EUREKA – On a steamy Friday afternoon in which more than 90 student-athletes reported to campus, the Eureka College football team began preseason camp for the 115th season in program history at McKinzie Field.
Twelve starters from last season's NCAA playoff game return for 10th-year head coach Kurt Barth – eight on offense, three on defense and one specialist. Four of the Red Devils' returnees were all-conference First Team choices a year ago.
Eureka will go through its usual array of workouts, meetings and team meals in the weeks leading up to the Sept. 1 opener at Knox. The upcoming season marks the Red Devils' first as an associate member of the Milwaukee, Wis.-based Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference. Eureka is the eighth football member of the NACC and is immediately eligible to compete for the NACC's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III playoffs, as well as individual and team awards.
The Red Devils welcome back a ton of firepower from last season's offense that produced new school records of 401 point scored and 3,033 rushing yards. Senior running back Le'Anthony Reasnover (Momence, Ill./Momence H.S.) leads the attack after putting up 1,875 rushing yards in 2017 to earn postseason All-America honors from the American Football Coaches Association. Reasnover, who was also tabbed a 2018 preseason All-American by D3football.com, is the active NCAA leader across all three Divisions with 11.6 points scored per game, ranks second among active NCAA players with 55 rushing touchdowns and his 3,849 career rushing yards rank third among active players in all three NCAA Divisions.
Senior offensive tackle Ryan Barth (Minonk, Ill./Fieldcrest H.S.) headlines the offensive front after a 2017 campaign that included the program's first-ever D3football.com All-Region choice for an offensive lineman. The two-time all-conference selection has started all 31 games of his collegiate career.
The quarterback duo of juniors Drew Barth (Minonk, Ill./Fieldcrest H.S.) and Nick Holman (Metamora, Ill./Metamora H.S./St. Ambrose) are back in camp after combining for 108 completions, 1,392 yards and 12 touchdowns last fall. Both signal-callers are threats on the ground as well – Barth's 632 career rushing yards are second-most by an EC quarterback in the modern era and Holman tacked on 214 rushing yards of his own in his first season in maroon and gold.
Eureka's top three receivers from last season also return – senior Dom Parks (East Moline, Ill./United H.S.) hauled in 17 balls for a team-best 300 yards in 2017. Sophomores Rhett Rondinelli (Chesterton, Ill./Chesterton H.S.) and Caleb Fauver (Catlin, Ill./Salt Fork H.S.) combined for 30 receptions and 428 yards and four scores. Rondinelli also gives EC a versatile weapon on special teams after piling up 844 all-purpose yards as a freshman.
Defensively, senior tackle Macae Skaggs (Farmington, Ill./Farmington H.S.) and sophomore cornerback Trevon Moore (Aurora, Ill./Waubonsie Valley H.S.) lead the charge after earning all-league accolades in 2017. Skaggs ranked 65th nationally in 2017 with 8.0 sacks and tallied four interceptions, becoming the first player to lead EC in sacks and interceptions in the same season since Eureka's sack totals were accurately recorded beginning in 2001.
Moore has been one of the pillars of the EC secondary since the day he arrived on campus, earning all-conference First Team honors in each of his first two seasons. His 12 pass breakups last season ranked second in the league and 75th among all Division III defenders. Colton Fauver (Catlin, Ill./Salt Fork H.S.) also returns in the secondary alongside Moore and Antonio Greenwood (Momence, Ill./Momence H.S.) will rejoin his teammates in the defensive backfield with a clean bill of health after missing all of 2017 due to injury. Greenwood is the active program leader with 60 solo tackles and 537 kickoff return yads.
As always, Barth has welcomed a massive group of newcomers loaded with talent and depth. His initial camp roster listed nearly 60 players new to the program.
The move to the NACC revives a collection of long-time rivalries established by the EC football program dating back as far as 1938. Eureka previously competed as league rivals in the now-defunct Illini-Badger Football Conference with five current members of the NACC – Aurora, Benedictine, Concordia (Ill.), Concordia (Wis.) and Lakeland – until 2007. Eureka has played a total of 167 football games against active members of the NACC in program history, the most combined contests played by the Red Devils against any active NCAA Division III league.
The 2018 season is also Eureka's 41st as a member of NCAA Division III and its 23rd campaign since making the transition to exclusive Division III membership.