Head Coach: Jim Margraff (27th season)
2015 Record: 9-0 (Centennial Conference); 11-1 (overall); NCAA tournament second round
Key Returners: QB Jonathan Germano, WR Bradley Munday, RB Stuart Walters, LB Jack Campbell, DB Jack Toner
Key Games: Sept. 1 vs. Washington & Lee; Sept. 24 at Muhlenberg
During the last seven seasons, the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays have become one of the most consistent Division III programs in the nation. The Blue Jays have won seven consecutive Centennial Conference championships and will take a five-year NCAA tournament streak into the 2016 season.
Head coach Jim Margraff's team went 11-1 for the second consecutive season last fall. The Blue Jays extended their regular-season winning streak to 31 games, dating to the 2012 campaign. With several key starters returning on both sides of the ball, the Blue Jays are well-positioned to compete for another conference title and reach the NCAA tournament for a sixth straight season.
"We've been on a good run," said Margraff, whose team was named the conference favorite in the Centennial's preseason poll. "Our guys are used to coming off of successful seasons. But they understand that the slate is wiped clean, and there is a lot of work to be done."
The Blue Jays' offense, which averaged 45.7 points per game during the 2015 campaign, will be guided by quarterback Jonathan Germano. The senior signal-caller completed 70 percent of his passes for 2,963 yards and 35 touchdowns last fall.
Germano's top target will be senior wide receiver Bradley Munday, who hauled in 83 passes for 1,066 yards and 12 scores.
Senior Stuart Walters is a versatile running back who gained 6.1 yards per carry and rushed for 953 yards and 17 touchdowns.
"We've been very consistent [on offense]," Margraff said. "We have a lot of touchdowns coming back. We've got a quarterback, a wide receiving corps, a top running back and other guys that have been pretty impressive. It's hard for a defense to dictate to us."
An opportunistic defensive unit should give the offense plenty of scoring chances. Seniors Jack Toner (51 tackles, six interceptions) and Dan Johnson (61 tackles, four picks) lead a ball-hawking secondary that helped the Blue Jays finish third in NCAA Division III with 26 interceptions. Senior linebacker Jack Campbell, who led the team with 101 tackles, and junior defensive lineman Keonte Henson (5.5 sacks) pace the front seven.
To continue its postseason streak, Johns Hopkins will need a strong start. The Blue Jays open Sept. 1 against Washington and Lee, which also finished 10-0 during the regular season and reached the NCAA playoffs. Early-season meetings with league runners-up Moravian (Sept. 17) and Muhlenberg (Sept. 24) will likely determine the frontrunner for the Centennial Conference title.
"Our guys hear from me all the time that the road to a Centennial Conference championship is always under construction," Margraff said. "There are a lot of teams in our conference who have gotten very good, very fast. We've got our hands full right away [in the league]."
Issue 224: August 2016