Another League, Another Title?
Susquehanna University football did the unthinkable in 2009, winning a league championship with one foot already out the door.
Susquehanna, which switched from the Middle Atlantic Conference to the Liberty League in 2007, finished its trek from the bottom of the Liberty standings in its first year to the top of them in its last.
On Jan. 16, 2009, SU announced that it would leave the Liberty after that year. The Crusaders then took the league title with them into the Centennial Conference for 2010.
“Athletics is the window through which a large number of people come to know and become acquainted with colleges and universities,” said Susquehanna President L. Jay Lemons at the time the move was announced.
“You are known by the company you keep. An association with the Centennial Conference aligns us with some of the top liberal arts institutions in the country and reunites us with some of our oldest rivals.”
The addition of Susquehanna brings the number of Centennial members who sponsor football to 10. The other football-playing members of the conference are Moravian College, with whom the Crusaders will open the season on Sept. 4; Juniata College; Muhlenberg College; Ursinus College; Franklin & Marshall College; McDaniel College; Dickinson College; The Johns Hopkins University; and Gettysburg College. SU also will continue a Liberty rivalry with Worcester Polytechnic Institute on Nov. 6 in the season finale.
The Crusaders’ magical 2009 season came to an end with a 66–7 loss at Delaware Valley College in the first round of the NCAA Division III championships on Nov. 21, but the game marked SU’s first appearance in the NCAA football playoffs since 1991. Susquehanna earned its bid to the national tournament with a 28–17 win at Union College in the de facto Liberty championship game on Nov. 14, getting a late touchdown run from Dave Paveletz ’10 to put the game away. Paveletz broke the school single-season rushing-yards record with that touchdown and improved his own career rushing-yards and rushing-touchdowns records.
“Guys like Dave don’t come around very often at any level. To replace him, it might take two or three guys to carry the load, “ says coach Steve Briggs, who was a finalist for the 2009 Division III Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year award.
“But that’s a great challenge, and the recruits that we’ve been able to get because of our success over the last two years should help,” Briggs says. “Another challenge will be learning about a whole new slate of opponents, but we’ll use those challenges as motivation.”
Contributing writers to the Scoreboard section are Robert E. Healy III, director of athletics communications; Justin Lutes, assistant director of athletics communications.