The football championship of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) will be on the line Saturday (Nov. 10) when Hope (7-1) travels to Albion (7-2) in the regular season finale.
Kickoff from Sprankle-Sprandel Stadium will be 1 p.m. The game will be broadcast by WHTC-AM (1450) and WFUR-FM (102.9). It can also be heard on the internet (www.hope.edu).
Once again the MIAA championship will be on the line as the Flying Dutchmen and Britons meet for the 73rd time in a rivalry that started in 1926, the year Hope joined the MIAA. Either Hope or Albion has emerged as the MIAA champion/co-champion every year except one since 1984. The Britons top the MIAA in football championships (31 since 1894) while Hope has 17 (since 1926).
Hope dominated the MIAA in the 1980s, winning seven of the 10 league championships. It was Albion's turn in the 1990s as the Britons claimed eight of the 10 crowns. A year ago the teams also met in the season finale with a championship on the line. Hope came-from-behind to gain a 14-9 victory, the league title and a berth in the NCAA Division III playoffs.
The home field advantage has played to Albion's favor in recent years. The Flying Dutchmen have not won in Sprankle-Sprandel Stadium since 1982. There was a 29-29 tie at Albion in 1986.
Both teams stand 4-0 in conference play. Riding a seven-game winning streak, the Flying Dutchmen are coming off a 41-6 victory over Olivet. The Britons set the stage for the championship showdown by edging Kalamazoo 30-28 with a last-second field goal.
Each team has a loss to an NCAA I-AA team, Hope to Valparaiso in their season opener, 21-14, and Albion to Butler, 31-28. The Britons other loss was to Washington, Mo., 17-7.
Both teams received votes in this week's American Football Coaches Association poll, Hope ranking 26th and Albion 44th.
The spotlight will be on the throwing arm of the quarterbacks. Hope sophomore Phil Butler (Tri-County HS) has completed 144-of-249 (58%) passes for 1,981 yards and 23 touchdowns for an NCAA efficiency rating of 147.11. Albion junior Travis Rundle has completed 162-of-297 (55%) passes for 2,058 yards and 17 touchdowns for a rating of 127.60.
Butler has set Hope single season record for passing yardage (1,981) and touchdown passes (23).
Both teams have outstanding receivers. Hope senior Brian Adloff (East Grand Rapids HS) has caught a Hope record 57 passes for 778 yards and five TDs while senior teammate Mike Gle (Brighton HS)has 53 catches for a record 818 yards and record 13 TDs. Albion senior receiver John Bennink has caught a school-record 64 passes for 894 yards and six TDs.