Greg Debeljak has become the most accomplished coach in the history of the Case Western Reserve University football program since being named to the position on March 24, 2004. In his 14 seasons with the team, he has compiled an impressive overall record of 102-43 (.703) and led the Spartans to a 38-game regular season winning streak from 2006-10
Debeljak guided the Spartans to three consecutive undefeated (10-0) regular seasons, NCAA Playoff appearances and University Athletic Association titles from 2007-09. And from 2007-17, Case Western Reserve posted an overall record of 89-26 (.774), earning Debeljak and his assistants the UAA Coaching Staff of the Year award for three straight seasons from 2007-09 and again in 2011, 2016 and 2017. Additionally, Case Western Reserve has been ranked in the top 25 in the nation in seven of the last 11 seasons, including its highest mark of No. 7 during the final regular season American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) poll in 2009. Debeljak’s .703 career winning percentage ranks as the 16th-best among active Division III coaches.
Debeljak became the first coach in program history to reach the 100-win mark with the team, hitting the milestone during the team’s victory over Westminster College on November 4th, 2017. The triumph was a part of one of the best seasons in the program’s history, as Debeljak led the Spartans to an 11-1 overall record, with the team making the playoffs for the fourth time ever, and reaching the second round of the tournament for the second time. The Spartans won both the PAC and UAA Championships in 2017, leading to Debeljak being named both the PAC and UAA Coach of the Year. He coached senior center Gage Blair to AFCA All-America honors, while Blair, senior quarterback Rob Cuda and senior running back Jacob Burke were each named to the D3football.com All-Region team.
Warren Miller completed his sixth season at CWRU and fourth as defensive coordinator/linebackers coach in 2018.
Miller’s 2017 unit was one of the best in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference, leading the league in points allowed per game (17.8), total yards allowed per game (289.6) and rushing yards allowed per game (121.8). Defensive end Cameron Brown and linebacker Justin McMahon both earned All-PAC First Team honors, while seven other CWRU defensive players were named to either the second team or an honorable mention. Miller was also a part of the UAA Coaching Staff of the Year during the season for the second time over his career.
In 2016, the Spartans’ defense allowed just 18.7 points per game, the second-lowest mark in the conference and 37th-best in all of Division III. He oversaw the development of D3football.com All-Region Second Team selection Nick Kwon, as five CWRU defense players claimed All-PAC honors during the campaign. In his first season as the team’s defensive coordinator, Miller’s unit finished 15th among all NCAA Division III squads in rushing defense (100.2 yards per game), holding opponents to 22.4 points per game. Ten of his players earned All-PAC honors in 2015.
Offensive Coordinator/Recruiting Coordinator
The 2018 season marked Dereck Slesh’s 15th as offensive coordinator and 18th overall at CWRU. Slesh joined the staff in 2001 and spent his first three seasons as the defensive coordinator. He has also served as the program’s recruiting coordinator since January of 2009.
The Spartans offense has consistently been one of the most effective in Division III with Slesh at the helm. The 2017 squad led all PAC teams in points per game (39.9), while ranking 45th in Division III in yards per game (437.7). The squad set program records for total yards and points during the 2017 campaign. Slesh helped mentor AFCA All-American center Gage Blair, and D3football.com All-Region quarterback Rob Cuda and running back Jacob Burke during the season.
During his time at CWRU, Slesh has guided some of the nation’s top offensive units, including a 2009 squad that ranked fifth in the nation in scoring (42.4 ppg) and seventh in yardage (470.8 ypg). Slesh also produced a three-time (2007-09) UAA Offensive Player of the Year and 2009 AFCA All-American in quarterback Dan Whalen. In 2015, he oversaw the development of D3football.com All-Region selections in quarterback Rob Cuda and tight end Ethan Albers, as the offense finished 29th among all NCAA Division III squads in scoring offense. The 2016 squad set a school record for rushing yards and ranked 14th in Division III with 257.9 rushing yards per game
Special Teams Coordinator/ Defensive Backs
Ben Lolli rejoined the Case Western Reserve University coaching staff prior to the 2016 season, and serving as the team’s Special Teams Coordinator, while also coaching the defensive backs.
