Guilford enters its 100th season of college football poised to build on its most successful offensive campaign in the program's history. Head coach Kevin Kiesel begins his second season with 24 returning letter winners, including 11 starters, from last year's 5-5 club that enjoyed the Quakers' best season since 1997. Guilford won its last four games, all Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) contests, and shared second place in the league standings with a 4-2 mark.
Behind the record-setting passing of ODAC Rookie of the Year Josh Vogelbach and the receiving of All-American Chris Barnette and senior Micah Rushing, Guilford ranked fifth among the 2005 NCAA Division III passing leaders and 26th in total offense. Vogelbach, in his first Guilford season after transferring from East Carolina, completed 280 of 475 passes for 3,549 yards and 37 touchdowns, all NCAA Division III freshman records. Barnette hauled in a league-record 101 passes as a junior, including 15 touchdowns, for 1,369 yards and led all NCAA divisions in catches. Rushing (79 catches, 937 receiving yards, 8 TD) and junior Joe Joyner (57catches, 803 yards, 8 TD) added to one of Division III's top receiving corps in 2005.
All of the aforementioned students return for 2006, but not in the same positions. Expect Rushing to start the year in the tailback's role, which could some run support to the team's passing. Zach Bobak, the club's top returning rusher (129 yards in nine games), returns at fullback for his sophomore season. The offensive line needs to replace three graduated starters, including all-region center Ian Kirwan '06 , but junior Brad Davis and sophomore Kendall Wallace return with extensive experience as starters on the line.
While the offense racked up 33.6 points per game, the Quakers' defense yielded 35.8 points per outing, which made for exciting games, but trying times for Guilford's coaches. Last year's top three tacklers are back, including senior inside linebacker Mario Paylor, a 2005 Second Team All-ODAC selection. High school classmates Taylor Baker and Bryan Cook enter their junior campaigns as returning starters in the secondary. Michael Vite assumed defensive coordinator responsibilities this summer and will direct a relatively new defensive staff with a lot of new personnel.
Senior Travis Frazier picked up all-region honors after leading the ODAC with a 37.8 yards per kick punting average. Frazier, also the Quakers' place-kicker, is a key special teams asset. Rushing has been one of the ODAC's top kickoff returners over the past three years and typically ranks among the league's all-purpose specialists. Sophomore Kevin Vaughn worked his way onto the field last year as a punt returner and fourth receiver. Guilford needs a new long snapper after the graduation of three-year snapper Charlie Stroup '06 .
After six home games in 2005, Guilford's schedule lists four home contests this season. The Quakers look forward to playing in the renovated Armfield Athletic Center, which has received over a million dollars worth of repairs and new construction. Ferrum College visits Sept. 2 for the home opener. The football field will be named for longtime Guilford coach and athletic director Herb Appenzeller Sept. 30 as part of Homecoming festivities and the annual Gate City Soup Bowl meeting with Greensboro College.