The Paper file photo <br>
Wabash’s running game will be key in today’s 115th Monon Bell game.
The Paper file photo
Wabash’s running game will be key in today’s 115th Monon Bell game.
For his first Monon Bell game, Erik Raeburn has only one mission.

Wabash College's first-year football coach plans on bringing that 300-pound locomotive bell back.

He's got the prolific offense, the dominating defense and the perfect place - at home - to move that cherished possession back to the Little Giants.

"It's important to [the seniors]. It's one of those things that you cherish a little more when you don't have [the Bell]," Raeburn said. "For the seniors, this is the first time they went through the offseason without it . . . I think they definitely want to play their best and win that thing back."

In-state rival DePauw (7-2) travels to No. 3 Wabash (9-0) for today's 1:06 p.m. Monon Bell game at Byron P. Hollett Little Giant Stadium in Crawfordsville. It's the 115th meeting between the two teams, with the Little Giants leading the series 53-52-9.

DePauw won last year's game 24-21 on a field goal in the waning seconds, ending Wabash's two-year reign.

Wabash has beaten up on nearly all of its opponents this season and finished undefeated in North Coast Athletic Conference play for the second-straight year.

The Little Giants have dropped 40-plus points against seven teams and scored 50 or more three times.

DePauw, meanwhile, has lost both its games to Top 20 NCAA Division III opponents - suffering a blowout loss to No. 3 and Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference rival Millsaps College and conference rival Trinity (Texas).

Tigers' junior quarterback Spud Dick has thrown for 2,669 yards, 23 touchdowns and 11 interceptions this yea. Last year, he led DePauw on a game-winning drive with under two minutes left ito win the Monon Bell game.

"He's a fantastic quarterback and the best quarterback we've faced all season long," Raeburn said. "He's really good. He makes great decisions, is very accurate. If one of his guys gets open, he puts the ball right on the money where [his receiver] is going to catch it. Not every team we've played is like that. You know he's not going to miss if his receivers get open."

Wabash has run for 868 yards the past three weeks, including 365 in last week's 63-0 win over conference rival Hiram, 264 against conference foe Oberlin and 239 against conference rival Wooster.

In fact, the Little Giants have recorded six 200-plus yard rushing games this season and have rushed for 100 or more yards in eight of their nine games.

They're averaging more than 200 yards per game (208.1) and have rushed for nearly 1,900 yards this season.

The only time they haven't broken the 100-yard barrier came in a 13-10 victory over conference rival Wittenberg, when they were limited to only 33 yards.

Senior running back Bobby Kimp leads the way with 599 yards on 117 carries. He also has a team-high eight rushing touchdowns.

Sophomore running back Derrick Yoder (425 yards, seven touchdowns), junior running back Evan Sobecki (340 yards, five touchdowns) and senior running back Adam Pilli (309 yards, four touchdowns) also add to that corps.

Sophomore wide receiver Kody LeMond acknowledged the ground attack has strengthened Wabash's passing attack.

Now that they have a balanced offensive attack opponents have to choose which threat to guard against, which makes the Little Giants more dangerous.

"We've clearly established we can pound the football," LeMond said. "That's opened up the deep passes. The safety has to come out of the box to support the run. I love that."

Despite Wabash's high-powered offense and lately suffocating defense, Raeburn remains a little concerned about Little Giants' players getting adjusted to playing a full game.

Wabash has blown out its last two opponents - conference rivals Oberlin and Hiram - by a combined 123-7 score.

Starters haven't had to play much in the second half, only working two series against the Yeomen and not playing at all against the Terriers.

"We haven't had to play a full 60 minutes," Raeburn said. "We have to keep the intensity up all day Saturday. I'm concerned about that."

Sophomore defensive back Dan Ryan Wood isn't worried about the defense's intensity. This game means too much, it's too important.

"[This game] means everything. That's why we play this game," Wood said. "Everyone who's worn a Wabash jersey or came to Wabash, that's why we play. We're doing it for Wabash football."