In 41 years as head coach of the sprint football team, Terry Cullen knows just how dominant the Navy sprint football program has been. And he has been waiting to play the best team in the league since getting shut out twice by Navy last year by a combined score of 48-0.
Navy (2-0) began its year with victories against the Johns Hopkins heavyweight football team and a 31-21 win in the Pride Bowl against Army. The Midshipmen have an array of weapons on offense, including running back Richard Engel (204 rushing yards against Army) and wide receiver Tommy Tellson (150 receiving yards against Army). Cullen knows the key for Cornell (2-0) tonight, at home, will be his defense’s play.
“Seeing them put up 30 points against Army — that really shows how explosive and strong their offense is,” Cullen said. “They have a great short game and can control the ball, but then they could beat you with the long passes. Our defense has to not give up the big play for us to win.”
[img_assist|nid=18817|title=Home again|desc=Senior running back Michael Fullowan and the sprint football team will face Navy tonight on Schoellkopf Field. (Joe Bellucci / Sun Senior Photographer)|link=popup|align=right|width=80|height=100]
The Red should not be discounted after beginning the 2006 campaign with two impressive wins, both away from home. Cullen’s team dismantled Penn in the Allegiance Bowl in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., to open the year and then beat Princeton on the road, 29-0.
On offense, the surprising stars have been the wide receivers. Junior Jason Remilliard has recorded five catches for 101 yards and two touchdowns in two games. Sophomore Michael Brennan and senior Sam Coe have been sure targets for first-year sophomore quarterback Zak Dentes, who in two games has gone 23-for-29 passing with 329 yards and four touchdowns.
“We’ve been led by steady quarterback play by Dentes,” Cullen said. “Also, you cannot discount the usual performance by our fourth-year star Mike Fullowan at running back. He’s a horse for us.”
Thus far, Fullowan has rushed for 74 yards, a 2.6 average and a touchdown. The numbers are not outstanding yet, but his leadership has been invaluable. Dentes has helped the Red with his legs as well, rushing for 74 yards on seven attempts with a touchdown. Defensively, the Red has seen contributions from all areas.
“Our effort has been a complete, solid effort on defense,” Cullen said. “We knew that was our strong area and we’ll need to continue our great defensive effort against a terrific [Navy] offense.”
Some of the early tackle leaders for the Red include John Parke (8 total), Jason Zittel (7 total, 1 sack) and Matthew Curler (5.5 total, 1 sack). The defense as a whole has forced three fumbles, caught three interceptions and has 11 total sacks through two games, which includes a shutout. This should be the most important test of the year for the Red, a game that could likely determine whether the Red wins the league championship. It’s the Red’s only meeting of the year with Navy, and Cullen is happy to be playing within the friendly confines of Schoellkopf Field.