ADRIAN, Mich. -- The Siena Heights University football team is set to begin the 2018 season in a road contest against the Missouri Baptist Spartans. The Saints enter the year after a fourth-place, 3-3 Mideast league finish in the Mid-States Football Association (MSFA) last season.
This Saturday will be the fourth meeting between the Saints and Spartans in football. Siena currently holds a 3-0 advantage in the series and has outscored Missouri Baptist 110-45 over that three-game stretch.
Last season's meeting in Adrian ended in a 30-0 shutout victory for the Saints in which D'Aries Davis (Wyandotte, Mich.) ran for a season-high 194 yards (8.8 yards-per-carry) and two touchdowns. As a team, Siena outpaced the Spartans in most statistical categories including total offense (419 yards-206 yards), passing yards (167-84), rushing yards (252-122), sacks (3-1), and third-down efficiency (5 of 15 [33%]-1 of 14 [7%]).
Davis is the top offensive threat returning for the Saints this season. The fifth-year senior running back finished 2017 with 1,023 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. He also tallied 18 receptions for 222 yards and a touchdown. Senior Alonte Rice (Detroit, Mich.) returns to anchor the SHU offensive line after eight starts a season ago. Senior wideouts Damon Wright Jr., (Detroit, Mich.) and Deontae' Rush (Chicago, Ill.) both return as well. Wright hauled in 37 receptions for 412 yards and two touchdowns last year; Rush totaled 36 receptions for 328 yards and seven touchdowns.
The defense will be anchored by senior Malik Edwards (Port Huron, Mich.) who led all Siena Heights defenders with five sacks in 2017. He also recorded 20 total tackles, 11 of which were solo, and 8.5 tackles for loss. Joining Edwards on the defensive line will be sophomore Izayah Newsom (South Bend, Ind.). Newsom tallied 27 tackles and 3.5 sacks as a freshman. Junior linebacker, Griffin Sobol (Morris, Ill.) returns after registering 24 tackles and an interception in 2017. The secondary will be led by junior Trey Claybourne (Redford, Mich.). Claybourne completed 2017 with 33 tackles, two picks, and seven pass breakups.
Kicker Brady Tanguay (junior from Trenton, Mich.) is the star of the special teams unit. He finished last season 7-9 (78%) in field goals with a long of 43 yards. He was 28-30 when kicking the point after touchdown. Sophomore punter Aaron Wagner (Detroit, Mich.) also returns after punting the football 59 times for 2,314 total yards a year ago. He placed 18 of his punts inside the 20-yard line while also tallying a season-long 61-yard punt.
The Saints and Spartans are scheduled to kickoff on Saturday, September 1 at 1:00 p.m., EDT.