Football set to open on the road against Hampden-Sydney
The Gentlemen’s Classic countdown is quickly coming to an end. Wabash wants to come out fighting and set the tone for the season against fellow all-male school, the Hampden-Sydney Tigers. It will be the fourth time the two teams face-off, since the rivalry was resurrected during the 2022 season, and will be the second time that the Little Giants have traveled to Hampden-Sydney, Virginia in the series. Wabash leads the series 3-0.
In last year‘s match up we saw a very high scoring affair, with the Wabash Little Giants prevailing in a 52-48 win. The Little Giant’s offense dominated throughout the game, combining for an astounding 663 yards of total offense with 392 coming from the air. However, defensive struggles allowed the Tigers to stay in the game, combining for an impressive 493 yards of offense with 346 yards in their own passing attack. However, many seem to think that this year will be different.
“I think the biggest thing for us is to play fundamentally sound and limit the big plays,” cornerback Michael Hegwood ’26 said. “The defense definitely has a lot to prove and is looking to do it starting week one. Having a high-caliber offense is a huge help, but that just means that our defense has to step up.”
If Wabash wants to win this game, they must play a clean game on both sides of the ball. The team was ranked second in preseason North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) power rankings and is looking to prove exactly why. Some members of the team hinted that the defense was not only ready, but confident to show all of Division III football the hard work they have put in this off-season.
“We are going into week one with a huge chip on our shoulder,” said defensive lineman Owen Volk ’25. “Giving up 48 points in last year‘s Gentlemen’s Classic was unacceptable and something we certainly didn’t forget. You can expect a Wabash defense that’s going to play at a high level and take some pressure off of our offense this year.”
Hampden-Sydney is no easy matchup, but with Defensive Coordinator Mike Ridings going into his second year as defensive coordinator the Little Giants look to be a lot more comfortable.
It’s clear that the Wabash offense has plenty of weapons to use, with Liam Thompson ’24 leading the charge at quarterback. Along with fellow senior Derek Allen Jr. ’24, who put up over 900 receiving yards last season. With various veterans and some new weapons on offense, Head Coach Don Morel plans on steamrolling right through Hampden-Sydney and igniting his offense right in week one.
Another vital piece to the Wabash offense is Senior Tight End Penn Stoller ’24, who has been recognized as a preseason All-American. Stoller believes that Wabash’s fierce run game will help in more ways than one.
“With our returning offensive line and running backs providing an outstanding run game,” said Stoller. “It will not only allow us to control the tempo more, but open up the pass game even further.”
The Gentlemen’s Classic has become an up-and-coming rivalry due to the uncommon similarities between the two schools. Being all-male, private institutions, there will always be a sense of competition that drives both schools to compete. So, how will Wabash’s confident defense handle the Hampden-Sydney offensive assault? Will Wabash’s offense come out firing on all cylinders in week one and crush the Tigers? All of our questions will be answered come Saturday, September 2.