Perfect at Home
Chapman is looking to become the first Panther team since 1995 to go unbeaten at home in a single season. The Panthers are currently riding a three-game home winning streak during which they are averaging 49.3 points per game. Chapman went 5-0 at the old Ernie Chapman Stadium 17 years ago as part of a school-record nine straight home wins from 1994-96.
The Panthers are also looking for their first winning season since 2008 and can clinch that with a win against La Verne on Saturday. Chapman has had three straight years with a 4-5 record after earning back-to-back winning seasons in 2007-08. The Panthers appeared on track for a winning season last year, beginning 4-1 before La Verne defeated Chapman and the Panthers derailed with a string of four straight losses.
Chapman has rushed for over 100 yards in 11-consecutive games including Saturday's 32-13 loss to Redlands in which the team ran for 184 yards. The last time Chapman failed to rack up 100 yards was in a 14-9 win over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in 2011. In that game, Chapman was held to 53 yards rushing on 28 carries. During the 11-game stretch, the team has had nine 100-yard individual rushing games with five coming from sophomore RB Jeremiah McKibbins, two coming from senior RB Chad Milburn and one each from senior RB Al White and junior QB Michael Lahey. Against Redlands, White had a career-high 121 yards rushing on 31 carries.
39 is the combined number of tackles unofficially that the senior linebacking duo of Kellen Matsuno and Michael Mehlhaff had vs. Redlands on Saturday. Officially the duo combined for 34 tackles. Matsuno had 20 tackles, 18 officially, while Mehlhaff had 19 tackles, 16 officially which are career-highs for both players. While 20 and 19 tackles is quite a game individually, the Chapman single-game record is 28, set by Robert McGee in 2004 and the NCAA Division III single-game record is 30.
Head of the Class
Chapman is at the top of the SCIAC in rushing offense, sacks, sacks against and third-down conversions. The Panthers also have four individuals who lead the conference in one or more statistical categories. McKibbins is tops in rushing yards and all-purpose yards, junior RB Austin Maranville is first in kickoff return average, sophomore P Markus Trujillo is tops in punting and freshman DL Ben Wadors leads the league in sacks.
Special, Special Teams
Once again in 2012, Chapman has had excellent special teams play. Maranville is 21st in Division III with a kickoff return average of 26.46 yards while Trujillo is 19th in punting, averaging just over 40 yards per attempt. Senior K Mauricio Alfonso is second on the active Division III field-goals percent made list having connected on 5-of-6 attempts this season and 21-of-26 attempts in his career. The senior has connected on 80.77 percent of his attempts during his four seasons.
In this week's NCAA statistical report, McKibbins dropped from No. 2 in the nation in rushing average to No. 8, when in reality his average never changed because he did not play due to an injury. The mix-up came when McKibbins – who was a game-time decision – was listed as a starter and thus a game played. That has been corrected and will be reflected in next week's NCAA report. That said, McKibbins still clings to the No. 2 spot in the nation this week at 175.0 yards per game, just ahead of Scottie Williams from Elmhurst (Ill.) at 174.6.
It's hard to imagine a back in the nation that's having a better season than McKibbins. But there is - his name is James Clay, a senior at Mount St. Joseph (Ohio) who has already gained over 1,300 yards in six games (218.3/game). McKibbins is currently No. 2 in the nation with 175 yards per game on the ground and No. 4 in Division III in all-purpose yards 209.8 per game. His 875 rushing yards this season is already the third-highest total in school history and with 125 more he'll become just the second Panther ever with over 1,000 yards rushing in a single season.
Hall of Fame Game
Each year at a home football game, Chapman honors its past greats with a Hall of Fame ceremony and induction banquet. This year, Chapman Athletics will induct the Men's Tennis championship teams from 1985-88, as well as All-America baseball pitcher Jeff Blitstein '99 and three-time All-America softball outfielder Dawn Lopez-Aguila '01.
Chapman vs. La Verne - The Rivalry
The Panther-Leopard rivalry goes back 18 years and while La Verne won nine of the first 12 meetings, Chapman rallied to win five in a row until last year's road loss. Chapman still trails in the all-time series 10-8. From 1994-03, Chapman-La Verne was one of the most evenly-matched rivalries in Division III. Eight games were decided by five points or less and six of those games were decided by less than a field goal. In 2010, it took a touchdown run by White with 3:22 remaining to give the Panthers a 35-28 win at Chapman Stadium. Both Chapman head coach Bob Owens (1970) and quarterbacks coach Jason Reyes (2004) are former Leopards, as well.
La Verne in 2012
The La Verne football program is on the rise once again. After struggling with an 0-9 season in 2009 and a one-win season in 2010, La Verne finished 4-5 last year and is off to a 3-3 start in 2012. More importantly, La Verne is tied with Chapman with a 3-1 record in SCIAC play. La Verne has wins over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Whittier and Pomona-Pitzer. La Verne boasts a balanced offense which averages 186 yards rushing and 211 yards passing. La Verne RB Matthew Biggers will put Chapman's rush defense to the test. The junior is third in the SCIAC in rushing and 19th in Division III at 122 yards per game and has also scored five touchdowns.
Chapman Football on Air/Video Stream
For the sixth-straight year, Chapman has partnered with the school's on-campus radio station, Chapman Radio, to broadcast eight of the nine Panthers' football games in 2012, including all four home games. The games will be streamed live on the internet at http://www.chapmanradio.com/sports. A rotation of on-air student talent will provide play-by-play and commentary for every down of Chapman football. A video stream of the game synced with the Chapman radio broadcast can be found here: http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/chapman.portal#
by Doug Aiken & Chris Watts
Sports Information Director & Sports Information Assistant