards for the two-point score. Holt also totaled 134 yards in kick returns in that game (9/18/10).
SUOZZO SETS SCHOOL RECORD FOR RUSHING TDS
In last season's first game, James Suozzo rushed for four touchdowns at Slippery Rock, setting a school record for rushing touchdowns in a game.
Merrimack is 9-6 all-time in season openers and 1-2 under John Perry. They are 7-3 all-time in NE-10 openers and 3-0 under Perry.
JOHNSON ALREADY ALL-TIME SACK LEADER
After setting the single-season school record in 2008 as a freshman with 11.5 sacks, which ranked second in the country, Tony Johnson enters this year with 27.5 career sacks, most in school history.
SCORING STREAK: 104 GAMES AND COUNTING
Merrimack has scored in 104 consecutive games, which is the 20th-longest active streak in Division II. Valdosta St. holds the current record having scored in 230 straight games while Bentley (124) and Southern Connecticut (116) are among the top-20.
Merrimack welcomes 44 newcomers from 14 states to the 2011 squad.
The Warriors will have three captains for 2011, Shawn Loiseau, Tony Johnson and James Suozzo.
MERRIMACK RANKED 3rd IN NE-10 POLL
Merrimack was ranked third in the 2011 Northeast-10 Coaches' Preseason Poll, finishing with 47 total votes and 1 first-place nod, behind New Haven and Southern Connecticut.
2011 NE-10 PRESEASON POLL
1. New Haven (6) – 59
2. So. Connecticut (2) – 58
3. Merrimack (1) – 47
4. Bentley – 43
5. American Int'l – 42
6. Assumption – 28
7. Stonehill – 23
8. Saint Anselm – 16
9. Pace – 8
( ) – Denotes first-place votes
First meeting between the two teams
LAST GAME RECAP - PACE (Week 10 - 11/13/10)
November 13, 2010 - Merrimack 46, Pace 14
In the 2010 season finale, the Merrimack offense racked up a school record 690 total yards while Shawn Loiseau broke his own school record for tackles in a season as the Warriors cruised to a 46-14 victory over Pace University. Merrimack finishes the season with a 4-6 record, 4-4 in the Northeast-10. Pace took the early 6-0 lead, but the Warriors rattled off four straight touchdowns and racked up 46 points in two and a half quarters, as James Suozzo passed for a career high 397 yards on 19-of-29 passing and four touchdowns. Isaiah Voegeli also had a career day, catching eight balls for 222 yards, which ranks third in school history. Voegeli caught a pair of third quarter touchdowns, one for 71 yards and another for 67 yards and finishes the season with a team-high six touchdowns. Loiseau totaled a team-high 10 tackles and added a sack in the victory. The junior who entered Saturday's game ranked second in the country in tackles per game, finishes his season with 127 tackles, breaking his own school record set last year. The Warrior defense racked up five sacks in all, led by two from Tony Johnson, while picking off three Setter passes, two of them from Michael Jones and Ryan McCarthy. Jimon Hill also had a career day, rushing for 197 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries. Hill's day ranks sixth all-time among Merrimack rushers. Michael Wheeler also chipped in with 66 yards on 10 carries, while Suozzo totaled 33 yards on the ground and a touchdown.
WARRIORS ON THE AIR
The Merrimack Athletics Department has teamed up with America One Networks to deliver live broadband broadcasts for the second straight season. Warrior games that will be streamed online include all home football, basketball and hockey broadcasts. Games can be purchased on a season or single game basis.