Lolli previously served as the wide receivers coach at Case Western Reserve during the 2013 and 2014 seasons. In between stints with the Spartans, he worked at Oberlin College, where he coached special teams and linebackers. Prior to his initial arrival at CWRU, Lolli spent the previous three years at Division II Walsh University with two seasons as a graduate assistant (2010-11) and one as a defensive assistant (2012) for linemen and backs. He previously worked with the Cavalier wide receivers in 2011.
Prior to his time in North Canton, Lolli served as a student assistant for four seasons at his alma mater, Kent State University.
A three-year letterwinner at Stow High School, Lolli went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in history from Kent State in 2009 and a Master of Arts in Education from Walsh in 2012.
Kevin Burke joined the Case Western Reserve University football staff prior to the start of the 2017 season. He will be serving as the team’s quarterbacks coach in 2018 after working with the team’s running backs during his first season with the squad.
Burke gained notoriety across the Division III level as the quarterback for Mount Union, where he became both the first junior and the first two-time winner of the Gagliardi Trophy, which is awarded annually to the best Division III football player each year, based on athletics, academic and community service. He was a three-year starter and three-time All-America selection, leading his team to the National Championship game each season and winning the NCAA title in 2012, while compiling an overall record of 43-2.
Since graduating from Mount Union in December 2015 with a major in Business Administration, Burke has served as an Assistant Coach at his alma mater for the last two seasons. In 2017, he was named the Most Valuable Player of the Austrian Bowl, after leading the Vienna Vikings to a win in the Austrian Football League’s championship game, throwing for 375 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for another 121 yards.
Brandon McDowell, one of the best running backs in the history of the Case Western Reserve University football team, returned to his alma mater in 2018 as the team’s running backs coach.
McDowell played collegiately for CWRU from 2001-03, earning three All-University Athletic Association honors and claiming the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year award in 2002. He still holds program records for career rushing yards (3,411), rushing touchdowns in a season (19 in 2001) and a career (39), career 100-yard rushing games (16) and points scored in a game (30), a season (122) and a career (308), amongst others.
McDowell currently works for Hyland Software in quality assurance.
Mike Murphey will be starting his second stint as an assistant coach with the Case Western Reserve University football team in 2018. His primary duties include working with the team’s outside linebackers.
Murphey previously worked with Case Western Reserve during the 2012 season, when he served as the team’s offensive line coach. After leaving the Spartans, he continued his career at Revere High School in Richfield, Ohio, where he served as the team’s Head Coach from 2013 through 2017. In addition to his work with the football team, he was an assistant track and field coach, working with the team’s throwers.
Murphey began his coaching career at his alma mater, John Carroll University. He has also worked and coached at Trinity High School, Chagrin Falls Exempted Village Schools and Kenston High School. He was selected by his coaching peers as the East Head Coach of the 2007 Cuyahoga County East/West All-Star Game.
Murphey received his Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from John Carroll in 2001, before earning his Masters Degree in School Counseling from the University in 2009.
Jim Stephens joined the Spartan’s coaching staff in 2016 as an assistant coach, following an outstanding career as a head coach and educator at the University School. After spending the first two years with the team coaching outside linebackers, he will be working with the defensive linemen in 2018.
Stephens served as the head coach at the University School from 2000 until 2014, going 82-74 during his 15 seasons. The 82 wins rank as the most in the 125-year history of University School football. Prior to becoming the head coach, he was the assistant varsity football and wrestling coach at the school from 1994-2000, and held numerous coaching positions at Shaker Heights High School, Wickliffe High School, the Laurel School and Phillips Academy over his career.
In addition to his coaching accomplishments, Stephens was an English teacher at the University School for the previous 22 years. Prior to that, he was the Head of the English Department at the Laurel School from 1998-1994, and was an English teacher at Phillips Academy from 1980-88.
Stephens was a two-year starter at safety for Princeton University, graduating cum laude in 1974 with a degree in English. He went on to earn his Master of Arts degree in English from Columbia University in 1976, and his Master of Philosophy degree in English from Columbia in 1979, where he was a President’s Fellow.