Though Friday night’s game in Philadelphia might be the season opener for both the Penn and Cornell sprint football teams, don’t expect their defenses to show any sign of it. The Red defenders enter the game after holding their alumni scoreless in the team’s 3-0 preseason victory last weekend. Led by senior tri-captain Billy Snider at middle linebacker and a very young, yet capable secondary, Cornell will try to put up another impressive defensive effort.
“Our secondary is very strong, very athletic,” said head coach Terry Cullen.
Meanwhile, the Quakers defense enters the season as the reason Penn has become a force in the Collegiate Sprint Football League in recent years. Last season, the team allowed only a paltry 13.1 points per game, including the six they held the Red to in their 21-6 win last year.
“Penn has been very good the last five years,” Cullen said. “They have a very good defense.” Offensively, the Red has been hurt by the loss of two-year starting quarterback, junior Alec Macaulay to illness. While Cullen is confident that sophomore Nick LiVigne, who did see some action last year, can adequately fill in as the starter, he is now worried about the team’s depth at the position.
“[LiVigne] will do fine,” Cullen said. “I’m more concerned about the back-up role where we have two freshmen.”
Joining LiVigne in the backfield will be the Red’s duo of tailbacks, sophomore Michael Fullowan and senior John Falzone.
Fullowan racked up 459 yards last year, running at a 4.7 yards per carry average and reaching the end zone seven times. Though Falzone missed one game last year, he also had a solid season going for 190 yards and three scores.
“We should have a good running game. Fullowan and Falzone are experienced and excellent running backs,” said Cullen.
Besides the pair of effective running backs, the Red’s offensive strength might be its offensive line.
Returning four starters, including senior all-CSFL players, captain Eion D’Anjou and Philippe Marguet, the front five looked very strong in the alumni game.
However, even with all the returning offensive players between the tackles, there still are questions about how Cornell’s receivers will perform because of their inexperience. “It is unknown how are passing game will be right now,” Cullen said. “The only legitimate wide receiver coming back is [junior] Michael Gasper.”
Though this inexperience, coupled with the injury of junior tight end Bryan Hall, makes the coach nervous heading into Friday night’s contest, he still sees potential in the Red’s receiving corps.
“They could be outstanding,” Cullen said. “They are quick and look awfully good in practice, but it’s a lot different out there during the game.”
For the Quakers, the offensive unit returns nine starters from last year’s team that put up on average of over 20 points per game.
The key returnee for Penn is senior captain Greg Bagnoli, who rushed for 413 yards and two touchdowns last season. The Quakers will probably give him the ball early and often against Cornell, especially after Penn was able to rack up over 200 yards on the ground against the Red in last season’s contest.
Holding the overall series lead over the Red 51-28, the Quakers have won the last nine contests in a row. Even with this history against them, Cornell is still eagerly awaiting the kick-off to their 2004 campaign.
“Penn is a very good team,” Cullen said.
“But, we’re looking forward to the game.”
Archived article by Scott Reich