Entering his 42nd year of coaching sprint football, Terry Cullen has seen it all. The one thing he certainly has noticed is that you should expect everything and anything in the first game against a real opponent. The Red begins its 2006 campaign at the Allegiance Bowl in Saratoga, N.Y., this Saturday against the University of Pennsylvania.
[img_assist|nid=18308|title=Strong like bull|desc=Senior tri-captain Michael Fullowan and the sprint football team open their season against Penn tomorrow. (Joe Bellucci / Sun Senior Photographer)|link=popup|align=right|width=98|height=100]This first game will not count toward the team’s league record. Cullen begins this year with questions at quarterback and a lack of depth on both the offensive and defensive lines.
“This is going to be [sophomore Zak] Dentes’ first start for us, and we’ll have to wait and see how it plays out,” Cullen said. “He’s never taken a snap in a real game for us yet, but he’s the best passer we have, and we’re excited.”
The Red lost quarterback Alec Macaulay ’06, who graduated last year. Senior Brian Kennedy was expected to start this year, but is suffering from off-season arm shoulder surgery and has not thrown in practice yet. He is slated as the second
Offensively, the Red will feature fourth-year starting tailback, senior tri-captain, and three-time All-CSFL player Mike Fullowan.
The offensive line features five returning players, and all previous starters, while Dentes is expected to utilize sophomore Michael Brennan and senior Sam Coe downfield, who Cullen described as “a very pleasant surprise, very impressive.” Junior Warren Liao will start at tight end and. The offense will rest with the quarterback though.
“The line is vastly improved,” Dentes said. “We have so many weapons on offense, I am really looking forward to it. We don’t have a quarterback problem here; I believe any one of us can handle the job well. We’ll show it on the field.”
The Red defense had difficulty last year containing Penn offensively, and the Quakers return most of their 2005 squad, only losing eight seniors. The Red has to deal with losing 23 players from last year, and Cullen believes adjustments and evaluating what he has are the team’s goals in the first couple games.
“Since there is no scouting in our league, there is a lot of guessing early on,” said Cullen. “That will come with surprises that we have to adjust to. We have similar programs, but they might be farther along than we are because they don’t have the learning curve with new players [this year] that we do.”
Scheme-wise, Cullen will implement a shotgun offense to give Dentes more time in the pocket, and vary the position of Fullowan, who Penn surely is aware of and will focus on shutting down.
Cullen feels the pressure will be on Dentes in the first few series to establish an aerial attack, which would open up room in the trenches for Fullowan.
On defense, senior tri-captains defensive tackle Derek Johnson, free safety Jon Samuels, and Fullowan, will lead a strong, veteran unit.
Questions remain in the secondary, as well as an extremely thin front four, but Cullen will orchestrate a 4-2 defense. Cullen also stressed that the team will focus on stopping the quarterback-wide receiver combinations that hurt the Red at times last season.