CANTON, Ohio -- At the Ohio Athletic Conference's annual Football Media Day, the 2018 Heidelberg University football team was picked to finish fifth by the coaches and fourth by the media. Third-year head coach Scott Donaldson and senior quarterback Trace Reynolds spoke on behalf of the Student Princes to the crowd gathered at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
"You're going to see a lot of new faces in a Heidelberg helmet this season...this is a season of opportunity for this team," said Donaldson, who led the Student Princes to a second-place finish in 2017. "This young talent is what makes coaching so fun. You get to see young players step up and take the reigns and develop."
After Donaldson's address, Reynolds had a conversation with OAC commissioner Tim Gleason.
"Mental reps are an important thing...what a better guy to learn from than Tyler Stoyle," said Reynolds, when asked about serving as the backup quarterback for three years.
Mount Union was selected as the preseason favorite by both the coaches and the media.
1. Mount Union 81 (9)
2. John Carroll 73 (1)
3. Ohio Northern 61
4. Baldwin Wallace 56
5. Heidelberg 49
6. Marietta 44
7. Otterbein 32
8. Wilmington 22
9. Capital 19
10. Muskingum 13
1. Mount Union 310 (31)
2. John Carroll 274
3. Ohio Northern 223
4. Heidelberg 206
5. Baldwin Wallace 205
6. Marietta 149
7. Otterbein 140
8. Muskingum 75
9. Capital 74
10. Wilmington 49
-1st Place Votes in Parenthesis-
SEASON PREVIEW VIDEO:
SEASON PREVIEW: Four night games highlight the schedule for the 2018 Heidelberg Football program, under the direction of third-year head coach Scott Donaldson. The 2017 team finished in a three-way tie for second place … and defeated both of the others. The Student Princes have graduated a wealth of talent, but are excited about student-athletes stepping in to fill the void.
"I don't think it's any secret that we lost a whole bunch of key contributors to graduation," said Donaldson. "The mark of a strong program is having guys chomping at the bit ready to step into the spotlight … and I think we have a lot of those guys in our locker room.
Offensively, Trace Reynolds looks to grab the reins as the quarterback. Having backed up All-OAC performer Tyler Stoyle for two years, Reynolds has been in the quarterback room and understands what it takes to lead. Braden Jerome and Keivon Belcher return as key weapons at receiver. Jace Grossman returns as a punishing tailback who thrives on contact. Brad Wienhold, Malakye Nall and Jake Nowak will help bolster the o-line for offensive coordinator Jason Lewis.
Defensively, ferocious Verondtae Wilkinson is back to wreak havoc off the end. Collin Pecoraro, Josh Shaffer, and Matt Davenport all saw heavy action in 2017 and will return in 2018. While the linebacking corps remains a bit of a question mark entering camp, defensive coordinator Branden Jakubcin can rely on an experienced secondary. Jermaine Burket, Terrence Cole, Jordan Green and Erik Hagedorn have all been key components over the years.
All-American Austin Baker returns to handle punting and place-kicking duties.
THE AMAZING TRACE: He's been the back-up quarterback for three seasons, but senior Trace Reynolds hasn't been idly biding his time while at Heidelberg University. The Middletown native has been active on the field, around campus and in the community.
While 2018 graduate Tyler Stoyle broke a multitude of passing records for the Student Princes, Reynolds was there – in the meetings, in the film room, in practice.
In game situations, Reynolds has entered the game as quarterback in five games, with 10 completions for 117 yards and a touchdown. In 2017, he served as the primary holder for All-American punter/place-kicker Austin Baker. In the win at Muskingum, he fielded a rolling PAT snap, sprinted right and dove into the pylon for a two-point conversion.
Reynolds' best play was an unheralded moment on one of the most memorable plays of the 2017 campaign. As Baker lined up a potential game-winning 34-yard field goal against Otterbein in the Rhine River Cup game, it was Reynolds who picked the bouncing snap. His miraculous hold allowed Baker to bang home the field goal, touching off a field-storming celebration under the lights at Hoernemann Stadium.
As a Communication and Integrated Media major, Reynolds co-hosts T&G Sports, a sports talk show on the campus radio station, WHEI 88.9 FM. His co-host is safety Jermaine Burket.
In the community, Reynolds and starting center Brad Wienhold started a campus organization called Athletes Against All Violence (AAAV). The group's goal is to raise awareness about violence and abuse, as well as to raise financial support for non-profit organizations. The group received a donation from activist Beverly Gooden, founder of the #WhyIStayed movement, who spoke on campus as part of Heidelberg's renowned HYPE Career Ready program.
FRESH LOOKS: When Heidelberg hosts Olivet in the season opener, the Student Princes will be christening its new artificial turf. Installed in July by the Maumee Bay Turf Center, the new surface replaces the old turf which was installed in 2007.
During the Olivet game, Heidelberg will also unveil their new jerseys. Getting away from the traditional black and white, the alternate jerseys are gray Nike tops with orange numerals.
SATURDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: Four games -- two at home and two on the road -- will start at 7 p.m. Heidelberg hosts Olivet and Baldwin Wallace under the lights. Both games in the Columbus area, Otterbein and Capital, also feature late starts.
SPECIAL EVENTS: Each home game will have extra pomp and pageantry surrounding the game.
9/1 vs. Olivet | Faculty Appreciation Day & Scholar Recognition Night
9/22 vs. BW | Family & Fellows Day
10/6 vs. Marietta | Community Business Day & Youth Sports Day
10/27 vs. Muskingum | Homecoming & Hall of Fame Day
11/10 vs. Ohio Northern | Senior Day, Military Appreciation Day & Bendekovic Bowl
ON THE AIR: Once again, WTTF AM-1600 will broadcast each game for Heidelberg in the 2018 season, both over the air and online. Audio from home games will be synced up with live streaming video, available for free online. On Thursdays, WTTF will air the Coach Donaldson Show on Thursday nights, live from the University Commons at 7 p.m.