Mount Union defensive coordinator Chris Kappas, who took home the FootballScoop Division III Coordinator of the Year award in 2015, has led one of the top defenses in all of college football for the past three seasons where his units stymied D-III offenses to the tune of some ridiculous numbers.
That's no exaggeration. We're talking about some seriously impressive numbers like; 198 total yards per game allowed, just over 3 yards per play allowed, only 1.64 yards per carry, and accumulating 68 sacks, allowing just over 55 yards rushing per game, while allowing just 5 yards per pass, and less than 10 points per game. Many of those numbers were the best in ALL of college football for the season he took home the award.
For those not as familiar with one of the best programs in all of small college ball, here's a quick glance at major categories Kappas' defense has ranked in the top 10 since taking over as play caller in 2014.
#2 in defensive TDs
#1 nationally in total defense
#3 in fumbles recovered
#7 rushing defense
#1 Scoring defense
#4 scoring defense
#8 in sacks
#1 rushing defense
#4 turnovers gained
#1 3rd down defense
#7 in TFLs
#5 in passing yards allowed
#10 total defense
#9 in fumbles recovered
See what I mean?
Well this fall, Kappas will continue to call the plays, but following the departure of offensive coordinator Geoff Dart to join Mike Sanford's staff as the offensive line coach at Western Kentucky, Kappas will be calling the offensive plays come this fall, and will also mentor the quarterbacks.
While extraordinarily rare, a coordinator moving from one side of the ball to call the shots on the other isn't completely unheard of. But we're talking about one of the top small college programs in the country here, so what prompted the change, and why didn't Mount Union open the job up to a wealth of accomplished play callers who surely would have been more than interested in the opportunity to join a program and culture like Mount's?
The answer lies in the relationship between Kappas and head coach Vince Kehres, who is entering his fifth season leading the program. Kappas is a former defensive player for the Purple Raiders, and he played under Vince, who was the defensive coordinator on his father's staff for eight years. Kappas made the transition from valued player, to coach at his alma mater for three seasons before getting the opportunity to join Dave Clawson's staff at Bowling Green for three seasons. That experience at Bowling Green equipped Kappas with some great stuff that he brought back to Mount Union for his second stint with the program.
Kehres shared with us that his relationship with Kappas is something really special. They see eye-to-eye on nearly everything and are on the same page philosophically and scheme wise as well. Kappas also has the added advantage of understanding the culture of the program as a player and coach.
Kehres told us that one of the things that made Kappas such a great natural fit to make the unique transition from DC to OC was that Kappas devotes himself to figuring out what their players do well, and then is really good at adapting their scheme accordingly. So offensively, while they'll largely look the same as years past when the hit the field in the fall, the tweaks being made are sure to take full advantage of their players and what they do excel at, while not asking them to do things they may not be as good at because of the closed-minded approach that it is "what the scheme calls for".
As a fan of small college football, Mount Union is fun to watch on both sides of the ball year, after year, after year. This unique story line is another great reason to keep an eye on the historic program out of Alliance, OH.