College Football Preview

Little Giants want redemption for down 2022 season


Most college football teams would consider a 7-3 season a successful one. That’s not the case with Wabash College football. The standard is set way higher and a season ago the Little Giants fell short of all of their goals. They finished 6-2 in the North Coast Athletic Conference and one of those losses was one no Little Giant fan wants... the Monon Bell Game. DePauw on their home turf dominated Wabash and brought the bell back to Greencastle after a 49-14 thrashing of the Little Giants.

Now all of that is behind Wabash as the Little Giants will kick off their 2023 season on Saturday with a trip to Hampden Sydney College for the ‘Gentleman’s Classic’. A season ago Hampden Sydney made the trip to Crawfordsville and the Little Giants won in a high scoring thriller by a score of 52-48. Donavon Snyder scored the game-winning score with just 46 seconds left to seal the Little Giant victory.

This season Wabash brings back almost every single player on its high profile offense. The Little Giants once again will be led out by one of the best signal callers in all of Division III in senior Liam Thompson. Thompson was named to the pre-season Manning Award Watch List which honors the countries best quarterback. A year ago Thompson threw for 3,588 yards and 34 touchdowns while completing 72% of his passes with 186.42 rating. On the ground Thompson gained 349 yards and seven more scores.

Along with Thompson, Wabash returns the likes of both Snyder and Cade Campbell in the backfield along with both Derek Allen Jr. and Cooper Sullivan. Wabash also boasts one of the top tight ends in the country as senior Penn Stoller was named to multiple pre-season All-America teams.

What plagued the Little Giants a season ago however was on the defensive side of the football where Wabash surrendered 33.9 points per game. A year ago Wabash was under new direction on defense as Mike Ridings was in his first year calling plays. Little Giants coach Don Morel who begins his eighth season at the helm notes how that’s an area where his team has to get better in if they want to accomplish their lofty goals.

“There’s no secret that’s an area where we just have to get better,” Morel said.  “We’ve put in a very strong commitment on that side of the ball. We’ve made that an emphasis in recruiting players who we think can make an impact. You’ll see some new names out there and it’s now year two under a new system so I think people are going to see great strides.”

For Thompson, who will once again be a captain for the Little Giants, he notes how the sting of the way last season ended where Wabash lost the Monon Bell game and their chance at a spot in the DIII Playoffs has only motivated everyone who is back this season.

“It’s definitely made us work that much harder in the off-season,” Thompson said. “It’s always the biggest game on our schedule and everyone knows that. With that being said every single game on our schedule this season is important and we can’t look ahead to that game. We have to be locked in and focused to take on a good Hampden Sydney team on Saturday.”

Another pretty cool addition to Wabash’s schedule this season will come on Sep. 16 when the Little Giants make the short trip to Indianapolis to take on Butler who is non-scholarship FCS Division I. The meeting between the Bulldogs and Little Giants will be the first time since Nov. 6, 1976. The game will be a challenge for the Little Giants as it’ll be a DIII going up against a low-level DI, but nonetheless Wabash is using that game as a tone setter to see where they stand before heading into NCAC play.

“We’re ready to take that challenge on,” Morel said of the game vs the Bulldogs. “For the thought of the Wabash football fan, for us to be able to play basically just down the road in Indianapolis; it’s going to feel like Christmas at Disneyland. The guys are excited because we have plenty of kids who are from the Indy area. And Butler is a good football team. They’re program has really turned around in the last few years.”

The Little Giants were picked to finish second in the NCAC behind DePauw. They’ll just have four home games at Little Giant Stadium this season. The first will come on Sep. 23 against Oberlin in their NCAC opener. It will also be homecoming and senior day for the Little Giants. Oct. 7 the College of Wooster will travel to Crawfordsville as will Wittenberg on Oct. 28. And of course the 129th Monon Bell Classic will be back at Little Giant Stadium on Nov. 11 when DePauw bring the Monon Bell back to Cville as the Little Giants look to capture the illustrious traveling trophy.

The game against Hampden Sydney will kickoff on Saturday a 1 p.m. and can be livestreamed through Wabash's Athletic website.