Walk along a sidewalk on a hot September afternoon and in a couple of minutes, you’ll feel tired. You’ll feel unbearably sweaty, and you’ll be bored out of your mind.
But swing by Schoellkopf Field and you’ll be energized. You’ll be compelled to be a real Cornell fan. The reason? The Cornell sprint football team practices right around the corner.
Optimism permeates every crevice, every corner and every player on this storied squad. Five championships, two undefeated seasons and one of the best coaches in the entire league have made this team one of the more successful stories around campus.
And now, in spite of losing four key players on one of the league’s best defenses ever, its starting five offensive linemen and its top three quarterbacks from a year ago, optimism prevails.
“We’re really a young team, and it will be a struggle. But our goal is to win the league,” noted head coach Terry Cullen without hesitation.
The quarterback position remains, as it has for the past two seasons, the biggest question mark for the Red, although indications from its first game (a 19-17 loss to powerhouse Penn) show otherwise. Cullen likes to use a two-quarterback rotation and has three men to do the job.
Junior Charlie Tam will be the starter and is an option quarterback in the mold of Michael Vick. Tam started at tailback last year, gaining 124 yards on 52 carries. Senior tri-captain Sunil Gupta, preferring the Dan Marino style of quarterbacking, backs up Tam and will see time at wideout, his natural position.Gupta hasn’t played the position since his high school years.
“But I prefer the ‘Q’,” Gupta confidently stated.
Junior rookie Richard Loomis is the third-stringer on the team.
The offensive backfield will feature sophomore Dean Coccaro, junior tailback Guillermo Younger and senior fullback Brian Allen. The three combined for 110 yards behind Tam last season. With the use of a two-quarterback system, these four will be called into action often, used as runners and blockers.
To establish its running game, the Red will need a strong performance from its offensive line. Freshmen Philippe Marguet, Mackenzie Cook and Michael Schreck, sophomore Ian Calhoun, junior Michael Shapiro, and senior Nate Negrin will all get playing time.
Gupta remains the go-to-guy in the receiving corps, although much experience returns from last season. Sophomore tight end Michael Ormsby was the team’s leading scorer last year, catching three touchdowns. His 5′ 11″ frame should give him an advantage over most cornerbacks. With Tam at quarterback, Ormsby will be a key blocker and will have big shoes to fill in this regard, with the departure of Sam Walcott ’01.
“I like both receiving and blocking,” Ormsby said. “I’ll do anything to help this team win.”
Sophomore Henry Kim holds the surest pair of hands on the team and looks to improve on his solid 26-reception season. Seniors Chris Hood and Scott Buszko will prove to be more-than-capable backups.
In spite of losing a number of exceptional players on defense, Cullen still has high expectations. Having gained a great deal of experience, the line will be able to pressure the quarterback. The secondary is seasoned enough to prevent big plays — which occasionally hurt the Red last year.
The defensive line represents the strength of the team as all four starters return to wreak havoc on opposing trenchmen. Seniors Miky Kuo and Phil Rosenman and juniors Jay Sackett and Scott McQuade are the starters.
“All outstanding players,” Cullen assured.
Last season was no exception as Jon Krautmann ’01 and Pat Arangio ’01 played admirably. But the crew returns senior tri-captain Martin Vogel at middle linebacker while three juniors — Parsa Kiai, Kent Ferguson, and Eric Eisenhart will man the outsides.
Having lost big-time players in Bo Sangosanya ’01 and Imad Baggar ’01, the secondary looks to a pair of backs with great potential. Junior Adam Romeiser proved himself a year ago by leading the team with four interceptions. Opposite him stands tri-captain Angelo Palmieri, a senior known for his big hits. Seniors Andrew Barbato and Alex Gitomer, junior Jimmy You, and sophomore Timothy LaFrance will all see time in the defensive backfield.
Archived article by Sumeet Sarin