With a win-loss record of 2-1, the Red sprint football team has positioned itself nicely to claim a share of the CSFL championship for the first time in almost 20 years. The Red toppled Penn, 24-17, last weekend in Philadelphia for its second-straight victory, and its third in its last four games. The one loss came three weeks ago to the defending champions, Navy, which scored the only points of the game on a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown.
This year’s Red squad is hitting on all cylinders after a disastrous start to the season, which saw two home losses in a row, to Penn and Navy, respectively. Since being blown out by the Midshipmen 41-0 at Schoellkopf Field on Sept. 23, the Red has outscored its opponents by a combined score of 94-49. Compared to the first two games, when the Red let up a whopping of 54 points combined, the drastic improvement on the defensive side of the ball is evident. Captains LaRue Robinson and Amos Smith have led a resurgent unit that has smothered opposing offenses and has kept the Red in many close games.
“The maturity and improvement of the defense has really been the driving force of our team this season,” head coach Terry Cullen said. “Basically 10 of our 11 starters are returning players, and they are all a year older and a year smarter.”
In a league as fast paced and hard hitting as the CSFL, the old maxim that “offense wins games and defense wins championships” has proven to be true. Because the game moves at such a high speed, players quickly get winded and substitutions are needed more frequently. As such, without a deep defensive bench, a good offense has the potential to run wild on an exhausted defense.
The Red, which is two-deep at almost every position, has recognized this fact and built a powerful defensive unit that can be both punishing and lightning quick.
“After the Penn game, I went into the locker room and just from the number of ice packs, crutches, and other stuff like that, you can tell just how physical a team we are,” Cullen said.
The last time the Red was this close to winning the CSFL championship was back in the late 1980s, when a similar team led by Cullen tore its way through the league.
During the 80s as a whole, the Red won four titles and finished second almost every other year. The 1990s, however, saw the team tumble from the top of the standings and land squarely in the cellar.
After more than 15 years of futility, the Red finally started to recapture some of the magic, and a victory this weekend over Army, combined with an Army win over Navy the weekend after, would give the Red a three-way share of the league championship.
“I really think we can beat Army, and I also think Army has a great shot at beating Navy,” Cullen said. “Army is a very straightforward and physical team, but we are too. So I guess we will just have to see what happens.”
Archived article by Jacob Lieberman
Sun Staff Writer