WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Catholic University football team opens its 2019 season at home on Saturday when it hosts Kenyon from the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC).
Saturday marks the first-ever meeting between the two schools. The Lords went 0-10 last season and 0-9 in the NCAC and are looking to snap a 26-game losing streak dating back to Sept. 24, 2016. Head coach James Rosenburry begins his first season at Kenyon after spending the previous four seasons as an assistant coach at Division III Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Senior quarterback Thomas Merkle has thrown for a school record 8,248 yards passing. He eclipsed the previous record in the team's final game of 2018 against Denison. He finished last season with 2,398 yards passing and 12 touchdowns while completing 57.8 percent of his passes.
Merkle's top returning receiver is junior Justin Bosch who finished second on the team with 50 catches for 415 yards and one touchdown a year ago.
Catholic finished 1-9 last year and seventh in the NEWMAC with a 1-6 record after posting a 20-14 victory over Maine Maritime in the season finale. Three of the team's conference losses against MIT, Springfield (3rd) and Coast Guard (4th) came by 12 points or less.
Catholic returns eight starters on offense, including junior quarterback Brady Berger who led the league in passing yards per game, completions and completion percentage while ranking second in passer rating. The Cardinals also welcome back four of their top five receivers from a year ago as well as five starters on the offensive line.
Berger was one of only 137 student-athletes from the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision, Football Championship Subdivision, Divisions II, III and the NAIA to be named as a nominee for the 2019 Allstate American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Good Works Team. He was also named the recipient of the Martha Comiskey Memorial Award at the 2019 Cardinal Leadership Celebration in April. The award is presented to a student in recognition of a high level of dedication to University activities, an ability and willingness to motivate his or her fellow students and especially for an unwavering commitment to the University's goals.
The Cards also return eight starters on defense, including three of their top five tacklers from a year ago. Junior defensive back Andrew Funaki led the team with 70 tackles last season while junior linebacker Jake Ballard added 61 stops with four tackles for loss and one sack.
Catholic is 24-18 in season openers since joining Division III in 1977. The Cardinals are looking to snap a two-game losing streak in season openers, but have won nine of their last 13 dating back to a 28-21 win over McDaniel at home on Sept. 3, 2016.
The Cards have also won two of their last three home openers and are 1-1 under third-year head coach Mike Gutelius '92.