Courtesy of NMU Athletics
MARQUETTE, Mich. – The Northern Michigan University football team kicks off the 2012 season at the University of Findlay at 7 p.m. on Thursday (Aug. 30) from Donnell Stadium. The Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference opener for both schools can be heard locally on 100.3 FM “The Point” and online at http://wnmufm.org/nmu-sports-stream
NMU and Findlay met on Sept. 10 of last season in Ohio when the Wildcats defeated the Oilers 30-23 in double overtime. Christian Jessie had a nine-yard touchdown reception in the second overtime and the defense made a stop on fourth and goal to seal the win. Both teams exchanged field goals in the first overtime. The Oilers sent the game into the extra session after making a field goal late in the fourth quarter.
Under second-year head coach Rob Keys, Findlay looks to build off its success from a season ago after finishing 6-5 overall and 6-4 in the GLIAC in 2011. The Oilers return 22 experienced players who started at least one game a season ago and won four of their final six games.
The ‘Cats finished 4-7 in 2011 after starting the season 3-0 and being ranked nationally in the top 25. Twenty-three letterwinners return along with 41new faces. Head coach Chris Ostrowsky was named the 21st head coach of NMU after spending two seasons as the offensive coordinator.
Leading the ‘Cats to quarterback the spread offense will be redshirt freshman Ryan Morley who brings plenty of experience to the position, playing in the spread at Grand Blanc (Mich.) High School. Morley has a lot of experienced teammates on offense to look to. Senior running back Prince Young is a preseason All-American selection and receivers juniors Christian Jessie and Christian Marble-King and sophomore Julian Gaines are great weapons on the outside.
The Northern defense has a group of experienced linemen and linebackers. Seniors Zach Anderson and Eddie Knoblock lead the way. A youthful defensive back group is led by junior Brandon Parson.
Senior kicker Rockne Belmonte is also a preseason All-American and has a chance to break NMU’s record for field goals in a career.
Brian Newberry (defensive coordinator), Marcus Knight (wide receivers) and Joe Coniglio (defensive line/strength and conditioning) along with former Wildcats Matt Forward (assistant offensive line) and Nathan Linsmeier (assistant defensive line) all make their coaching debuts. Newberry played at Baylor University and coached at Sewanee: The University of the South, Elon University, Washington and Lee University, Lehigh University and Southern Arkansas University. Knight played for the 1997 National Champion University of Michigan and in the Super Bowl for the Oakland Raiders. He coached at Valparaiso University for the past four seasons. Coniglio played at Miami University and spent three seasons on the coaching staff at Kent State University.
NMU was selected seventh in the GLIAC North in the preseason coaches’ poll. Grand Valley State, Wayne State, Hillsdale, Saginaw Valley State, Michigan Tech and Ferris State were picked ahead of the Wildcats in the North. Northwood was picked eighth.