“The team’s motivation for this upcoming season is to feed off the terrible taste of defeat that we carried in our mouths from last season’s loss to Cal U (Pa.) in that Regional Championship game,” sophomore running back Derrick Price said.
Coming off a remarkable season, which included the closely contested Super Regional One (national quarterfinal) loss to Cal U (Pa.) (27-24), the Huskies are looking to go even farther in the post season and continue their success when the 2009 season starts this fall. They finished last year with a record of 11-2, placing second in the PSAC East (6-1), respectively.
The team has the bulk of its squad returning, 13 starters from 2008 are getting ready to suit up for the Huskies again. It also boasts eight All-PSAC selections from last year: Jon Koenig (Sr./K,P), Jesse Cooper (Sr./DB), Stefan Adams (Sr./RB), Kenny Dolmzalski (So./RB), Alfonso Nathan (Sr./DL), Dominique Price (Sr./DB), Derrick Price (So./RB), and Dan Latorre (Sr./QB).
“We are aware of the high expectations, but that comes with the territory,” Coach Danny Hale said as he spoke about spring football on April 7. “We’ve had a really good winter program and we’ve had high player turnout. That reflects a lot of the same enthusiasm we have about this team.”
Coach Hale will begin his 17th season as head coach for the Huskies in 2009. In 2008, he was a Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Finalist and also was honored as the NCAA Division II co-Regional One Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association.
“I have been telling these guys since day one, the expectations are high here and little things like making team meetings, being on time and training hard are attributes of great teams,” Hale said.
BU Football is currently ranked seventh in a national division II pre-season poll by The Sporting News. The Huskies are the second highest PSAC team on the list, as Edinboro University is rated fifth overall.
“We’re an experienced team and will be playing a very difficult schedule,” Coach Hale said.
Captains for the football team have been announced for the 2009 season and they are Latorre, Cooper, and Adams. Latorre will be a graduate student this year and his career numbers so far include 5,658 total yards and 49 touchdowns, ranking him third in both categories in BU history. Cooper is entering his senior season and last year showed he is a proven return man for the Huskies. In 2008, Cooper led the PSAC with 30.7 yards per return and ranked sixth in the nation. Adams will also be a senior and rushed for 330 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.
The Huskies have built a winning tradition thanks to this year’s captains and upperclassmen. Since 2000 the team has either shared or outright won the PSAC East title six times.
“The team’s main goal is first to win the PSAC East,” Adams said. “That is always our first goal and then anything else after that is a bonus.”
But, the BU Football club does not rely on its reputation to do all the work for itself. Each player works hard during the offseason to make sure he is ready for the grind of the regular season games. (See “Huskies’ Summer Training” on the right)
“The last time coach spoke to us as a team was at the end of spring, he just kept reminding us how hard our first couple of games will be in the season and we have to prepare well and come in focused and ready to play,” Cooper said.
The BU Football team has several young players who stepped right in as freshmen last year. They emerged from both sides of the ball with defensive back Oscar Rivera, who finished third on the team in tackles with 53 and added six pass break ups and two interceptions on defense and on offense, the potent running back tandem of Dolmzalski and Derrick Price combined to contribute 2,157 rushing yards.
In fact, Derrick Price was named the PSAC East Freshman of the Year after he gained 1,279 yards and scored seven touchdowns last season. He was ranked second in the PSAC and 20th in the nation overall in rushing yards per game averaging 106.58.
There are a number of other returning players to keep an eye out for when the Huskies take the field. At tight end, junior Ben Weaber will be competing in his third season as a starter and is the team’s leading returning receiver with 11 catches for 114 yards and a touchdown. On the defensive line, junior Dave Huot will command attention from opposing offensive lines, since last year he registered 37 tackles and two and a half sacks, the second most on the team. A pair of junior outside linebackers, Michael Varanavage and Thomas McFarland, will also look to play a role in the squad’s success after they combined for 105 tackles last year.
“Exciting,” is the one word Coach Hale picked to describe this year’s team. “The word exciting by definition is causing excitement; stirring; rousing; thrilling. I believe this year’s team is capable of all that,” Coach Hale added.
Not to mention the football program looks to have another solid recruiting class with about 25 new freshmen players expected to come to BU this semester.
Despite the undeniable talent this team possesses, the Huskies know that the victories will not be handed to them and will focus on each step of the season.
“For the most part we want to take one game and opponent at a time,” Adams said. “I will say though if we take care of business PSACS and division II playoffs are a great possibility.”
“We’re preparing ourselves for a longer season and a much better ending,” Derrick Price said.
The season begins at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 27, when the Huskies take on Ashland; a team ranked in the top 15. It will be the first official night game at Redman Stadium and be sure to come out and show your support for the maroon and gold!