Having split its first two games, the sprint football team will host Navy tonight. Navy will present the Red with its sternest competition of the young season, having outscored its opponents 110-16 in three victories.
To stop Navy’s offensive juggernaut, the Red will look to a defense that starts nine seniors, led by Eric Eisenhart. The senior linebacker has tallied 35 tackles in just two games. Overall, the Red’s defense has allowed just 29 points on the year and only 12 in its last six quarters of play.
The Red’s stellar defensive play is attributable to its quick adjustment to a new, blitz-oriented 4-4 scheme.
Four-year starting cornerback and senior captain Adam Romeiser commented on the unit’s early success, saying, “We’ve adjusted to the new defense really well, and we’ve got good personnel at every position. We know our jobs well, and I expect us to be ready for Navy.”
Indeed, the Red will need to be in top form against a Midshipmen offense that averages over 36 points per game. Navy has numerous offensive weapons, led by running back James Brobyn, who has gained 200 yards through three games. At the helm of the Midshipmen’s option attack will be multitalented Chris Ashinhurst. The quarterback has thrown for 195 yards and two touchdowns, adding 137 yards and another score on the ground in only two games of action.
Romeiser praised the Navy offensive attack, saying, “They’re really tough. They run the option, and they tend to be deceptive. They have good speed, maybe the best in the league. But we’re definitely looking forward to playing them. We’ll have to be disciplined, but we’re going to go out and try to make a lot of plays and cause some turnovers.”
Even if the defense continues its strong play, the Red may still be in trouble against the Midshipmen. The offense has struggled in its first two games, averaging only 12.5 points per contest. Last season’s leading rusher, junior Dean Coccaro, has gained only nine yards on the season, and as a team, the Red averages only 2.3 yards per rush.
Head coach Terry Cullen said of the Red’s inability to run the ball: “We just haven’t been executing on offense. In particular, the offensive line hasn’t been blocking very well, but that’s usual early in the season. It takes a while to get the offense going, but it will.”
The passing game has not been much better, with senior opening game starter Charlie Tam struggling. He will be spelled often by promising freshman Alec Macaulay. Macaulay has completed 13 of 31 passes on the year for 125 yards and a touchdown.
Unfortunately, the offense will have to get untracked against the best defense in the league. The Navy defense has allowed only one touchdown all year and has limited opposing teams to a minuscule 1.6 yards per carry. The Midshipmen are strong against the pass too, having intercepted six passes.
Game time is 7 p.m. at Schoellkopf Field, and if the Red hopes to improve to 2-1, it will need equal contributions from both sides of the ball against league favorite Navy.
It will be a difficult task, but the Red remains confident, with Cullen saying, “We’re the most optimistic people in the world. We’ve never seen a team we can’t beat. We had a good week last week, and once our offense gets going, we’ll be fine.”
Archived article by Mark Fetzko