September 11, 2003

A Rich Tradition

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Yes, we do wear pads. I figured I should begin with that statement because it is generally the answer to the first question people ask me when I tell them that I play sprint football.

The only difference between our brand of football and what you see on television is that we all weigh 165.9 pounds. When I say everyone, I mean everyone — the running backs, the linebackers, and even the linemen. Yet, while the concept of a "midget" football team sounds like a crazy new idea — it isn’t.

The Cornell sprint football team, as it is now known, which used to be known as the Cornell lightweight football team, has a rich tradition dating all the way back to 1936. The team went to Japan in the ’70s to play in the Silk Bowl against a Japanese all-star team, has played against countless JV squads — and beaten them — and has also played in the Pride Bowl, a game which gives its proceeds to the inner-city youth of Newark, NJ.

Part of our tradition begins with our head coach, Terry Cullen, who has been a member of the coaching staff since 1968. Coach Cullen encourages continued alumni involvement, which is a big reason why the team is self-funded. Every year, countless alumni generously donate to a program long after their playing days are over, so the tradition of lightweight football can live on. These very same alums will be the same men who will attempt to relive their past in our annual alumni game this Saturday. All of these men have played against the likes of Army and Navy, the perennial powerhouses of the Collegiate Sprint Football League, and know what it is like to be in our shoes.

In recent years especially, competing with the academies has been tough. Yet there is much optimism about this season resonating throughout the locker room. I know that for a fact, because, as many of my teammates can attest, I am generally the one doing the resonating.

Last season, our only two victories came against Princeton, yet this season looks to be the one where we can break out of our funk against Penn, Army, and Navy. Although we lost our best player from last season, linebacker Eric Eisenhart ’03, along with eight other starters, the defense is reloaded and looks to be tough. The linebackers should to be the strength of the defense once again this season, with returning starter, junior Billy Snider, the second leading tackler from a year ago, leading the charge.

With him will be classmate Eugene Gianforti, senior tri-captain Billy Mascaro, who happens to be my brother, and his classmate Matt Wesley. Senior Timmy LaFrance is the other returning starter on the defensive side, and will be joined with sophomore Pete Skold and junior Nick Cavallaro in the defensive backfield. The defense which posted a shutout at Princeton last season, will get much more help from a very improved offense.

The offense comes into this season with a new look under new offensive coordinator Bill Walker. The squad comes into this season with six returning starters, along with another four who saw significant playing time last season.

Starting at quarterback will be sophomore Alec Macaulay, who completed 42 percent of his passes for 125 yards and a touchdown, and will be backed up by freshman Nick Livigne. The backfield will consist of myself at tailback, as well as senior tri-captain Dean Coccaro at fullback, and sophomore Ben Herzberger will also see considerable time. Yet, the key to the offense this season is the tremendous depth we have, which is highlighted with the receiving corps.

Senior tri-captain Mike Ormsby, who had a touchdown catch last season and classmate Henry Kim will be the starters, but behind them is a solid corps of backups. Included in that group are returning players sophomore Mike Gaspar and senior Drew Greenwood, as well as newcomers to the squad — seniors Doug Charton and Ryan Vaughan. In addition, returning starter Nick Pfaff, the team’s second leading receiver from last year, will man the tight end position.

Another key to the team’s success this season is the leg of junior kicker Chris Garnic, the team’s leading point scorer from a year ago. Chris booted five field goals last year, including three in monsoon-like conditions against Princeton, along with three extra points.

Our first contest will come in two Fridays when we test our luck against Army at West Point.

Chris Mascaro is a Sun staff writer and the starting tailback on the sprint football team. He May Be Tall will appear periodically throughout the sprint football season.

Archived article by Chris Mascaro