The 2003 season thus far for the sprint football team has been highlighted by individual accomplishments. Some of the accolades include junior Chris Garnic surpassing the team’s career field goal record by recording the 15th of his career in last week’s 45-14 loss to Navy. Freshman tailback sensation Michael Fullowan rushed for 143 yards and three touchdowns in a victory against Princeton. While head coach Terry Cullen appreciates these personal milestones for his players, he knows that a repeat victory tonight against Princeton will require an entire team effort.
“We need most of the second-unit players to step up,” Cullen said. “Our starters have been performing well but they ran out of gas in the Navy game.”
Cullen and the Red have felt the lingering sting of losing 24 graduating seniors last year. In addition, this year’s crew has truly been decimated by injuries to some of its key veterans, including all three of its tailbacks; another setback occurred in practice this week.
“We will [also] miss our senior captain Dean Coccaro who re-injured his knee in practice this week,” said Cullen. “He is an outstanding leader, blocker, pass receiver, special teams performer and our crisis quarterback.”
This year’s squad, spurred by inspiring play from its younger members, is trying to even its record, which currently stands at 1-2. The Red has been involved in three one-sided affairs. The lone victory came on Sept. 26 at Princeton, whom the Red will face in a rematch at 7 p.m. tonight at Schoellkopf Field.
Most recently, against Navy, the Red was in striking distance at halftime, only down by a 7-3 margin. However, Navy returned from halftime to grab two quick touchdowns and take a commanding lead.
“I was a little disappointed after last week’s game,” Cullen admitted. “We had many opportunities in the first half to establish a big lead. To go in at half down 7-3 after dominating the entire two periods set the tone for the second half when Navy took a quick 21-3 lead with two big plays in less than a minute.”
The backbreaking defeat has not diminished the spirits of this team. The fact that this is a rather young and inexperienced club may benefit its psyche in the short term. Most players on this team are just excited to get playing time and are hungry to produce.
“I’m excited,” said Fullowan. “We are all looking forward to coming back from last week’s loss to Navy. I think everyone is anxious to get back on the field after last week.”
This positive attitude has embodied the excitement that Fullowan has brought to this year’s team. Not only has he carried the ball efficiently, to the tune of 280 yards on the ground in three games with four touchdowns, he has also carried the team and shows tremendous leadership potential for the future.
“Michael has shown instincts of all good running backs,” remarked Cullen. “He has average speed and is small even for our league at 150 pounds, but he is very quick, makes good decisions, and runs with authority.”
A unique honor bestowed upon him early in his Red career occurred during the week of Sept. 29, when Fullowan was named the Tompkins County/Cornell Varsity Athlete of the week. This tribute highlighted Fullowan’s aforementioned performance against Princeton two weeks ago, leading the Red to its first win of the season.
“I was very pleased with my play that day, and I hope we can repeat it this week,” Fullowan added. “But I’m not sure what they’re [Princeton] going to do. Our coach told us today to be prepared for anything they throw at us.”
With difficult match-ups looming the rest of the way, at Ivy rival Penn on Oct. 24, and a rematch with Army at home on Oct. 31, a victory this week is critical to create momentum for a positive finish.
Archived article by Josh Fox