September 12, 2003

Taking a Ride on the Learning Curve

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To the casual fan, sprint football may be quite a mystery. Far from the usual lineup of trucks, refrigerators, and tanks seen in the offensive and defensive lines of the NFL, all players share one thing in common: on game day, they all must weigh in just below 166 pounds.

This provides for a unique football experience. Because all players are the same size, coaches can’t simply have “the big fat guy playing tackle.” Rather, according to head coach Terry Cullen, “You might start a free safety and end up a tackle.”

With only a few weeks of practices under its belt, the Cornell squad still has a lot of shuffling of positions to do. Things are even more complicated for the Red because of last years’ graduating class of 24 seniors.

“They’re the youngest team I’ve had in 40 years of coaching,” said Cullen. “It looks to be a good class. They’re very athletic and strong, just very young.”

While changes are still sure to be made, Cullen has the bulk of his lineup set. For the defensive line, seniors Ryan Vaughan, Michael Schreck, and Tom Calnan will be starting, joined by sophomore Nick English. All are returning lettermen and “solid football players,” according to Cullen.

Also returning for the Red are senior linebackers William Snider, first captain Billy Mascaro, and three-year letterman Matthew Wesley. The secondary is led by senior Tim LaFrance, junior Nick Cavallaro, and sophomore Peter Skold.

The offense looks to be the Red’s strongest asset this year, led by a pair of returning senior receivers.

“The receivers look really strong,” said Cullen. “If we can throw the ball, and depending on how fast the O-line can play, they can be a dangerous force.”

The senior receivers are second captain Michael Ormsby, Henry Kim, and Nick Pfaff. The backups are seniors Drew Greenwood and sophomore Bryan Hall.

In the backfield, sophomore Chris Mascaro and senior third captain Dean Coccaro are the running back and tailback, respectively. Both started for the Red last year. Starting at quarterback is sophomore Alec Macaulay. The only returning starter on the offensive line is junior tackle Philippe Marguet.

The two guards are junior Eion D’Anjou and sophomore William Kaser. Cullen has not finalized who will be playing center, but the spot will most likely be filled by one of two freshmen.

The kick and punt returner is Chris Garnic, who, in his third year, has “been outstanding for us,” according to Cullen.

As for the rest of the special teams unit, Cullen still has yet to make up his mind.

The effect of the loss of 24 seniors will be tested early, as the Red’s first game is against Army. In the two teams’ last contest, Army blanked the Red for the second time that season.

“It’s a pretty demanding start,” said Cullen, “but it will provide a good barometer of where we think we are.”

Navy is the favorite of the Collegiate Sprint Football League (CSFL) once again, as the Midshipmen have dominated the past three years. Penn serves as Cornell’s toughest Ivy rival, as it has also produced strong teams in recent years and has most of its squad returning.

There is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the Red, but Cullen and his troops are optimistic.

Archived article by Josh Dormont